Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Looking back on 2015

For seven out of the last eight years that I've been writing this blog, I've written reflections on the preceding year. This has been a year of settling in. No major life changes. This should be one of our least complicated tax years ever! Well, for me at least. Jon has continued doing a variety of freelance work that had him traveling several times (it came in waves!) and had several great professional achievements unlocked ;-) Adele is 2.5 and clearly moved from toddler to child in the last year. She's 100% out of diapers, even overnight! I enjoyed planting more flowers in the yard, especially natives, and got to know many more people from the neighborhood. Work, well, that's most of what I write about on this blog so you can just read the other 2015 posts to re-live the anxiety that was this year.

In January I laid out some goals for the year. Let's see how I did!

Get that chapter published.
Yes! I did it! It was a huge weight off of my shoulders to get that out there.

Archive data from my dissertation.
I archived the data associated with the aforementioned chapter that was finally published as well as data from a second chapter, though not the second chapter I intended to archive this year! Not bad.

Define a 5-year career goal.
I've failed at defining a longer-term goal, but I did realize that I do have a near-term dream job in mind. I talked about it with my boss, coworker, and went out on a limb to mention the idea to the person most crucial to make it happen who was receptive to it. One problem with this dream job is that it would probably pretty insecure financially (aren't they always?!); there are plenty of other problems, but maybe I'll be able to push this idea along next year.

Make a will.
We made progress on this in fits and starts. Under pressure of deadline for writing this exact post, I finally plugged our names into a basic template (approved by a lawyer in the family) and printed it out. The next time we have adults over to witness, we'll sign. It's nothing complicated and the primary reason is to have clarity about what would happen to Adele if we both died. I thought about including more contingencies if the worst should happen (e.g. if we all die, donate all of our money to Small Friendly College), but for now we're keeping it simple. We don't really have much to leave behind anyways. I think we finally crossed into positive net worth this year (i.e. we now have more in retirement savings than in car and student loans).

Open a bank account for Adele.
Done! Now it just needs more money...

Make a friend.
I've made several! When we moved here 2 years ago, Jon jumped back into his circle of high school friends and quickly picked up a few others through mutual contacts. I hang out with them too, but I was lacking in my own friends. I now feel like I have a few close friends at work (bonds strengthened by adversity!), some local collaborator-ish friends (meaning our paths cross somewhat professionally), and some neighborhood parent friends. Most importantly, these are my friends first.

Become a better conversationalist.
I've mostly succeeded in this by more often putting myself in situations without Jon and/or Adele around to lean on/distract me, but it has also gotten easier to hold a conversation as A has gotten more independent.

Start a photo booking group.
This has been a huge success and is how I got the aforementioned neighborhood parent friends. I now have about 6 moms who come over about once a month to hang out on Friday or Saturday night. We talk a lot and do variable amounts of work on photo books (sometimes none!). These are parents with whom I feel we have a tremendous amount in common in terms of our approaches to all kinds of parenting issues. Finding these folks is one of the best things I did in 2015.

Make monthly and weekly goals.
I made weekly goals for most of the year. It does help keep me on track and focus on what is most important in a sea of more things that I'd like to do than I can possibly make time for.

I'll post my 2016 goals soon. Thank you to anyone who still finds this blog interesting enough to read. Goodbye, 2015!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Yeah, that's pretty much what happened

A month ago I wrote that I was about to get told my project was toast. Almost all of my predictions were dead on. My project is ending; I'm being shifted to the project I already had a foot in. Things worked out a little differently for my half-report, but nothing very surprising.

I went in with a heavy heart and tried to keep the daggers from my eyes under control in the meeting. I'm glad I spent the time blogging the night before because it really helped me process so I didn't have to do it all that day. I probably would have cried.

Surprisingly, I was already feeling much better about the change just a day later. For the first time in months, I have clarity about my work. I've joined a much larger team of people. It's a project that I know is important to people other than just me and my boss, and I know that my role in context of the larger project is highly valued. All of the work that I did on my dying project is highly relevant for this, including a valuable relationship that I developed. I also get to do lots of networking, get outside a bit, and maybe a little travel. I like this new job.

