April 2019 Goals : How Did It Go?

crossfit, goals, Harry Potter, reading, year of 1% better

If you’re new here, I declared 2019 the Year of 1% Better. Here’s a list of all previous goal posts.

January: Goals | Outcomes

February: Goals | Outcomes

March: Goals | Outcomes

April : Goals

I cannot believe April is over already. This is the first month where I mostly accomplished everything I wanted. Plus, I feel almost fully recovered from finishing up my dissertation. I think I finally actually relaxed and if you couldn’t tell from yesterday’s post, did plenty of reading.

I managed to be fairly consistent in non-dissertation writing — both on the blog, but also in my goal to keep a notebook a la Natalie Goldberg-style. I found an old one-subject seventy sheet notebook, figuring there was no need for anything special. After my usual morning routine, before I write the day’s blog post, I set the timer at ten minutes and write. I was not able to finish a notebook this way, but I was able to get some thoughts down. I think I only missed a handful of days, so I was pretty happy with the success of this goal. I’m planning on continuing it into May.

Not only did I manage to do a great deal of downsizing in the kitchen, but we have around five or six boxes of books ready to donate in the dining room. The house is looking a little more chaotic with all these to-go boxes lying around, but it is great to know that as we get closer to moving (another two and a half months — but at least a month and a half of that will feature a new baby) things will be done. The last time we moved — only a few blocks away, not cross-country — it felt like nothing was done, nothing was organized. I really do not want that to happen this time around with an infant and further to travel.

On average I ended up doing more than 2x CrossFit every week. I typically managed around three times a week, even PRing a few times. Not bad for a woman in her eighth month of pregnancy, I think! I’m hoping this is a sign of things to come for May. I may have to take it easy, but it is nice to keep showing up. I rowed almost every week and managed to finally get some walking in last week. Consistency, man.

My social media use is better, but still not what I would like it to be. I suppose this is going to be a goal I’ll keep renewing in the months (really weeks and days) to come. Some days are better than others. Some days I hardly think about it. Then the next day I find myself in a scrolling frenzy. I think reading more has helped — I reward tasks with another chapter of Harry Potter as opposed to checking instagram or facebook. It certainly is much more rewarding.

Overall, I would say things are definitely 1% better this month. I’m happy that I’ve added a new habit, gave myself some peace of mind with moving, and managed to stay consistent with my work-outs.

How did your April goals turn out?

 

 

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Throwback Thursday Tunes : The Dissertation Process Edition

dissertation, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, music, throw-back thursday tunes

ledzeppelin

Keeping with my theme yesterday, I was thinking about the songs that get me through the different parts of dissertation writing. I am not one of those people who can write without music. I need to tune out the other world and drop into dissertation-land if anything is going to get typed out or edited. Usually this is Bob Dylan or the Velvet Underground. Television’s Marquee Moon and Patti Smith’s Horses have been on repeat lately. Other times I’ll just see what Spotify has in store for me. The first 60 seconds of the Avett Brothers’ Talk on Indolence describes the dissertating experience better than any song I’ve ever heard. It captures that frantic writing that comes with the first draft. If I am really trying to concentrate I’ll put on Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6 “Pathetique” (my absolute favorite) and just listen to it over and over again.

Here I Go Again, beginning with the nerve-wrecking and hopeful beginnings. You happily take the plunge Into The Great Wide Open.

And then the hurdles come. When you feel like you just Couldn’t Get It Right and you just can’t see the light. You want to take a Mudshovel to your chapter. You tell Jean-Jacques Rousseau, “Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You.” Just me? Ok, then.

But you Carry On.

And eventually you start Beginning to See the Light. The argument makes sense (hopefully). You start to make sure every Oxford Comma has its place.

And then. Finally. The Beautiful Day. You turn the chapter in. And all you have to do is another round or two of edits until it is approved and soon enough, you’ll be Grazing in the Grass. Baby, can you dig it?

You can find the whole Dissertation Edition playlist here.

xo, Ali

P.S. The playlist is 1 hour and 30 minutes, the same amount of time I use as dissertation writing blocks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Dissertation Chapter Writing Process

daily life, dissertation, goals, graduate school, Jean-Jacques Rousseau

The end of this month has brought more frustration than I thought. I think I over-estimated what I could get done this month (third chapter in to advisor) and then well, it did not happen. I’m frustrated that even though I was super consistent in writing almost every single damn day in January, I made a little over half the days in February. The month just kind of went over the rails. Still. This has been my most consistent writing chapter and I’m just frustrated that it is not done yet. I try to calm myself down and say “It will be done when it’s done. It will be done when it’s done.” But nope. My anxieties refuse to be swayed by reason. I’ve had days where I can crank out almost 2000 words (this happened yesterday), other days where I can only squeeze out 200 in the same amount of time (today). In fact, at this moment I am about 2/3 of a way through a second draft. I do not even know if the chapter is coherent. I usually go through about four drafts before I send them to my advisor.

The first draft. Usually garbage. I start with a question. This time around its: “what does Rousseau say about Christianity?” Answer: “A lot.” I proceed to pound out quotes and notes on everything related to this topic. I listen to a lot of Bob Dylan. There is a vague outline but no thesis. Usually it is incomplete before I go back through and begin…

The second draft. I am starting to have ideas, a vague notion of a soft thesis is occurring, I start to have an idea about how I could finish this thing. I write a real introduction including a lit review. I start to add other thinkers in the mix. I have some nice interplay between Pierre Bayle and Rousseau this time around. Some honorable mentions for John Locke and Hobbes.

After this I email it to Bruno, my husband/editor. We proceed to have the same conversation we’ve had for every paper, proposal, article, dissertation chapter I have written since we started dating almost three years ago.

“Does it make sense? Am I so stupid?”

“It’s fine.”

“But I mean is my advisor going to want to quit being my advisor when he reads this?”

“It’s fine.”

“But I AM FREAKING OUT!”

“It’s fine…do you..do you need a hug?”

Bruno returns the draft with his edits. I usually start to feel a little bit better.

The third draft. Re-write the introduction. Go back through every thing again. Start to Turabian my footnotes and citations. Re-arrange. Have a hard thesis. Check to make sure thesis is mentioned in each section, especially necessary if chapter is about to be an absolute mountain. Have moments of bliss. Have moments of terror. Want to take all my Rousseau books and burn them. Want to read Rousseau forever and ever. Check, check, and double-check the French. This is the part where the chapter really comes together.

The fourth draft. Read through again. Does it make sense? Is there stupid mistakes? Ok, this is fine, usually quick. And then I…

Turn the chapter in. Here comes the panic, the fear. For a couple of days, I just focus on reading. I take a break. My advisor is pretty efficient so within the week…

The chapter is returned back to me. And usually it is not as bad as I thought. My last chapter was approved right away and recommended to go publish (which I worked on over Christmas break). I have a sigh of relief, think I might just make it after all.

I wish I could be more comfortable with this process. I wish I could just be comfortable knowing that if I am working on it, if I am doing the work, it is fine, it is fine, and yes, it is fine. But as I said, my anxieties refuse to listen to reason.

I bet you can guess what my main objective for March is…

xo, Ali