It is now 2014 and I have come to the end of my year long study break. I feel really good about how I have spent my year, and I have learned a lot about how I work best. I believe this new self awareness/ self acceptance will really give me the best shot possible at being successful at PhD study.
I think the most powerful lesson I learnt this year is about preparation. I just wasn’t ready when I did my Masters study and the worst part is that I didn’t even know how to become ready, what was missing or what I needed to know to be successful. I just forged ahead, working really hard but not really getting the results I wanted.
Part of this preparation is knowing how I work best. I used to think it was carving out whole days close to a deadline, but what experience shows me is that is not how I work best. I would end up crazy tired, loading up on chocolate bars and energy drinks and just feeling rubbish and I still would not be satisfied with my work (plus I gained an incredible 10kg/22lbs). I have since learned that I like to do things a little at a time, often. Like 5mins everyday as part of my routine. In this way the work is manageable, progressing at a good pace and a lot more thought out. I think my work is of a higher quality because of how I structure it now. Another part of preparation is making sure my body and mind are ready to take on the stress of study and that means looking after my health. Eating well and exercising help my brain work better and I get the best ideas when I am exercising especially walking.
All of this great preparation for study has also feed into my work with children. We have just started some really exciting work with recycled materials and I can’t wait to see where the children take it. There is a lot to look forward to at work right now, with Chinese New Year at the end of this month, followed by Waitangi Day (the day the Maori people signed the treaty of Waitangi with the Crown and we became a colony of Britain) and then ANZAC day (like Memorial Day or Veterans Day). I just know the children have a lot to contribute to the recognition of these big events and I can’t wait to get stuck in along side them to make these events both meaningful and memorable. P.S It felt really good to see the look of happy surprise on the faces of one of our Chinese families when I asked them for suggestions on how we could celebrate Chinese New Year in the centre with the children – priceless.
I know in my heart that my study pushes me to be a better teacher and for that reason alone it is both satisfying and worthwhile. I may still be in the preparation stage of my PhD journey (lots and lots of reading), but already I am feeling stronger and more focused. Exciting times ahead! I can’t wait to share what we have been up to in the classroom soon.
I spent the last year getting to know me, what makes me feel good (hint, the answer is not sleeping in), what makes me feel passionate, and what gives me the energy to keeping pushing forward. I had to break some bad habits (no more energy drink and much less chocolate bars) and create some good habits (daily exercise). I rekindled my creative passions (knitting, crafts, art, music). This time around, I am not pushing aside everything else that makes me, me, just in order to study. I will keep on knitting and going to bed at a good time and exercising and playing cards with my son and I will not sacrifice these things under the illusion that it will make my study better (it won’t). Being prepared means I can have it all. Like Gretchen Rubin says; don’t do more, don’t do less, do what matters (put into my own words, but the meaning is the same). We all get the same 24hrs and I know how I am going to spend mine.