I still haven't widely communicated this change, mostly because I've been too caught up with all of the time-sensitive responsibilities of my new project. There's also an order in which people have to be told, and the person who made this decision held up part of that chain for a couple of weeks. I feel like the reason I have to give for the project ending is pretty weak but any other answer becomes much more complicated (and speculative, considering that I've never heard a clear reason from the person in control). It has been interesting to hear responses from the people I've told so far.

Because of the current timeline of my new project, I should have clarity about my work for the next six months. Beyond that, I might re-enter a new phase of uncertainty. Ideally, we'll figure out in the next six months what's next but realistically I'm not so sure that will happen. But I'm good for now.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Losing my project, but hopefully not my job

It's been a long time since I've felt the need to blog as much as I do tonight. I need this space to work through my grief. Based on a few meetings that are scheduled tomorrow, who they are with, and what they are called, I'm 99% sure I'm going to be told we're laying down my project. I need to write this because I need to get my anger out before I go into these meetings tomorrow. I need to be at least passably in the acceptance phase of grief tomorrow instead of feeling like I'm going to cry.

I was hired 18 months ago to work entirely on this project. It had a sizable grant to support it for about a year. I joined at the beginning of a massive institutional reorganization that is still happening. Four months in, my project lost its most powerful and important champion. I worked on a three-year project plan with a vision and mission for the project that was supposedly endorsed but then never resourced. The last year has been a long, slow decline under leadership that hasn't given a shit about this, and it's been a self-fulfilling prophecy on their part. I convened a meeting last February to discuss funding options and was told I couldn't write my own grants so instead I was at the mercy of institutional priorities. I had a couple of employees who I lost in the reorg, but they weren't great fits anyways and weren't invested in the project so that wasn't a huge loss. I picked up a woman for whom it's a much better fit in terms of interests and experience, but she's honestly overqualified for me to be supervising her and the other 50% of her time is on a project that is near and dear to leadership. The writing has been on the wall for months (e.g. being told there's no funding for us to attend a conference where we had two proposals accepted) but there has been no clarity whatsoever. I tried to have "leadership" meetings and I repeatedly canceled them because "leadership" could never make time to come. My project has been stuck in time for several months and has been dying a slow, silent death of starvation. I feel like I've staked some of my professional reputation on this project and it feels like a personal failure on some level even though it's not clear what I could have done differently (I guess this is the "bargaining" stage of grief).

I've written here about how much I love my job. I think I've been in denial about how doomed it has been because I still believed in it. I've continued to hold onto hope because it so clearly fits with our mission and other things we are doing. For months though I've been torn about whether I need to double down to make this work or work my way into other things. I've managed to do the latter while managing my project in maintenance mode.

The magnitude of the other project I've taken on along with other changes here mean that I think it's highly unlikely that I'll lose my employment, for which I am grateful. But I still feel both like a loser for whatever role I might have played in its failure and pissed at leadership for starving this project. I'm especially annoyed that they don't see the value in one particularly enormous opportunity that we're probably going to let fly right by.

I suppose it will be something of a relief to have clarity about what I should be doing (then again, I might just get conclusion with no clarity for future direction). It has been so frustrating to not know what my boss's boss wants us to be doing. I know my boss has been frustrated too. Our department as a whole spent the last year working on a bunch of things that just got dumped, so I know I'm not alone in these feelings.

