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Humbled

April 6, 2013

I have a cold, and while I was trying to convince myself to go for a hot shower to steam out my lungs, I remembered the laundry and asked Mister if he could take the clothes out of the washer. I caught his sharp intake before he agreed, and, in with the clarity that a cold provides the mind, observed aloud: ‘you’re annoyed.’ His reply was ‘Well, I was going to get annoyed, but decided that instead I would just do it.’

I laughed. WHAT?!? and laughed. HE CAN DO THAT? and laughed. and stopped.

He can do that.
He does that.

I may have a few more things to learn from this man.

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Best icing ever!

January 28, 2013
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Seriously,  I would get fat for this.

peanut butter mascarpone icing

Use it to top cupcakes, cookies, cakes…. its just the perfect topping, and is full of protein too!

Recipe (don’t be exact, I didn’t measure at all either time I made it):

1 cup mascarpone cheese

1 cup peanut butter

1/2 cup icing sugar

splash of milk (or chocolate milk, works both ways)

Mix first two together, add icing sugar and milk, mix.

Enjoy!

I’m a Master!

January 16, 2013
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I defended yesterday, and passed!  WOOHOO!!

Now final touches have to be done for publishing, and then its done done done!

YAY!

What will this year bring?

January 6, 2013

The past month has been rather enjoyable!  I submitted my thesis on November 30th (WOOHOO!) and Mister and I spent the day puttering around Ottawa. Saturday was his brother’s birthday dinner, and Sunday I went down to Toronto for a few days to work in the office. Back home for a few days, crashed, cleaned up my books and notes, slept, fought a cold, and packed. Then I spent a few days in Montreal (national meetings of the organization I am interning for), then home for a few days, then went to Winnipeg!  I spent a week with my parents knitting/crocheting/visiting with family before Marc arrived and we moved to stay with my brother and sister-in-law.  Then a quiet Christmas which provided quality time with family, after which we all got sick. The boys played a lot of video games, I did a lot of knitting.  And I scratched some cows.  We spent New Year’s Eve with Marc’s parents in Ottawa and did our Christmas celebrations with them, and New Year’s Day with Marc’s extended family in Montreal…. the party quieted down at 2am, at which point the cards started.  We went to bed at 4:30am… his grandparents were up later, and earlier than us in the morning. Finally, we drove back to Ottawa, picked up the gifts and rearranged the car, and then came home to Brockville.  I love me bed.

Mentally, its been an interesting month. I basically stopped taking my meds after handing in my thesis…. I took them when I was in the Toronto or Montreal offices, but thats it.  I haven’t had meds in three weeks. It took about a week before I was able to feel functional again. Stopping outright is not what the docs recommend, but its what I did. I’m much more productive on meds, I think I might be able to be very productive off of them, but I need routine and structure – something neither Marc nor I are good at. I have to work harder, and put more mental energy into doing things off meds. And I can’t read.  I don’t have the attention span, I miss huge chunks… its just not fun. And getting to sleep is much more difficult.

However, I am good at hand tasks… like cooking, knitting… things I can just go and do. So those have been very consistent. That, and these always involve colourful new materials, and new projects, so it helps keep focus by always being new. As I get into larger projects, this may fade.

So, now its time to get back to ‘reality’. My vacation, from meds and ‘life’ is coming to a close (I HOPE!). I am heading down to the Toronto office for a couple days this week, and will start applying for jobs. My thesis defence dates are being negotiated, but it should be mid-month. And then, someone needs to start paying me for something. New year, new focus… just don’t know what it will be yet.

 

 

 

 

This is my work space

November 25, 2012

Coming back to my desk for an evening session of thesis editing, I realized I had a nest.

As you can see, I have my desk set up in front of the window. I hate facing walls and corners, but the room loses a lot of space if I set the desk up to face the middle. Sometimes I have to squint when the sun is really bright behind the screen, but I like my desk here.  Its dark by 5pm now, and I have to turn the room light on around 3:30.

To the left of the screen, which displays the two documents I am simultaneously working on (editing the thesis text while compiling a summary), I have the sun lamp… helps fight off SADness (teeheehee). To the right of the screen, green plants (good for mental health) and the water bottle I use to squirt them when I am stuck on a phrase… they’ve gotten a lot of water lately, and are growing nicely!  On the left of the desk, the dog’s record papers as I have been distracted by potential holiday plans today and had to see where her shots were at in case of kennelling. Things like this come and go each day, but there usually is something like this around.

To help focus, the glass of water… hydration helps mental acuity. To help fight stress, red wine… alcohol seems to help the editing process… Actually, its just left over from a sauce Mister made yesterday. Usually, its water and tea, but wine is nice tonight.

To the right of the desk, past drafts, original reading notes, and editing notes on previous versions.

On the far right, a space heater, as this room doesn’t get the same air flow as the rest of the apartment.  I have to keep the door closed so that Mister and Bella can do their thing without worrying about disturbing me.

