Brief Update

Okay since I have been pretty much MIA on both my blog and on Instagram I thought I would do a little life update post. I will get back on my Week in the Life post later this week and give a full rundown on what has been going on. There are several reasons for the hiatus. November was a very full month with lots of work and lots of fun. We drove to my parent’s house in Boulder for Thanksgiving week which was so much fun but crazy. Leading up to that was so busy because I was teaching my last classes and finishing as much as I could.

Since getting back to Utah I have another big push to the end of the semester. There is a lot to get finished before the year ends. So last week was tough. We also have had quite a few holiday parties and other events that have made the past week crazy. The biggest reason for all the craziness is… we got a puppy! Yep it is totally insane but I am loving it. She is almost ten weeks and can be quite a handful. It is a long story but an unexpected situation came up and we decided to go for it. Her name is Hazel and she is the most adorable little thing. Yep she also has an Instagram because I know I won’t be able to resist all the puppy pictures.

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So much time and energy goes into little Hazel and I definitely did not expect it to this degree. Overall though it has been great and she is amazing! I will have lots more to come on this but just wanted to give a quick update!

Erin

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Week in My Life No. 8

When I got back from Honduras last Sunday our friend from college was visiting. It was so great to see him and I definitely wish he had stayed longer but Aiden was able to show him around while I was gone and we took him to Herm’s Inn, out favorite brunch place, for breakfast on Monday. He and his cousin were driving from Seattle to Dallas. They headed on to Moab Monday afternoon. Even though I was at a conference for grad school I have had lots of catch up to do with work over the week. I taught on Tuesday so I spent a lot of time getting ready for that and grading. I also created an end of semester survey for the class to take this Tuesday. I am all about improving this class and my teaching so I really wanted to have a survey that has direct feedback for the labs we did and the lectures (just the overall structure and assignments as well). I also spent some time finalizing plans for the holidays. We still need to book our tickets (ASAP) but we have a pretty solid plan that hopefully everyone is okay with. I definitely struggle with where to spend Christmas. For the first couple years of our relationship we just went to our own families which made sense since we were still in college and had not seen our families all year. Now we have been together for over four years and we are getting to the point were we would like to be together but also want to be with our families. Last year we were living apart so we really wanted to be together and we ended up traveling between our families on Christmas day (flying from Denver to Newark). My family was not too keen on that so we reevaluated this year. Jess Keys did a great post on splitting the holidays!

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Walking to my office! It was actually a beautiful week with highs in the 50’s.

The other big part of work right now is data analysis for several projects. It is kind of looming over me so Aiden helped me out with some coding this week that took a ton of stress off of me. I have also been organizing a speaker that is coming to the ecology center at USU in December. On Friday we ended the work week with tea at a campus coffee shop.

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Friday’s outfit. I was feeling the jumpsuit and blazer vibes.
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Tea, grading and reading at coffee shop. The best way to end the week.

This weekend has been really nice. We have been doing yoga at home to help Aiden with some of his pains so we did that on Saturday and had an overall chill day. I got lots of reading in! We went to a friends house in the evening to hang out and play Mario Kart (my fav). Today was mostly yard work (so many leaves to rake) but we also did some crossword puzzles and set up our Christmas tree. I know it is way to early but we are going to be gone through Thanksgiving and then also for actual Christmas so I figured we might as well enjoy it as long as possible. We also have some new ornaments that were my grandmother’s!

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Tree decorating… we added the Nutcracker characters this year!

Interesting articles:

3 Ingredient Trader Joe’s meals. As a Trader Joe’s fan I just had to share this and will definitely be trying some of these.

Time’s 100 most influential people. Also here is a blurb on how they choose people for the list.

Watching Hallmark movies for money? This is kind of hilarious and amazing.

Finland’s stunning public library. This place is beautiful and I seriously hope to visit someday. I also so wish we had such emphasis on public libraries!

Julia’s holiday guide for her. This is dreamy. I mean everything is seriously beautiful!

Plastic waste in laboratories. I have a constant struggle with waste in our lab. I do think what we research is important for conservation and for science but the amount of waste generated can be really hard to stomach. I am always looking for ways to reduce but it is so hard in science because it is extremely difficult to have a sound experiment, with no contamination, without producing a lot of waste.

