Friday, January 28, 2011


The past two weeks have been full of what I'm perceiving as bumps in school life. And naturally when one part of my life is bumpy the other parts feel bumpy. I've finished all first round interviews with participants this week, but only had 3 of the total 7 scheduled show. The survey portion of my study is complete but I had more than my allotted number of participants fill it out - the Internal Review Board (IRB) approved my research protocol for 100 participants in the survey and I have about 40 more than that. I'm having to submit revision forms to IRB, which feels about as painful as submitting things to the IRS or DMV.

The largest bump that I'm still not quite dealing with (mostly I am in denial) is that my major professor is leaving the department. I don't know quite how to explain this to those not familiar to the PhD process other than it is like having your driver's education instructor leave you at the wheel. This being said, I am mainly feeling this way because I adore my major professor. She is amazing, a mentor, and has been a part of my graduate school journey since my masters program. I'm thrilled for her to get an opportunity to do something new, but feeling very selfish about not being able to get this done in time to finish my journey with her.

I've been trying to tell myself that these bumps would be like spraining my toe. It hurts, but is not devastating to my overall training.

And speaking of training, it's been hard. I've been to core fitness twice in the last two weeks. I've only been able to run twice. Because of the bumps with school I haven't had a lot of extra time outside of work. And at work, I've been a bit busy. But, I'm proud of myself because I actually asked for help at work. What a concept, right?! I'm horrible at asking for help. It hasn't been until the last year that I've been able to ask Andrew for help with home stuff without going into fits about it. It's all me, and I'm working hard to get over it. I am so thankful for my work colleagues and even more thankful that Andrew is there supporting me.

Given all that is going on the last thing you'd expect is for me to skip town. Well, I did. Yesterday I flew to Orlando with a team of PCC folks to attend a Legal Issues in Community Colleges conference. And after the conference I'm taking some vacation. Yes, vacation. Crazy, right?! I'm staying in Florida for awhile then flying to New York. Between the conference and vacation I will be gone 16 days.

It seems like a strange time to be gone from all these things in my life, but in a way they are coming with me. I've brought along my school things so that I can work on planes, when friends are busy, late at night if I can't sleep. It may seem like I won't get anything done, but I think I will get some things done given that there are other things off my plate for awhile (playing trains, tucking in my kiddo, attending to work on a daily basis, etc.). As for the running, I plan on doing that during my time in sunny Florida but refuse to run in 15 inches of snow in New York.

One thing about this trip though is that I am so missing my little family. I've travelled without them plenty of times, but for some reason it was really hard to leave this time. I wrote my kiddo a letter for each day I am gone and could not stop hugging him the day I left. I think I needed some extra love for all the bumps.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

I've Been Thinking...

I'm happy to report that I got back on the wagon. Since last Friday I have worked out/run and PhDed every day. I've decided to take a break this evening by catching up on some work - I know, I lead such an exciting life. Don't worry, I plan on watching some bad tv as well.

One of the things that I have learned about working on a PhD is that "working" on it often means thinking. I know this sounds strange, but hear me out - when you picture working on a PhD what often comes to mind is someone doing all this research, reading, and writing. While that is all true, I am finding that you also need lots of time to think. It could be thinking about themes you are finding in the data, or how you want to use an article or theory. For me, this thinking requires that I clear my head and really think about stuff.

Now, I don't know about you but the notion of sitting around and thinking about something sounds like a luxury to me. I mean, who has time to sit around and think? Between work, home, and life in general our minds are busy processing and sorting all kinds of information: emails I need to respond to, bits of information for meetings, did I sign off on that timesheet?, what time am I free in APRIL for that meeting?, was I supposed to get more yogurt for Keawe's lunch?, was Andrew picking up the kid or me? goes on and on.

This is why I like running. It's my time to think. If I run by myself I am often mulling over something PhD related. It used to be that this thinking would trigger some wild anxiety attack because I was so worried about the damn thing. But now, I enjoy it. Something shifted this fall, and I am enjoying PhDing again. I'm sure it had to do with getting data back and feeling invigorated with my topic again. I had a spell of about 2 years after Keawe was born where I just about burnt myself out on school (but that's another blog entry). It's not like that anymore, and that's a good thing.

