Thursday, 19 March 2015

What it might mean when you begin to "put yourself in charge"

Uggh, I've been having frequent interrupted sleeping lately - just waking up at various times in the night for no particular reason (or when experiencing hormonal night sweats! yes, they are a big drag) and the latest advice on the net is to gear yourself up early for a night of good sleep by turning off screens- get away from the laptop, tablet, phone and turn off the telly at least an hour before hitting the sack. So, as I sit here at 11.30 pm on the spur of the moment decision to look at my neglected blog, I wonder what I am setting myself up for tonight. Let's see how it goes. I'm going to make this post short in some attempt to have some peace later on.

I've logged on now, I guess, because my mind has been in a bit of a whirl about what my next moves in life will be. My job is now finished - the final day was last Thursday. I've gone through the expected lengthy questioning about whether I made the right decision to move now before I have something else lined up, have experienced, and am still experiencing aches of guilt that I am not contributing financially to the family income at the moment, and feeling a bit of a sense of loss, if nothing else, of the routine that one has when one pick's oneself up everyday, often through the cold and rain on the bike, to participate in the conflicting world of paid work. If only we didn't invest so much of our identities in this, it may feel easier to move on and forward.

For the last couple of months I've been confining my job searches to suitable university administration/project work, and as I posted in January (or late December) I was unsuccessful in my last interview - still it was a good experience. Over the last few days I've started to widen the search out of curiosity to see what sorts of things might be possible. Chris Humphrey's postac Jobs On Toast website has been helpful in prompting some of this. But it was an article I came across tonight by Jennifer Polk 'Be vulnerable, be brave' that offered a few words of wisdom and has been sticking with me. Reading it felt like confirmation that my decision to leave the job now was the absolute right thing to do. The more I think about it, the more I realise that this move is my first step in beginning to "put yourself in charge" as Jen writes. Her final words, the internet speak "takeaway" message is this:

be vulnerable, be brave, and put yourself in charge. Whatever comes of it, at least you'll know you gave it your all, and that you honoured who you really are. You owe yourself that much. I'm rooting for you.

Thank you Jen, for rooting for the postacs who are making these kind f decisions, but also for people like me, a postac who's already made the transition out of the PhD, adjunct world and into alternative employment (albeit as an 'alt-ac', but still...). I'm just another example of what this working world is now like. Nothing is forever, new challenges are always presenting themselves and forcing us out of our comfort zones. It's hard sometimes to get to the point where we can will ourselves to 'be vulnerable' when it doesn't always instantly reward us or make us feel heroic about its related sense of 'bravery'. But vulnerability is an important, meaningful part of growth and won't do us too much harm. Onward I go. Let's hope that the night ahead is filled with sweet dreams.

See Jennifer Polk's website;

Apologies for not providing links - too much to manage at this hour. Next step - laptop shut down.

Friday, 27 February 2015

Starting anew once again

Just over a month has past since my last entry and much has happened. In short, I have decided it is time to move on from my current job. There has been lots of ruminating about it, feelings of guilt that I should hang on and just give it a go, that sort of thing, but instinct was telling me, and was confirmed after my consultation about the details of the new role, that it would not be positive to stay. I am obliged to only give four weeks notice but have given them an extra two weeks as nothing else is lined up and I was hoping to finish off some projects, not to mention take up some of the annual leave time that I accrued. Being part-time, that has meant that there haven't been too many full days of work left. The last couple of weeks have been chaotic busy time with what seems like an endless list of tasks and waiting for others to get back to me to complete things. In addition, other mini crisis management things have come up to keep me busy - all of this has just added amounted to an increase of stress levels at the moment that I'm hoping to manager better today on this day off and over the weekend so I can get a better sleep. It's actually probably a combination of knowing the end is near and not knowing what lies ahead that is really accentuating some anxiety. I think once I finish and have some time to just get to grips with this and relax a bit then I'll feel better. Sticking to getting some regular exercise with the running should help - it seems to have a positive effect when the headaches come on and helps promote some relaxation.

