COVID19 life

Day 82: Not sure I have it in me to make it to 100

June 5, 2020

Thank you all for such amazing podcast (and book) suggestions these past 2 days. I am sad that I don’t have an extra 6 hours/day to just listen and read right now (well, not just right now — always).

Thank you also for keeping things constructive and respectful in the comment section. I know this is an incredibly sensitive time and set of issues. I also know that I am a) not perfect and b) in no way meant to be a leading spokeswoman for this movement — this should be reserved for Black people who are the true experts. BUT, since this is a blog largely centered around my life I felt it appropriate to share some of what I am doing/feeling in this moment and providing recommendations that bring nonwhite voices to the forefront.

It is Friday. I did not accomplish all of yesterday’s aims, nor did I touch my daily planner page (again). I definitely did not work on my own podcast and had no desire to do so. Today is a busy GME day and I feel overwhelmed and quite honestly rather down about work and my own efficacy as a leader. I am tempted to drive to my office but at the same time know I could use that commuting time to work.

Am going to attempt to fill out my daily page now. One step and task at a time.

highlight of yesterday’s neighborhood walk (took with A&C)


  • Reply chelseamcatmath June 5, 2020 at 7:24 am

    Hang in there! If you think getting out of the house would be helpful to really plow through your work, I say go for it. Yes, there is risk etc. etc. etc., but it seems like going *one* day to primarily sit by yourself in your office is pretty darn low risk to yourself and anyone else. And you can use the commute to listen to podcasts, which sounds like it could be good for your mental health.

    Remember these feeling are cyclical, too. I feel like I’ve already been through a big down at the start, then a bit up when we started getting in the rhythm and I got the nesting bug, then another big down when my SLAC laid a bunch of people off (but not me, which comes with some survivor’s guilt) and now I’m on an up swing again.

    The situation may not improve, but your feelings about your ability to handle it will. They hired you because you are skilled and competent and *can* handle hard situations.

    Also, you are under any obligation to write posts for 100 days for your audience.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger June 5, 2020 at 7:54 am

      You’re right. I’m going to go in. Thank you.

  • Reply Caitlin June 5, 2020 at 7:36 am

    Agreed, it is cyclical! Even in the same day for me, haha! Even if I have a really rough chunk of time in one day I’m trying to turn it around by the end of the day, focus on the small good things, etc. Some days that just doesn’t happen. These are hard times and we just have to ride out the rough patches. I definitely agree with “one step and task at a time.” That’s all we can do.

  • Reply Marcia (OrganisingQueen) June 5, 2020 at 8:40 am

    Hi Sarah, as a fellow upholder, let me tell you what helped me decide when to stop. I thought about why I wanted to do it (a record of how different our days look) and what method works best for me (Instagram), and then I stopped writing in my actual paper journal after 80 days (seemed like a good time), and now just documenting one picture a day with a literal sentence (just one!) to talk about something that happened. And when that stops making sense, then I’ll stop the IG daily 🙂

    I’ve had two VERY down periods – three weeks apart – and I hope that’s over since things have opened up a bit more now in SA.

  • Reply Anon June 5, 2020 at 8:42 am

    You know, it is a really hard time and I think it is ok to feel like it is a really hard time. I’m also struggling, both with the big issues of the world and how my personal productivity has plummeted as a result of my preoccupation. It is something to learn from because one of the things I have noticed Black people saying is yes — we feel tired, and we have felt tired for a long time. I’m white so I also can’t speak for Black people and would not try, but I have been thinking a lot more about the need for mental health resources for POC. I can only imagine that over the long haul everything you are doing is going to make you a better leader in your program.

    I have really appreciated your posting and also your willingness to talk about the steps you are taking to learn more about racism. I know some people are critical or skeptical that white people following a podcast or reading books will help, and it’s true it’s only a small step towards the urgent aim of protecting Black lives, but it’s an important step. No one was critical when we started following epidemiologists on twitter at the start of the covid pandemic, so why shouldn’t we follow anti-racist writers and Black activists if we want the police to stop killing Black people? Why should it feel wrong to amplify the voices in the Black community in this fight? I also often feel guilty for being very privileged, but I don’t take that to mean that I should not be an activist. People who were given a lot, through no choice of their own, have a responsibility to use that privilege for change, and I respect that you are trying to do that and I would say keep it up, and ignore those who tell you it’s not your place. It is our responsibility too.

    On the work front, I guess, just one day at a time. I’m setting a timer today on some tasks and hoping it helps me knock through some things. Good luck to us both!!

  • Reply TAS June 5, 2020 at 9:42 am

    Hi Sara, I just want to say I have a very similar job (the education part, not the medical part.) it’s almost impossible to not feel like you fail as a leader in these roles – (even full-time they are overwhelming, with so many possibilities and things that can’t all be done!) It feels like this until you hear from students how much they learned and how much you have changed their lives. I wondered when you too this on whether it would be something you enjoyed. The nature of clinical work means you have some hard edges to your day. (At least that’s how it appears!) This other part, with unlimited email and task lists that get longer instead of shorter. It’s gratifying, but not daily or even weekly. It comes in big bursts – like on match day – and that can make it feel with it.