Best celebrity memoirs. Grace Atwood posted this in her Weekend Reading and I really liked this article since there are so many books out there and so many celebrity memoirs that it can be hard to know what is worth reading.

Reading: I started Turtles All the Way Down by John Green several months ago and for some reason did not keep reading. I decided to pick it up again and finish this time! I am really enjoying it and am not sure why I put it down before.

Watching: Parks and Recreation has been our go to right now. I am not sure why I haven’t watched it before but it is amazing. I love it and have a hard time stopping because all the characters are hilarious.

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It was just barely warm enough for no tights. As much as I love the holidays and the snow I am relishing in these last few days of warmth!

I hope you had a great week and thanks for reading!

Erin

Week in My Life No. 7

So as you can probably tell it has been a few days since I posted and I only got one post in last week. I have been in Roatan, Honduras for the last ten days at a conference. It was the Iguana Specialist Group meeting and ended up being such a blast. I was so busy before hand as well, getting my class ready for when I was going and prepping my presentation for the conference so I did not have nearly enough time to prep as I was hoping for. This is definitely more like a two week update than a week in my life.

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We had our first crazy snow storm! I was not expecting so much but the afternoon clear up!

I have been at this conference for most of the time but I am going to be doing a Honduras recap post so I won’t be focusing on the conference a ton. I will say that overall it has been amazing and I have learned so much and met so many amazing people doing really interesting research and conservation work. I also learned quite a about IUCN red-listing and about invasive species control.

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Conference attire was difficult in a tropical climate. It has been in the 80’s but we were in an air conditioned conference room for most of the day.

First, wow way back to before Halloween! It was actually a really fun week. I did a lot of prepping for this trip and taught my class, as usual on Tuesday. We spent quite a bit of time also getting ready for Halloween. Also carpet cleaners came so that was a bit of a project since we had to move all of the furniture in carpeted areas. It is so nice to finally have it done though, we have been waiting for months to do it! We started carving pumpkins and I baked pumpkin seeds.

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Sorry it is not a great photo but we did The Nightmare Before Christmas theme this year.
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Sally was way harder than Jack Skellington but we did our best (more like Aiden did his best, he is way better than me at carving)!

Halloween itself was a blast. It was a really long work day so I was kind of rushing but still managed to baked some cookies and a pumpkin pie. We went to our friend’s house for another round of Over the Garden Wall, lots of drinks, costumes and pie. Later we went to a different department’s grad student Halloween party which was so much fun! I did call it early though since I needed to finish packing.

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I spent that Friday morning frantically finishing up some errands that I had hoped to get done earlier in the week. It ended up being crazy with some unexpected things happening so I had way more to do than I anticipated. I was on campus for an hour or two and then headed back to eat lunch. We left for the airport around 1:30pm.

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Last minute errand attire.

As I mentioned I have been here in Roatan ever since. I presented some of my research on Monday and listened to lots of other interesting talks. We explored a little as well but almost our whole group got sick so that was a bit of a bummer. I did have to miss out on a fun field trip because of that!

Some interesting articles/videos:

An interview with Emma Watson. Of course this is amazing and very insightful. I was also just inspired to think about what I am doing and how I am effecting other people!

The Every Girl J. Crew Round Up. I am so loving these pieces and the winter essentials are extra tempting (the tissue turtlenecks and the puffer are at the top of my list).

National Geographic’s new book on women photographers. So excited about this. Such beautiful photography by amazing women!

Some current fashion trends. I am totally into most of these and they just about all can work in cold weather.

On being a woman in a male dominated field. Definitely worth a read.

Reading: I started listening to How Could She by Lauren Mechling on the plane to Honduras. I am not very far so I can’t say much yet but I will definitely keep you updated.

Podcast: So I know I just did a recent podcast post but I listened to Bad on Paper Podcast’s interview with Carly Heitlinger and it was amazing. She was so real and honest. More than I have every heard any blogger be. It was very impressive and insightful. I highly recommend the episode!

