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Wednesday, January 15, 2020

A Different Kind Of Sewing Project

Wallaby joey pouches

For years, I've thought that out of the slew of issues I care about, climate change was at the top of my list.  However, like so many other people, I also hoped we had more time before we would start seeing the impact.  But the increase in severe weather-related events all over the world combined with a torrent of discouraging news from climate scientists have made me feel very pessimistic.  In recent horrible events, it appears that climate change has at the least contributed to the severity of Australia's bush fires with high temperatures and prolonged droughts.

There has been a good deal of media coverage of the suffering caused by these fires, including the toll on Australia's wild animals.  So when I received an email from Mood Fabrics describing a project to make pouches for rescued kangaroo and wallaby joeys, I decided to contribute.  You can read about it here; I decided to use Piccolo Studio's free tutorial and downloadable pattern.  As anyone who sews can attest, it is not uncommon to have a healthy stash of perfectly nice fabric that is languishing for any number of reasons, often because the pieces are too small to make a garment out of but too large to throw away.  In the spirit of sustainability (and decluttering my home) I used some of these fabrics, and feel that they were put to very good use.

To keep things relatively simple and to squeeze out more pouches from my selection of fabrics, I opted to make the smaller wallaby joey pouches instead of the kangaroo ones.  All five pouches I made are lined in flannel.  The blue one in the picture that doesn't have a scooped front is intended to be a night pouch that will be harder for the joey to peek out of while he/she is sleeping.

I'll send these off today to the person who is collecting them to send to Australia.  I hope they'll be useful.  And I fervently hope that we can all collectively take action to rein in these changes in our climate that are contributing to so much misery.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Grad School As A "Nontraditional" Student: Fourth Semester Review

My fourth semester of Grad School 2.0 is finished!  This makes me 80% of the way done, which truly feels exhilarating, especially when I remember how demoralized I felt after fall semester last year, which was possibly the busiest time of my adult life.

This semester has its share of ups and downs.  Academically, things were easier this semester than fall or spring semester of last year.  I think that's mostly because I had fewer total classes.  Internship was a mixed bag.  I was at two sites that were a very long commute from home.  One site had a population I was more interested in, but a weird, passive aggressive supervisor.  The other one had a great supervisor but a population I knew wouldn't be my first choice to work with professionally.  But, it's done, and I have an internship I'm very excited about for next semester (adult outpatient). 

Oh, and that class I had to retake from last semester?  I got an A this semester!  I requested permission to take it at another institution.  This turned out to be a very good move. Not only did I get a better grade, but I learned more and had a more pleasant experience than I had had in any of these subject's classes at my home institution.  The only downside was having to pay tuition to an additional university, but at this point, I feel it was money very well spent.

I don't have too many lessons to share from this semester, but here's what I can think of:
1.  Don't be afraid to advocate to do something unusual.  I'm thinking specifically of requesting to take a class at another university here.  Sometimes you have to use your hard-earned life experience and realize when something just isn't working out.  The worst that can happen is that someone can say no, but even then, making a request sometimes alerts someone to a problem.
2.  Even if you're an independent adult, you may need someone's help to clear an obstacle.  This lesson is a tough one for me, largely because I think it's risky to rely on other people to help you.  But grad school is full of trying (and sometimes unfair) experiences just like anything else.  And personally, I feel like I have had way fewer cards to play as a student than I have at most jobs.  This semester, I had two notable instances of receiving help to clear obstacles.  One came from a professor helping advance my case to take a course at another university after I initially encountered resistance.  Another came from another person helping to make sure that my less-than-stellar internship supervisor from this semester didn't completely gum up the works for me (there is way more to that story than I want to rehash here).  I think all the usual common sense applies here about choosing your battles and not creating needless drama with people.  But I also think that most programs want people to graduate in a timely fashion, so if you look like you're on a good trajectory to do that, people will often help pave the way for you.
3.  Academic programs are (generally) finite.  I say "generally" because some doctoral programs seem to magically expand every time a student appears to approach the end.  But most other degree and certificate programs are intended to be for a fixed period of time.  And time always passes, so if you can just keep yourself going, you'll get there.  Generally speaking, partially completed degrees or certificates won't do much for you professionally, so I think it's usually worth trying to finish unless you've had a complete change of heart about what you want to do, the amount of money you'll spend trying to finish isn't worth the eventual reward, or you have extenuating life circumstances that make it impossible to finish.

Wish me luck!  If all goes well, I'll be writing my last ever of this series of posts in May.