Thursday, December 31, 2015

End of year odds and ends

Last year, my New Year's theme was getting rid of all the nuisances in my life that were interfering with my happiness or keeping me from reaching my goals. I organized every space in our house, getting rid of anything that we did not use. I no longer have a landline. I cleaned out computer files and apps that I didn't need. Husband had to put the antenna project on hold because of work demands, but he thinks he will be able to work on it soon.

 One of the biggest nuisances for me is Facebook. First, it is a huge time suck. I find myself surfing around mindlessly, only to realize that I wasted an hour. With a busy semester ahead of me, I don't have time for that. Second, the drama, other peoples' agendas, and wearing different social masks on FB is just exhausting. Also, there have been a couple of instances in which people have hurt me with their comments. I have debated mentioning this to the offender(s), but I believe it would be a futile effort. What I found during my time away was that I really didn't miss it, except for some of my old bloggy friends and a few people that are close to me. Honestly, it's like watching a soap opera for the first time in 10 years. Same faces, only a little older. Same drama.

I did spend more time on Twitter and even connected with some really cool people. There just isn't the can there be when you only have 140 characters to bitch and moan? Only a few bloggy people are there and most of them are pseudonymous. There's an unwritten rule that what is said on Twitter, stays on Twitter.

I am also trying to move back into blogging. A couple of bloggy folks are still out there, and I am glad to read their posts. I hope more will comment here too. I am also testing out Tumblr, so I will be cross-posting there too. You can find it at here.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Teaching 2015

In continuing my end of year evaluation, I should mention what is going on with HBCU.

This was the first semester that I taught on campus. For the past two years, I have taught online, so I was quite happy to be back in the classroom. Well, if you have been following any of this on the old blog, you would know that this semester was one of the most challenging semesters I've experienced in a very long time. I had 12 cases of students engaging in academic dishonesty, with four committing two acts which resulted in failure of the course. Many of my students were very disrespectful and would rather spend time texting or playing games on their phones than participate in class. Despite my attempts to engage with them, they were not interested in learning, other than the "Just teach to the test" mentality. On the positive side, I did meet a couple of awesome students who really wanted to learn and be engaged. Unfortunately, they were a small number that was often over powered by the masses.

Needless to say, I was a very frustrated, angry professor. I found myself just going through the motions toward the end of the semester.  The cheating and the caviler attitude of those who cheated offended me to the point that I really took it personally. I was also so hell-bent on making my course cheat-proof that I believe I neglected my students who really wanted to learn.  I didn't like this side of me. I've always been great at engaging students and getting them excited about learning. In retrospect, I think the problem may have been bigger than just my class. There is a culture of this kind of thing at HBCU that developed over a long period of time. It will take a long time to change.

Also, I felt that my department was not supportive in my efforts to deal with the situation. Although my chair and I determined that there was a miscommunication about how to handle the situation, as well as my chair stating his support for me, I am not sure how I feel about whether I want to continue to teach there. My chair thinks I do a great job and does not want me to give up on the students. I believe I am getting to that point, if I am not already there. Not a good thing.

One of my courses for the PhD this semester was in program assessment and evaluation. The concepts in the course made me think about the course that I teach. Am I really meeting course outcomes? Are there course outcomes that don't make sense for the goals of the department?Am I making the activities interesting and authentic? To that end, I am spending part of my semester break doing a full assessment and evaluation of the course and drafting a logic model to help me revise the course. I am actually glad that I am back to teaching online for the spring, as I will have more time to through the revisions without having to deal with traveling to campus. Also, my schedule at PhD U will be very hectic this spring, so being at home will help. Also, I have a new group of student with only two repeat offenders, so I think I will be able to get some good results.

As for my feelings about teaching at HBCU in the future, that is something I will have to work though over time. There are pros and cons to my staying. At this point, I am just waiting and seeing what happens with this course revision. It might be a way to make lemonade, from a whole bunch of lemons.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

2015 Fitness Evaluation...Keep on Running

2015 was a good year on the fitness front.
  • I completed four 5Ks this year, including the Walk to Cure Arthritis. I ran that one, just to prove to my RA ridden body that this girl can run. My RA doc is very happy and supportive of all of my efforts. I am her poster child for being fit with RA. I never thought I would run again, especially with the RA. But, I am and I'm going to continue to do it until I can't anymore. 
  • No major flares with the RA. Plus, my RA doc decreased one of my medications. That is a huge deal! 
  • I have dropped eight seconds from my first 5K time. I'm not the fastest one out there, but I'm doing it. I would like to continue to drop my time and do a few more races for 2016.
  • I am doing yoga again to help strengthen my muscles and stay sane. I slipped off the yoga mat a little toward the end of the semester, which was not the best idea in the world. I really could have used that zen to help me through the end of semester and holiday heinousness. Note to self...You do a lot better when you are not a stressed out crazy woman, so do the yoga. 
  • I have maintained my weight loss, although, I did put on a couple of pounds over the holiday. It's only two pounds over my maximum weight and about five pounds above my happy-weight. I am back on the Lose-it program. I should be back in black by my two year weight loss anniversary in February.
  • Husband has lost 20 pounds and has returned to running. He has 25 more pounds to go before he hits his happy weight. He wants to be at the weight he was when he could run 7-8 miles four days a week He would like to have the weight gone before his 50th birthday, which is in October. I must say, he is looking fierce! Also, he is not snoring as much as he used to, which is good news for both of us.
  • Junior and I either walk or run four or five days a week. Junior lost 10 pounds, which his vet is very happy about because the poor pup was getting a little chubby.  Junior is very good about making sure that I take him for his walkies/joggies. German Shepherds can be very persistent. 
 Husband and I signed up for Commitment Day, which is a 5K race that is a commitment, or continued commitment in our case, to fitness.We did something similar last year and it really gave us a kick-start for the new year.  Part of our commitment to continued fitness in 2016 is to work toward a major goal. Husband and I want to return to Hawaii for our 25th wedding anniversary in the summer of 2018. I will most likely finish my PhD during that same time. That's when I remembered about an article in Runner's World about a woman who paid herself $1.00 for every mile she ran. She would use the money to treat herself to something special after she completed a race. I told Husband about it. We came up with a plan to pay for our trip by exercising.  We came up with the following:

1 mile run = $1.00
1 mile walk at a brisk pace (<4 mph) = $.50
20-30 minutes of strength training/yoga = $.25

We started on Christmas Day and we already have $15.00 in the pot. It's a good start. 

The fitness mantra for 2016 is Keep on Running!

Friday, December 25, 2015

So this is Christmas for an atheist

As an atheist, most people wonder how I am able to celebrate what is, for many, a religious holiday. Growing up Catholic, I am well versed in all the traditions and rituals of the religious significance of Christmas. But as an atheist, many suggest that I have no business celebrating Christmas. 
I am not going to go into the historical facts about why Christmas is celebrated at this time of year. It is well documented and needs no additional comment from me. And, I will not go into the fact that many non-believers celebrate the secular message of peace and good will that is a part of Christmas. I will; however, tell you how this atheist and her atheist husband spent this Christmas. 

First, we were roused by kisses and snuggles from one very happy German Shepherd, who is grateful for having two humans who recused him four years ago and gave him a loving home. The three of us snuggled together, grateful for being together in a warm house that is filled with love. Then, we went downstairs and opened presents that we gave to each other that were thoughtful and represented how much we love each other.  Afterward, the three of us went to our favorite running path and held our first Christmas 5K run. Although it was cloudy, the weather was warm and not too muggy. We did an easy run, not a race pace. We marveled in the glory of nature and the peacefulness of the woods that surrounds the running path. We smiled and greeted fellow runners and walkers as they passed.  We came home to have a light lunch. We called, texted, and left messages of Christmas cheer to friends on social media. As I write this, we are in the process of making dinner. Mostly likely, there will be a nap, followed by a relaxing evening at home. 

For our atheist family, Christmas is about enjoying time with each other and doing things that bring us peace and joy. Sounds like a nice way to embrace the holiday. 

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Christmas Meltdown

I tried...I really did. But once again, my depression got the best of me and I had a meltdown over the weekend.

Long time followers from my days in the Waiting Room know that I have battled depression and anxiety for my entire adult life.  During this time of year, it's not just about the stress of completing work, school, and holiday demands, but there are some very painful holiday memories for me that just make this time of year very difficult. In all honesty, I hate the holiday season. I'd rather hibernate from now until New Year's Day.

I tried to alleviate much of the stress and depression by focusing on positive tasks and memories. This year, I even made sure that I got plenty of exercise in order to keep the endorphin happily bouncing. I even had a massage after I submitted all my work for the PhD. Despite those efforts, I just couldn't keep it together anymore, and I broke down crying on Saturday.

I think part of my meltdown was a release of all the stress from the fall semester. It was a very trying semester, especially at HBCU. The last two weeks of the semester at PhD U was a huge push to finish all the projects and assignments. Also, my mom had a small medical issue that had her worried that the cancer was back. Maybe the meltdown was needed, I don't know.  I was walking around in a state of cat-like readiness that was building up all semester and was in full effect by Thanksgiving. So add those to all the usual feelings that I have this time of year, and I guess a meltdown was inevitable.

On the positive side, if there is such a thing when one has a meltdown, is that I held out as long as I did. The coping mechanisms did help to some extent. When I woke up yesterday, I actually felt a little more at peace. I still have some negative thoughts banging around in my head, but they are not as loud as they once were. We'll see how this week goes.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Learning to Fly

PhD U is sponsoring a conference in the spring. When the call for proposals arrived in my email inbox, I told myself that I would submit something for consideration. But, I would have to wait until after the fall semester insanity ends, because that was my priority. I figured that since the deadline is December 18th, and that I would be finished with all my other work, I would have a solid week to crank something out and submit it.

Yesterday, I started digging around for articles on my topic and thinking of a framework. As I began to read the articles, the words were swimming on the page. I recognized fonts, but not much more. I closed my laptop and said "NOPE" out loud. Even today, I just could bring myself to read anything that required intense concentration or analytical thought.As much as I would love to present at this conference, especially with many PhD U and faculty from other universities in attendance, I just can't do it. I am just to fried right now. I really need some downtime. I need to recharge.

This was a huge thing for me...saying no to an opportunity. I've always had trouble doing that. I have this inner voice, you know, the perfectionist, super-competitive, always trying to prove I am worthy voice that tells me I have to take advantage of opportunities. When I give in, I end up more exhausted and over-committed. This time, I told myself that it is OK not to submit. I have two conference proposals already for next year, with one already accepted. I will be busy enough. It's OK not to do this one. I was also able to shut down the guilt voice that usually is in the background. No guilt, no regrets. I can apply for 2017. I'll be a stronger academic then. Right now, I am still learning to fly.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Evaluation, Part 1

Well, I survived.The fall semester is over with a couple of mouse clicks. Papers and projects submitted to PhDU and grades submitted for HBCU.

On my run this morning, I was thinking about the semester and how everything turned out. I found myself using my advisor's method of giving feedback. She uses the phrases "I liked", "I learned", and "I suggest". It really is an effective means of giving someone positive and negative feedback without feeling like you are being too harsh or just focusing on the good stuff.

With that in mind, I began to evaluation my semester by diving it into three areas: PhDU, HBCU and myself. So here goes part one.

The fall semester at PhDU
This was my first semester as a fully admitted student. I also took two classes instead of one.

I liked: My classes, especially qualitative methods. My instructor for qualitative methods was just amazing. She used the scaffold method to help us build on the poster presentation and final paper.  She kept the class very active, especially for it being at such a late time during the day. I am bummed that she will not be teaching the second half of the course in the spring.

I also like my Assessment and Evaluation Theory course, although I don't think my classmates shared the same feeling. It was one of those courses which required the student to do a great deal of self learning and discovery, something I am used to from being in law school. I don't think my fellow classmates have not experienced or were not used to doing. The project really wasn't too bad, just a lot of sweat labor getting all the pieces together.

I liked that I have the opportunity to work on two research projects with my advisor. The projects are two conference proposals that will ultimately become something that we will submit for publishing. I get second author status, which is super cool. I will receive credit for my work with my advisor, which means one less class I have to take.  It really boosts my confidence that my advisor is confident in my skills and knowledge. One of the proposals was accepted, so now we are waiting on the other conference proposal. Next year is going to be super busy.

I learned: There is a lot more to doing qualitative research than I realized prior to the course. Transcription sucks. I told Husband that he needs to use his computer programming and software engineering skills to come up with software and an app that would make the process less painful. I noticed that my lawyer skills really worked well with drafting interview questions and interviewing participants.

For evaluation theory, I learned that I am actually pretty good at it. I think mainly because I've been though the process as a department chair, but I also think it's part of my personality of constantly wanting to see how things are working. I also learned that I really need to revamp the course that I teach. I used my course as part of a learning activity and I found that I am not hitting the outcomes that I have set. Over the break, I am going to reverse engineer my course.

I learned that I actually know what the hell I am doing with respect to this PhD thing. I have a good grasp of the concepts for my program, thanks in part to my extra reading outside of class, but also because I really like this stuff.

I suggest: I am trying to find a balance between writing like a lawyer and writing like an academic. Writing like a lawyer is very analytical. You are trying prove something and using the law to back up your assertions. No where in legal writing does your personal opinion come into play. To quote Denzel in Training Day, "It's not what you know, it's what you can prove".  I would follow that with what my Constitutional law professor told on day one of class "Check your ego and opinions at the door." Needless to say, my academic writing is very structured and very analytical, and no where do I indicated what I think about the data or theory. If I do put forth an opinion, it is qualified. So, I am working on finding my voice in academic writing. It's a work in progress.


Overall, It was a good semester at PhDU. I am confident in my work there and I am learning and growing as an academic. I am looking forward to next semester.

Up next, evaluation of my semester at HBCU.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Of Tasks And Elephants



Well, I do not want to advocate the eating of elephants, but the old question about how one eats an elephant does make sense. About a month ago, I started using Google Tasks and a related app for my phone and IPad to organize my tasks. Every day, I triage what must be done or what I would like to do. So far, this has kept my anxiety at bay and kept me on schedule with all of my responsibilities.

Now that I am in the time of year where it's a rush to get everything finished, I can feel those familiar pangs of anxiety creeping up on me. Everything is due, stuff for the PhD, grading stuff that my students must submit, submission deadlines for presentations, keeping up with my running schedule, and home responsibilities. I am not going to get into the holiday heinousness. Needless to say, I have several large elephants. In the past, I would just dive in and eating up one major task at a time while ignoring the others. This would cause my stress level to go through the roof, because I was so focused on the one task and now I have this new large task to tackle. Ultimately, I would end up having a major meltdown that would lead to depression. Of course, I would push through the depression, complete everything on my plate, and knock everything out of the park. But, I would be so exhausted in the end that I would feel useless and resentful.

Gorging oneself on on thing is not very healthy. It doesn't give you any energy to tackle the other major tasks. One must exercise portion control, something that I learned during my weight loss journey. Same thing for running a race. You can't use up all your energy at the start. Otherwise, you will have nothing left in the tank for the last kick to the finish line. 

Since no students ever show up for office hours, I took out a legal pad and wrote down all the things I must complete by December 11th. I made columns for each area and put the due date next to each item. I added all the information to my Google Tasks. This morning, I looked at my paper list and my electronic list, picked a task from each column, and set up my tasks in the "Today" colum. I worked on the methodology section of my qualitative methods paper, completed a portion of my program evaluation theory portfolio, graded one assignment from my students, and took Junior for a walk. Somehow, I managed to do some laundry too. I will read a chapter from a book that I am reading for program evaluation tonight. I felt very pleased with the progress and was even more pleased that I was able to keep my anxiety in check. I am not exhausted from my tasks, either mentally or physically.

I'm hoping I can keep this up for the next few weeks, because I really do not want to gorge on elephants.

Sunday, November 15, 2015


One of my favorite songs is "Sundown" by Gordon Lightfoot. In it, there is a lyric that really resonates with me.

Sometimes I think it's a shame
When I get feeling better when I'm feeling no pain,

This lyric makes me think about how with my RA remission, I have little to no pain in my joints. This is thanks to the medications that I take, losing 53 pounds (less impact on the joints), and exercising on a regular basis.  I am by no means cured. There is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis.

When I feel well, no pain or fatigue, I often forget that my body is attacking my joints and my organs all day, every day. I am running for the first time in a decade and a half.  I never thought I would do that again in my lifetime. My RA doc says that I am her poster child for doing well with the disease.

The thing is, I don't want to forget that I have this disease, even when I am feeling well. It serves as a reminder of how far I have come with the disease. It reminds me to not take my remission for granted. It reminds me that I can do everything I am supposed to do to stay healthy and I can still get a flare. I want to remember that there is no rhyme or reason with this disease. It is what it is, pain or no pain.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Gun Shy

I spent this morning writing the long post about my issues with the course I am teaching. With all the cheating and subtle arm twisting from my chair and the dean not to give them an "F"for the course and kick them out of class, but let them continue in the class and keep failing them each time they cheat (which is a  violation of policy), I've been battling this dilemma of should I stay or should I go. I wrote about how I've been advised to just walk and tell them to fuck-off to coming up with a respectful exit strategy.

After I wrote the post, I didn't immediately publish it. Instead, I went for a run. Over the years, running has helped me think through stuff. As I trudged through the neighborhood with Junior in tow, I kept thinking about the situation. The truth is, what is going on is wrong, just plain wrong. One can spin it any way they want to, but the truth is that in my view of the world, and the view that I try to share with my students is that one holds themselves to a high standard of integrity. Clearly, that does not exist here, not with these students or with the administration. I don't even want to "fight the system", as the system is very broken at this university. At the end of my run, I realized the I know what I need to do.

So, why am I struggling to pull the trigger?

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Friends...How Many Of Us Have Them?

I am working on an assignment for my qualitative methods class that is part of my professor's research. She is looking at the socialization of grad students at the beginning of their PhD program. Our assignment was to interview a first semester PhD student and transcribe the interview for coding. Although this is my first semester as a matriculated student, I had a couple of semesters under my belt, so I didn't qualify as a subject. No matter, I just went about the task of interviewing a first semester PhD student from one of my courses.

One of the questions that we were to include in the interview was whether or not the subject had interactions with other grad students outside of class. Memories of my grad student days came flooding back, and they were not good. My master's degree program was very cut-throat. If you were not a native speaker of the language or a TA, you were excluded. Needless to say, despite my near-fluency in the language and experience as a secondary teacher, but not a TA did not count. The two years I spent working on my master's degree were very lonely. I can honestly I did not have a single friend. Law school was better, which is odd, because that is where one would expect people to ostracize others. In fact, I had some great friendships that started in class and are still in place to this day. It seemed that everyone felt like we were in this thing together, so we might as well work together. That is not to say that there were some ass-hats, believe me, there were. But, law school was actually a great experience and nothing like what was depicted in the Paper Chase!

Fast forward some 20 years, and the friendship issue comes up again. It's werid because although, I have friends in my classes, I have not engaged in anything beyond class with anyone. It's not for lack of trying or because there is a cut-throat, ostracizing environment. My program consists mainly of people who work full-time and take classes part time. Many have families. Some are full-time, but they have research positions and may also adjunct at other colleges. I just don't think anyone has any time for friends. I thought that maybe this was an non-traditional student issue. But, my subject, who began her PhD work right after her master's and bachelor's degree, indicated that she does not have much interaction with other grad students outside of class. With working as a research assistant and taking a full load of courses, she doesn't have time.

There's that word again. Time.

Friendships take time. Time to develop. Time to nurture. As I think about the friendships that I don't have in grad school, I think about my current friendships that I have neglected because I have been so consumed with the PhD and HBCU. And, I am really behind on reading blog-friend posts. That makes me sad. I have put a couple of friendships aside because they are draining me and causing me stress. That makes me even more sad. And now, knowing that even younger grad students do not feel they have interactions, or friendships, with other grad get the idea. many of us have time for them?

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Back to One

I spent most of yesterday in a total funk. A friend said some things to me that really hurt. This was the second time that this person crossed a line with me, so I was pissed and hurt that this person did it again. After two weeks of being on an emotional roller coaster with work, classes, research and other stuff, my friend's remarks to me were the straw that broke the camels back, if you will. 

It goes back to my New Year theme of getting rid of the noise. Getting rid of those things that interfere with my health and happiness. The reset that I talked about in my previous post was also about redefining boundaries. I have allowed people and things to inch too close to my boundary or cross it altogether. That is not OK.  I doesn't help me physically, emotionally or mentally. Those who encroach or cross the line take up way too much space. They need to be put back in their place.

For starters, I took a break from FB. I deleted all my apps, so that I could not log in. I just can't deal with all the noise that goes on there anymore. Honestly, it has become a huge time-suck. It doesn't do anything to make me happy. If anything, it leaves me either angry or depressed. I am still on Twitter, which does not have the time-suck factor that FB does. Plus, some really cool folks are there that I enjoy.

In addition, I reworked my daily/weekly schedule to get back into my yoga practice. I am also slowing returning to running after an injury.  Yoga has given me clarity, something that I am missing right now. And, running just helps me de-stress and thing through things, like research.

Also, I reworked my course syllabus for my students at HBCU. Less work will provide less grading that I will have to do. If someone cheats, their grade will take a huge hit. I'm just not in a place where I want to fight the system.

Finally, I am going to focus on my friendships that bring me joy. My friendship with one particular person will change. That friendship no longer brings me joy.

Monday, October 19, 2015


I've wanted to write something about the past two weeks, but honestly, my world has been super crazy.

Let's see:
  • Midterm grades were due at HBCU'
  • 10 students have cheated on assignments in my course. Two have done it twice. The response from the administration was less than what I believe to be a suitable response and punishment. 
  • Lots of work in my PhD classes that take up a good portion of time, Papers, projects and reading do take a lot of time. but I really enjoy them and I am learning so much interesting stuff.
  • Submitted two conference proposals with my advisor, which will also be submitted for publishing next year. Lots of research work. Again, I really enjoy it and I have a good rapport with my advisor. 
  • Hamstring strain has stalled my running, along with a minor cold. Right now, I can only run about 1.25 miles without significant pain. 
Needless to say, the past two weeks were filled with lots of stress, both good and bad. I am also rather tired. That scares me, because excess bad stress will trigger a RA flare. I certainly do not need a flare to complicate matters. I am doing everything I can to keep the flare away. I've been trying to rest, as much as one can in a PhD program. I even canceled class at HBCU to get some rest and to get caught up on PhD work and research for my advisor. Husband has been truly amazing with helping out with little things like housework, cooking and taking Junior for walkies while I work. That has helped me keep my head above water enough to finish what I needed to finish these past two weeks.

Sadly many of the good habits and strategies that I incorporated over the summer and the beginning of the semester have suffered. I am not happy about it. So, my plan this week is re-group and re-focus my attention to what matters and to dump those things and habits that are hurting me. 

Time to hit the reset button.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

What's It Gonna Take?

This semester, I have caught 6 students who submitted the same homework assignment word for word. Four of them claimed that they were "working together" and all came up with the same response. The other two involved a female student who either intentionally or negligently allowed a male student access to her homework. He didn't bother to change the header with her name on it. When I confronted the female student, she was very non-chalant about the entire situation, which leads me to beleive that she intentionally allowed the male student to copy her work. Today, I found two assignments that were very close to being similar. I sent them to my department chair for clarification, even though my gut and years of experience with this says that it is cheating.

I am angry. I am hurt. And, I feel disrespected. Do these students think so little of me, the college and their future?  Do they not care about the amount of time and effort that I put into this course for very little in compensation? Do they realize that from this point forward, I cannot trust or believe anything that they do?  Do they not care that I am busting my ass to help them be successful? Do they even care about how this reflects on them as a person? What about the student who has struggled, but still makes tries to do the work honestly?

I used to tell myself that these are the exception to the rule. There are more good students than bad and I should focus on the good.

I am finding it harder and harder to do that.

I guess it's just a bigger part of what is wrong with the world. Regardless of what your beliefs are politically, religiously or whatever, we as a society do not value each other. We do dishonest things because others get away with it. We call each other hateful names because we don't believe the same things, yet we claim to be righteous and virtuous. We glorify bad behavior, and find good behavior suspect or acting as if we are superior to those who have not attained such good fortune.

So, my question is: What will it take to make things different?

If I knew the answer, I'd probably have a Nobel Prize.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015


I decided to take today off from most of the world, mostly because the thought of doing anything that requires serious thought isn't happening.

I am doing the PhD thing part time for now. As a second year student, I do have a lot on my plate with classes, teaching at HBCU, doing research for my advisor, and home life with Husband and Junior. Needless to say, I am tired. My brain is fried and foggy. The RA is grumbling  a little, but I think part of that is the change in seasons and that rain is on the way. I am trying not to freak out over what is on my "To Do" list. I keep repeating to myself that I can't do a good job on anything right now.  Honestly, I feel like I am running blind. But, I am trying to do this PhD thing differently.

The difference between Seeking Solace the law school student from 22 years ago and Seeking Solace the PhD student of today is that I am not able to work until the wee-hours of the morning, get about four hours of sleep and go to classes and a part-time job. That Seeking Solace was running blind, stressed and grouchy. Seeking Solace the Lawyer and Seeking Solace the Academic did the same thing. The results were not good.

What's that saying about the definition of insanity?

That being said, PhD Seeking Solace learning to accept that there will be times where everything on my list will not get done. There will be a reading that I just don't have time to complete. It may take an extra day or two to finish grading for students at HBCU. My house will not be as tidy as it once was. I am learning to ask for help when I need it. I may need to take a day off from everything because the RA has decided to make things difficult for me or I just need a break to decompress. This is hard for someone like me who is hard-wired to be a over-achiever-workaholic.

But, I'm trying.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Just Breathe

When I attended my program orientation last month, all I could think about as information that I didn't know during my time as a non-matriculated student was that this shit just got real.

It's not that I didn't take my non-matriculated status seriously. I did. But, I was so consumed with into the program and proving that I could do the work. Now that I am here, there's all this stuff that probably could have been done earlier, that is, if I had known about it. Stuff like that drives me crazy. I hate not knowing where I am going. I like to plan. I like to make contingencies, because as we all know, shit happens. That's one thing that my years as a lawyer has taught me...always be ready for whatever happens.

But, this is different. My academic plan is supposed to be completed by the time I hit a certain number of credits. Well, I am three credits away of the deadline.

And, the anxiety begins to brew...

My advisor is pretty cool about it. "It will get done", she says.

Of course in my type A brain, all I can think is "When am I supposed to do this when I've got coursework, my job and a whole host of crap going on"  I feel as if I am already behind...and I hate being behind.  I hate uncertainty.

OK, breathe...

Tomorrow is supposed to be the day that my advisor and I narrow down a plan on how to get all of this real shit done. I know that once I have a plan and work the plan, I am unstoppable.

I just have to remember to breathe. 

Friday, September 4, 2015


I decided to end my time in the Waiting Room. It served its purpose. I have grown and changed since launching that blog 10 years ago. It didn't seem right to continue it, given the person that I am now.

I am in a new place in my life and I have begun a new journey toward earning my PhD. My health has improved, thanks to the weight loss and return to fitness. Some of my old demons still try to enter my new world, but I've gotten better at telling them to STFU. It's still a work in progress, but I am on the right path.

I am excited and scared about this new journey. There is some uncertainty attached to it. But, I know that I  need to do this. I will remain forever stuck on the hamster wheel if I don't. Husband and Junior support me. My family back in Redneckville support me. My friends here in PhD University City support me. I have support from some great folks at PhD U. So, there is nothing that can stop me, except me.

Guess I better start climbing.