Watching: So I have two things right now. I was sick for a couple of days so I have been re-watching The Walking Dead. It is kind of a long story but I stopped because I certain character dies at the beginning of season six. For some reason I got the urge to watch again from the beginning. I also have been watching SNL skits both new and old… they are so funny. Here are some ones I watched today: Film ScreeningTarget Lady

Instagram: Caitlin from Lemonade Press Blog had such an amazing caption on her Instagram post from Saturday. It is about school and just learning in general and it resonated with me.

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Fire on the beach in Honduras!

Erin

Why I Committed to Posting Every Day for a Month

The month of October was incredibly hectic but I managed to post every single day. This has been a goal of mine and once I got started I was determined to do the whole month. The primary reason for this goals is that I have so many different things I want to write about and share but often don’t make the time to do it. By posting every day I forced myself to spend time creating posts about things I have really been wanting to talk about.

I love fashion, books, adventure, plus I enjoy sharing random lifestyle posts. Something that has really frustrated me in the blogger world is that everyone talks about “finding your niche.” I know that in order to be successful in anything you need to think about your audience and what they want to hear. When I listen to podcasts or read posts about how to be successful in blogging it seems to be a mix of talking to your audience and being authentic, but most importantly, finding your niche. You aren’t supposed to really focus about more than one or two things if you want to be successful. I really struggle with this because I love so many things and since I love them I want to share them with others. I don’t want to put myself in a box. I don’t want to just share my outfits or just share books. I love these things but can’t help but love other things just as much. This is part of the reason I struggled with making a decision about graduate school I felt like it would put me in a specific box and I would not be able to stray from that. I want to live a life full of many things, not just a few. I am not going to talk about my decision-making process for grad school in this post but it does give some insight into why I felt the need to post every day.

Since I did not want to write about just one thing, I needed to produce more of all the things I wanted to share. It does seem like talking about something different every week or month would not be as relatable to readers. People tend to look for specific advice from different people and if they don’t know what they will find from your site, why spend the time? My thought was that if I post consistently every week in each category that I am interesting in writing about maybe I can work around this. If your job is to blog this is feasible but as a grad student just the thought has been a little terrifying. I started posting every day at the end of September just to challenge myself and as we got through the first few weeks of October I decided to stick with it through the month. It felt good to be accomplishing a goal and I enjoyed dedicating some time every week to thinking about my blog.

Going forward I want to continue this as best I can but I do think I will be taking Saturday’s off. It is just a little too much to be focusing on both my blog and grad school every single day. I love them both but my health and relationships are definitely falling to the way side. I have been continuously sick since I left for Vermont (October 1st)… so the entire month. So I definitely admit that I am in serious need of some focus on my mental and physical health. Since I have been really liking the routine of posting everyday I am not totally giving that up right now, just giving myself one day to not think about posting. This may change in the future but I will probably do another check in around the holidays. I would love to hear any thoughts you have on the blogging world and how you have felt in response to the idea of committing to one or two things (in the blogging community and in life in general).

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Thanks for following along!

Erin

Science Week in Review No. 1

While this blog has been a way for me to do something else and get out of the science world for a little (I am a biology Ph.D. student so it is pretty constant), I have felt more and more compelled to share some more of that side of my life. I have struggled with how to do that and still stick with my blog mission. The solution I found is to have a weekly post that rounds up interesting articles that are science related. I am going to try it out for a few months and see how it evolves. For now I will be sharing several articles that are current and from a variety of disciplines. I hope for this to become kind of a round up of what is going on in the world of science every week.

A few articles to start us off:

A study of potential earth-like planets. UCLA scientist are finding that planets like Earth may be common throughout the universe. How? These scientists are studying the geochemistry of asteroids from other solar systems. They are attempting find out what other planets are made of, and they are finding similar elements to what we find on earth. This is incredibly impressive and interesting. The subject of life beyond our planet is so interesting!

Life after dinosaurs- the beginning of mammals. One of the great evolutionary mysteries has been the fall of the dinosaurs and rise of mammals. Recently scientists in Colorado discovered a trove of bones that have led to lots of interesting information about the period of time following the extinction of dinosaurs. This discovery is pretty amazing for the piecing together of mammalian history.

