New Decade - New Adventures

What a decade... Like many people, my life has been significantly changed over the past 10 years, with both success and failure, gain and loss, happiness and stress. The past five years I have focused on my research at both the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and currently at Utah State University, but devoted little time to my photographic and crafty hobbies. The reason for this was simple - focus on school and I can get a good-paying job, and then devote time and money to hobbies.

Yeah, the job thing did not quite worked out, and as of January 2019 (after finishing my Masters at the end of 2017), I went back to school. At least I was able to get out of the Midwest and into the mountains! But the first year of the Ph.D program, I found myself focusing even more than ever on balancing coursework, teaching, and conducting research. With that, my photographic, blogging, and crafting/gift making interests took a back seat (more like the trunk). I found myself staying in more, not setting aside time to exercise, and overall feeling mentally and physically exhausted.

When this happens, which it has on multiple occasions, the next thing to come into my life is full-on depression. And, each time, I realize after the fact that the cause of the depression was my inactivity and too much focus on 'getting the perfect grade' or 'making sure each student gets all of my attention for them to succeed'. Those things are fine, but if my life becomes only about those things, I can't function properly. I've already felt myself slipping into that mode last semester, and instead of letting it slide further, I am taking steps to avoid that downhill spiral.

So, what am I going to do differently this decade than the last? It's almost too simple, but surprisingly difficult to initiate. I am going to focus more time on me and my hobbies. Setting time during to 1) swim or work out at the campus gym, 2) weekend photographic hikes, 3) sit and actually curate my personal insect collection, and 4) spend a day doing some monotonous work with image editing and crafting (see the new SHOP tab!). My list of course has several sub lists, including working with my boyfriend on some educational video production. Some of the sub lists can only be done during the summer - such as including insect collecting and sorting during hikes - and some only in winter - skiing - which spreads the time out over a full year.

These are all life-style changes. In the past it can feel like connecting with friends, maintaining and improving relationships, and hobbies become chores that I tend avoid. Back then, the solution was in a short time window, like a diet. Instead these things should be spread out over some time for me to really get into the habit of setting aside time and truly enjoying that time I have away from school work. With that, I hope to type up at least a monthly blog of some activities I'm doing for both research and hobbies (so hold me to it!!). Have a wonderful first day of the decade, my friends!

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