I am so very thankful for being able to take the time to sit here and write this post in the first place. Things like serving in my role as Student Ambassador continues some semblance of normalcy that I know I for one truly took for granted pre-pandemic. A week in my life this time last year is different, feels different than it does now and I hope it will be different this time next year. Here’s to hoping!
My name is Juleane Johnson and I am a full-time employee at UC San Diego and full-time student in the Higher Education Leadership program at the University of San Diego (though currently taking a leave of absence…to be explained later). Life, in a nutshell, is pretty full, brimming.
There’s nothing garden variety about the comings and goings of day-to-day life.
My week ends on Saturdays and starts on Sundays where I spend a 8-hour work shift’s worth of time on my own to give my undivided attention to my action research project. I am working on completing this final major requirement of the graduate program, a project that allows me to bring my academic and professional worlds together as a graduate student and an Administrator that co-supervises and trains college student employees. I have dedicated the last 6-9 months working toward better serving the student staff I am responsible for as they transition beyond their time as undergrad students as part of the workforce. This consists of going through the data I’ve collected again and again, re-reading literature or looking for more literature on my topic and research model, meeting with critical friends (virtually), and setting up social time with colleagues and friends (virtually) to allow for some breathing room.
On week ends, I hold up in my family’s house without the TV on, mobile phone on vibrate, blinds open, and my brunch for the day. It would be nice to also set this scene by saying “and I have a hydro flask of water close by,” but I don’t want to lie to you. I’m working on that (getting the expected daily intake of water) as well as being physically active 2 to 3 times a week. Again, don’t want to lie to you, but I’ve been getting more consistent as my academic, professional, and personal plates continue to be filled.
I live in a 3-generation household and they are deeply supportive of my pursuits. Weekends are now AR weekends and they’ve given me that. When I switch gears after my action research work shift, it’s quality time with family. Most of us have received at least one dose of a vaccine shot so our Sunday family days/dinners that we had prior to the pandemic, we can bring them back. This involves watching movies with my two cousins and our grandmother, playing Pinochle cards with my Uncle, and keeping my 8-year old Godson and his 3-year old little brother occupied alongside my parents.
Before I start the upcoming work week, I try to already have my to-do list written down in my personal life planner, mostly grocery shopping and friend dates. Of course, with the health pandemic, my personal planning calendar is a bit light.
I work from home most days. I work in an office currently in a hybrid occupation model to keep density as low as possible. I’m in-person/in the office, no more than 5-6 times a month which is great as a commuter! But I’m someone who relishes disconnecting from home life to go to my work-life and leave my work-life to return to home life instead of it all being in the same space. I feel more attuned to and in-step with my professional self here.
As a supervisor to student staff, I must role model adaptability on the fly, change management, self-care, honest communication, and providing support services that look and feel different than any of us know or are accustomed to. Much easier said than done.
I make time to take the lunch hour seriously more often than I used to pre-pandemic and also adding elements like going outside, taking a walk, and actively look for ways to fill up my energy tank. I have to admit this is most reflective of what my work week looks like during the lunch hour when I am physically in the office. When I’m with my in-home co-workers, things don’t usually work out that way, but that’s alright.
If it’s a Wednesday or Friday night, it’s my turn to cook during the week once work is done. I have to plan my day and/or nights around my cooking days depending on what I’m making especially if the recipe calls for 6-9 hours using a slow cooker.
On the nights I don’t go from work mode straight into schoolwork mode, I am grateful to my friends and family who have and continue to help me live life and add value to the notion of working to live instead of living to work. Virtual cooking dates, keeping up with one (1) currently running TV show with my grandmother (MAFS and don’t judge…I want to be a social scientist someday), playing Pinochle with my parents (it’s a family game as you can tell) have made this last year in quarantine full for me.
Every day that ticks by is a day closer to the end of the Spring’21 semester when I finally complete my action research project, complete the research paper and present my work to my professors, colleagues, and hopefully family and friends. This gift (now my research journal) is from my parents and reminds me of all the support, love, care, and inspiration I have received during my time as a grad student since starting in September 2018. I’m still working on making this image a reality and even when I finally earn my Master’s degree, I know the work is never done and is just another beginning.