Linking gut microbiota to westernization. It seems that life style changes (increase in fats in diet, sedentary lifestyle, antibiotic use) caused largely by westernization have impacted our gut microbiomes. How? By comparing gut microbes from people in westernized areas to those in non-westernized areas these scientists were able to uncover significant differences in microbes. They were also able to compare to ancient DNA in order to confirm their hypothesis. If you are unfamiliar with the term microbiome it refers to the microbes (fungus, protozoa, bacteria, viruses) that inhabit your gut. I will continue to share microbiome articles since it is a relatively new field and there is a ton still being discovered about its role in health.

One idea for putting a stop to climate change. A solution to climate change by locking carbon into the soil. These scientist are proposing we stabilize C02 emissions through the land, by making desertified lands useable again. It would take a lot of effort and $300 billion dollars. On a semi-similar note, NASA released an article about monitoring the Earth’s atmosphere through satellites. I thought it was an interesting read!

Bonus: In lieu of Halloween I had to add one more article. This is not current science but the story of Roman emperor Domitian and the feast he threw for senators in 89 CE. It is chilling but an interesting historical read for this time of year.

I recognize that this is a little out of character for me but I think about this stuff almost constantly so I figured it would be fun to share some of the highlights and important articles. I hope you enjoyed and learned something new!

Erin

First Snow

The snow finally stuck! I love snow and although it feels kind of early I am so excited about out first real snow. So it did snow a couple of times throughout the past month but it never really stuck here in town. This weekend we had some crazy weather. It was so windy, rainy and snowy on Saturday evening. A big branch actually broke off into our driveway. Sunday we decided to take a drive up Logan canyon to enjoy the leaves, the snow and try to hike (we weren’t sure what the trail conditions would be like). The trail we wanted to do is pretty steep so we decided against it but did explore some little trails. It is so beautiful right! I truly love that transition from fall to winter.

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I hope you had a fun weekend and got to enjoy some fall weather!

Erin

Week in My Life No. 5

I have a grant proposal due tomorrow so I have been pretty focus on prepping my application this week. As usual Monday and Tuesday were spent mostly prepping for the class I teach. This week was not too hard since the students were just interpreting their data and prepping lab reports. Wednesday morning I had a great yoga class. The instructor was subbing and she was amazing, really worked me! I did have a lunch meeting on Wednesday and we decided to go to this ceramic bowl sale. The bowls were so pretty and they were serving the most delicious vegetarian chili. It has squash which was unexpected!

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The weather was beautiful for most of the week so we did lots of walking. I love looking at all the Halloween decorations at this time of year.
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The leaves in our neighborhood are so beautiful right now. Peak season for sure!

We went out for drinks and trivia on Wednesday night after work with a bunch of friends. Our team did not do all that well but we had a really fun time (that night’s categories were tough). Several of my friends have been away or sick and we are finally all back so it was great to catch up with people. I unexpectedly ended up working from home on Thursday. My one meeting for the day was canceled so I decided to stay home and focus on this proposal.

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I found another free little library on one of our walks! They just make me so happy.

Friday night we went to our friends house for sweets, Kentucky mules, Baileys and Over the Garden Wall. I have never seen it before and really loved it. It is a Halloween-themed animated show. I am sure it is not for everyone but I found it to be really fun! Saturday was a relatively lazy day. I made a orange spiced coffee cake for breakfast. Aiden had been wanting coffee cake for a while so I decided to try a new recipe. It was yummy but way more orange tasting than I was expecting. We watching Halloweentown which is a must for me in October. It is just so nostalgic and perfect for the holiday. I finally made butternut squash soup for dinner (my favorite)!

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The delicious vegan butternut squash soup. I made it with friends last year and absolutely loved it so had to make it again. It is a Minimalist Baker recipe.

Interesting articles:

Jess Keys on the environment. These are by no means new things but this is a great list of ways we can be better about our impact on the environment.

Fun date night outfits. I am so into these outfits that Grace came up with. They are such unique and fun ideas!

Some amazing wildlife photography. Just wow! Such incredible photos.