PhD Update: Finished transcribing first round of journals. Closed second round of survey (and got more participants than I was anticipating - back to IRB). Scheduled the rest of my interviews for the WHOLE study for this week and next.

Running Update: Abs sore from Core Fitness class - but so worth it. Have run 4 days in a row with the longest run at 6 miles. Got some new kicks for all the extra miles I'm putting on.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Back to the Grind

Well, I haven't run since Sunday. And technically when I ran on Sunday it was while I was in the David Copperfield magic show, so not a "real" run. Oh, did I not tell you about that? Yes, I was IN the magic show. I was lucky enough to catch a flying ball and ended up on stage with some other people. In fact, Andrew was also lucky enough to catch a ball and was on stage - although not next to me.

The link above takes you to a video of the exact act I was in. Picture me as the woman in the front row of the seats (in the video her name is Brooke). Andrew is on the side of the stage acting as a "witness".

One moment I am there, then...gone. Andrew's version is that he was on stage, saw me sit then saw the cage rise up in the air. He was asked to walk around and look under and all that stuff. Then the sheet was pulled back and I was gone, only to reappear at the back of the theatre.

How did he do it?! I have no idea. Truly I do not. I was in a seat one moment then literally was at the back of the theatre with the audience with a flashlight shoved in my hand. I was whisked away, running, then standing still.

What does this have to do with my PhD or training for a marathon? Nothing, except that if David Copperfield can do that trick, why can't he make it so that there are more hours in my day?

Since coming back from Vegas work has hit me like a ton of bricks. Along with that, I am trying to schedule interviews for participants in my study and spend time with the kiddo. Running has fallen to the wayside for now, only because I don't have the time.

Come on Copperfield - a little help?!

Sunday, January 9, 2011


I think some folks think Vegas is a magical place. I think I agree...but maybe not for the same reasons. I think it's magical because I can't think of another place I have been where your internal clock gets so turned around. I think it's magical because you know the city is in the middle of nowhere, and yet the amount of fresh and exotic food (be it from land or sea) is abundant (this place won't win the Green City award any time soon). It's also magical because of all the strange things you see and hear when out and about.

Last night's escapade is enough proof for me that this magic is real. There was an amazing dinner with an old friend with some yummy sea bass that you know didn't come from anywhere near here. Good times and good food. Then someone in the pack of boys I am traveling with had the great idea to go to this club at the Palms, not realizing the hotel was right smack dab in the middle of hosting an award ceremony. And not just any award ceremony, but something that I later learned equates to the Oscar's type films. You can imagine that it made for some interesting people watching (needless to say we didn't make it into the club). We ended up at some other place that had too loud music, but did allow me to witness the musical talents of Maroon 5 in an up close and personal manner (all the while I was thinking it was too bad it wasn't Dave Matthews). And by the time I left the 3 boys to go and get some sleep, it was about 3:30am.

3:30am...that's just crazy for me. I gave myself a break today. No school work and no gym. Instead, I went shopping. Oh well.

I get to finish my magical Vegas weekend by going to see David Copperfield - the most awarded magician of all time (according to the sign on all the cabs). I love David Copperfield and am proud to say this will be the second time I have seen him. The first time I was about 7 years old and my parents took me to see him the night my sister went to her prom, so that I could get dressed up and go out too. I remember it being a good show....and I remember my sister's dress - hot pink with these HUGE sleeves that made her look like a glam chicken...although at the time I am sure I thought she looked magical.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

What Happens in Vegas Stays...on the Blog

There is something about Las Vegas that brings out the Rat Pack in me. All I want to do is drink a martini and stand by the tables and look like I'm having a swinging good time tossing money around like it's nothing. It's not what ends up happening, but a girl can pretend. We left Portland early this morning to get here, a pit stop to the real destination - the BCS Bowl game. It feels strange to not be traveling with my kiddo. I actually slept a little on the plane and had time to do some PhDing because there was no need to entertain anyone. Having done some school work today, I felt that it was only appropriate to go for a run. I tell you, I know how to live it up in Vegas.

