By Joycelyn Moody - JMoody's Musings
My WellAcademic co-founder Roxanne has encouraged me for months to write a blog post on the apps I use to manage my daily life. She and I are thinking women in the academy, and corporate worlds make apps that are beneficial to us and other academics.
When I’ve advised some of the apps described below to my coaching clients, they’ve generally appreciated them as professionalizing tools. They’ve assured me not everybody online, using Facebook and other social media, already know these apps. Their enthusiasm, and Roxanne’s pushing, has led me to this post.
First off, let me note that I (do my damndest to) protect the passwords to all my apps by one I hold sacred: 1Password.
After dressing in the morning, I write in my Five-Minute Journal App--literally only five minutes. Its best parts are that it induces gratitude and generosity and solicits “Today’s picture.” When I was moving house last spring, each day I photographed the rising stack of packed book boxes, then once moved, the steady dwindling of boxes as my partner and I unpacked. (A process still underway.)
Some mornings, I choose to meditate rather than write. I have tried a variety of free guided meditations available on the Internet. Among the most interesting and helpful: Headspace and Calm. Meditation Studio is my favorite, well worth the subscription fee. There’s no MacBook version yet, only phone and notebook for android and Apple products. It has soothed me for over a year now. I appreciate 10-minute directive to “Honor Your Strengths.” Or one of its other mini-meditations in collections that break into topics like “Stress,” “Anxiety,” “Pain,” “Performance,” and “Relationships.” There are also specialized collections for “Moms,” “Kids,” “Teens,” “Veterans,” “Quarterlife,” and “First Responders.”
Meditation Studio's pauses run anywhere from 2 minutes to 60-plus. I’m just trying the “Zen” collection—who knew?! And every night I drift off to a meditation of the “Sleep” collection options to fall and stay asleep.
Obviously, and happily, meditation is a big part of my life even though I confess I mostly sit for only several minutes at a time. My iPhone Health app tracks how long I meditate each day, which I mention less to acknowledge my OCD than to affirm that meditation is least of all a race or something to race through.
Speaking of my OCD, I relentlessly check my computer usage with RescueTime (that’s replaced Toggl). I need RescueTime’s numerical assurance I’m kicking butt in the academic sphere. Just as nerdily, I consult ToDoist, then join my Writing Sisters in Google Hangouts.
My Mac devices provide me access to Time Out, a gem that reminds me to take a 15-second restorative eye break, then later a 10-minute stretch break. Remember: hitting the skip bar defeats the purpose! (Thanks, David Cook Martín, for this tip years ago.)
Also during my writing session (with all other apps turned off—ahem), I track distracting thoughts like what to add to my grocery shopping list in Google Keep. It’s a very versatile app, so I use it now and again to take a gratitude break (e.g., to pause when I want to go off on a colleague). My partner and I share our Google Keep account, too: easy peasy when she does the grocery shopping –yay! Notes in this free Google app can be transferred later to Google docs or kept in Keep for months. Conveniently, my students generally complete assignments in Google docs, or we swap documents in Dropbox.
For longer notes with links and photos, Evernote has an extraordinary range of tools. It even has a scanning feature that saved me on a recent trip when I needed to send a signed document. If you’re willing to try only one app from this list, choose Evernote. Like virtually all of these apps, trust me when I say this one is not difficult for Luddites and novices to learn.
I still feel like there are suspicious geeks building software to make the computer user miserable, and I’m still put off by too many tabs in any one app and yet, after Keep, Evernote is my go-to. For a monthly fee, you can run it on all your tech devices and share it with family members. And also, as with most apps cited here, you can grab a really decent free version.
Hmmm, what more? Quite a few actually; I’ll post others on WellAcademic in the coming months. I’ll close by naming helpful traveling apps, because we academics are traveling bunch, whether to give talks or attend workshops. Akin to the safety SurfEasy provides, What’s App keeps my phone charges down while I’m out of the county.
By the time I reach my destination, I’ve reviewed my Tripcase itinerary and upgraded my Lyft link. No Uber link, of course, due to its abhorrent treatment of people of color, immigrants, and women.
During flights, I dive into the saved articles in my Pocket, my absolutely favorite app, and how I learned about most of the resources in this blog post. (All the others were Tips from My Sweetness, an entrepreneur and rabid user of technology). Pocket stores endless current short pieces about productivity tools, health, news, politics, happiness studies and positive psychology, and of course meditation. Or I listen to a book downloaded into Audible.
Once on land, I immediately open mapquest since I have a terrible sense of direction and get lost in a closet (said the lesbian blogger: haha). In my hotel room, I make a concerted effort to do a little yoga before I order room service or step out for fresh air and a stroll to a nearby wine shop.
Well, that’s it: apps from a quick sweep of my iPhone and a peek into the nerdy life of JMoody. If these apps interest you, happy downloading!
Final note: I did not receive any compensation from the apps I share above.
Until next time,
By Nichole Guillory (WellAcademic Guest Blogger) - Mothering in Color
Note: I intend for Mothering in Color to not only address my role as a biological mom. In this two-part post, I consider how our classrooms might also be mothering spaces where we help students to think critically and challenge assumptions. In Part I, which follows, I pay tribute to five young women college students as intellectual daughters of so many women who refused silence and used public platforms to critique injustice. In Part II, I reflect on what classrooms as “mothering spaces” look like in the academy.
You don’t know me, but because of all the news coverage, I feel a connection to you. The five of you took a knee in a college football stadium during the pre-game national anthem on a warm September evening in the middle of Newt Gingrich’s old Congressional district. This is the same district that is home to Kennesaw Mountain, the site of the famous Civil War battle during the 1864 Atlanta Campaign, where Union forces waged a bloody attack on the Confederate Army of Tennessee. The Confederates won that battle, and they have been reminding us of that fact ever since. The football stadium where you took a knee sits in the shadow of this mountain and its historical legacy, literally and figuratively.