I think tomorrow I'll have to come up with a plan to shut down my project and I think I'll be told my 50% of an employee will get moved fully to her other project. I've already started composing in my head some of the emails I have to write to colleagues and collaborators. I'll be asked to pick up more loose ends from one or two other people who recently left (I won't even get into that). I'll get to work on the project I'm excited about, and then I'll be asked to think big about what we should do next. I know my situation isn't that bad but I think it's important for me to face my grief about this project head-on instead of letting in fester. I have to be able to let my resentment go and fully embrace what is coming next. Stay tuned.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Still here

I still have a job for the foreseeable future but I also have a couple of other applications out there now. I've taken on some new responsibilities but I'm not going to be surprised if my boss's boss puts a freeze on my project. I like him a lot as a person but I've been continually frustrated by the complete lack of leadership from him on my project. It's suffering from benign neglect (and outright starvation, considering our crappy funding situation).

On the bright side, I'm excited about my new responsibilities and I know that I am (at least for now) making a highly valued contribution to the organization's work (meaning, I'm working a project that has some actual funding). I also get to work with lots of new people in this capacity which is great for networking. And best of all, it is highly related to "my" project so I'm able to apply a lot of what I've learned over the last year and a half.

I'm discouraged about how things have played out with my own project but optimistic about some of the conditions contributing to that changing radically over the next year. At the very least, we're getting out from some not useful upper management. Exciting times.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

There's security in chaos

It's helpful in life to have enabling constraints. You know, constants upon and around which you can make other decisions. Without some of those, it's a little bit like trying to nail jello to a wall or secure a tent on a windy beach.

Since I last wrote, circumstances at work have changed considerably. I'm much more optimistic about my continued employment and I have an opportunity to shape what that might look like. My project and job responsibilities are likely to change, but I'll be involved in that process. It's intimidating and the possibilities at this stage are so open that it's hard to know where to start or what to focus on. Wide open possibilities are a blessing, a curse, and a lot of work. That's where I'm at right now.

This current reorganization is probably going to take most of 2016--it feels like we're losing a year to the process. I am strongly considering applying for another fellowship just in case I end up reorganized out of a job next year. I'm not excited about applying, but it would probably be foolish of me not to.

In the short term, there are so many things up in the air that I'm unlikely to lose my job in the chaos. At least there's that!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Conference :-) and conference :-(

There were many great conversations and connections that came out of attending ESA earlier this month, but the highlight was an hour long chat with a prominent ecologist. I've been a fan of his work for a while and I jumped at the opportunity to meet with him. After a highly energetic conversation full of ideas, he said, "Let's keep in touch--especially if [organization] doesn't have the good sense to keep you employed." It's by no means a job offer (and I'm not at all optimistic that it would even be possible to work with him), but it was an encouraging affirmation of my skills and interests. I need to remember this when I'm feeling down.

The bad news that I just got from my boss this morning is that I can't go to a conference we were supposed to attend this fall. We had two presentations accepted about my project and we had to withdrawal them since we don't have the funds to attend. What a drag. It also makes us look bad. It's a miracle I got to go to ESA.

At this point I feel like we're being set up for failure. I don't know if I need to positioning myself to show how great I could be on other projects (to keep a job at all) or if I need to show how determined I am to make my project succeed so that they throw us some actual resources since this project has someone seriously invested in it. Either way, I need to be looking for other jobs. I've been sprucing up my profiles in all the various places they exist but haven't really looked actively. I recently saw an interesting one that is with someone whose work I love. I read the ad twice myself before my colleague sent it to me saying it sounded just like me. The problem is that it's far, far away from here and we're not interested in moving.

Job searching sucks.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

No resolution yet

I've spent a lot of mental and emotional energy on assessing the situation at my job recently. That vaguely important meeting I was supposed to attend got rescheduled for the end of the month. My colleague was told it was because "we haven't gotten together as a group in a while" but I'm not convinced.

