Expect actual photos in this photo blog soon, but for now I’ve got some good news. I got my very first academic grant! It’s going to add a pile of additional work to my thesis, but it’s permitting me to go out to the Mojave Desert to collect lichens. I could not be more thrilled. 😀
Let’s talk about making the most of what you’ve got and embracing the opportunities that present themselves.
My first field job opened a whole new world up to me – it’s what drew me into scientific research and made me realize that I am capable of even being a scientist. So naturally, I couldn’t wait to get back into the field the following summer. Unfortunately I didn’t land a field job – instead I ended up being a ranger at a local park, and most of the time, it was a painfully dull job. But since I was wandering the trails all the time, I started noticing something I had never really noticed before – mushrooms. Everywhere. I decided to take my camera with me to work and take pictures of all of the mushrooms I saw.
That winter I started this blog to keep track of the species I’d seen. I continued to take pictures and update the blog even after getting back into fieldwork the following summer. All the while, the blog gathered more and more followers until I formed a community.
Last year, I had to take a leave of absence from grad school because I got diagnosed with a chronic illness. That summer I wasn’t working, I wasn’t in school. I ended up losing my research assistantship because of the limitations of my illness. I was devastated. I needed to do something with my time to give myself purpose, so I started making educational Youtube videos.
By that fall, I’d given up on that graduate program and decided to look for another one. I found an interesting potential advisor, flew out to Utah to meet him, and fast forward to now, I am living in Utah, going to grad school and following my dreams in lichenology. My current advisor decided to take me on before he saw any of my grades, my GRE score, anything. But you know what he had seen?
My photography. He saw my Youtube videos.
The point of this novel is that you gotta keep chugging away, not only looking for the silver lining but actively maximizing on it. You never know what’s going to happen. Even during the most painful parts of your life you can build a ladder.
Tonight I practiced a making vegan thanksgiving meal so I can try meat/roast-alternatives before the holidays (there’s a lot of new products I haven’t tried and tbh store-bought vegan food has come a long way in the past few years)! It’s a nice meal prep theme; you only have to cook once and you’re left with a lot of leftovers. So far, the Field Roast Celebration Roast is my favorite. Idk if I personally eat a lot but I’d say it’s 2-3 servings, so if you plan on making it for a larger group, I recommend getting more than one. If you have any holiday plant-based recommendations, let me know! Especially if they’re new; I’m looking for new things to try!
P.S. A number of people contacted me after I moved away from North Carolina expressing regret for not reaching out to me to meet up. Now that I’m in Utah for the next 1.5+ years, UTAH PEOPLE LET’S GET TOGETHER and geek out about nature!
When I move to new places, near and far, my first step to settling is getting to know the new environment. Learning the plants and mushrooms that fill that space. Utah is drastically different from anywhere I’ve ever been. I have much to learn before I get myself to the place where I am comfortably familiar with the nature around me.
If anyone had any question of just how nerdy I am, there have been multiple times on the drive out here and upon getting to my new home in Utah that I recognized that this landscape is foreign to me in all ways except one – it reminds me a lot of a world some Starfleet officer would beam down onto to explore. So while I haven’t been able to settle my anxiety by admiring species I know and love, I’ve at least been able to settle it by finding comfort in my sweet, soft love for Deep Space 9 (and I guess Star Trek in general).
Someone please reassure me that I am not the only person who does things like this.
I made it safely to Utah, and everything has been going quite well so far. Please enjoy this picture of shriveled up mushrooms growing on a cow patty in middle-of-nowhere, Wyoming, which helped me realized my mushroom radar is still functioning great.
Thank you for your patience during this little hiatus. I have been in existing in the transitory space between one chapter and the next, so it’s been difficult to find the focus to queue up photos.
The day after tomorrow I am moving across the country again, this time to Utah to do graduate research on lichen. I am excited and nervous. I’m planning to integrate the education and outreach provided on my blog and Youtube channel into my research, so you will likely see an evolution in the near future.
Take care, and I hope everyone is seeing some amazing organisms out there!