April 16th, 2006


Lent Review and Happy Easter

Happy Easter to one and all!
Since Lent is now at an end, I wanted to review my lent goals. I wanted to focus on doing things, rather than giving things, and I've found my lent challenges to be really helpful and positive.

1. Focus on completing dissertation
This was a great success. I worked on the research 23 out of the 45 days and managed to complete the thesis and send it off. It showed me that by breaking the goal down into smaller tasks and forcing myself to update each day, it helped me to clearly see how much or how little I was doing. A tactic I will use for big tasks in the future I think. I discovered that I worked better in Starbucks, where there were less distractions! I was proud of myself for finally finishing and for keeping going, even though a few months ago I doubted that the pain would ever end. I was really happy with my research in the end and I was proud of myself and my achievement, whatever the result :-)

2. Watch less television & 3. Spent less time online
No 2 and No 3 were about restricting myself, without actually giving up things. I did watch less TV, but found that this was often the only time mr.ncot and I got to spend time together, and often we'd actually talk about stuff, rather than watch TV. But it made me really focus on what I was choosing to watch. I spend less time online, but could have probably restricted myself further. There were very few days when I didn't watch any TV or didn't go on the internet.

4. Take exercise each day
This was a good goal, I exercise on 22 out of the 45 days, did lots of running, aerobics and walking. And I really enjoyed my Friday yoga session. Will try and continue.

5. Reflect on 5 positive things per day
This was such a positive thing to do and I will definitely use this technique again in the future, even if it's only in my moleskin journal. I realised that even when I was having a "bad" day, I had a lot to be thankful for. And it was very addictive, the more you thought about it, the more positive things you found. So what were the highlights?
- finishing the research
- being loved and loving my family and friends, so many emails and phone calls
- Doing so much and having so much fun with my real life friend katcolorado!
- going to several interviews and getting close to having a job!
- Finding BBC 6 Music (thanks beebarf!)
- Having so much fun with Bookcrossing - sending and receiving books, doing suprise, writing articles, feeling connected and all booked up :-)
- Being supported by all my livejournal friends, thank you!


Final Thoughts on my research

I’ve been musing all week about the dissertation and stuff, and have talked to Alan quite a lot about it all. He keeps saying he’s so proud of me. It’s strange, but I still feel flat and deflated. I’d been looking forward to finishing so much, I thought that I’d feel so different, so exhilerated, so relieved. But now it’s over I feel nothing, maybe just a little bit sad and empty? And I don’t know why I feel like this.

I’m proud of myself for finishing and I certainly feel really happy with the end result. I know that it’s the best work that I could do. Alan said that feeling deflated was normal. That you’d worked so hard, at such personal cost, that it was normal to feel flat and tired when it was all over. And that other people wouldn’t really understand the cost or the work involved. I just feel eager for the next period of my life to start, to get a job, start working, to start attacking new challenges.

We were talking about me doing a part-time PhD sometime in the future. And Alan said I really had to think carefully about the difficulties I had faced writing up the masters’ thesis. He reckons I get paralysed by fear and that that my word limits show that I still have a real problem. What do I think? I’m frustrated that I faff so much and get so easily distracted – but know that when I put my mind to it, I can work hard and finish. My need for perfection sometimes prevents me from working at all. My desire to read and find the “absolute truth“ stopped me from writing. And I think writing earlier would have helped me focus my thinking. I still don’t know how to handle my problem with word limits. I know that I wrote too much, but maybe if I’d kept writing and edited quicker, maybe it wouldn’t have been such a problem? My main problem was that I didn’t want to admit that I’d written too much or that my argument could be shorter, clearer and cleaner. I should have been writing and editing all the way through the research process, instead of seeing the writing as a final and separate / unconnected phase.

My major mistake though was the literature review. I feared it all along and never really got to frips with it. I didn’t write it until I’d written all the other chapters and then had to do three rewrites. It didn’t help that I wasn’t absolutely clear on my exact research question until quite late into the process. I described things in too much details, trying to “prove” how much I’d learnt, rather than relating it to the research question. The first version of the lit review should have been done before the data collection. I was scared and feared it, so kept pushing it away – but in the end this just caused more problems and more pain. I should have just faced down the problem at the beginning. The first draft did NOT need to be perfect! I need to learn to work with and embrace more fears. I also realise that my relationship with my supervisor could have been better. I expected to much approval from her and should have been more honest and upfront about my problems with her.

In the end I quite enjoyed the final edits of my research. I wish I could have felt that from the start. I enjoyed the challenge of keeping the essential essence of my argument, whilst cutting away the unnecessary words. I needed to realise that just because I had written something, didn’t mean that these words needed to stay in the final version. The research diary was a huge help and I wish I could have hosted it on Livejournal from the start, because I think I would have got interesting dialogue and support from the lj community. Reflecting and writing worked as a kind of therapy and really helped me to keep going when it got hard. Overall I’m glad I did the research, I’m proud of my results and I’m even prouder of myself.

Week 15: The Life Lessons One

Submitted by rubyreader
What is one of the most important life lessons you have learned? Who taught it to you? How/why is it still important to you?

I have a couple of life lessons and they've changed emphasis as I've travelled through life :-)

My godmother taught me "Don't put it down, put it away". I'm sure my tidiness and need for order stems from her, whether that's a clear and clean kitchen, an empty desk and in-tray, or an organised hard drive. I feel uneasy when things aren't "in order" and I often hear a plaintive cry from Mr.ncot "Where's X?" to which I reply "I've tidied it away." The best example was when he couldn't find the allan keys for our IKEA furniture. I calmly told him they were filed away under IKEA in our filing cabinet - it was obvious to me :-)

As a child I picked up the lesson "Work hard, be good, obey the rules regardless". I'm sure that's partly to do wtih being the first born and constantly seeking approval from my parents. I associate approval with doing the right thing and not challenging the status quo. And sometimes I think that my deeply engrained protestant work ethic really holds me back. You know - "if a job's worth doing, it's worth doing well". I get stuck in a sort of perfectionist hell - unable to admit there's a problem and unable to free myself and move forward.

I think the lessons I've learnt for myself as an adult (and I know it sounds corny, but I don't care) is "All you need is love". And by love I mean the hard work of creating relationships - with my husband, my family and my friends. The ambiguity and difficulty of human relationships. The work we put into knowing and loving and forgiving somebody. And the love we show to ourselves - the acceptance and gratitude of our strengths and the recognition of our weaknesses. Love means hard work, hanging in there, being patient, sharing belly laughs, sharing tears, hugging our loved ones. And with love we become fully human.