By Lisa Regula Meyer
The last couple of weeks haven’t brought lots of interesting news around our house. If I’m being honest, it’s been simply more of the same with a friend having a biopsy for possible cancer later this week (can I say “Screw you, cancer”), another friend going through health complications (on top of everything else) with her child, a student who’s going through an extremely rough patch and in need of desperate help, and there’s ongoing health concerns with my father-in-law that are a mystery, but he’s finally having them addressed. In the midst of all this stress that isn’t mine directly but that I have to navigate around, I have found myself focusing on silver linings, bright sides, and the simple pleasures (to throw together a mash up of happy cliches). It’s helpful for me, and gives me the strength to be what other people need from me at that moment.
Health– Yeah, I may have a slight cold but that’s nothing compared to what others have to deal with, obviously. This winter has been pretty mild for our house, frankly, with no major flu or other illnesses hitting our house. In fact, with the help of a faculty and staff wellness program at work my health has been improving and I’ve been losing some of the weight I packed on while dealing with the crap of the past couple of years. This is one blessing that I could pack up as easily as other blessings and share with those who need.
Family– They might be annoying at times and a source of stress at others, but they’re mine and they’ve been there through so much for me. It’s awkward, and they’re hard relationships to maintain but we do it. We recently had a visit from my mother-in-law and her new husband, and it actually went far better than I had expected. She and I can’t hold a conversation to save our lives and have almost nothing in common. Heck, I can’t even get her to talk about our difficulties. But we had a good visit, playing board games after brunch, and having fun as a family. My brother-in-law even showed up, and both he and his wife came out for dinner.
Friends– They are my rock, and have helped me through so much. The least I can do for them is to reciprocate when they need it, and as much as I wish they weren’t going through the issues they currently are, I’m glad to have the chance to return the help that they have given me over the years. One friend nearly made me cry by asking if I would help her and her husband by carrying their child if her health issues end up being worse than we all want them to be. Even though I hadn’t been thinking of myself doing another surrogacy, the possibility of helping a friend in this way has me a bit excited, I have to admit; she would make an amazing mom.
Job– Even though I’m currently one of those adjunct faculty members that are getting an increasing amount of national attention, I enjoy my job. I love it, really. I know this adjunct thing is temporary, and have solid applications out to a number of tenure track jobs and a campus interview in a week. No, I don’t have all the resources that I need, but I’m finding creative ways to fill the gaps that benefit my students and my research. I’m learning skills to be a better educator with less, and with the help of another colleague, I’m writing my courses to be intentionally more inclusive and present more of the history of biology than just old white guys by talking about researchers like Rachel Carson, Rosalind Franklin, Wangari Maathai, and Tyrone Hayes. And I have great fun with side projects like this blog, Fireside Science, and Ear to the Ground.
Home– My husband and my son, the home that we’ve made together, and our life are amazing. I can’t imagine any other place to be or who to be there with. Yes, it’s tough; yes, it has challenges, but at the end of the day this is the life I chose, and this is the life I would choose over and over again. I have what I need, and I have enough to share what I have.
I just wish that more people in my life could say the same right now, and I’ll keep doing what I can until they’re there.