So, it's all starting again for me, the re-thinking and planning ahead for the next steps. I may not have secure work in place for a bit, but I've never really been out for work for extended periods of time in the past. Overall, I'm feeling secure in my decision to leave and positive about the future but this is mixed with some overwhelming thoughts about the potential uncertainty of it all. I thought I may not be spending too much time on this blog but maybe this will change. Watch this space. I'm sure at the very least I'll be posting some short updates every now and then for those of you who may be interested and who may be experiencing similar journeys.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

How fast things can change

It's quite funny, actually, or should I say ironic, that in my last post I was writing about how fairly good things were at work and that I was in no rush to move on. It was all suiting me just fine. Well, not too long after my colleagues and I were informed that the organisation was making plans for a major restructure which would impact on some people's jobs, whether this would mean changes to their roles or making the phasing out the role to introduce something altogether different. Already the next line area managers were reapplying for roles that were changing from what they had been previously - all of these people were successful and are making new business plans for their areas. I've now discovered that my role will have different responsibilities added to it and I will be line-managed by another person in a different area who has been with the organisation less than a year. The areas I am told that need attention don't exactly thrill me with excitement and the new manager's interests don't seem to coincide with mine very much. This person is nice enough and I have the usual respect for him/her as I would for anyone else in the office, but I guess in all honesty, I'm not overly impressed with some of the approach to what I would have expected were simple decisions about a few things over the last months or so. It may be that my part-time role will now change to full-time. I'm told there is a possibility to consider how this may work in a job-share arrangement if I wanted to continue part-time. It's a guessing game as to how many prospective people may line up to take this possible job share and bring with them a range of skills/interests that I may not have, which could then complement the idea of the job share. All will be explored in more detail in a meeting next week. I'm trying to keep an open mind on this.

This all has prompted lots of pondering and some attempts at how to think about planning my future. I was actually successful in being shortlisted for a challenging interview for a role at the university before Christmas and I was very excited about the prospect of being chosen for something that looked like it was right up my street in terms of transferable of skills and interests. After loads of research and planning for what would be a whole morning of various tasks for the recruitment process I finally decided I had done enough and didn't want to overkill or burn out during a time when I was recovering from a cold that had been dragging on (and then returned over the holiday in a worse state). But sadly all of my good efforts proved not to be enough to convince them to hire me, or indeed the other two shortlisted candidates. I was told no one was offered the job as we didn't quite offer what they were looking for - indeed they were going to rethink this role, what they wanted and how to proceed. I've found this enlightening - the way it was advertised with the usual list of 'essential' criteria and 'desirable' criteria suggested they were remaining flexible, maybe hoping that someone interesting might show up with the potential and evidence of the goods. But I guess 'potential' isn't good enough if the employer wants that person to get in and turn out the goods fast with obvious confidence. This kind of candidate would need 'essential' experience in that field of work and developed skills in 'all' the areas, which I believe is what they hoped to find. I made the brave move afterwards to ask for feedback about everything. Wow, this ended up being quite a deflating experience, more than I was ready for. The list of criticisms seemed endless, aside from the compliment that I was quite likable/approachable, would be good to work with. Hmm, well, as this case shows, you need a lot more than that to secure a good job. But I guess what I have learned is that the aspect of the job that would have actually demanded most of my time, was in fact, when I look closely at my skills and what I 'enjoy' doing professionally, the least attractive part of the role. I hadn't quite realised this important point until afterwards, after I was forced to swallow the feedback. A good friend also reminded me that I shouldn't use this as a case to be too hard on myself. The whole recruitment process relies heavily of a lot of criticism, and especially in an example like this where they didn't hire anyone. As this was the case, they had to show good reasons why they wouldn't hire us. I may have been naive to expect to get more positive feedback after this process. And all of the kind giggling, smiling, positive nodding in the interview, in retrospect, feels like a bit of an unkind joke, a farce. If the interview panel were less cheery and signaled a bit clearer some of their dissatisfaction then maybe the let down would have been easier.