Things that have happened since then:

  • Learned from someone who reports to one of our biggest internal supporters that said supporter doesn't have much (any?) political capital within the organization and might be doing my project more harm than good. 
  • That same person said that people in her group are already assuming my project is not worth spending time on because they know we're out of funding.
  • My VP didn't brief another VP properly on my project so my stomach turned somersaults while I tried to figure out how to work my (clearly 100% relevant to what he's discussing) project into a conversation with an outside group without making the other VP look uninformed. Does this mean my project is getting the axe? Or is my VP just not thinking about it? Or does he not see the connections because he never comes to the meetings? Seems bad no matter how you slice it.
  • My project was omitted from a draft presentation in which most other things in the department were included. Was it just an oversight? Or was it because someone said it shouldn't be mentioned in that presentation?
  • My VP isn't coming to our monthly project meeting... again. He's only attended one meeting so far this year. I think he might be out of town, but he doesn't seem invested enough to even ask me to reschedule for a time that he can attend. Is he just trying to avoid me until the end of the month when some major changes are announced?
  • I had a long talk with my boss about all of my concerns about the internal politics affecting my project and how in the world we're going to navigate these treacherous waters. I don't think she has any more information than I do, and I know she's concerned for her job too. If not now, then probably next year. 
I just feel so incredibly insecure about the future of my job, which makes it hard to make long-term plans. Part of me is afraid to make any kind of promises beyond the most immediate to any collaborators because I don't want to look like a fool if they pull the plug, but the catch is I know that seeming unstable is a sure way to lose collaborators! I have a great vision for my project and I'm 100% willing to fight for it because I believe in it, but I am unsure of the best way to go about doing that. We need more money, but I can't write my own grants. I don't know how much I should be working through the chain of command and how much I should be working around it. I don't know who I should be making my case to. 

So, I'm just trying to plug along on the things that I can do with my own time and a little of someone else's until I'm told otherwise. I still love what I get to do in my job but I am finding the climate increasingly toxic. I hope that the end of the month brings some clarity.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Anxiety about vague important meeting

I've gone quickly from cautiously optimistic to extremely anxious. After 5 pm on Friday, my boss's boss sent out a calendar invitation for a meeting for our group. I didn't think it was a big deal until I got a direct email asking me to be there in person at a time that I am supposed to be out of the office. It's going to be really inconvenient, so I asked to call in, and he said no, I need to be there in person. I asked my boss if I should be worried. She said she didn't know, but she sounded worried. I tried to find the person who called the meeting, but he was gone, so I didn't have a chance to ask him in person if I should be concerned about my job.

After talking to a couple of other colleagues, here's what we know. They're giving us our official job descriptions next week (which we haven't had for many months now). The person who lays people off will be on vacation next two weeks, so they can't fire me/us (we think). My other colleague who won't be around during that time hasn't received any special instructions. 

Here are my guesses of things that we'll find out at this meeting.
  • Probably one or more of my colleague's positions will be eliminated.
  • I might lose my half of my employee and she'll be put 100% on her other (clearly more important to the organization) project.
  • I might be partially or fully reassigned to a different project (I have no idea what that would be).
Maybe I'll get called into a private meeting before that one and I'll lose my job. Or maybe this won't directly affect me at all. Honestly, I have no idea, and the uncertainty feels really crappy.

Next week I'm going to ESA. Now I don't know if I need to be promoting my project or promoting myself. I really don't want a different job, but if they radically change mine internally then I'll probably start looking. Ugh.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Cautiously optimistic (for months now)

Where did June go, let alone July?! The pace has thankfully slowed down to reasonable at work since my last post in May. Thank goodness. I was really wearing thin. I still feel like there's not enough hours in the day or days in the week but now I don't feel like I'm holding up anyone else's work, just my own ideas & ambitions.

But the reason I wanted to write today is because I realized I've been in this state of "cautiously optimistic" about my project's funding for months now. I wrote back in March that my project didn't have enough funds to cover my salary starting in July. After that, I had a meeting with several higher-ups about the funding situation and they basically said they were kind of in a bind because of their higher ups and there wasn't really anything else I could do to help beyond what I had already. I'm in this weird position where I rely on other people to secure the funds for project (and therefore my salary), but I'm by far the one with the most skin in the game. It's a strange position to be in considering how many successful grant applications I wrote during grad school. I can write grants, but it is clearly not my job, even though my job depends on it.

