Developing a Researcher Identity, Part I

It may sound silly, but I hadn't really given much thought to my identity as a researcher before starting my PhD. Even once I knew I was coming here and had a sense of what I wanted to research, I didn't label myself a researcher.

Oh, I'd spent time consciously learning to identify as a scholar, starting with the first time I presented at an academic conference, and really growing comfortable with my identity as a teacher-writer-scholar as I finished my MA. And the process of calling myself a writer took intense, deliberate work, including guided meditations, journaling, and just plain working hard at all the things I learned writing entailed. Even as life-long as my writing has been, assuming the identity of a writer, being able to confidently say, "I am a writer", took work. Teaching, too, was another identity I continue to build.

I'm not sure why I didn't realize that PhD work wasn't about assuming the identity of a grad student. In some ways, that…

Celebrating Poetry, Day Three

Today on my run
I noticed how hardwired
my thoughts are for feet and miles and inches;
metric is a language
I haven't made time to learn.

But my feet understand the distance,
they know the language, whatever my mind says.
Those miles add up;
not as quickly as the kilometers!

Celebrating Poetry, Day Two

I am noticing the way
the new to me green tea
filling my nose
with spice and sunshine--

A perfect Monday start.

Celebrating April with Poetry, Day 1

I'm reading The Pen and the Bell right now, and there are a few other places in my life where I am being reminded to find mindful attention. Add that to the fact that April is National Poetry Month both here in my new home and back in the States, and I feel a bit of a blog challenge coming on...
I know it's unlikely I'll be able to share a poem every single day, but I'm going to try to follow Miller and Hughes's poetic noticing as a more consistent practice this month, and when I do, I'll share the offerings with you. I'll also link to favorite poems of mine to spread a little bit of beauty.
Today the sunlight belied my icy fingertips
Snow still on the ground sap rising in the trees
April is here; spring is shifting, settling, waiting
I'm noticing the possibility of a changed routine.
Poem of the day: "Introduction to Poetry" by Billy Collins
(A great one to use to teach poetry, particularly if, like me, your poetry units wander from t…

Gratitude on this journey

I've spent much of the past few weeks in meetings, presenting my work, and digging into various research projects, with a bit of intense writing to round out the process. Right now, I'm taking a break from writing book reviews and ranking various teacher resources for a project my supervisor is working on.

I. Love. My. Job.

No, I haven't been on fire every minute since coming here, and yes, the stress of academia and shifting to the PhD mindset is sometimes overwhelming. But on the balance, and especially right now, I click so well with this work, and I am thriving in this environment.

It's kind of a shock; I spent so much of early adulthood as a restless wanderer, taking Tolkien's bumper-sticker maxim that "not all who wander are lost" as my defining mantra, that to feel settled and rooted, content with myself (mostly) and my work is a foreign sensation.

I'm reading Brenda Miller and Holly J. Hughes's The Pen and the Bell for my writing class rig…

Why does "Hercules" miss the mark?

So much of my work and dialogue this semester seems to go back to the idea of stories; the tellers of tales, what they tell (or omit), and the purpose of sometimes deliberately re-storying events to offer an alternate perspective. Because of this immersion in the nature and importance of story, my already-analytically-inclined mind has been encountering all narratives outside of the classroom as objects of scrutiny. (Something very similar happened early in my education as an English major, when I had to teach myself how to stop analyzing everything I read). And, because I am also an unabashed nerdy oddball, one of the things I'm chewing on right now is Disney's 1997 Hercules.

*It's on my radar because the last time I was at the gym, I pulled up an epic Disney playlist on YouTube, and that meant I was watching scenes from the film, rather than just running along to the music like I usually do.

I had forgotten how deliberately the movie was attempting some very creative re-s…

A Love Letter to Canadian Publishing

Dear Canadian Children's Book Publishers,

Thank you. Every time I encounter a truly amazing picture book lately, when I flip to the front, I shouldn't be surprised that it came from one of you. Whether its a story about questioning gender roles or being fairy tale superheros, you do not disappoint. With grace and a view to the wider world, you are releasing stories rich with diversity and real life; stories about refugees as children we could all recognize, stories about children looking out for their families, stories about finding your voice, even when you are shy.

Your stories are beautifully illustrated, and the narratives are rich with grit, true friendship, self awareness, and other positive attributes that can be tricky to teach, but at the same time, your tales are not preachy or aggressive. I love the subtle normalcy that permeates the books, even in tales of dramatic differences; we're pretty different, after all, and isn't that a beautiful thing?

I'm ast…