211: Planning for the Best and Worst of Circumstances

211: Planning for the Best and Worst of Circumstances


In this episode, Dra. Yvette discusses the topic of how she plans for the best and worst of circumstances and what happens when both of those things happen at the same time. She also shares an update on a recent trip she made to Princeton University and the lessons she’s learned from her recent speaking engagements.


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Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 0:02

Welcome back, everyone to another episode of the Grad School Femtoring podcast. This is your host, Doctora Yvette. Today I have a short and sweet solo episode for you. I'm going to be talking to you about planning for the best and worst of circumstances. I am bringing up this topic because it relates a lot to what's happened to me recently, I just got back from a trip to Princeton University, where I was invited to give two talks, the events went very, very well.

But if I sound a little weird, if you hear me coughing, it's because I'm currently recovering from COVID. I did catch COVID on my trip back home. And if I think about it, the best of circumstances and the worst of circumstances for this trip, both happened. On the side of the best circumstances, what I pictured in my head for a successful trip was having, you know, giving to successful talks, having a really, really great experience, feeling included in this environment, building community with folks, you know, at another campus and institution, and all of those things happened.

My first event was actually a workshop that I gave on academic wellness, to a group of women of color and non binary graduate students who have founded this collective called Bloom that emphasizes the need for wellness for graduate students. So they asked me to give a workshop that was open to the larger campus community. And after the workshop, I also got to meet solely with the collective solely with the org members, the core members, and facilitate a pulse workshop dialogue. And to do that I walked them through a life assessment exercise, I had them put pen on paper, and I get to play with markers get to create a life wheel and really, really think about where they are in different areas of their life and what they can do to push the needle forward to get closer to living a life aligned with their own version of success.

It was so beautiful, the audience couldn't have been more beautiful, more warm. I had some individuals approached me after I gave my workshop to thank me to ask for additional insights. One graduate student was an international student. She is also chronically ill, and was talking to me about the challenges for her and balancing tending to her needs and needing to rest while at the same time wanting to meet her graduate program milestones in a timely manner. So we talked about that. There was another graduate student who approached me and thanked me for talking about neuro divergence in my workshop. She was recently diagnosed as ASD, so on the autism spectrum, and really could relate to a lot of the things that I shared. And like I said, she was very appreciative that someone like me, talked about strategies that were also neurodivergent friendly. So there was that.

And, yeah, I just, I felt so accommodated during both events, from making sure that there was food that I can eat, and I, I eat a mostly vegan diet due to due to food allergies and food intolerances. And they were, you know, they made sure that I had something that I could eat. They were so welcoming of me bringing my son on me, you know, I brought him with me on this trip. I didn't even say anything. I didn't even ask for permission. I was like, I'm just gonna bring him and let's see what happens. I brought him. folks didn't bat an eye. They made sure he had a place to sit. They made sure he had snacks. I mean, I even had someone who helped me by walking him, you know, to the restroom that was close by and making sure he got back while I was giving my talk. So again, just very much felt like I was part of a community. That was the first event.

The second event was the keynote for the Princeton Prospective Preview program. This is a two day event that brings in juniors, seniors and folks who have taken a gap year or two, to learn all about the hidden curriculum of grad school. That is the purpose of the event to teach the hidden curriculum. And so of course, for them to invite me as the main speaker as the keynote to talk about the hidden curriculum couldn't have been more perfect. I felt so comfortable. So at ease.

Once again, the team the access, diversity and inclusion ADI team at Princeton University, I want to give y'all a shout out to so let's give a shout out to the Bloom collective, women of color graduate students. At Princeton, shout out to you all, you're doing amazing work, we need more orgs like this, this type of mission, and shout out to the ADI team, that's access diversity inclusion team at Princeton University at The Graduate School there. Y'all made me feel so welcome. You know, including one of them. Her name was Nova was mentioning to me she's like, oh, yeah, I'm gonna bring my toddler tomorrow. And I'm like, woof, I wish I could have brought my toddler but she wouldn't have let me speak.

So it just felt really good for folks to be so accommodating to not bat an eye over, you know, me bringing my kid or needing you know, having certain access needs like needing a podium, to make sure that I have something to lean on. So that I don't get too weak when I'm speaking. That's all part of my chronic illness needs. Having food. And even just the the audience itself was so engaging, they asked so many questions, but during my talk, and after I loved it, and and after the talk was over a several people approaching me asking me a bunch of questions, asking my son questions, too, it was really, really such a lovely event, I hope that I can continue to give talks like this, both at Princeton and also at other campuses.

And, you know, the whole time, I, of course, was nervous, not so much about giving the talk itself, because these are topics that are near and dear to me that I can just go on and on about on my own. Without much prep. I was nervous about, you know, my health, and making sure that I'm okay and that I am at my best so I can give my best to others as well. I was of course worried about getting COVID I masked everywhere that I went. And despite being very, very careful, I don't know how but I still caught it.