We've got some stopgap funding for salaries only, which is better than losing my job but not a recipe for growth. We have two proposals pending that have been pending for months now. I've gone back and forth between being very discouraged and cautiously optimistic, but I'm pretty firmly in the cautiously optimistic camp most of the time.

Many people in my part of the department are anxious and disgruntled. They are complaining about bosses and management and unused talent and favoritism and lack of priorities or misplaced priorities and lack of resources (almost all of these are totally legitimate complaints). I might be the only person who is *not* looking for another job. I might be a total idiot for not doing so, but I am really committed to this and I don't *want* another job.

You see, my project is awesome. It's not getting the internal attention is deserves, but I am determined that its time will come and I want to be here to see it. It has some high-level endorsement even though some levels of management below that don't really get it. For reasons I won't go into, it would be really, really, really stupid if they eliminate my job, even if some people in the middle don't understand why it's important.

So, I'm trying to stay the course and crossing my fingers that my beloved boss does too. Maybe I'll know more in a few weeks, but I've been saying that for months now.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Depth and breadth of work

I've been working really hard for the last couple of months. Honestly, it feels a little too much like the home stretch of finishing my dissertation! Not that bad, but similar. Definitely unsustainable for much longer. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel now.

Due to a few different factors (all out of my control), everyone who works most closely with me has also had major demands on their time for other more important organizational projects. It's left me as the sole person holding down the fort during the most stressful time and meant that I couldn't delegate nearly as much as I would have liked to. As a result, I've not only been doing an incredible quantity of work, it has also been of tremendous breadth, and I think I've (for the most part) really been rocking it on all fronts.

Things I am doing:
-Writing for broad consumption/distribution
-Writing for social media
-Copyediting other people's writing
-Graphic design
-Stakeholder outreach and management
-Website management (& programming/development in a hacky kind of way)
-Troubleshooting bugs, testing, and managing our web developer
-Data manipulation, summation, and visualization

I feel like a real Jill-of-all-trades here, but I'm not supposed to be. Ideally, I'd delegate a big chunk of the writing, nearly all of the graphic design (and most importantly, management of the graphic design), most of the stakeholder management, copyediting, and social media. Aside from the sheer quantity of stuff I'm trying to do (which means some pieces are left undone), I feel like I'm doing a damn good job on all of these different tasks, and that feels good.

What doesn't feel good is seeing how little attention my project is getting internally. It's a big organization, and I think they'll come around, but it's almost laughable in the context of what else is going on. It's definitely not getting the attention it deserves. This is part of the reason I've been working so hard over the last couple of months. We also had the misfortunate of scheduling two events for internal promotion that totally conflicted with other higher-profile events, to the point where we just didn't stand a chance at getting significant attention.


Still, we managed to get some key ancillary support that could help elevate the program, and I doubt this perception of low internal support is widespread beyond the closest core team, and probably wouldn't be suspected by anyone externally. My boss knows I'm doing an awesome job despite difficult circumstances and she's trying to advocate for us too.

I know I'm doing the best I can, it's pretty damn good, and that feels great.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Supporting a former student's return to college

Last week I received an email from a former student asking for a letter of recommendation. I was her TA during my very first semester of grad school in 2007, then I wrote several letters of recommendation for summer research programs in spring 2009 (I blogged about it at the time). She then studied abroad in 2010 and I hadn't heard from her since.

In the meantime, she dropped out of college, moved somewhere else, got married, had 2 kids, and is now trying to return to school to finish her bachelor's degree and become a high school teacher. She has been accepted and needs the letter to apply for a scholarship. I very much want to support this woman. She was one of my most memorable and impressive students, and was the first in her family to be born in the U.S. and attend college.

Before I can write her a powerful letter, I think I need to talk with her directly about her path back to school. Her writing could use some editing. She sent mer her personal statement, and I actually have a couple of her old person statements on file from years ago. Her family (parents especially) loom large in her writings and there are some discrepancies between the two versions that I wouldn't expect to change with time. I also saw her transcript and she got some Fs that aren't explained at all in the personal statement. I think that needs to be acknowledged somehow if she's going to get a scholarship.