  • Reply TAS June 5, 2020 at 9:44 am

    Apologies for the many spelling errors…typing from a phone early in the morning. Ugh.

  • Reply Sarah June 5, 2020 at 12:32 pm

    Hi Sara! I’ve love your podcast and your blog, and have enjoyed reading your daily updates… even when they are just short like today. I’m a professor. This week has been especially overwhelming for me too, and I find myself sitting here just wondering what to do. I didn’t realize until yesterday that I didn’t even set any June goals. As an educator, was a lot of trauma and overwhelm in the spring both from my students and from my own experiences. Now, we’re preparing for an uncertain next step and it just seems impossible both practically and emotionally. I don’t think that there are any solutions, but sharing what is going on and how you are feeling – like you are doing here – has opened the space for others to share their experiences and that has made me feel less alone. Be gentle on yourself – you do more than you know each day.

  • Reply Brooke June 5, 2020 at 2:06 pm

    I could help but be fascinated by your picture. Is the lake dyed blue?

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger June 5, 2020 at 2:18 pm

      I wonder that. It’s a man made lake in front of our complex pool (currently closed). It does have an other worldly blue tinge. I don’t know if it’s dyed or they put special rocks in the bottom!! It is weirdly blue though!!!!

  • Reply rose June 5, 2020 at 6:35 pm

    I hope you are able to continue the daily posts. They have made such a difference for me every day in holding on and keeping going. It is going to be a long difficult summer …. even posting a picture or brief sentence will be appreciated. But I do not write a blog so please be certain to do what is helpful and encouraging for you.

  • Reply Alyce June 5, 2020 at 9:11 pm

    Regarding podcasts –

    I would say you should look for non-white podcast hosts on topics that you’re interested in addition to looking for podcasts that specifically discuss race relations in the US. For example, if you’re really into personal finance right now, find a podcast about personal finance hosted by a POC/black person. A lot will sound pretty similar, but there will be times that the perspective is different, and the issues are different.

    But to me, the obvious question that you don’t seem to be grappling with is whether you want to improve the diversity of your own podcast. I love BOBW, and listen pretty much every week. I’m not trying to point any fingers or cast blame here, and I don’t mean this in an antagonistic way at all. But there have been 142 episodes of BOBW – of those that had guest speakers, how many have been people of color? How many have been white? And do you feel good/proud/happy about how those numbers shake out?

    When you had the mother-daughter doctor guests on last winter, I’m the person who commented on Laura’s blog post that the post seemed a little tone deaf in overstating how unique it was that the mother was a working parent in the 80s as totally missing the fact that WOC, especially black women, have worked outside the home for generations. And what I did not say is that they have had to do so because of systemic racism in America. I didn’t say it because I know that just mentioning racism to white people can be a conversation killer and I wasn’t trying to go there in that forum. I appreciated your response to my comment, which was more open minded than I expected and it didn’t just shut down what I pointed out, but multiple other people responded and essentially said that I was out of line for mentioning race, and that if I didn’t like it I should go someplace else. I’m not blaming you for your listeners’ comments – I think their anger reflects their own baggage and racial animus and I don’t have to let them make their problems my problems – but it is your podcast and you can shape the tone of the conversations you have, and the easiest/hardest way to do it is in the conversations you have, the people you invite on, etc.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger June 5, 2020 at 9:59 pm

      Our mistake in the podcast wasn’t that we rejected great speakers of color – we didn’t. Our guests for the most part are a reflection of who pitched themselves to us. But we didn’t seek these voices out specifically, either. I believe we should have. I regret that and am dedicated to working on it!

      • Reply Alyce June 9, 2020 at 10:41 pm

        Just to clarify – I’ve never assumed you deliberately rejected POCs. In the earlier days you guys did more profiles of everyday people, so in my head you guys were still proactively reaching out to people to invite them on the show. It didn’t occur to me that people pitch themselves (which duh! makes sense given that your guests are often selling books or services or ideas or trying to build their own audiences which they monetize).

        I always loved the everyday career women mom interviews from the earlier days – talking through their work and personal backgrounds, their routines, tips and tricks they’ve picked up along the way. It sounds super simplistic to say that I think that hearing these stories across racial (and class) lines make for better cross-cultural understanding. I loved this response about how to stop being prejudice:
        I wholeheartedly agree with the idea that white people need more exposure to black people. As a black woman in a professional career, I’ve long since been forced to learn how to navigate white spaces, and I’ve made many close white friends along the way. But white people, especially upper-middle and upper class white people can stay in largely white bubbles. I have to think that one thing BOBW can do in profiling a broader variety of POCs is breaking down some of these barriers.

        • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger June 10, 2020 at 5:42 am

          Alyce . . . would you potentially be interested in being a guest?

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