December 8, 2006

Journal #7

I cannot believe the DDF deadline was extended - that was the best surprise ever! I need that extra week!

I am making progress on the application, but the draft of my study needs work. I will just have to see how it turns out. I have the rest of the application complete.

Progress in other areas: completed 8132 coursework; working on incomplete paper (due Dec. 19th); finished degree proposal, just need signatures; studying for exams; NRC done!

Oh! I met with Joan last week and she had a brilliant idea. I take the LT exam on Jan. 9th. I have the option of taking a second timed exam that afternoon from my "outside" members (you and Cynthia). I need to ask David if he would be OK with me taking two timed exams and a week take-home, instead of the extend-o literacy exam. If he says yes, then my written exams will be finished by Jan. 17th. I could schedule my orals soon after and have more time to work on my thesis proposal - having it ready by the early March DDF deadline. Even if I am not nominated for the DDF, the concept of getting my exams done sooner so I can focus on my dissertation work is very exciting... I will keep you posted.

I have not thought about the holidays; my dog just had a molar pulled; one of the cats broke her toes so she has a cast; my nephew is really sick, and our house is still for sale. But the sun is shining and I am healthy. And my coursework is complete (except for the seminar) - lots of reasons to celebrate!

(written 12/7)To be written soon...after the chaos of the DDF application is over...I want to reflect on what I have accomplished and where I need to go. Thanks!

November 21, 2006

Journal #6

Well, it is the end of November. Thanksgiving. Due dates are coming down hard on graduate schools across the land. I am not feeling too stressed, though, even though my plate is full. This semester things just seem so hopeful for me - intense, yes, but impossible, nah... I can get through this semester!

I do feel better having gone through the process of getting myself prepared to talk about the researchy things with the folks in class. The process itself along was valuable. And it is very helpful for me to talk outloud about my musings, especially because time is so important these days. Especially with the approaching DDF application deadline.

I am still thinking I pull things together by December 11th. I am going to go for it - there really isn't much to lose. If I am nominated, I will deal with the other details then such as having my first three chapters written. I am not going to think about that now...

An experience like the one I had this week is exactly what my hope was for this course - to kick me in the butt and hold me accountable all along the way. How easy it would have been for me to not think about the dissertation and/or DDF this semester. I have/had enough on my plate to keep me busy, I could have focused on those things, but having that goal in front me and folks to be accountable to has been motivating. Priceless.

I am off to NRC next week. I am very hopeful that through attending conference sessions and mingling with smart folks I will solidify my ideas about my dissertation angle. That is my hidden agenda at the conference, what my brain will be occupied with.

Okay. I need to breathe. Try to settle my brain and fingers down for at least one day. One day of no computer work. One day to spend with family. One day just to BE rather than DO...I am looking forward to it. I hope you have a fabulous holiday, Dee!

November 1, 2006

Journal #5: Gettin' Things Done

I just did it - send off that dang manuscript. I did not add any thing to the framework - just edited the manuscript to fit TCR's guidelines. It feels so GOOD to have that off my list of to-dos! I loved, loved the advice the class gave me to just send it -- I just needed to do it and quit fiddling. Now, once I get some feedback I can make changes to it and keep sending it out until it gets accepted. YEA!

October 24, 2006

Journal #4: Sunshine in October

Despite the cold temperatures and it being the middle of the semester, I am feeling pretty good. Busy, but in control...

It does help to know that this is my last semester of coursework, except for this class. It helps to know that I am taking another step towards finishing this degree - that I can start exams next semester and move ahead!

I am giving lots of thought about what I am willing to sacrifice for the sake of getting my degree done. About this idea of time and how I am spending mine this semester. A lot of my time I am swimming in my own thoughts about various things I am writing and ideas for a dissertation topic. I am not in a forest sitting with my thoughts, but rather feel like I am in an ocean swimming with literature, methodologies, etc.. Everything is swirling around and within me, but not in a chaotic way. Rather in rhythmic, fluid, soothing and powerful ways. And I am swimming with it - I am swimming in tandem with "the everything." I LOVE SWIMMING! And the longer I am swimming, the clearer things are becoming for me, for my future directions. "What is it exactly that I want to get at" in my dissertation work?

I am feeling more peaceful, more in control, more powerful, and more knowledgeable as this semester goes on. I don't quite understand it, but I am enjoying these positive vibes. I am working hard, having fun, and learning extraordinary things - what could be better?

October 9, 2006

Journal #3: Progress?

I feel stuck, but yet not stuck. I understand this Ph.D.-thing is a process, a journey, and that it is not quick. I need to be easy on myself, but....

