Monday, April 29, 2013
I have been struggling a lot lately with a lot of things going on in my life. Namely my thesis and some opportunities coming up on the horizon at work. Instead of tackling certain projects, I have been vegging, stressing and fretting. Wasting time and treading water.
This morning I read an article by Steve Tobak on Inc.com that really hit home. I'm going to post a fragment that really resounded with me and a link to the entire article, titled "How to Be the Best Version of You" in case anyone else needs to read this today.
"Nothing worth doing in life is ever easy. If you want to do great work, it's going to take a lot of hard work to do it. And you're going to have to break out of your comfort zone and take some chances that will scare the crap out of you."
Sunday, April 07, 2013
Today finalizes my 21 days of consciously developing a positive attitude through gratitude, random acts of kinds, chronically positive events, exercise and meditation. On my sparkblog and in my diary, I managed to record the first three on a total of 12 occasions, as well as several other days where I remembered positive events as I lay in bed at night. I also managed to work out a total of 12 days, but only meditated for the first three days of my positivity challenge.
Meditation and random acts of kindness seemed to be the most difficult of the five tasks I have set myself; often I could not think of three acts of kindness I had performed throughout the day, which leads me to the conclusion that I was not conscientiously attempting to carry out acts of kindness. As far as meditation goes, it has resulted to be so difficult that I wrote an entire blog about it and, for all intents and purposes, gave up after day three.
On a positive note, I did exercise a great deal more than I have been for the past several months, going from exercising 7% of the month to nearly 60% of the month. Overall, I am feeling better, more positive and less stressed out about things going on right now, a very stressful time in my life. I am more forgiving of myself and others. I have even become inspired to start eating healthily again, and I have convinced DH to join me.
What is the next stage in my journey? I am repeating this challenge, but I am adapting it;
1. Create a sparkstreak of 21 days of at least 30 minutes of exercise.
2. Schedule acts of kindness (not so random, but more conscientious).
3. Schedule meditation time. Try AM for three days, lunchtime for three days, and PM for three days. Tell DH what I am doing beforehand so no interruptions or awkward questions occur.
4. Continue with gratitude and positive event journaling - attempt to create a sparkstreak in my journal.
5. Create a sparkstreak of blogging one positive event per day and what I have learned from it.
On April 28th I will check back in to see how my challenge has progressed. Three weeks is a reasonable timeframe. I am going to use the same time frame for some other, non-health related goals to chart my progress as well.
Onwards and upwards, ever forwards and never backwards!
Friday, April 05, 2013
I'm finding that as I get back into running, when I am out, that time becomes a time for peace, thought and reflection. Distractions are stripped away. I am alone. I go into my own, personal space.
Today I mulled over my research, and how difficult it has been for me to sit down and write about the results. I think part of the problem is that I was far too close to the material - I worked to analyze a program that I also carried out with my students. I worked with the project for a total of four years, three of which I was also working with a foundation to analyze it, and for two of those years, I ONLY worked with students involved in the program. Day and night, at work and at home.
Another roadblock, I have realized, was that the results of the study have not been what I expected, nor did several aspects of the evaluation proceed as I had hoped. At many times throughout, it was immensely frustrating, and it was easy to lose sight of the bigger picture and even ignore problems or issues in the hope that they would resolve themselves.
However, I have come to realize that thanks to this time away from the program (I switched schools and type of education in September) and a certain distance from the research, I am now better able to perceive the results in a more objective manner. I can remove myself from the emotional turmoil surrounding the program and scientifically examine how and why the study proceeded in the way that it did. I can see and learn from my mistakes.
After all, I reminded myself today, this is the first time I have undertaken a project of this magnitude. My Honors Thesis and my Masters Thesis were nothing compared to this - 80 some pages based on scant fieldwork and ample literature review. This study comprises two academic years, nearly 1,000 subjects, 11 research assistants and 16 schools. It is normal for me to feel at times overwhelmed, and to feel the immensity of the task that still lies ahead.
However, much has been done. I have written reports, so many reports. I have made peace with my results. I have accepted that the learning process trumps the outcome, because, after all, this is my PhD thesis - I am not yet a professional researcher.
Another positive outcome from this process is my recognition that I can no longer overcommit. It is not healthy. It creates a cycle of chronic stress. I must learn when to say no, and how to say no graciously. I think I say yes all too often out of the fear that my negative response would mean a missed opportunity, a closed door. After all, my watchword for years has been kairos, that intersection between destiny, opportunity and decision. But perhaps kairos has a flipside - the ability to recognize which opportunities are NOT important and which opportunities we can allow to pass by. I must resist the temptation to say "It is too good to pass up" or "what if it never appears again?" I must trust myself to be wise enough when to say no.
So here is the take away message for me tonight. Learn to enjoy the process. Accept that mistakes and unexpected outcomes occur to teach us lessons that we need to learn. Stop over-extending yourself and setting traps for yourself. Yes, aim high, dream big, plan for success, but promise less, commit less, focus more, live more.
Do this, this thesis for you, for yourself, just as you are committing to a healthy lifestyle for yourself. Let its lessons serve to guide you in the coming years. Allow it to shape you and make you better for the experience. Work through the pain, the anguish of not "getting it right." Allow the uncertainty to flow through you. Work to the end and then step back and be proud.
Tuesday, April 02, 2013
Today I am grateful for:
-The opportunity to write my thesis and the foundation that is sponsoring my research
-Enjoying a Barça match at home with DH
-Progress on the house
Positive event for the day:
I felt like I had a major breakthrough in my relationship with my research. I am coming to terms with the sheer amount of work left to do, and acknowledging that this is not something that can be done in 20 hours or 50 or even 100. I accept and welcome the road ahead and am willing to make the effort and self-sacrifice needed to finish my research, my thesis and my PhD.
Random acts of kindness:
-I passed on some information on University entrance exam prep to one of my students at the Community Center
-I surprised DH with a massage
15 min pilates
40 minute walk with DH
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