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PhD Watch - Time Minus 5 Months

This last month has been very much about turning “I can’t into…I can”. It really has been a total mind game these last four weeks and I have had to really fight to get my head space right in order to write effectively. For those new to joining me on my PhD journey, I now have five months left until my Doctorate thesis submission deadline (November 30th). I found out I was (miraculously) pregnant 8 weeks into my PhD and if you had told me then that I would be here, two children later in the count down to the end I would not have believed you. This is a common struggle of mine, believing in myself and I have been right up against that this month. Time is huge challenge. We have to keep coming up with “creative” ways to find more time for me to write, and it is not just ‘time’ but effective time. When you are a sleep deprived mum, running a business and working this seems impossible. Note I said 'we' because my husband and I are in this together! I have had to try some things out, namely getting up very early to study twice a week, leaving my children in my husband’s care to do the daycare drop off as well as writing on a Saturday. I have found this really hard both emotionally, not being there for my children and also physically exhausting. The first Saturday of the month I came into the research office and I spent a good proportion of my time frustrated, crying (literally) unable to find a way forward with my second article and upset at being away from my children. To quote my journal: 6/6/2015 (12.00pm) – “Thought patterns right now? What the hell am I doing? I can’t do this??!! I have achieved basically nothing this morning (since 7.30am) just fighting with stupid statistics and understanding stupid papers about stupid softGIS (don’t ask). I miss my babies. I just want to be at home with them and instead am fighting with research well above my ability…and I am friggen exhausted, average sleep total 5 hours a night…I will ask again…what the hell am I doing??!!” The second Saturday I simply chickened out, was all ready to leave the house and just could not do it. Could not bear leaving my children, or my husband who was also really tired. So I stayed at home. The work, of course, did not go away so I spent the next three mornings working from 5am-7am trying to make up for lost time. I did realise however, that if I had gone to the office, I may not have missed real quality time with the boys. Often on a Saturday we will have a relaxed morning at home, and they both have a big sleep in the middle of the day. This gave me more confidence to attempt writing again the next Saturday – and success! I had a great writing day and was home by 3pm, plenty of time to spend with my babies after their afternoon sleeps. It is not an easy process for me to sort out ‘right’ from ‘wrong’ in regards to the time I spend with my children. I need to keep reminding myself that both of them are miracles for us and that being a mum is a life long commitment, the sacrifices I make now will pay off in the future, but this can be really hard to feel ok about. I also had to face the disappointment of a harsh review of my first research article – which has been a work in progress now for three years. I cannot help but take this to the heart. However, my supervisor said to me the review I got was actually good (!!) and that I can defend it (!!). I realised this is all part of the journey, believing in myself, the work I have done and having the courage to stand up for it – a process I will ultimately have to do at the very end of my thesis. In 2008 I went on Outward Bound, one of the most significant lessons I took from this amazing three week course was…yes oddly enough…to believe in myself. I did activities on this course I never dreamed I could do. The difference then, as with now, is turning “I can’t” into “I can find a way”. So just like scaling a rock face, when I am stuck I am only allowed to say "there will be a way"... “I can’t” is off the vocab list for the next five months. 1924296_46620665666_4460_n Despite all my self-doubt I have almost achieved what I set out to this month: I finished my second research article – it needs to be revised by my supervisor as well as two international researchers before I can submit it; I have written the defense of my first article (again this needs to be reviewed by my supervisor) and just today I have started the planning stage of my third article – yahoo!! Having time in Wellington to write for three days made a significant difference and again it was extremely hard again for me to leave my children but I was able to really push through to finish my second article. The goal for the upcoming month is to have my third research article drafted and the statistical analysis complete – there will be a way!!

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