Keeping it all organized

A lot of people ask me how I manage to keep my busy schedule so organized.   To be honest with you, I’m not really sure.  I’ve just been used to doing fifty different things at once- I don’t know any different!

Admittedly, it is difficult to be a student and work full time.  I don’t really feel like it’s much different being a faculty member and working full time either.  The only difference is that maybe in the future when I teach a class again, I won’t have the same amount of class prep that I’m doing now.  After 16 years of juggling student responsibilities with life responsibilities, I’ve come up with a pretty good method for keeping it “together”, which I will share with you now.

  1. Accepting the fact that I won’t have a large group of friends or a kickin’ social life.  This was pretty easy for me, but I have to admit that I do sometimes feel a little jealous of people who drop everything at a moment’s notice because a group of people are going out to a movie or dinner.
  2. Be willing to turn down fun time with the few friends I have (who understand my crazy life) when there’s stuff to do for class.  This is the hardest thing to do.  I’m pretty good at saying, sorry….again.
  3. Tell as many people as possible about my life.  If everyone knows what I need to do, then I’m more likely to do it.  This also helps when I have to say no to an invitation for fun.
  4. Put monthly calendars up on the wall above my desk.  I have the entire semester mapped out at home, so I can see at a glance what’s due and when.
  5. Make the work area pleasant.  I love my office/library room at home.  I have books all around me and a nice set up.  On the wall above my semester calendars, you’ll find a 17th century painting of “Queen Bess”, a family heirloom from my grandparents.
  6. Keep up with it.  I am a big fan of checklists.  I have them everywhere: at work, in the car, in my purse, on my desk at home.  Here’s what I usually use, which got me through graduate school.  I figure if it worked then, it should work for me now as a faculty member too!

As you can see, I have something I do EVERY day.  That’s the key to my success in doing it all and keeping sane.  I do something every day so I don’t have “marathon” evenings or stay up late.

What I put on my check-off lists are the non-negotiable things which cannot be moved around.  I work my way backwards, usually trying to do things two days before they need to be done.  I’m taking Spring Break off work, so that will be a good time to get ahead.

It helps to have a snazzy check off sheet too.  It’s all in the presentation, right?


Meet My Owl: the one that started it all…

In this week’s Meet My Owl segment, I’d like to introduce you to the owl that started it all.

Yes, in any collector’s stash, there’s that one item that started the madness.  My starter owl was actually a gift from a co-worker.  I didn’t start this madness.  I blame it on someone else.

This little guy was given to me by a colleague when I left Distance Learning to work in University College.  She knew I had just started a doctoral program and said that she thought an owl was an appropriate symbol of my new life journey.

Little did I know that this little paperweight would be the catalyst for an owl obsession…

He sits in my office at work and is a wonderful conversation-starter.  For some reason, when parents come to my office with their student, it’s one of the first things they comment on.   I moved it last year from my desk to a side table and it seems to be the ice breaker now.

And, in case of an emergency, I can use him to break my window.

Teaching 130 people in an online chat…WHAT?!

This semester, I am teaching two classes distance learning.  One is purely televised.  The other is my mammoth class of 130 students.  That one is for Psychoeducational Groups.

With a class like this one, the main objective of the class is to learn about groups.  So what’s the best way to do this?  Make a group!  Obviously, this is the class where students design their own group.

I got the bright idea that instead of lecturing every week for 3 hours at 7pm on a Thursday night, I’d go hybrid.  What that means is that the class lecture is every other week.  On the “off” weeks, I set up Blackboard for my students to work in groups via live chat.   That way, they don’t have to try to do this all via email- keeping in mind these students are from all over the state, as well as Arizona and Washington.

It’s the second “off ” week tonight and it’s been an interesting ride.  The technology issues that plagued the first “off” week are resolved.  Now, folks are getting comfortable with the process and excited about their projects.   It’s great to see them challenged, frustrated, happy, and proud.  All of the happy and stress makes me feel like I’m doing my job.  Challenging and supporting.  That’s me.

At 7pm, I popped online, armed with my water bottle and a full tummy.  Okay, so maybe I sneaked a couple of caramel corn pops before I started.

It’s now almost 9pm and I just finished bouncing between groups.  At ten minute intervals, I go from chat room to chat room.  Fifteen groups allow me to get through only two total times.  It’s crazy, exhausting, and really fun!

Here’s a shot of me “teaching” tonight…

Yeah, so I’m teaching in my flannel jammies.  Don’t judge.  🙂

Things I love right now

It occurred to me today that most people don’t know me, or at least me away from being a student.  I thought that maybe I could share things with you that I am loving *right now*- what a better way to get to know someone?!

I think I’ll do this once a week, just like the Meet My Owl posts.