I'm excited for this student and really hope it works out. Anyone helped a student in a similar situation and have advice?

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Drowning at work

I am having trouble prioritizing work recently because there are so many time-sensitive things that are important. The result of my selective focus on the most important urgent things is that there is a growing backlog of sometimes urgent but less important things. I really don't foresee being able to catch up on this until June, and that's not a great feeling.

I'm in a position lately where I'm often the rate-limiting step and I have limited ability to delegate some of the responsibilities that I would like to because I only have 50% of one other person's time, and she's stretched just as thin as I am (if not more so!). There are lots of dependencies and reviews and approval needed by other people, but most of it has to be initiated by me. Something has to give! I can only do so much, and I clearly need to be smarter about the scope and depth of what I'm doing.

I am thankful that there's not a 24 hour work culture here, and I don't want to create it! As a result, even when I'm working evenings, if I compose emails I usually don't send them until the next morning so that people don't see (or always expect me to be) on email outside of work hours.

On the bright side, rumor has it that they're going to find stopgap funding for my project. At least that's a temporary relief! We were told in a meeting that "it's not like it used to be" and "everything is dynamic" (read: no one has guaranteed job security) but I'm busting my butt to make sure they want to keep this project around for the long haul.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

It's finally published!

The chapter of my dissertation that was "almost ready to submit" for almost 2 years is finally published! I submitted and resubmitted it in November, got reviews back before Christmas, and resubmitted revisions last month. Then editor moved quickly to accept and it was online before I knew it (literally)!

It's such a relief to finally have this done after hanging over my head for so long. There's still another piece of it that I have to do something with, but this is an important milestone, and I'm going to celebrate it with a big bowl of ice cream. As my daughter would say with pride, "I did it!"

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Maybe I don't have job security?

When I got this awesome job that I love, I wrote, "This is a place I can stay for a many years and hopefully make a career." Unfortunately, it doesn't feel nearly that secure anymore. The boat got rocked seriously last fall when my boss's boss got reorganized out of a job. It was happening at the same time we were doing budgeting for 2015. I realized I didn't write about it at all at the time, but by the end of the year things settled well.


It took a while to figure it all out, but in December we (meaning me and my boss) realized that instead of having organization support PLUS the remains of a grant, for 2015 we have ONLY the remains of the grant that created my job. For 100% of my salary & benefits and 50% of someone else's. My project does not currently have enough money to pay my salary for the second half of 2015. 

We have some prospects for other funding but nothing exactly on the way. There are people in other groups who help with stuff like this, so it's not just my responsibility, but clearly I've got the biggest stake in its success. One possibility that we thought might work out (and the 2015 budget was actually counting on it) probably won't. I mentioned that kind of casually somehow to our accounts person (mistake!) who mentioned it casually to my boss's boss's boss (eek). 

The timing could not have been worse. The organizational leadership has vaguely referred to making big cuts because of a budget shortfall, but we haven't been told what will be cut. Everyone is under pressure to save money and bring in more.

Shortly after that conversation, my boss's boss's boss suddenly appeared in my office (everyone between us was out of town) and asked if my project was going to be $X short in 2015. I think I managed to put out that fire because we still have some funding prospects, but she's definitely concerned and said we might have to make "hard decisions" if there's not more money coming in by mid-April (we're ok through June). 

My project has good longer-term funding potential, but it might need some kind of stopgap funding to get us through 2015. I have some meetings later this week about it. I am still optimistic that something will work out, but it's making me and the rest of my team sweat.

Sounds pretty much like I'm on soft money after all. I thought I'd dodged that bullet when I left academia!

Monday, March 2, 2015

"I applied for your job." And yours. And yours, too!