Still, a good professional learning experience for me for sure. I'm fully aware of the fragility of the workplace at the moment when things can unexpectedly begin to change. It feels good that my application was strong enough to shortlist me, but in future I should be more selective and really think hard about what kind of job I want to commit myself to, and how this would compliment my strengths, not challenge all my weak areas. I also decided I want to stick to part-time hours. Well, that's going to be harder to achieve - it's not going to just slot into place. Funny, that was another thing that came up with this interview. I had phoned and spoke to one of the contacts about whether the full-time spec could be worked into part-time and I was reassured that it was worth applying as they may consider this for the right person. But when I brought this up to the other contact in the interview the prospect seemed surprising to him/her and the other person kept quiet about it. Oh well. Sticking to this whole part-time agenda thing is going to introduce challenges. I'm not sure at all how I'm going to deal with this at the moment. For today, I'm going to just try to remain calm, take things slowly, see what happens at next week's work meeting and take things from there. Wish me luck.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Is it time to move on from here?

Yes, yes, it's been many months now, yet again, since the last post. So long now that this is becoming embarrassing. Some quick updates then from the last post. Our son who just turned 18 in July succeeded in meeting all the of the conditional offer that Cambridge University gave him to study Maths (he actually exceeded the offer by doing better than they expected), so he's off soon to start his first year. In the US they get them in quickly after early September Labor Day, but here most universities start in late September. Cambridge even starts later, this year on the week of October 6th, so time is dragging on. Anyway, he is mega excited, feeling privileged, and we've been trying to hold back from bragging too much that our son has got into the most difficult undergrad course in the country at the most prestigious university! Brag over now - we've also had to admit that we didn't know how smart in Maths he really was because it's not exactly our subject. So there you go. Your kids will surprise you in many ways.

Also, the lump in breast - no problem. Fluid build up and nothing else. Had other usual tests to check all and all is fine. I shall live another day...

And now I ask myself this next question: Is it time to move on from here? 

Okay, there is a definite pattern that's developed here - the content in this blog has gone down significantly from its earlier days and each new post reveals all the guilt I feel when I finally do get to writing something new. So, I'm going to come clean and admit to myself and readers that it's probably time to start saying goodbye, at least gradually (it feels too difficult to fully let go at this point) to some of my post-ac writing and sharing.

What I've noticed for a long time is that many of the other high-quality post-ac blogs I've encountered and kept up with, are so much better than me at keeping abreast of the latest post-ac debates and flagging up of the usual resources needed to inspire future post-acs to see their potential futures outside of the ivory walls.This blog has been a wonderful vehicle for me to mull over the academic and post-ac choices I've made. It's been a great place to reflect on how far I've come since the earlier, more frustrating moments when I was unsure of where to turn to make plans for a better working life after contract teaching. From some of the comments I've received it looks like I've offered others useful points for identification. That's the great thing about the post-ac community; we are sure to see bits/chunks of our own stories and feelings in others and that's what keep us together.

I'm thinking that a fair amount of my post-ac stories have been told now and I'm not entirely sure I can give much more that would interest readers. I have now been in my first permanent post-ac/alt-ac job for just over two years, although my role changed, for the better, after just over one year. The hours are perfect and the nature of the part-time week means I have to be clear about how much I can or can't do in a certain time-frame. The organisation and my line manager seem to value and like me a lot. I have a fair amount of flexibility when I need it. They were particularly helpful and sensitive when my mother died last year and I had to pick up and go to the US two different times. The pay for what I am doing is not so great. The same kind of work would definitely be paid higher somewhere else, and this is what prompts me to keep my eyes always open for other possibilities. It's for that reason that I feel I need to keep reading other post-ac blogs and resources every now and then, so that I can find effective ways to hone in on marketing myself as an employable post-ac who has lots of practical experience and skills to offer. The journey isn't over yet. Having said all of this, I'm not rushing to find something else just yet. Most of the time, my working days are good and I can't complain, so I'm not quite ready to rock my boat at the moment.