No thank you kind casino people, I don't have time for your games and flashy lights on your machines with strange names (like Kitty Paradise) - I'm heading to the gym. What? You have to pay extra for the gym? No problem! I'm a high roller after all. Paying for the gym just means that I will work out know, to get the full benefit and all. And since I paid, I'll just use that free face wash and drink the fancy water too - I think it makes me run faster.

The pack of boys I am traveling with are probably disappointed by my time in Vegas thus far. For the 5 hours I've been here I haven't gambled once, haven't watched a single football game, and I ditched them at the bar to go to the gym. I have also spent tons of time in the bathroom in my room. Because it's fricking huge and I dig that.

So, PhD worked on, 5 mile run @ 9:31 pace done, dinner with friends tonight...I'm off to a good start. Now, if only I can find that baby Elvis...

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Hearing Voices is a Good Thing

There is nothing worse than listening to your own voice, unless you happen to be Celine Dion - The Greatest Singer in the World! (not really, but love the SNL skits). I've been listening and listening to my audio files of the four interviews I conducted last spring and sloooooowly dictating. It's horrible.

Yes, I could get one of those fancy programs that transfers audio files to text (should've asked for that over the holidays) or pay a transcriber. But, I'm a sucker for the old fashioned way. And really, by doing it myself I am hearing, and I mean really hearing what these subjects are saying. And I have to believe that this means I will have a deeper understanding of their experiences. I just wish I sounded more like....Bob Edwards. There's a voice from my childhood. I have distinct memories of listening to him on NPR's Morning Edition on my way to school. Sweet, sweet man.

Or maybe I would type faster if my voice sounded like my Core Fitness instructor. She's got the best motivational sports voice. Proof of this is that I actually did some sit ups in class today...real ones. And I like to think it was because she was yelling across the room about 8-pack abs.

PhD accomplishments today: administered 2nd wave of my survey, did more data analysis from last survey (talk about an Excel headache), transcribed some more, and began to group written responses.

Fitness accomplishments today: went to and survived first Core Fitness class and was able to still squat down to play legos with the kid without falling over in pain.

P.S. - Andrew (partner, father of child, driver of mini van - you get the picture) says that I'm cheating if I let the Internet think I am starting running from scratch. So, full disclosure here: Yes I can run. I ran 7 miles on Sunday. And I have done 3 half marathons. Does it mean I am fit to do a marathon? No. It means about the same as where I am with school - I've got a base to work off of, but the work will be hard and at times suck.

Ready, Set, Go!

Okay, here is what I figure: if I put it all out there on the Internet, then I’ll either feel more accountable to finish these goals because maybe someone out there is reading this or just feel guilted into finishing because it’s on the Internet and if it’s on the Internet then it must be true (because everything on the Internet is true, right?!).

Here’s what I am putting out there: by the end of 2011 I will have finished my PhD and run my first marathon.

Here’s the truth: I’ve been working on the PhD for a few years now (5, but who is counting?) and have regular mental breakdowns about finishing it. I try to run regularly but would not say I am athletic. I have never run a marathon.

Some people out there might be thinking - so what’s the big deal? Finish school, you bum! Get on a training program like Jared The Subway Dude! The big deal is a little something called LIFE. Motherhood, marriage, work, family, And while it may look like I have these things in balance from time to time, I don’t. No one does. It’s one thing at a time. And for this year, I’m committed to checking these two things off my list so that life can make room for some other things that have taken a back seat.

And why the marathon with the PhD? Why not? You have to work hard for both, endure pain, exhaust your mental capacity, the last part for each is the hardest (so they tell me), and when you get to the end I hear you collapse in a heap and get to lay around in bed for a week reading trashy magazines. Sounds great!