Sunday, December 2, 2018

Coffee Break

Hello LoveBirds!

I'm taking a social media coffee break for a bit. I'll be back in January 2019!

Saturday, September 8, 2018

59. Plan with me....September 2018

Shareable August Goals

August was nutters. There was a death in the family and three other big things that caused some upheaval in my life. Because of these events, I scrapped a majority of my August goals to just focus on staying on top of my daily to-dos and figuring out how to manage the aftermath of these big four events. (If I could share more, I would). 

Here are the goals I set for August. 

Teaching Goals

  • Continue to work on coursera courses.
  • Finish grading by Friday.
Research Goals
  • Take one step forward on all projects.
  • Finish data collection for one project.
  • Brainstorm about a new article.
  • Work on novel at least once a week.
Service Goals
  • Recruit a new board member.
  • Set up EDS Iowa meet up.
  • Presentation for my department.
Business Goals
  • Go public with Youtube on Twitter.
  • Launch new business focus for Love Works photography.
  • Strategic plan for calendar line.
  • One step forward on each business plan.
Personal Goals
  • Start leash training Dinah.
  • Start Muldowney exercise protocol.
  • No spend month.
  • Plan Deep Clean 2018 Project.

Basically, the goals I was able to meet were:
  • Take one step forward on all research projects.
  • Presentation for my department
  • Go public with Youtube on Twitter
  • Plan Deep Clean 2018

Honestly, thinking about everything that happened this month, staying on top of my regular work requirements and completing the above was still a pretty good month in terms of productivity and goal setting.

Here we are in September and I am still dealing with aftershocks from August. For September goals, I'm keeping it simple.

September Goals
  • Move one step forward on all projects
  • Land one new side hustle
  • Be more creative
That's it for me! What your goals for September? How did August go for you? 

Until next time,

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

57. Five Ways to Stay Productive When You Don't Feel Well

None of us are healthy 100% of the time and even when we are healthy we aren't always as productive as we could be. Add pain or illness into the mix and productivity can really take a hit. Those of us with chronic conditions find ourselves feeling poorly more often than not so we have to figure out how to still live despite the pain or discomfort. Below are five things I've learned to do so that, even if I'm feeling sick or having pain, I can still have a productive day.

1. Get ahead of it.
When I was first diagnosed with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, the specialist I saw (Dr. Pamela Trapane) gave me some of the best advice I've ever heard regarding chronic pain and that was: get ahead of it. Prior to this, I though the way to deal with pain was to wait until it became absolutely unbearable before treating it. Dr. Trapane told me, this was a terrible idea because by letting the pain get out of control before treating it, I was creating "pain pathways" in my nervous system. It's actually much better to treat chronic pain early and aggressively. So, as soon as you start getting the signals your body sends that you all recognize as an oncoming pain flare, treat the pain and treat it aggressively. How you do that is going to depend on each of your as individuals. It may or may not involve taking a medication. You have to do what works for you.

2. Be prepared.
Going to work prepared for bad pain or illness is something that has saved me an abundance of sick days taken and unproductive work days. Bring what you need with you whether it is a shoulder brace, an ice pack, a bottle of asprin or a TENS unit. If your employer has rules about these things, you should be able to still use them under the Americans with Disabilities Act so long as they don't interfere with your work.

3. Be like Kimmy.
In the Netflix original, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Kimmy describes a strategy she uses to get through a difficult situation.She advises that you just take it 10 seconds at a time knowing that you can withstand anything for 10 seconds at a time. I've had days where I put this strategy to use. Even if I was having horrible pain, I focused on work for 10 minutes at a time and then took a break and did this nonstop until I had made it through the day. This allows you to still get focused work done but also recognizes that dammit everything hurts.

4. Take breaks.
If you are able to, take as many breaks as you need, even if it makes your work day longer. It is better to do a longer, well-paced day, than to power through an intense short work day.

5. Hydrate.
Hydration is imperative for any illness or pain situation. Drink lots of water. Add flavor with lemon, cucumber, or other fruit.

What else do you do to stay productive on bad pain or illness days? Share your strategies below!

Until next time,
Jess d'Artagnan Love

My Youtube Video on the Topic

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

55. Plan with me...August 2018!

July Goals Review

Goals in green were met. Goals in purple were almost met. Goals in blue were total misses.

Teaching Goals
  • Finish coursera courses
    • I am currently trying to make my way through three coursera courses relevant to my teaching. 
      • University Teaching: made it through week 1 of the course
      • eLearning Ecologies: made it halfway through week 1
      • Teaching Online: made it through all of week 1 except the assignment.
        • I think that aiming to finish all of these courses in the month of July was an unrealistic goal. Thankfully, coursera allows you to push back your start date if you fall behind. I may also just have to accept that I don't have time to do these assignments right now and just resign myself to the reading material, videos, and quizzes. At least this way I'm still learning but not over-taxing myself with work that doesn't mean much--I'm not purchasing the course certificate so this is just for learning purposes and not for credentialing. I imagine that if I do decide to do these courses for a credential, I could join another session and actually complete the assignments. For now, it's enough just to do the reading and lectures. 
Research Goals
  • Submit Jessica Jones paper.
    • I was able to submit an abstract to a scholarly journal. Woohoo!
  • Take one step forward on all projects.
    • Womp Womp. I was not able to do this, mostly because my teaching load was pretty heavy in July. 
  • Work on my novel everyday Monday through Friday.
    • This was a total miss. I think this was an unrealistic goal based on everything else I was trying to accomplish.
Service Goals
  • Set up an EDS Iowa meet-up in my area.
    • Done!
Business Goals
  • Write business plans for two business goals.
    • I worked on my business plans but didn't finish them. Again, I think it was unrealistic to think that I could completely finish these plans because business plans take a lot of time and research. I will still continue to work on these business plans but with a more realistic approach. 
Personal Goals
  • Exercise three times a week.
    • Done! I'm looking forward to doing more in August.
  • Read Bible everyday.
    • Done! This is now a habit--part of my morning routine and something I plan to continue.
  • Start my Youtube channel. 
    • Done! You can view my channel here. 

Shareable August Goals
Teaching Goals

  • Continue to work on coursera courses.
  • Finish grading by Friday.
Research Goals
  • Take one step forward on all projects.
  • Finish data collection for one project.
  • Brainstorm about a new article.
  • Work on novel at least once a week.
Service Goals
  • Recruit a new board member.
  • Set up EDS Iowa meet up.
  • Presentation for my department.
Business Goals
  • Go public with Youtube on Twitter.
  • Launch new business focus for Love Works photography.
  • Strategic plan for calendar line.
  • One step forward on each business plan.
Personal Goals
  • Start leash training Dinah.
  • Start Muldowney exercise protocol.
  • No spend month.
  • Plan Deep Clean 2018 Project.
Let me know down below how July went for you and what you are working on in August!


Saturday, July 28, 2018

54. Five Tools for Planning, Organizing, and Time Management

Meeting goals doesn't just happen. It takes planning and good organization tools to get there. Below are my five favorite tools for planning and working toward my goals.

1. Calendar
This one seems obvious but there are a lot of different calendars you can use. I like to use a small calendar that has a monthly view and then a daily view. It's also small enough to keep in my purse so that I can refer to it when there isn't wifi to access my phone.

You don't have to spend big bucks on a calendar if you don't want to. There are tons of free printable layouts available with a simple Google search. The important thing, as always, is to find a calendar system that works for you.

2. Google Calendar
I also recommend using an electronic or web-based calendar of some sort. It doesn't have to necessarily be Google. I use Google calendar because my work, small business, and personal email accounts are all through Google Suite, and I sync each account's calendar. I also have a Google calendar app on my smartphone that I can use on the go (if there is wifi).

3. Bullet Journal
Bullet journals can feel overwhelming when you first start learning about them. So many bullet journalists are highly creative and artist in the way to set up their journals. Your journal does not necessarily have to be highly artist. You can use a simple bullet journal system. My own bullet journal is really simple, but I credit my bullet journal for my ability to stay on track with everything I'm trying to accomplish.

4. Toggl
Toggl is an app that allows you to track how you are using your time. You can break your work sessions down to clients and then specific projects for clients. Using this app allows me to keep tabs on how much time I'm spending on different areas to make sure I'm not neglecting anything. I don't micromanage my time with this. For example, I don't track things like brushing my teeth or non-work time in general. I keep the categories large like "teaching" which encompasses a lot of different activities. I've found that if I try to get too specific with my categories, I spend more time managing the app than working and then it becomes counterproductive.

5. Tomato Timer
The tomato time is a website and app you can use to break up your work time with break time. This is typically called the Pomodoro technique and I like to do 45 minutes of work followed by 15 minute breaks. You can set the time for any chunk of time which means you can easily make this method work for you however you need it to.

So, that's it! Five tools to help you with planning, organizing and time management. If you use any of these tools, let me know how they go for you.

If you're interested, here's my video post on the topic:


Wednesday, July 18, 2018

53. Five Ways to Get Started with Goal Setting

I hear a lot from people in my circles about how they would rather "go with the flow" than set any goals. I've heard the argument that goals are too restrictive and you can't really plan out what happens in life so goal setting is futile. 

While I understand where some people may be coming from with these arguments, I think they have missed some of the fundamental attributes of goals. One of the first is that having goals helps you take control of where you are headed--you can still go with the flow of a day but do so with purpose. That, to me, leads to a much more fulfilling life. To move from drifting to purposeful is to embrace your own agency and power to make a difference your world. 

Goals are also not necessarily restrictive if you set them knowing that your goals can evolve as you do. You might have a the goal of being an Olympic gymnast but find that as you grown and evolve as a human, you might actually enjoy coaching more than competing. Goals, in this way, are not restrictive but liberating. You are giving yourself the freedom to aim for something that makes you happy and that also helps you create a life filled with meaning rather than happenstance alone.

If I have you convinced of the value of goal setting, but you've never done it before, here are some tips for getting started. 

1. Understand your purpose.
The first step to setting any kind of goal is to understand your purpose. Personally, I read two books that really helped me begin the process of finding mine. The first book was Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. I wrote about my experience with this book in a previous post. You can read that post hereThe second book was The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen. R. Covey.

Reading these books helped me figure out what I feel like my purpose is. Even if you don't have this figured out, you can still set goals! Start by thinking about what your perfect day would be. Then understand what needs to change for you to have that perfect day and write those down as your starting long term goals. Keep in mind these can, and probably will change as you continue to figure yourself out. 

2. Consider writing a personal mission statement.
Stephen Covey recommends developing a personal mission statement. This mission statement can help guide you as you are setting goals. You can write your mission statement in any way you want and, like your goals, your mission statement can change as you do. You can see my own person mission statement here

3. Start with your long-term goals.
Once you have some of these big life, deep ideas figured out and set some goals, think about your long-term goals with a timeline. Long-term goals generally have a timeline of 5-7 years. 

4. Break long-term goals down into short-term goals
Once you have your long-term goals set, you can start breaking them down into smaller more manageable goals that will lead you to those big goals. Short-term goals typically have a timeline of anywhere from a month to a year. I like to set both yearly and monthly goals. 

5. Be SMART about it.
SMART is an acronym many people use to set goals. Some people break it down to mean "specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time bound." The version I work with is "specific, measurable, actionable, relevant, recorded, and realistic, and time-bound." I like to use "actionable" as the "A" because goals often work best when set using verbs. 

When you work through these steps, let me know what goals you've set! Telling people about your goals makes it more likely that you will meet them!