Big name career changes. These are definitely interesting career change stories however I will say that I feel like a lot of them had enough influence and privilege to easily change careers (that is definitely making an assumption because I am sure everyone has their own struggles with it).

Podcasts for Halloween. I will definitely be trying some of these out in the next few weeks.

Another viewpoint on Paris Fashion Week. The Chanel show was amazing!

Everygirl fall wardrobe items. I though this was a great list of things to up your fall wardrobe.

On curiosity and why we are intrigue by certain things. This was a really eye-opening article for my on why we are curious but often don’t learn about what we really want to learn.

A collection of Halloween stories. Yep anything Halloween definitely gets me excited!

Rachel Lindsey interview. Yep I am a fan of the Bachelorette and I really love everything Rachel has to say.

Watching: I am in a Downton Abbey rabbit hole right now. For some reason I was never very interested before but my good friend recommended it so I had to try to get through at least the first season. Now I am entirely sucked in. We are already in the middle of season three.

Reading: I will admit that I am still working on last week’s books (The Seven and a Half Death’s of Evelyn Hardcastle and Upstairs at the White House). Of course I have a long to-read list but it has been a really busy month on the work side of things.

Clothing Obsession: I think my clothing obsession is definitely black and orange right now. I love embracing the Halloween spirit and a great way to do that is by embracing some Halloween-inspired outfits. I did a post on this yesterday.

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Friday work outfit, had to rock the black and orange.

Have a great Sunday!

Erin

Fall Movies

Last year I did a post on my favorite Halloween movies to watch and this year I decided to share my favorite movies to watch during fall (in general). Cozying up with a cup of tea and a blanket on a chilly fall evening and watching the perfect fall movie is a great way to end a day.

fallmoviesYou’ve Got Mail: An absolute classic New York City fall movie. If you haven’t seen it I highly recommend giving it a watch this fall. It is such a sweet romance about two bookshop owners and their love story. Books, romance, fall… what more could you want?

Stepmom: I have not seen this one in quite a while but for some reason I always think fall when I think about this movie. It also has Julia Roberts which always makes things worth watching.

Election: A classic Reese Witherspoon movie. There has to be a back to school flick on this list considering fall and ‘back to school’ typically go together!

Charade: This one is not necessarily a fall movie but it is a classic Audrey Hepburn. We watched it the other night and absolutely loved it. It is highly entertaining and takes place in Paris.

October Sky: Another very classically fall movie. I also haven’t seen this one in a while but it is a classic true story and beautifully made movie. It is so inspiring especially as a scientist!

Others that I am looking forward to watching: Sleepless in Seattle (yep another Nora Ephron with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan and I really haven’t seen it yet), Autumn in New York.

Town and Country did a longer post on recommendations for this time of year! I found it just as I was finishing up this post and many of these are on my list so they definitely nailed it!

Erin

 

Week in My Life No. 4

Wow I can’t believe it is already almost mid October. The leaves are beautiful here in Logan right now and the temperature has really dropped. I actually started off the week in Vermont. I fly back to Utah on Monday afternoon and was pretty sick. I was kind of dreading Tuesday since I had two labs to teach and lots of prep work to do on top of feeling bad. I honestly have not been sick in a while and had just been thinking about that when I got some sort of cold just before going to Vermont. I got to school at 7:30am Tuesday morning and did not leave until nearly 7:30pm. There was so much to do to prep the labs and get myself ready to teach. My voice improved just enough to talk to the students which was a relief. I worked on some blog stuff and went to bed to try to rest up a bit.

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Emails and tomato bisque at the Denver airport. I had a long layover so I tried to catch up on some work things.

Wednesday and Thursday were just filled with work and trying to recover from my cold. We did have some friends over for pizza one night which was fun! Friday I went into work to do a few things and then Aiden and I went to Crumb Brothers to work for a few hours. I had a couple of Skype meetings so I was able to work out of the lab. We had a chill evening, just made dinner and watched You’ve Got Mail.

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Tea to sooth my throat while watching the movie.

