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Day 60: The feeling of lying in the grass

Today we went to The Gathering Place, a ginormous and extravagant park in Tulsa, OK. It was the first 70 degree day this year — and I think everyone in a 100-mile vicinity had the same idea. It was packed!

To escape the crowds, we found a quiet area with lots of grass. We all sprawled out, relaxing under the mid-southern sun. It was wonderful. Happy leap year day! February 29th!

Day 58: An Engaged Audience

During the semester, I team up with fellow PhD students and give graduate workshops to other students across the university. Students come from all backgrounds — history, STEM, agriculture, psychology, biochemistry, and etc. We teach everything from the abstract to literature reviews and how to write about your research for public audiences. Sometimes it is hit or miss with audience participation. However, this week and last week, we have had incredible graduate students ask thoughtful questions, engage in our activities, and leave feeling like they’ve learned something of value. This is not always the case! Sometimes they’re disinterested or distracted. So although this may seem like a small wonder, it is still a wonder to have a room engage and participate with what you are teaching!

A side shot of the library, where we hold the graduate workshops.

Day 57: Puppy Therapy

Today was the second day I’ve brought Shiloh, now nearing 11 weeks, to the university. I’m grateful to live only about ten minutes away, so I can bring her and take her home in a feasible amount of time.

When I walk her though campus, the joy I see on strangers’ expressions and friends’ faces brings me the feeling of wonder. It’s almost like a wonder domino effect. Shiloh brings delight to someone, I witness their faces, the delight spreads to me.

We all need more puppy therapy at busy college campuses.

Day 56: Tiny Art that Inspires

I know I already shared earlier this week about the wonder of unexpected notes in the mail, but I couldn’t help myself to double dipping. My friend Jacqueline Alnes owns an Etsy shop called, PhDistance, where she creates the most inspiring art. Usually the art is paired by a quote. She recently sent me some surprise treats in the mail. I hung them up above B’s play kitchen, right next to our kitchen, so I can look at them every morning.

Day 53: The Wonder of Water (Happy birthday to my dad!)

Earlier this year I asked my dad what he thought of wonder and how he experienced it. “Every time I dive into the pool I experience wonder,” he said. Even though he’d done the act a million times, his body still felt curiosity and excitement during the initial dive.

My dad is a swift swimmer, ambitious chef, and the best father and now Pop Pop in the darn universe. I’m so grateful for him and hope he has a wonderful birthday full of many more new recipes and record breaking swim times.

Day 50: The Power of Money

I’m struggling to place wonder tonight and I think this feeling engages with what I’m calling the power of money.

Short story: I need a car. My car is a 1995 Jeep Grand Cherokee that I love. But it struggles to hit highway speeds, leaks a mass amount of power steering fluid, has a broken radio, taped on headlight, to name a few. But these aesthetic components don’t really bother me. To me, the car has a roughness, an edge that I admire. It’s not prissy or needy. I love my car in the way I love an old friend. When you love something like that it’s easy to pull back criticism or judgment.

I have needed a new car for a while. But I’ve postponed getting one. However, now is the time to get one even though I make below poverty as a graduate teaching assistant.

But I have access to FAFSA government loans. These loans are easy to take out. Almost too easy.

Today I had to take out more for a very strong down payment I’m putting on a beautiful new (to me) car.

This act has left me restless. I’ve wrestled with not doing it, then going back to doing it (getting the car). Money stress has the power we feed it.

After I had time to think about this decision (in the shower, no less) I was able to mute the fears and worries about loans and think: yes. Yes. Get the car. It will bring you endless memories and safety and adventure. Money comes and go. Money will come.

The thing is, I’m temporarily in a tough spot as a PhD student. But I only have a couple years left. So I guess I’m arriving at two wonders today: money has power; but our minds have control over how much power to give external forces like money.

And—never doubt the stillness of a good hot shower to receive the answer you’ve been searching for.