I am very, very lucky that this round of COVID has been milder. But that was the worst thing that could have happened was I go on the trip. I do what I can to be careful. And I get sick, and I not just get sick, but I get sick with COVID. Yeah, so this what this reminds me of is well, two things. First is knowing that no matter what happens under the best of our worst of circumstances, you can do hard things. And you will get through whatever it is that you're going through, you will get through it. You've gone through it, you've gone through difficult things before you can get through difficult things today. I'm here, I'm standing, I'm surviving and soon once I'm fully recovered, I'll be thriving again. So that's that.

The other thing it reminds me of is that you know what I I didn't freak out too much when I realized that I was sick, because I was really quick to switch to survival mode and I was really really quick to switch to my minimum goals. So one of the concepts that I introduced to a lot of people who I work with and also you know, when I when I give workshops on sustainable productivity is this concept of minimum and maximum goals planning for the best and the worst of circumstances. So your minimum goals are what are the minimum absolute bare bones, things you need to get done to survive? Sometimes that means like, getting out of bed or feeding yourself or, you know, today I brush my teeth so that was a successful day. That can mean that can be your minimum goal.

A maximum goal is, under ideal circumstances, everything is going well. What's the most that you can do without burning out, without making yourself sick? That's the maximum goal. So for me, I'm like, okay, maximum goal, ideal best circumstances minimum goal, not ideal, worst of circumstances. The best happened at during my trip, everything went well, I plan for the best it happened. Wonderful. Worst that can happen also happened. I started to develop symptoms was symptomatic as soon as the day after I landed back from my trip. And immediately I switch to survival mode.

I was like, okay, where are the meetings that I can cancel this week? What are the meetings I can reschedule? What are the meetings, I can switch to audio only? What is my capacity level today, taking in a day, a moment really at a time? What's the minimum I need to get done to be surviving. And it all depends on my capacity levels, too. If I were bedridden, my minimum goals would be very different from how I'm feeling now I'm sick, but I'm not bedridden, I can get some things done. And so that's what I've been doing is very, very quickly, I switch to survival mode, I'm not trying to do all the things, you know, I'm doing this, this podcast, and I really didn't have to, but I know that recording podcast episodes for me are nourishing, they, they really do provide me with energy as opposed to sucking energy out of me.

So I know what tasks that I do on any week that either are energy draining, or energy fueling. And so in this case, I thought to myself, well, I could do, I could offer a replay of another episode. Or I can record a solo episode, I thought to myself, you know what, I do have the spoons, I do have the capacity. And if anything is gonna make me feel even better, it's gonna give me an energy boost to record this. So I thought, let me sit down.

For folks who have already heard about my minimum and maximum goals. This is just a reminder, for folks who haven't heard of it, then hopefully, introducing this concept for yourself will help you to make that switch. So that when life happens, you can instantly switch to survival mode, instantly switch to minimum goals, and just focus on getting through this tough patch until you're better. And then you can go back to thriving, then you can go back to your maximum goals, and then remind yourself that if you can be somewhere in the middle, if you can meet yourself in the middle of your minimum and maximum goals, that's also really, really good. That's also good enough.

So many of us are so so hard on ourselves. And it doesn't help that we live in a country and in a world especially in this country in the US that is so folk focus on hyper capitalistic workaholism, exploitation just work, work, work, work. And you know what I love working, I love the work that I do. But my life is not all about work. We also need to take care of ourselves, we also need to have the time to tend to other parts of our lives that have nothing to do with the work that we do that pays our bills.

And so this is just your reminder that you're not no one else is going to tell you this because it's in no one else's best interest, especially folks who rely on your labor. It's not in their best interest for you to take care of yourself for you to slow down. But trust me, I care. I care about myself. I care about my friends, my family care about my community, I care about my listeners. And hopefully, you have others around you who also care about you and who will also either encourage you to take care of yourself.

And again, allow yourself to be on minimum goal mode for the time being for the season being whatever however long it needs to be until you can get back to thriving again. So that's it. It's just you know, I'm continuing to be on survival mode. I don't know how long I'm going to be on survival mode, but I also know that this too is going to pass. And then I'm going to look back on my trip. Actually not thinking about oh my gosh, I got COVID. But instead, I'm gonna look back on it really, really fondly.

And I hope that this is just the start of many other future virtual and in person speaking engagements that I can give that again, I feel just as good as this one that are in alignment. If you're needing someone to cover the hidden curriculum, if you're needing someone to facilitate sessions on wellness, facilitate sessions on sustainable productivity, to help people to get unstuck, reach out and here, I will be here and I'm gonna get a lot busier next year with the book coming out.

But you know, I've got my strategies that helped me to make it to make it work. And hopefully this was helpful for you too. Okay. That's it for this week. I hope you all had a wonderful rest of your week. And for me, you know, I hope that I can feel better soon so that you can listen to me once again this time next week. Okay, bye bye.

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