Happy goal setting!

Jess d'Artagnan

Connect with me!
Twitter: @jdartagnanlove
Instagram: @jdartagnanlove

Saturday, February 17, 2018

52. Research and Projects Update: February 2018

This weekend I am finishing up my last two papers in completion of the last class in my B.A. of Business Administration degree. I've been pursuing this degree since 2016 and, now that I'm finished, I've been asked: what's next?

Well, more of what I'm already doing; that's what is next. I plan to continue working as full time faculty at my current university. The goal of this degree was not necessarily a career change. The goal of the degree was to improve my photography and freelance writing business, to learn new skills that are still applicable to a career in higher education, and to have a "back up" in case something undesirable happens to my current situation.

That being said, I WILL have more time to dedicate to other things, and my main focus will be on my novel writing, my scholarly research, and on projects that are life-affirming. Before all of this starts up though, I'll be taking a much deserved break, maybe even a month long break from working 9am - 10pm, Monday-Saturday. I am going to enjoy some nights and weekends "off" and watch movies and binge read books. I am going to garden, and spend time training my dogs new tricks. I am going to deep clean and get to know my new home better. I might even do a little shopping and see friends.

With that in mind, here are the projects I'm currently working on.

1. The Leader in Me research project
This is actually two scholarly projects. I'm working with a colleague doing a study on the Leader in Me program and teacher attitudes in K12 school systems. On my own, I'm working on a project investigating how the Leader in Me principles could be applied in a higher education setting.

2. Google Tools in the K12 classroom research project
A colleague and I are doing research on how using Google tools in a reading and writing classroom affects literacy and critical thinking in K12 students.

3. Exiting Human Trafficking research project
I'm conducting a research study that investigates factors that lead human trafficking victims to make the decision to attempt escaping their situation.

4. Jessica Jones and Bibliotherapy research project
I am in the revising stage of a paper written making the case for using the Jessica Jones comics in a bibliotherapy context for trauma treatment.

5. Milennials in Higher education paper
This is a paper in the process of being published. The paper explores developmental psychology concepts and millennials and how these ideas interplay with higher education today.

6. My novel
I have been away from my novel for far too long. This is going to be one of my top priorities. I want to get through these revisions and then start querying agents.

7. My freelance writing
This is an ongoing project involving creating writing samples, pitching articles, and then managing things from there. I will continue doing what I have been; I'll just have more time to dedicate to this.

8. Business planning
I'm going to continue working on my strategic plan for my photography business.

9. Butterfly Gardening
I'd like to make my little garden a Monarch Waystation. This will just take time and care.

10. Physical Therapy
I've been experiencing higher levels of pain more regularly lately. I think a more regimented physical therapy routine will help with this.

So those are the projects and my plans after graduation. A lot of the same and just shifting my use of time around.



Sunday, February 4, 2018

51. The Ableist Concept of Spending Money on Experiences

We've all heard it:


You should spend your money on "experiences," not "things!" [accompanied by a judgmental eye role].

Minimalism is the best way to live!

All of these phrases function on an underlying assumption that buying and enjoying material things is inherently bad, bordering on immoral, while blowing money on experiences like travel, live shows, and high energy, especially physical events is a much better way to live. 

But here's the rub: that's an entirely ableist perspective. 

Some people can't travel without spending lots of money on extra plane seats for medical equipment, extra money on private hotel rooms rather than group rooms at hostels, or extra days off work to recover after the traveling. Are these people supposed to live a spartan lifestyle to save money for extremely expensive trips that might end up an unfathomably miserable experience despite careful planning and extra suitcases full of meds? 

No. Absolutely not. 

And this is why I've let go of my world-traveling ambitions. Small, well planned trips when the money allows? For sure! But I am not going to live a minimalist lifestyle in favor of experiences that might end up being loathsome experiences and possibly do long-term damage to my health and well being. 