I've mentioned before that I'm also in a place where I'm enjoying my time off away from this laptop. While I'm no elite runner by any means (and I'm pretty slow still), I'm focussing on fitting in running time, which then needs to be arranged around other necessities that seem to get prioritised over the blog. Some of the writing I've wanted to explore, for example some of the difficulties I've had with bereavement and complex family issues from a complex past, are still in a resting place at the moment. I think, at least for now, that the only way I'll be able to give that any serious attention is if I put some of the post-ac writing aside.

So, it's not quite a firm goodbye just yet, but a 'see you in a while' gesture for now. I can;t quite keep myself away from reading others at the moment when I have a gap of time now and then, but it may be even more time before the next post. In any case, I will let you all know what's happening again at some point in the future.

Catch you later, sometime, for now!

Friday, 10 January 2014

A New Year and A New Ebook

I see again how many months have passed since my last post - shame on me! It's a clear sign that I am trying hard to still enjoy time away from the screen, not sit too long (apparently sitting too long is the new smoking in terms of being very bad for your health), and do stuff with my time that doesn't involve thinking about work/career and the now past life of the PhD experience. Unfortunately there have been some other life events that have prevented me from spending time here too - more below.

It's crucial though that I come back, at least briefly today, to highlight the great news about the recent publication of the post-academic ebook that I and three other amazing post-acs - Kathleen 'Currer Bell' Miller, Julie 'JC' Chmiel, Lauren Whitehead - have been involved in editing.

The title is: Moving On: Essays on the Aftermath of Leaving Academia and it's available now on Amazon at the cheap price of $3.10. You can read more about my leaving academia story there (the only UK based writer), but there's so much more to learn from the other accounts. You will see that I still use my pseudonym 'Jet' as I'm not quite ready to reveal to potential academics I know what I've been up to. But what is quite funny is that after clicking onto the 'Jet' link in Amazon, it appears there is another writer using that name in, I assume, the erotic fiction genre, hee hee. Good luck to this other 'Jet', I hope he/she hits the jackpot like E.L. James did -  I don't think post-academic writing will have quite the same impact!

Back to the ebook....The collection offers a range of rich narratives to inspire many and I hope you'll enjoy reading them as much as we have. You can find it on Amazon here. We are hoping to gain as much feedback as possible about the essays so please leave your reviews!

The end of 2013

As I indicated above, life threw some emotional challenges my way in October, November and December. My mother's cancer outcome was not good and she was diagnosed at terminal stage in early October. By late October she found an in-patient hospice facility that took good care of her and I dropped all at home and work to spend two weeks back in the USA with her to say my final goodbye. Not long after that before Thanksgiving she died. I then flew back and spent some further time for the funeral and other business. Back home and still jet-lagged I was faced with a quick re-entry into family responsibilities to hop on the train to accompany my 17 year old son to his interview to Cambridge University to study Maths - so, yes, a positive duty but tiring. We were all extremely excited for him and waiting on stand-by to hear the outcome. Soon after, the next day, I was back in the office catching up and finishing off work before a holiday break - yay, University closure meant two whole weeks of paid time off!

The start of 2014

Son got his letter from Cambridge this past Saturday morning and they've given him an offer to study there - another big hurrah with loads of hugs and celebrations. It is a conditional offer, which in the UK is common and how they do things. He's got to get two A stars and one A and high grades on two separate Maths exam papers for Cambridge called the 'STEP' exam. If he doesn't come up with the goods he may not get in so pressure is still on. He's quite confident and for a while has been telling us that he wants to work in the future as an academic and spend his life absorbed in abstract Math theories. So some flashing lights have been coming up for me and hubby and we are trying to encourage him to keep an open mind and just look at other opportunities later as well - after all he's only 17! Time will tell, but one thing we are both concerned about is that his love of the subject will turn into unhealthy obsession that may lead to depression if disappointment arrives, which at some point, is inevitable. He will have to find his own way through this - a reminder that parental worries don't cease after they get to this age.