To the left of the desk, my bookcase… computer terminal, printers, paper, the box of books I have used for the thesis. The disk drive there plays yoga or workout videos when my brain stops working and needs a blood flow boost.

To the left of the bookcase, the dresser, with a pile of reference materials for my internship work, and a pile of ‘important’ things that need to be filed/read/dealt with another day.

On the far left, the table with my current craft projects… the set up was done as breaks last night and this morning… a post will come soon on that project.

My nest has certainly grown this past week, both in physical accumulation and in mental significance, but it makes sense as this is where I have been most of the day, most days recently.  I appreciate having such a comfy work environment.

Turning off the TV

November 14, 2012

I lived without a television for four years, first in university residence, then with my first roommates.This doesn’t mean we didn’t watch anything – we all had laptops with DVD drives, and the capacity to *ahem* share files.  When Mister and I  got married, he brought his TV with him.  We chose not to connect the TV to anything except the PS3, both because of finance and as a lifestyle choice.  Other changes came with marriage too, like spending more nights at home and changes in my social circles.

My TV habit grew as I transitioned into my MA and job as a TA, both of which were much more isolated for me, involved a type of work and focus that I struggle with most, and came with environments in which I found little support. TV was a retreat from the stress, a mental break after a rough class or difficult readings.  Later, when we were both working 6 days/week on opposite schedules, TV became a transition for us in getting home, a way to make home feel less empty when the other wasn’t there.  Beyond the habit of it, the external images and noise allowed me to tune out my internal noise, giving me a break. But that just put the voices off until later. They always came back, often when I was trying to get to sleep or to do intellectual work (the only intentionally quiet time I really had).

The idea of taking TV out of my life has come and gone over the past year. I went in stages, but no real change resulted. His active support has always been available, but it was my self-discipline that was the problem.  Moving here, knowing I would be home most of the time, we talked about getting rid of the TV, or hiding it in the closet, but this living room is bigger room so the TV doesn’t feel so dominant, and ultimately, this place came with cable included.  I love having access to channels like Discovery and Geographic ….  which almost acted like a gateway drug to the others. So initially, I had decent habits. I went through a stage where when the TV was only on if I was working on something with my hands (prepping veggies, crocheting, etc).  But I still wasted time (and developed a serious hatred for commercials after having lived without them for seven years).

Real change happened when I realization that I like myself better without TV in my life.  And I think the difficulty in the transition this time was eased this time by the amount of time I have been away from home, working in Toronto for the internship or being at various conferences. It has been much easier to keep the TV off after having weeks without one than to turn it off after weeks with it. It certainly was, and sometimes still is, a struggle to accept to the quiet around me.  Living in quiet has been a huge change for me!  I have music on when I work in the kitchen, and some evenings, we will watch one of the shows we have kept (seriously, who feels the need to give up Sheldon?), but most of the day, and most days, the TV is off.

The biggest struggle in all of this was facing myself. Having to hear my own mind, work through my emotions, deal with the levels of distraction/self-criticizing/actual issues/various voices/desires/plans/duties….. Its been a process of learning to appreciate silence, or my mind’s version of silence.  I still procrastinate and take breaks with ipad games, social media, and the like, but these take up so much less space in my life. I have found other ways of having down-time after being out and about or busy that allow me to stay more connected to the world while still feeling refreshed.  I am more comfortable with myself, my choices and my plans, likely because I spend time working through my head. I feel closer to my husband when we read together than when we watch TV together. I get more done, even on days when I don’t “do” anything.  I appreciate the refocus onto the people around me, onto the space around me, onto myself.

 

 

 

and back to the …ug…

November 12, 2012
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After five weeks, I finally got comments back from my supervisor, and have begun the painful process of editing. Its not that bad, all things considered…. she told me first thing that the project was in good shape and that, with some editing, it can be defended this term. Later, she complimented my writing ability and style (which, after reading three chapters of her comments, made me dance!). Her comments are direct, sometimes brutal, but always fair. She put in notes of things she will ask me about in my defense (…which read almost like threats….). I appreciate both what she is doing and how she is doing it. BUT:

I spent three hours today trying to find info on something I mentioned offhand in chapter 1. I gave up.

I Ctrl F-searched for a specific word in 26 documents of reading notes before I found the quote I was looking for, only to discover it was not the quote I thought it was.

I called my dad to help me figure out how to properly refer to the uncertain colonies in the indeterminate time period I referenced.  He’s smart… he figured it out for me!

I spent 45 minutes trying to locate a source for which I have reading notes, properly cited, but have no recollection of reading…. I have all my pdfs in one place, all my books in a box right beside me… I know the content of this chapter, but the book title, cover design, and editor’s names mean nothing to me… No idea where or when I read this chapter…

I wrote arguments against my supervisor’s comments and against my own comments, in comment bubbles.  Word had trouble keeping the bubbles together at one point… I had three pages of comments in a single argument. Then I deleted them all and wrestled with my dog. I have to go back to that tomorrow.

This was only chapter 1…. and its not finished yet.

The only reason I can’t honestly say that I loath this project is that I am too excited that the end is in sight!