Thursday, 12 March 2015

Post 45: Just Over the Half-Way Hump Trying to Keep Up the Energy!

Okay. Deep breaths. Square breathing, four seconds at a time.

This semester is proving more challenging than some previous semesters, and enormous amount of work at this point in the semester has no small role to play in that. I definitely like to be busy and feel productive, but there comes a point when everything feels a bit too much like madness and the burden of all my commitments feels overwhelming. Gotta keep something of an eye on balance, because when everything smashes together, it stops being fun, and it stops being what I want to do, and I don't like to coerce myself to relieve the pressure of deadlines and seeing through obligations.

Just last week I was buried in marking for the class I'm TAing, and it felt like last minute scrambling to get it all done. I was also hurriedly trying to edit my third thesis chapter to submit for Friday (got it in at 1:30AM, phew!), and dealing with guilt at not having more done on my other research project regarding climate change adaptation.

Walking towards Cadboro Bay, Mt. Baker off in the hazy evening rouge. 
So at this point in the semester the big challenge is fending off tiredness, making sure I get enough sleep, am still eating well, and still finding the energy to TA well, keep on top of my commitments, and meet all my deadlines. I had really bad stress anxiety last week, which felt horrible, and I'm so glad things are more under control now.

When life hands us the busy-time lemons, it seems like one of the best things to do is admit that things are hard, and try to tackle things on the to-do list so the stress can level off, and the super-stress is no longer useful. It was also really helpful for me to remind myself that as stiff as I think the deadlines are, I can still make time to go for a walk, and to get 8 hours of sleep, and to read in bed for 10 minutes before turning out the light. All of the little (and healthy) behavioural patterns that I usually still do are more than valuable and necessary for supporting me in accomplishing my work goals.

But when those tough moments hit, I am so grateful for the many kindnesses of my partner and friends for helping to keep my spirits up. The daylight savings time-change has also been incredible. I love that it's still light when I leave work now, and I still feel like doing things much later into the evening. It also helps that my iron levels are back up—I can feel the difference now, and I went to the gym on Sunday again for the first time in almost 4 months! YAY!

So here's to celebrating the small successes along the way, and acknowledging just how much I am getting done. It's harder to do than I sometimes think, with the next task ahead of me right away.

All in all, though, it's been a lovely week, especially so when I remember back to last week. I went to a reading and spent an evening with a close friend on Tuesday, and today we had a great lab meeting, Skyping in a grad student in our program, Kira Hoffman, who's at Oregon State University, for the semester, alongside another PhD guest, Christy James, who shares our building here at the university. Thank you, thank you to them both! I love hearing their different perspectives (more on this in the next post), and just appreciate having these conversations a lot.

Another gorgeous West Coast evening. Love these skies!
Afterwards, we had a mini-celebration with Rob Watt, long-time Mountain Legacy supporter and expert—he's likely the most knowledgeable person in Canada about the historical topographical maps that MLP uses for its research. Between a few really tasty snacks, and excellent storytelling by my supervisor, Rob, and MLP expert, Mary, it was an afternoon that zipped right by, and had my sides hurting from all the laughter. Great way to bring to a close a very good week.

Research-wise, I'm getting back into NVivo, and strategizing how to write my fourth chapter, which will cover my findings from the interviews. More on that soon, too.

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