P-Card Got You Frustrated? I Hear You, but Please Chill

by Melanie
More than ten years ago during my first week in my new position at the university, I was excited and signed up for P-Card (purchasing card) training! The training was a breeze and I was assured using it for the department would be easy. LIES.
 
My first-time purchases were for the homecoming parade and college celebration that weekend. You know, candy, decorations, duct-tape – fun stuff, right? I was excited and armed with my P-Card, tax ID number and tax-exempt letter, everything the trainers said I would need. I felt confident about my exciting trip to Wal-Mart for our swag.
 
Two full shopping carts later, I was ready to check out. I said hello to the cashier, let her know I was with the university and the purchase would be tax-exempt, and started loading. She was scanning like lightning, I was gathering and re-carting like a machine – this was so fun! Until it wasn’t.
 
She told me the total and I handed her the P-Card (armed with the other documents as ordered), only to be told, “You should have told me before I started scanning that this was tax exempt.”
 
Me: “Oh, I am sure I did. Do you want my le – .”

Cashier, with raised hand: “Uh, no – I can’t help you. You will have to go to Customer Service and get the right number.”
 
Okay, here was my first chance to chill, but I missed it.
 
“So, take all of this to Customer Service to get another number? What number do I not have?” I asked, brandishing my documents. The cashier, who clearly could not answer this question, began moving my two cart-fulls of fun out into the wide-open spaces of Walmart. One nearly got away, but I manage to grab it. “Oh no,” I said, not chill at all. “I am not going to Customer Service to start this process all over. I want you to provide customer service and call them to come to us.”

Don’t Know How to Chill?
Try Hygge

by Lauren
It's winter. The days are short, the weather is gray and we're feeling the pang of a holiday happiness hangover. Some of us look to the New Year with optimism and a desire to cast aside the old and bring in the new. Others are still feeling the financial pain of holiday overspending and the desire to hibernate. Before going to one extreme or the other, maybe we should learn to practice  hygge  (hoo-ga), the Danish word with no English equivalent. In a nutshell, hygge means a feeling of contentment created from the simple things. In a recent article on the hygge trend in  Country Living Lyndsey Matthews writes ,
 
Hygge  is such an important part of being Danish that it is considered “a defining feature of our cultural identity and an integral part of the national DNA,” according to Meik Wiking, the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen. 
 
“In other words, what freedom is to Americans. . .  hygge  is to Danes,” Wiking says in his book  The Little Book Of Hygge
 
This national obsession with all things cozy is credited as one of the reasons why Denmark is always at the top of the list of the world's happiest countries, despite their infamously miserable winters. And recently, the rest of the world has begun to catch on to this wonderful way of life.
 
I'm ready for the simple pleasures of a cozy blanket, a good book and some time spent only in the pursuit of what brings me peace. (Drinking wine? Sleeping? Watching Cocktail? All of the above?) Inhale, exhale and take a minute to just chill out – you've earned it.
Endings: Learning to Chill About
How and Why They Happen


by Suzette....
It may seem strange to contemplate endings as we begin a new year. Or maybe not, given one year has to  end  before another can begin. But often we find ourselves largely looking forward rather than back at this time of the year. While many do reflect on what they have experienced over the previous year, many of us are far too interested in moving on to what will come next rather than dwelling on the past.
 
I certainly don’t begrudge that approach. But for me, I hate endings. I do not like to see television series come to an end. I am often deeply dissatisfied with the ways stories finish. I despised the endings of  Seinfeld  and  The Sopranos  and  Friends  and  How I Met Your Mother , for instance. I am judgmental of how books conclude and how movies wrap up – often finding myself disappointed. I especially hate when vacation time comes to an end! And yes, I am even quite unhappy about how years come to an end: with only revelry about what it is to come rather than a reflection on what has transpired.
 
The only exception to my contempt for the ending and beginning of each year is the annual Google commercial, which always brings me to tears. If you haven’t seen them, check them out (especially the one for the  end of 2016 ).
 
But beyond books, movies, television series and numerical years, the ending of relationships is clearly the most challenging – and about this it is particularly difficult to get it right. I should know. I have experienced the ending of two marriages and two other serious relationships. I have experienced the ending of my father’s life and the apparent ending of a sibling relationship. I have experienced the loss of friendships and the loss of connection in the workplace as my professional life progressed from one stage to another. In so many ways I have become an expert at dealing with personal and professional endings, but despite the repeated experiences, I still struggle to get them right, as endings always feel – no matter how they transpire – like I simply got them wrong.

On Burnout in the 21st Century

By Maura
It’s the first full week in January, a time when theoretically, we’re supposed to feel recharged after a nice holiday break spent with loved ones, refreshed and ready to get back to work. But for many of us, particularly those who work in higher ed, the holiday break is not as restful as it’s cracked up to be. Things that got pushed to the side throughout the semester demand our attention, and we scramble to finish research and other academic work before the students come back for the spring semester.
 
Plus, there’s the oft-talked about issue that email, slack and other digital means of work communication rarely get turned off. As a freelancer, I find that even if I know I’m not expected to respond to an email sent say, the evening of Sunday, December 23rd, my knee-jerk reaction is just to respond, to get it off my plate, to do the mental work of tackling whatever issue it is now so I don’t have to do it later. But the problem with this kind of mentality, with the way academics and freelancers work, is that it brings stress into your life at unexpected moments; you’re always in “office” mode. This leads to burnout – such an expected side effect of this kind of work that we may not even notice it. It’s just our usual state of being.

ProF Playlist #24: Chill

by Maura
Hello, 2019 and hello, WINTER – America’s least-favorite season. In the minds of many in this hemisphere, the months of January and February conjure up images of gray skies, slushy, snow-coated streets and a stronger-then-usual reluctance to get out of bed each morning. In fact, in a 2005  Gallup poll  assessing Americans’ favorite and least-favorite months of the year, January and February ranked 11th and 12th, respectively. Even way back in 1960 when the same poll was conducted, the results were similar: January ranked a more respectable number nine, but February still held strong at rock-bottom. It’s an unpopular time, is what I’m saying, and the winter doldrums are nothing new.
 
Sure, January and February are cold and somewhat dull, with few holidays to celebrate and the excitement of summer vacations too far away to be tangible. But over the years, I’ve developed an affection for these underappreciated months. (Perhaps it’s innate: my birthday is on January 13th, which is reliably one of the coldest days of the year.) No matter how much one tries to slow down and enjoy it, after all, autumn and the holiday season end up being frenzied and tiring; likewise, spring brings with it a myriad of social events and work wrapping up the semester. But January and February tend to be a quieter time by cold-weather necessity, a time when it’s perfectly acceptable to cocoon oneself at home on the weekends tackling long-awaited projects, reading, baking, writing, organizing your home à la  Marie Kondo  or even (if you’re hardy) strolling outside in the bracing winter air.
 
Thus, we decided the proF theme for January/February should be “chill,” a word that encapsulates both the weather and the mood this time of year. No matter your lifestyle or your feelings about these dreary months, we hope they afford you the time to take a breath – and to spend at least one full day lounging around a warm house in your pajamas. This month’s playlist – a light, luminous collection of winter songs, introspective and hopeful – is designed for just such an occasion. 
Listen to the entire proFlet here: