Monday, February 28, 2011

misplaced guilt

So, last week I asked for a raise/promotion. I haven't heard back yet, but I feel guilty for asking. I know, at some level, that I shouldn't. I know I worked hard, have valuable skills, and have performed exceptionally well. I know that. But I also know how I feel. I may deserve what I asked for -- actually I am sure that I do.

But I also know I have co-workers that make much less than I already make. That the money for salaries is not infinite, and that paying me more means someone else may have to take less. That really I already make enough. Intellectually, I also know that this is not my problem.

But it still feels like my problem. Maybe this is why women don't ask for raises. Maybe we empathize to much with the other guy. I don't know. Studies say that women don't tend to ask for promotions or raises, where their male counterparts do. I have seen articles that attribute much of the pay gap between men and women to this reticence.

I think I'm experiencing misplaced guilt. The kicker is I might not even get what I asked for. Maybe the answer is no. Will I be relieved or angry if that's the answer?

Monday, February 21, 2011

wishing for spring

I can't help it -- I am wishing for spring. We had a lovely day on Friday, with the temperature getting up to 70 or so. I was able to go outside for a walk at lunch. I cannot believe how feeling the sun on my back improved my mood. Blue sky. Sun. Warmth. Buds on the trees. Robins in the yard. Magnificent.

Today it is 35 degrees again. The forecast calls for sleet and snow. I'm cold. I'm uncomfortable. I know that soon enough, there will be sunshine and the turn of the season.

Sometimes, it's hard to wait.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

the study has started

The research study I am volunteering for has begun. I have selected a mantra, from a list of choices -- om mani padme hum -- which is the one I am already used to. And I have picked my passage for meditation.

Let me tell you one thing
If you want peace of mind
Do not find fault with others
Rather learn to see your own faults
Learn to make the world your own
no one is a stranger, my child
This world is your own
== Devi

This is the passage I will use for my daily meditation for the next six months. I am journalling every day as well.

I will be meeting with a study guide every week as well.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

this resonates more

this resonates so much more for me than the ten commandments, and I think, leads to a better life

these are the 10 Grave Precepts of Buddhism:

# Affirm life; Do not kill.
# Be giving; Do not steal.
# Honor the body; Do not misuse sexuality.
# Manifest truth; Do not lie.
# Proceed clearly; Do not cloud the mind.
# See the perfection; Do not speak of others' errors and faults.
# Realize self and other as one; Do not elevate the self and blame others.
# Give generously; Do not be withholding.
# Actualize harmony; Do not be angry.
# Experience the intimacy of things; Do not defile the Three Treasures.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

a look into the past

To finish my graduate program, I have to submit a portfolio that is essentially a snapshot of my work toward the MLA. One of the sections is about why I went to graduate school, and why the MLA. Part of that section requires inclusion of the essay I wrote for my application. It's interesting to look back on that now, so here it is, what I wrote back in June of 2006 on why:

I haven’t written an essay in quite a while, so forgive me if I seem a little rusty. Hopefully, it will be like riding a bike, and it will just come back to me.

So why do I want to go back to school? And why a Masters in Liberal Arts? When you are a child, answers are easy and straightforward. I could just say, “I like school” and be done with it. Or I could say, “because I want to”, and you would just smile and nod your head. Unfortunately, as you get older, reasons become more complex. It’s no longer just one thing. I suppose a part of why is because I simply miss the classroom experience. I miss reading interesting works, instead of technical articles. I miss discussion, real discussion with give and take and an exchange of ideas. It is possible that I even miss writing papers, or at least miss having written them.

Partially, it’s the practical that persuades me. Every year, this fine institution sees fit to give me tuition remission. And every year, I just let it sit, without doing anything with it. The good, blue-collar person inside says “What are you doing? That’s like throwing away money!” When else will I ever get to go to school on someone else’s dime? I occasionally like to do something rational.

I also have a sense that I’ve left something undone. Years ago, I took a few graduate classes in English, with the thought that I would like to be a professor. It turns out that I loved the learning, but was not really cut out for the profession. I still feel like I have work left to do at that level, that perhaps there is a book or two in me after all. Without the school framework, I doubt I would ever write them.

Professionally, I am on shakier ground. I have a decent career as a database analyst and programmer. The addition of an MLA after my name will probably do little or nothing to advance that career. It’s not going to get me a raise or a promotion or open up other opportunities for me. It is true that for some positions , employers want an advanced degree, and don’t care particularly much which flavor it is. But the truth is that I am forty-three years old. I have accomplished pretty much everything I wanted to accomplish from a career standpoint. A bigger job doesn’t interest me.

I have reached a point where I can take some time to do what I want to do. And this is what I want to do.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

the happy accident

We have become used to finding what we are looking for, or not even having to look. We do internet searches, and then sift through matches. We have apps that bring us things we are looking for. We have a GPS so we get exactly where we are going. I can download articles for papers, never having to search the stacks. I can listen to internet radio, and it will suggest things like what I already like.

I am troubled by all of this. What happens when we no longer find what we are NOT looking for? where is serendipity, stumbling on something, the happy accident? What happens to discovery? How do we expand, broaden our interests, branch out?

Thursday, February 03, 2011

the human cost

I think we need some sort of new calculus, a way of factoring in the human cost to political decisions. What is the cost of Mubarak's decision to stay in power? In Egypt, people are fighting, getting injured, some dying, to end an oppressive regime. What does our military presence in the Middle East cost us? We know the dollars and cents answers. But our soldiers are dying in Iraq, in Afghanistan, over 5000 of them, in what appears to be an endless conflict. At home, some in Congress are trying to limit the definition of what constitutes rape, in order to save money on healthcare.

I think if we re-did the math, we'd find the human cost is just too high.