So it was good news for the start of the new year. Now it's back to work and soon to review details over my new role which I am looking forward to as it will have more focus and will be less dispersed than what I have been doing. I've also spent this week catching up with writing up some of the research (in an alt-ac capacity) I carried out last term but which has been hugely interrupted - not helped by having to go to the US. Being part-time also stretched out the time to complete things. I am hoping to wrap it up soon and share it in a good way which I hope will help establish some of what I will be doing in my new role.

I wasn't going to mention this last bit but somehow feel a bit compelled (as none of my personal friends or family are reading this!), even though it probably won't amount to anything. I have seen the doctor about an usual breast lump the other day and am waiting for the hospital referral to come through for further tests. It's unusual because its not like the fibroadenomas I had when I was 30ish and things change when your 50 plus. Won't say more about that but the issue of 'cancer' has been so prominent in my mother's family that it's hard not to think of it that way, although breast cancer is not common in the family. So there's a little silly projecting business happening in the brain now but not too bad. I'm also an optimist generally and think even it there is cancer then breast cancers have better outcomes than others. Hey, let's face it, as you get older these things are just inevitable at some point or another unless you're just lucky and have unusually good genes that keep you going strong til 99 or 100! Being a practical sort of person, a lot of what I'm imagining is being grumpy because it would all interfere with work and family life, which I just don;t have time for - and it would really mess up my running schedule! So, that's that part of my latest story there in a nutshell. More to come later I guess, when I can report that all is fine!

In conclusion for today I will say to all you post-acs or potential post-acs, keep looking forward to better things, visualise them happening and a version of this vision will materialise in some form or another. And have a look at the new ebook for mulling over and inspiration. I know if I were reading the essays for the first time as a potential academic leaver, they would probably give me the extra edge I would need to call up my 'inner bitch' (I am quoting directly from Ruth Field's book on running called 'Run Fat Bitch Run' and no, she is not being mean about 'fat' women, she is using the term ironically and explains this in the book) and get myself on the road to 'moving on' from academia. Enjoy the book and good luck to all of you with your various life journeys in 2014.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

One year later

Oh, offline life does keep me busy and when I'm not busy with a list of to do tasks I'm relishing in taking a step back and looking after myself. This has included, over several months (close to one year now), taking up jogging. I hesitated for a long time to call my pace 'jogging' or anything close to 'running' when it felt like such a slow slog. But after sticking with it since around last October/November and later getting excited about my discovery of things like the Map My Run internet site which allows me to find out my mileage and pace without using an app, I've learned that I'm a bit faster than an old shuffler and I feel better for it too. Not long after my fiftieth birthday I started some singing lessons and made a point to get out and listen to more live music with my husband (he gave me the lessons as a birthday present) and this has been great. My summer has been very busy. I spent an extended time from the end of July back in the US where my parents live in my attempt to catch up with my mother who has been ill - this was combined with my giving in to my daughter's wishes to have a longer holiday time this year. All in all it was four weeks, which for me is far too long to be trying to find things to do to keep a 13 year old content. Too many details to go into here. (My husband and son left after 2 weeks - smart move, yes.) It was useful in many ways though, I guess. I did spend needed time with my mother and caught up with a dear old school friend who took me and my daughter in for week. It was a great opportunity to reconnect with her and at the same time it all felt so easy, like we'd never been apart. We even organised an evening with two other high-school friends who were still the sweetest of people and I felt all warm and cosy for along time after.

