Biophysics in the Big Easy

Ah, some science.  Finally.

I really needed something to rekindle my passion for science (I know, the story of my life and blog…).  This trip truly did it, though I was a tad lonely through it all.

I’ve never been to New Orleans, so why not go during a large science conference a few weeks before Mardi Gras?  (Note: Mardi Gras begins in January here. Did not know that.)

This was the longest I’ve been away from Lily, and it was much harder for me than I had anticipated.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed sleeping through the night and time by myself (introvert, remember?), but I missed her.  I missed her smiles and hugs, and I missed her beautiful voice.  I felt like I was missing a milestone or two.

But the whole trip was important for my science and career.  I’ll never say never with regards to becoming a SAHM, but I know how much I love science, and how much I crave being able to use the gift of science that God gave me.  So for the time being, I’m pursuing science.

The best part about the Biophysical Society is how focused they are on career development.  I LOVE that.  You can often get lost in these conferences in the scientific talks, and somehow be persuaded that only academic jobs are available.  Not at this conference.  I learned about how to brand myself, change my resume for non-academic jobs, and how marketable my skills actually are (NMR for the win!!!).  I truly focused on career development during this conference, and I’m so glad I did because I’m feeling more motivated to pursue a non-academic career.

But the science … it wasn’t spectacular.  But the conversations were.  And that’s truly what science is all about.  Let me be honest for a moment.  I hate networking and talking to random strangers.  It’s awkward and uncomfortable.  I imagine introducing myself to someone, feeling awkward, and getting rejected – much like how I imagine speed dating.  (There was a speed-networking event at the conference, which I proceeded to skip…).  But I was determined to get out of my comfort zone.  So I introduced myself to some speakers, had a conversation, engaged in the poster session…

And I met people…

I met the the guy who LOVES my paper from the NIH (!!!!).

I met our collaborator who wants to be involved.

I met the scientist that challenged everything I had done, and I defended it, gracefully.

I met my PI’s colleague from graduate school without needing an introduction.

I actually networked without it being “networking.” That was the best part.  The science was meh.  But the people were great.

I also got some “me” time in.  A massage and facial.  A walk along the riverfront.  Dinners with fresh seafood and good cocktails.  Yes, please, and thank you, New Orleans.






New Year, New Peace

It’s taken me a long time to write this.

The year only started a month… almost two months ago.

I really struggled with picking my word for the year.  It’s the hip thing to do in the Catholic blogging world.

What if I chose the wrong word?

What if everything I thought this year would be wasn’t?

What if I failed at truly living out my goal for the year?

As my mind churned and churned, my anxiety heightened.  I found myself comparing myself to others – not feeling good enough, feeling like an imposter.  Who am I really to be writing a blog about motherhood, faith, and science?

Then I stopped.  I paused.  I thought about why I started this blog.  And it wasn’t to reach a huge following.  It was for me to share my thoughts.  I began it therapeutically.  So I could feel some peace in my mind and thoughts

And there it was: Peace.

How do I find peace this year?  What will I do to bring about peace in my life and to those around me?

As I thought more about this word, I found myself drawn to the words of Saint Teresa of Calcutta: “What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family.”

Peace is simple.  And yet for those who struggle with anxiety, it can be a mountain to climb.  I can go weeks without feeling a sense of peace.  But those moments of peace are beautiful.  It’s waking up before everyone else to sit in the quiet and just be.  It’s waking to nurse a baby in the middle of the night when everything else is still.  It’s the stillness in lab in the early morning when no one else has arrived.

So how do I find peace beyond those still moments even in the hustle and bustle of life?  And how do I share that peace with others around me?