Without further ado, here is what I’m loving big time right now…

1.  The Company Store flannel sheets.  I’m a Michigan girl.  I love flannel sheets, but it’s hard to find nice flannel in the stores.  It’s either too thin or pills up.  The Company Store has a great flannel sheet line, which I adore.  I just took mine out of the dryer and they are so toasty warm…zzzzzzzz

Who wouldn’t want to snuggle up into these super cute sheets?

2.  Philosophy‘s Amazing Grace shower scrub and perfume:  if you are not familiar with Philosophy, it’s a skin care company that moved into full body care product lines.  They’re known for their body line scents with fun fragrances.  I love their things year round, but this time of year it’s their Amazing Grace scent that I gravitate towards.  If I had to describe the scent, I would say it’s floral, but it’s very subtle and musky.  Every time I wear this scent to gigs, one of the guys in the band inevitably tells me how good I smell.  Philosophy’s body scrub wash is fabulous this time of year when you feel like your skin just can’t get any more wintery.

amazing grace

3.  The Body Shop‘s Hemp Hand Protector.  This is my go-to hand lotion for the winter, but I use this year round.  During the summer, it goes on my feet and heels.  I’ve had the same tube for probably about three years.  It lasts forever.  And the scent…it’s masculine and earthy, but not offensive.  Love it.

Hemp Hand Protector4.  Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot.  For those of you who don’t know about my love for mystery, I am a HUGE mystery reader.  When I was in my graduate and doctoral programs, the only books I really read were mysteries.  When Kevin got us Netflix last fall, one of the first things I did was put all of the Agatha Christie movies into my list of things to watch.   I love Agatha Christie anyway, but David Suchet does a phenomenal job in his portrayal of Hercule Poirot.  Try as I might, I can never figure out the ending of Agatha Christie stories!


Hopefully this helped you to learn more about me through my current loves.  Every week I’ll share something new!

So I have this thing with owls…

I know, it’s weird.  I have this thing with owls.  In the past four years, I’ve somehow started collecting owls.  Not just “nature” type looking owls, but the retro big-eyed owls.

When I was in elementary school, my first grade teacher collected owls.  They were everywhere.  I remember thinking it was kind of creepy.  Is this my future?  In 20 or 30 years when I retire from ODU, will people talk about me like I’m the crazy owl lady?  Will I have a shrine of owls covering my office?  Will my husband have to organize an intervention as the owls take over my home?  Who knows!!!

As with all things that people collect, each item seems to have a story.  So, I have decided that once a week, I will do a post called “Meet My Owl”.  Ha!

Once a week, you’ll get a peek into my weird owl habit and you’ll hear a story about an owl in my collection.  Prepared to be amused, informed, and perhaps even horrified.

Without further ado, meet the first owl at the Hall Hacienda…

Welcome to the Hall Hacienda.  "Owl" be your host...

This is the first owl that I bought when Kevin and I moved into the “Hall Hacienda”, as we like to call it.   This was the first owl that I bought for myself.  You’ll get to meet the owl that started it all next week.

I bought this door knocker off of Ebay on a whim.  I love it!  It’s so quirky and completely unexpected for new guests when they come up to the front door.  It’s definitely vintage.  I’m not sure if it’s brass but it’s heavy.  I love vintage finds because you can spend all day thinking about where the item was in a prior owner’s life.  Did Mr. Owl perch himself on the door of a swanky house?  Did he belong to a crazy owl person like myself?  Was he the property of a nice little old lady in an apartment with too many cats?

So there you go.   The first installment of Meet My Owl.

Scared yet?

Curses of Type A students upon me…

So what happens when you take a recently graduated Type A doctoral student and put her in a class to teach a bunch of Type A students?  Madness!!!

This must be what parents wish on their children who misbehaved when they were little.  Just wait until you grow up and have children of your own- then you’ll see…..

Last night,  I had my first Type A challenge from a student.  On air!  Then, the emails started flying in this morning.

Oh, little does she know that she’s met her Type A match.


Getting used to it

So I’m a month into my life as a “non-student” and it’s been pretty interesting.  I’m teaching two classes here at ODU, and I’m just as busy as I was during my dissertation.  I really hope I teach the same classes in the fall so all of this class prep work doesn’t go to waste!

I’m loving teaching though.  It’s so much fun to see people learn.  Light-bulb moments are my favorite.

Sometimes, I feel like I should be stressing out about writing.  It’s weird to be done. 

I’m not sure where this blog is going to go.  I can’t imagine that my life is interesting enough to read about on a daily basis, but I know that it’s certainly weird enough to keep people amused.  I thought that perhaps after I finished my dissertation that I could make a blog about all of the irresponsible things I could do.  But then, I realized that I’d probably not do anything irresponsible. 🙂

Maybe what I’ll do is not have a plan.  I KNOW!  Me?  Not have a plan?! 

Look- I’m being irresponsible already!