So at the end of August I had a couple of days to recover and the next week was back in work with an onslaught on too many things to sort out, it felt like. It's a busy time with university term time at our place starting a week earlier this year and lots of prep to do. I've also had a meeting about my work one year into the job. We've had some restructuring of sorts going on and just before leaving for vacation I was consulted about my manager's ideas of the direction he wanted to take our department in. He was keen to work with me in a way that would enable me to use more of the skills I had developed from my PhD training and experience and asked if I was interested in developing my role with this in mind and so on. I won't go into too much detail because I don't want to reveal my role but it's just the kind of thing I would have been interested in applying for a year ago. It's a lateral move, so to speak, not a pay increase, but certainly looks better on paper if I decide to move on at some point. I wouldn't anticipate doing that for a while if all stays well (the idea of having to apply for work and all of the stress that goes with it is too much to consider!), but you never know.

This all meant that he was very positive about the way the past year has gone, happy to have me on board still and looking forward to working more closely with me on new ideas. It's all good for me. I can see that this kind of role means that ideas and projects take a while to grow and the benefits are often not noticed for some time. That felt frustrating to me at the start and being part-time means that I take even longer to get through things sometimes, but I've got better at accepting this and won't allow myself to work over my contracted hours. It's all looking good for the future at the moment. I have no regrets in taking this job. It's not perfect and some things can grate on my nerves, but this can be the case in any work context. More and more of the time, I appreciate what I have in life and like to look at the whole of things. I am happy to be in good health at the moment (two years ago I wouldn't have imagined I could have continually jogged for a 3 and 1/2 mile stretch in one go and then done it again for 3 times a week over the course of almost a year. I've surprised myself when I've made it up to almost 5 miles, so can see that I am capable of more than I have given myself credit for. I'm happy to be doing this at 50 and hope with time that all things, work, home and more, will continue to fall in place.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Accepting 'good enough' mothering, 'good enough' academic work, and the 'good enough' alt-ac career

Quite a few things have been happening in my offline world that have halted the time I've had to read others' blogs or to write for my own. In short, my mother who lives in the US and who was a long-term smoker has finally been diagnosed with lung-cancer. There is a close family history on her side of this condition and her smoking parents and siblings did not do well out of it. Unfortunately, the addiction was too difficult for her to kick over the years. In spite of the deaths in the family with lung cancer she couldn't give up soon enough. There also seems to be some question for her oncologist, over the stage of this cancer as it is apparent in both lungs, but with biopsy indicating two different kinds of cancer. She looked forward to her first chemotherapy treatment, hoping it would begin to do its work, but a few days later she became very, very unwell. Making a long story very short here, she ended up having a bad allergic reaction to the drug and almost died at several moments in the time that she was in ICU. So, my time has been taken up with many phone calls to the US, talking with my sister, Dad and a close cousin (the son of my mother's sister who also died of lung-related condition after she had a lung removed years ago to treat her lung cancer).

I am 49 now, 50 in June, and my mother has only just turned 68. These days that's considered on the younger side of older age. She was a teenage mother when she had my sister and me and life hasn't been easy for her. But she worked hard and later in life got her high school diploma and then finished nursing school, the respectable occupation in the US for many working-class women like her. It's hard not to project into the next few or several months, but what I'm hoping is that she can enjoy this spring and summer and reflect on her life with some good memories and have a sense of satisfaction that she made the right decisions about how she wanted to live.

Looking at other things in my life at the moment, I'll say that I've had some emotional challenges with my thirteen year old daughter that are actually so intense and personal that I think I will need to keep silent about the details. But going through some of my worries around her right now, while also worrying about my mother, makes me wonder how indeed my young, working-class mother ever survived at the time when my older sister was putting her through emotional hell during a time when my young Dad would have been completely unsupportive and mostly absent. Mom always told me that she tried her personal best at the mothering job and that was all she could do. This is where I see the value in D.W.Winnicott's assessment of  'good enough' mothering. I can be pretty hard on myself, always looking at the areas where I'm lacking as a mother. In reality, I'm sure what I've been doing is 'good enough'.