You have articulated a very clear rationale for taking a knee: to protest racial injustice and police brutality against Black people in this country. You have made it crystal clear that you are not protesting the flag or the military even though locals have accused you of being unpatriotic, ungrateful, and disrespectful.
Even when the local sheriff used the local newspaper to disparage your actions and call for your removal from the cheerleading squad—some have labeled his actions as intimidation—and said that he was doing so not as the sheriff but as a local citizen season ticket holder, you remained steadfast in your commitment.
Even when local news reports uncovered text messages that revealed the sheriff and the chair of the Georgia legislature’s house appropriations subcommittee on higher education may have pressured your university president to remove you from the football field during the pre-game national anthem, you called for a meeting with the president so he could explain the athletic department’s sudden change in pre-game activities.
Even from the stadium tunnel, the site of your banishment from the field, you continued to take a knee outside of the view of fans and cameras. You remained strong and determined, courageous and bold.
Your actions prompted other young people on campus to organize themselves and protest on behalf of your first amendment rights and against the athletic department’s decision to remove all cheerleaders from the field during the national anthem. Students protested during our new President’s formal investiture ceremony, a grand celebration attended by state and local leaders; community stakeholders; faculty, staff, and students. A band played on the campus green and people ate a catered lunch under a big tent while students chanted, “Land of the free, but we can’t take a knee.” I could not have imagined a more contradictory, meaningful, high stakes moment inspired by your actions.
I think about you often. How you are coping with the endless hate, a lot of it forever documented on social media, hate-driven posts that demanded you go back to Africa, suggested you go back to giving blow jobs to football players, and called for your scholarships to be revoked. How you are managing to get your assignments done with the non-stop media requests from around the world for interviews and comments on your stories, some of which have not been completely truthful. How you remain steadfast in your commitment to continue taking a knee when not doing so would be so much easier on you and your families. How your families must be so proud and yet so terrified for you.
I hope that faculty support for you and your first amendment rights continues to increase. In my own teaching, I always strive to help students develop good arguments with supporting evidence and analyze multiple perspectives so that they become stronger writers and critical consumers of content. You have had to defend your actions too many times to count, and every time, against a loud din of hatred, I heard a strong clear argument—to protest racial injustice in this country.
Having been through a few student protests now, I am in awe of former and current students thinking through contradictory perspectives, voicing their concerns through effective argumentation, organizing on social media, always ready to take risks. I realize that the success of these protests matters little. What matters most is that students are thinking through difficult issues and thinking of themselves in relation to others, as part of a collective—a characteristic the millennial generation is often accused of ignoring in favor of more individualistic paradigms—that they understand they deserve better.
All of you have disrupted the everyday-ness of oppression. Unless something big happens, something obviously unjust, too often we go about our day dealing with micro aggressive behaviors against us. We suffer in silence because to do otherwise takes just too much energy. Your bravery showed us that we can be more courageous and that naming injustice is a necessary first step in the fight to end it.
Standing on the shoulders of Sojourner Truth, Ida B. Wells, the Combahee River Collective, Audre Lorde, among many others, you are the daughters of a long line of women intellectual-activists who have refused silence, choosing instead to use the public sphere to critique injustice. Your example provides me with hope that movements—big and small—continue to be birthed in educational spaces.
Finally, you have reminded us that Black lives do matter and that Black women have always been and continue to be important players in the fight for our civil rights.
Nichole Guillory, PhD, is Professor of Curriculum and Instruction at Kennesaw State University. She publishes on the experiences of women of color in the academy. She is mom to Nicholas, the love of her life. We couldn't be happier that she has agreed to pen a new series for WellAcademic, Mothering in Color.
By Roxanne Donovan - Wellness
I am ready for a real fall break. One where I choose NOT to do any academic work.
Yes, you read that right. No replying to (or even reading) work emails, no grading, no reviewing, no writing...nothing. A fall break where I choose to spend all my time (re)connecting with my family and myself.
Let me cut through the confusion and disbelief: a no-work fall break is not the academic equivalent of a unicorn. It’s real--and possible--and necessary.
That last point—breaks are necessary—is super important. Our bodies aren't made to just work, work, work. Don't believe me? See this research, or this, or this. Seriously, there's tons of evidence showing vacations increase productivity, happiness, and creativity while decreasing illness, burnout, and boredom. This means taking a real fall break is good for you AND your university.
But this break won’t just happen: planning and transparency are required. So here are six ways to set up an actual, honest-to-goodness break.
1. Tell EVERYONE your plan to take a no-work fall break. This includes colleagues, students, administrators, chairs, etc. If there's push-back, share the research above. You might inspire a few of them to take their own no-work breaks.
2. Be specific about when you will have things completed after your return to minimize questions or confusion. Careful not to let guilt and optimism cloud your judgment. Best to add at least a few days to the time you think you will have something done.
3. At least a week before your break starts, request extensions for those deadlines you just realized occur during fall break or right after you return. Next year you can make sure this step isn’t necessary.
4. Say no to all new requests that come along with a November or December due date. Any new commitments will infringe on your ability to prepare for, enjoy, and maintain the benefits of your break.
5. Don't forget to turn on your automatic out-of-office email reply. Don't hedge here. You want to clearly state you are unavailable. Feel free to use this template: Thank you for contacting me. [Name of university] is on fall break. I return to the office when classes resume on [date] and will read and respond to emails at that time. If I receive a large number of messages while away (which is likely), it will take me several days to process them all. Your patience is appreciated.
6. Finally, savor your time away. You deserve an enriching revivifying fall break. And your body, mind, and spirit need it.
In peace and solidarity,