That being said, I have embraced enjoying "things" in the day-to-day. I see nothing wrong with choosing to spend money on cosmetics, plants, and home decor if I'm going to spend 90% of my life at home. I see nothing wrong with wanting nice things, if I'm going to spend the majority of my life surrounded by and using those things. 

Not everyone can get out and go sky diving. Not everyone has a great time at an outdoor concert with limited accessibility. And for those people, choosing things over experiences should not be perceived as a character flaw. We're not being materialistic. We're not wasting our money. 

Buying, enjoying, and celebrating things over experiences is how some of us with disabilities can "YOLO." 


Monday, January 15, 2018

50. 2/100: Adventureland

Adventureland. Dir. Greg Mottola. Perf. Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Ryan Reynolds. Miramax, 2009. Film.

Watched: January 6, 2018

I wanted to watch this movie because of the cast. I fell in love with Jesse Eisenburg when I saw him in Now You See Me 2. The Now You See Me films are some of my favorites to recently be released. I also will admit to loving Kristen Stewart. Something this 100 movies project is going to reveal about me is my inner teenage girl and nerd girl tendencies. I'm not going to be embarrassed by this though and, in fact, I feel like the pop culture teenage girls like has a deeper level of quality and worth than it gets credit for (which is a blog post for another day). Anyway, I feel in love with Kristen Stewart when I saw her in Into the Wild and have been following her work since then. I'm also a big fan of Kristin Wiig

Adventureland is about an ivy league college student who has to find a summer job. He gets a part time job as a game manager at the local amusement park called Adventureland. This is set in Pittsburgh but I love it because there is also an Adventureland in my home state of Iowa. Anyway, the employees at Adventureland bond over pot, parties, and musings about the meaning of life. my boyfriend calls these kinds of films "slice of life" movies because it just shows a glimpse into a person's life. It could continue on forever and the plot is character driven rather story driven. I thought the characters where quirky and fun and there were some moments of real humor that made me laugh out loud. I'm a tough crowd when it comes to comedy so any film that gets me actually laughing is pretty brilliant. 

I would gladly watch this film again. 

4 darts out of 5

Monday, January 1, 2018

49. Film 1/100: Logan

Logan. Dir. James Mangold. Perf. Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, and Dafne Keen. Twentieth Century Fox, 2017. Film

Logan is set in a time when the mutants of the United States are apparently outlawed. Logan lives with Charles Xavier in a bunker in the southern U.S. and he works as a limo driver. Days are spent caring for Charles who suffers an unknown brain disease that causes seizures dangerous to those around him. Logan is approached by a woman claiming to have information on a new set of child mutants and requests his help. Following her is a set of bad guys who want to kill the little girl she's protecting. Logan is then put in the position of protecting the child after her caregiver dies, and must get her to a safe location in North Dakota. 

This movie has gotten great reviews from my friends and family, but I'll be brave and have an unpopular opinion on this one: I didn't like it. A common argument for it's "brilliance" is that it "transcends the superhero genre." Yes, it is different from a standard "super hero" movie, but I argue that it isn't really a super hero movie at all. It doesn't fit the genre. It isn't changing or transcending the genre because it's not functioning within the genre to begin with. This film is a dramatic tragedy with sci-fi elements. It's in the realm of Hamlet but nowhere close to being as profound. 

For a film that was more than two hours long, there wasn't much of a story. I was left with a lot of unanswered questions that could have been easily answered had the plot been a bit more complex and interesting. Why are mutants in hiding in the U.S.--what shook out politically? Why does that hospital need to build an army of mutant soldiers? What are they fighting for? Why does that dude have a bionic arm? Do the kids actually make it across the border? What is this brain disease Charles is dealing with? All questions left unanswered. 

Ultimately, the heavy does of sadness without comic relief, and the long plodding plot with unanswered questions pretty much guaranteed that this is a film I'll never watch again. 

2 darts out of 5