Saturday was so fun and relaxing! We went to the farmer’s market for a butternut squash, peaches and olive bread. It is on of the last markets so we had to stop by. We went to Great Harvest for bread and a cinnamon roll on the way home. The leaves are so pretty right now. We took care of things at home and watched some Downton Abbey in the afternoon. Eventually we went for a long walk up around the neighborhood and then made some Trader Joe’s food for dinner. To end they day we watched Charade.

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Farmer’s market finds. So many pumpkins right now.
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Gorgeous views of the sunset on our evening walk!

Interesting articles:

Professor McGonagalls Letter for Tenure. This letter is hilarious and just brilliant. It is probably the best thing I have read all week.

More outfit inspiration. Love this round up of fall outfits!

Relationship “hacks”. I think these are all great ideas to keep up a good relationship.

Modern Love TV Series: This is a fantastic column and I know the TV series is going to be amazing.

Eileen Fisher on Sustainability. I am so excited about this company and their mission!

Watching: We watched Cold Case files on Netflix over the past week and I actually really liked it. I am not usually big into true crime but I found these stories to be really interesting. They are all cases that went cold and then were solved around 30 years later. It is just crazy and amazing!

Reading: While I am still in the middle of The Seven and a Half Death’s of Evelyn Hardcastle I also started reading Upstairs at the White House while on the plane and I have been learning a ton. I will give a better update when I finish!

Clothing obsession: I have been wearing my adidas stan smith’s almost everyday. They are so comfortable and since they are white they go with just about anything.

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A day at the office outfit. Those stan smith’s are life.

Have a great Sunday!

Erin

5 Things I Learned from My First Year of Grad School

It is Sunday night and I am at my friends house in Vermont. I have been trying for days to brainstorm ideas for today’s post and I have not had any that I felt passionate about. What I realized is that I spend so much time thinking about grad school and stressing about work. I have been actively avoiding the subject since it has been hard for me lately but sometime the most important thing to do when something is hard is face it and talk about it. Instead of updating you on where I am right now with everything I though I would list the five most important things I have learned from my first year (and a few months) of grad school.

  1. Stuff happens. The unexpected happens a lot and the worst case scenario happens way more then I thought it would. The thing I have learned from this is that the best way to handle it is to recognize it, deal with it and move on. Rolling with the punches is a must and finding a solution to an unexpected problem has been a part of my job. It does not help at all to stress about it and overthink it a ton (which I have spent lots of time doing).
  2. Don’t say yes to everything. This is by far the most surprising point for me on this list. I was the ‘say yes to everything’ person in college and that was a great strategy for me since I was able to do so many amazing things. Now if I said yes to everything I would really be struggling. In fact, right now, I am limiting what I say yes to and still feel completely overwhelmed. A few weeks ago I had to drop something since I realized that I was way over my head and I did not feel like I was doing anything well since I had too much to do.
  3. Have a life outside of school. Having both a family and a hobby are so important for staying balanced and sane. I am so used to being around people whose jobs are their hobbies and vice versa (that seems odd but I had quite a few professors in undergrad who truly loved their jobs and spent a ton of time going above and beyond a day job). While I am happy for those people and look up to them, I am the kind of person who needs other things in my life. I want to do other things. I also think that regardless of whether or not you need a hobby you should have a work life balance that consists of people you care about. Ever since Aiden came out to Utah I have been way better at this but am by no means an expert. I am still struggling a ton with this one.
  4. Make friends outside of work. While I love my lab and everyone in it I have been learning how important it is to have other people in my life. I do want to talk to my co-workers and hang out outside of work but it can be so easy to slip into talking about work. For me the lines definitely blurred and I am feeling the need to at least reach out some more to other friends.
  5. Try to focus on what you want to get out of it. In other words, what do you care about in regard to this job? This is definitely not always possible since there are many things you need to do for others in order to get where you want to be. I included this one though because I feel like I struggle with it the most. I always think about the expectations others have of me and what they want me to do versus what I want to be doing. I care so much about people and want to please them and for them to be proud of me. I still think it is important to care about others but in grad school I am learning that the biggest motivator is your own desire to do certain things (i.e. care about your research). Not only that but it is about creating your own research. So build off of other people but the most important thing is do what you want to be doing.

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Thanks for reading! If you are in grad school or have had similar experiences with work I would love to hear about it.

Erin