. . . . . . . . . . .

So how does all of this tie in with the post-ac side of things in my life now? In this midst of all of this personal stuff, about a week and a half ago, I received an email from a local academic contact where I used to work, who passed on a message from another academic in my field. This academic apparently, she said, wanted to get in touch with me about contributing to a collection that he was editing. Could I please get in touch? It was quite a strange experience reading this email. I re-read it several times, feeling a bit of a physical change at the same time. I felt a bit like my heart was racing faster with a sense of excitement at one moment yet also I felt a bit sickish in the next moment. I didn't know what to do with it all. A large part of me felt honoured that this person had read my work and thought me worthy of contributing when there are so many other choices out there to consider. My mind wandered and I questioned what I might write about and I then had visions of myself on my days off work getting books out of the library and sitting in my office and mulling over the ideas. I wondered if there was some older material I could salvage. I even saw myself meeting this academic and others at a conference having a laugh and going out for a meal afterwards to talk over new and exciting ideas in the discipline.

Well, I have to confess this flight of fancy didn't last very long. The reality soon hit me and I asked myself if I could realistically manage such a feat, and even if I could manage this after being out of the game for this long, would I actually enjoy it enough and find value in the exercise. The quick and short answer was, 'No'. I felt relieved that it didn't take too long to get my head out of this temporary haze and see that there was nothing in it for me. I assured myself that I needed to keep my new alt-ac head clear of all of this and look forward in another direction.

My next challenge was whether I should be 'polite' and respond to this academic and come clean. I felt if he had taken the time to enquire about me that I should at least, respectfully, respond. Being me then and knowing my tendency to complicate or over-think everything I do (it seems sometimes), I wrote a considered response that, I guess, tried to capture some of what it has been like to have to 'leave academia'. In short, I summarised that I had to exit the field at a time of major cuts in Arts and Humanities, and knowing that I did not have the flexibility of my younger post-PhD contemporaries to apply for posts across the country or beyond, etc.

I received a nice and respectful reply. While it left me feeling a little embarrassed I guess I felt this academic was a useful outlet for my 'coming out' of academia. He sympathised with my position and shared that he was struck with the academic situation now in which three recent colleagues from his department were made redundant. He saw less and less support from higher education institutions and understood completely why some academics were finding other alternatives.

I was embarrassed because he revealed that my contact person who passed on the message to me, actually got the story wrong. He didn't want to contact me to contribute a chapter at all. He wanted to get my author's permission to use an extended quotation/passage from a piece I wrote as he is intending to write about it in a new book he will publish in a few months' time. He attached the chapter for me to read to check that the context was acceptable and offered to send me a copy of the book when published. At that point I experienced another range of feelings. Wow, my work was applauded by him, referenced in the same page as other long-standing pros in the field. Over the last few months I was reminded that others had referenced my work as well. In some ways, I confess, I felt, yet again, that sense of failure of not doing more worthy work beyond this point.  But again, this feeling didn't last too long. There is a huge part of me that is pleased I left the field at this stage before reaching an over-exhausted state of collapse. I've left a small mark and that's that. Indeed, I guess it feels like this mark is 'good enough' for me, personally - I've done the best I could for what I and my circumstances are capable of.

I will confess that I experience various emotions around my current alt-ac job at the moment. I am heading the start of what I see is a nice little research project at the moment. I've put an academic research proposal forward to one of the faculties in the university for ethics' approval (and received approval) and I'm excited about the later prospects and outcomes. There are other aspects of the work that I'd rather do without and some things that come up regularly can be quite irritating. This is the normal state of affairs for any job though, and I think if I can keep this at the forefront of my mind, then this work will be absolutely just fine, another example of something in my life that is 'good enough'.