Last month I attended a conference where my personal theme for the meeting seemed to be "I applied for your job." It's a damn small world, and that's one of many reasons why you shouldn't ever be a jerk to anyone. Let me explain.

Case 1. On the first day of the meeting, I sat down with another person from my organization. She works in a different department and we've met but I really don't know her very well yet. She started just a couple of months after I did. If I hadn't gotten my job, I definitely would have applied for hers. After everyone else left, she turned to me and said, "You know I applied for your job, right?" No, I totally didn't. My boss had told me that the other top candidate also had a PhD, and I knew that she knew this person, but I definitely didn't know that it was her!

Case 2. I've interacted a couple of times, mostly online, with someone who works at a nearby organization. She was at the conference, and she had a poster right across from mine. I applied for her job.

Case 3. I was interviewed for a postdoc in 2013 and wrote about it as the "nicest rejection ever." They hired someone awesome who had more experience than me. Her poster was next to mine. I introduced myself and we chatted a bit, but we both had a steady stream of poster visitors.

I did end up talking at length to her postdoc advisor who had interviewed me. It was my first time meeting him in person. There are some intersections between my current work and theirs, so he invited me to a planning meeting later this month. He also said to let him know if I'm looking for a postdoc in the future! That was very kind and flattering.

One thing he said to me in 2013 at the end of my phone interview with him for the postdoc really stuck with me. He said, "I look forward to seeing what you do because I'm sure it will be interesting." I think I'm living up to that, and darn proud of it.

Cheers to being surrounded by people whose work excites you so much that you wanted to do it yourself! (P.S. I think I got the best job :-)

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Goals for 2015

I know I'm late to this, but I think better late than never. I really like the tradition of looking forward to the year ahead and laying out my goals, even when they don't come to fruition. There's always hope!

Get that chapter published. It needs fairly minor revisions. The bigger challenge right now is trying to get the data and scripts in a reproducible format. The journal doesn't require it, but I think it's the right thing to do.

Archive data from my dissertation. Not all of it, but two chapters worth. One chapter is the aforementioned manuscript in revision, and the other is data for its corresponding manuscript that realistically I will never publish. So, the least I can do is get the data out there. I admit that I'm intimidated by this task.

Define a 5-year career goal. I was so relieved and excited to get my current job that I stopped thinking about what's next. I would like to stay in this position for a while, but I know I should still be thinking about how to further my career in this new non-academic environment.

Make a will. We don't have one, and we should, for the sake of our daughter.

Open a bank account for Adele. It's time she had her own!

Make a friend. We've been here for a year now and I still don't have any friends that I see regularly who are just my friends and not Jon's. I'd like to have at least one friend who fits that criterion by the end of the year!

Become a better conversationalist. I've noticed recently that I do better in social situations if I go in with a mental plan. I tend to do better if I'm alone, actually, than if I'm with Jon and/or Adele. I tend to let Jon carry the conversation too often, and with Adele I have a hard time turning down my parent-brain in order to carry on interesting conversation while trying to pay attention to her. What this means for me is that I need to take a few moments before arriving at an event to mentally prepare for being conversational and remind myself how to get conversations going.

Start a photo booking group. I want to get to know other parents with young kids in our neighborhood without the kids around, so I'd like to invite a handful of parents over after bedtime about once a month with the excuse of working on photo books. It would help me make progress on some books I want to make for Adele and would be way more fun than doing it alone. I think of this as a book club without the reading, or a scrapbooking group without the paper and scissors.

Make monthly and weekly goals. I stopped making weekly goals, but I think I need to pick that up again, for both work and home life.

I'm looking forward to gardening in our yard without biting off more than I can chew. I'm trying to take a long view of the yard and tackle it bit by bit. I also look forward to Adele becoming more and more communicative. She'll turn 2 in May. I'm sometimes sad that she's no longer a little baby, but toddlerhood has its delights, too (like for me, much more sleep!).

Overall, I hope that 2015 will be a year of stability and growth for us-- socially, financially, and botanically! Cheers to 2015!