In my head, in my grand master plan, I would have started my exams at the beginning of the semester. And I would have all my ducks in a row so I would be able to apply for the DDF. But here it is, the second week in October, and I still have not started exams. I have gone through many emotions, and I am starting to feel more peaceful about where I am at. It is not like I am sitting on my hands, just sitting. I have four publications in process and one conference paper (one chapter I just helped put the finishing touches on tonight!). Since the summer, I have had three other publications out. I work on several independent research projects which will help me continue writing in the future. So, on top of my coursework and RA positions and independent research, I have the expectation for myself to begin exams. Perhaps this is a bit much? It is just difficult for me to think about not being eligible to apply for the DDF, but I have not given up, yet. I have a meeting with one of my advisors this week, which should help me immensely in figuring out the direction I should take with my dissertation research. Part of me is very hopeful, that I don't have to give up my grand master plan. I don't know why I am so attached to my master plan, though. What if I started my exams in January? So what? Coursework would be done, with the exception of this course. Despite not being in a position to apply for the DDF, I might be more sane. I would have several projects off my plate, including pushing out my master's work for publication, which is an important publication as I am first author. I could still finish my dissertation within my time frame, I may just have to have an RA position during my writing time. Which is probably better for me - the more crazy my schedule, the more on-task I am. I need to give myself permission to let go of my master plan. I guess I just wanted the DDF. I know I would be in a very good candidate for the DDF, but it might just not happen.

I am rambling. I guess the point of this entry is to try to explain the business in my brain during the past two weeks, the ongoing conversations I have been having with myself about my goals for the semester. It is time for me to open my goals calendar and do some rearranging, I think. I could not even get myself together to apply for travel funding for NRC - I hope I can apply for funding retrospectively in the spring.

At least I am taking my vitamins. And I went for a long walk over the weekend. And I am not a slacker. There is nothing wrong in me reorganizing my master plan. Right?

September 12, 2006

Journal #2: Being good to myself

How have I been good to myself? How will I be good to myself this semester?

This is a very appropriate topic to write about. I think about it a lot. I remember sitting down with you, D.T., for a meeting two springs ago. Your advice to me then was to take the summer off. Well, two summers have gone by since that conversation, and I am afraid I have not truly taken an extended mental or physical break.

When I think back to my last five years in grad school, the personal joys not associated with school are so far on the back burner. Everything associated with graduate school is so focused and so is hard to remember to care about me the person instead of me the student.

On a more positive note, this summer, Aaron and I decided that we did not have enough fun in our lives. We became obsessed with boating and subsequently purchased a used boat. We went out on it frequently during the summer, just to sit in the middle of the lake with our feet in the water, water ski, laugh, socialize with friends. It was a wonderful retreat, something we could do just for an evening, which fit into our work schedule this summer.

Since the semester has started, I have done some things to nurture my spirit. A TV show captured my attention this summer, and its finale is on this week. So, twice a week, it is me and the TV. I may have to find another show to get me through to December. Also, I just finished the sixth Harry Potter book. It took me two days, but I could not put it down. I love to read, and I am afraid my pleasure reading has taken a severe hit these past years.

Other than those things, I take time every day to talk to Aaron about non-logistic, non-work things; I take my dog and myself for at least one walk a day. I do need to start yoga again. My excuse has been time and money, but there is no excuse for not exercising. So, that is on my calendar. The fact that I have class only one night a week will help me with the scheduling. I also take time to connect with my family via phone, dinner, or email. I feel like that helps me stay grounded. I do need to make more time for friends...

So, for this week, my little kindnesses to myself include the SuperNova finale and getting my hair colored. I am also going to connect with a dear friend of mine over the weekend. Yea!

September 8, 2006

Hitting the Ground Running / Journal #1

Yet another semester of graduate school. Fall 2006. This semester is different, though; it means the finishing of coursework, moving on to the next stage of this journey.

There are so many things I want and need to do this year. I realize I can only do them one at a time, and that each "to do" really encompasses many, many smaller "to dos", but I am going to keep a positive attitude and get as much done as I possibly can. I do need to constantly remind myself that graduate school, although difficult and demanding, is also supposed to be fun. I need to enjoy as much about this experience as I possibly can.

Brainstorming for the list of "research goals" due next week and also a list of my "to dos" for the year:

- submit master's thesis for publication (soo close - ASAP)
- solidify a research idea for dissertation (ASAP)
- which informs who my mystery committee member will be
- which also informs what my written/oral exams will be about
- complete written exams
- complete oral exams
- complete proposal meeting
- if possible, apply for graduate dissertation fellowship
- NRC/AERA conferences (submit those papers for pub ASAP)
- finish participation work with Ruth
- continue working on RAT with Ruth and Joan
- submit AL work for publication
- work on chapter with A and G
- complete chapter with Joan
- continue work with David and Rick
- analyze data from past work w/ D and R
- GR analysis

OK. This list is just a beginning and I am already feeling overwhelmed! That is what this class is going to be for, right? A place to get perspectives from others. A place to be held accountable. A place to go for encouragement. A place to go to celebrate. I am excited and motivated by the space this class provides.

This is a "to-do" list, which could be thought of as goals. I should also include other goals such as becoming a stronger researcher, becoming more confident, and being more positive. I also need to remember that there is more to life than graduate school - that friends and family are also part of my life.

Until next time....