Thursday, April 16, 2015

4 down...1 to go...

I recently came to the shocking (albeit looming) realization that in about one year's time, I will potentially be defending my PhD...finishing this long, exhausting, fulfilling, and crazy journey...

But then I thought about the fact that although I will be finishing the journey to my PhD, my journey is just beginning. The scary part is figuring out what that next, new journey is. Especially when all you've known is school and the structure that provides. What happens next? What happens when you don't have an advisor telling you when you screwed up? What happens when someone is coming to you for advice?

I don't have a lot to share right now, mainly because I am literally swamped with work from every angle...but I felt the need to stop and note that this shit is real. More real than it was 4 years ago...and getting more real every day. I just thank God for the support system I've had along the way - bless them for putting up with my shit and helping me grow to become the woman (and future Dr.) I am today.

Until next time...

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Stress management...or lack there of?

As we all know (and if you don't know, this will help explain it ), the process of getting a PhD is quite stressful. Now, let's add on being in a relationship, involved in extra curricular activities, and trying to have a social life. Sounds damn near impossible, doesn't it?

For me it's always felt impossible, which is part of where my stress comes from. I enjoy being busy and having things to do outside of school...yet it's quite possible that a lot of the things I enjoy doing are bringing me the most stress. I love my boyfriend, yet making time for him and I is a rarity. I have friends and I'm close with my family, but I feel like I'm always missing out on everything. Put all these things together with trying to get your Doctorate and you've got a recipe for Stress Stew.

One thing I've always valued is mentorship; I wouldn't be where I am today if it weren't for mentors and sponsors I've encountered along the way. One person I consider a mentor that I met recently through a close friend/colleague, and have been meeting with frequently since, often talks about stress and stress management. After hearing about my issues with managing my stress and anxiety levels in more than one of our meetings, she suggested I read a book called "Zen and the Art of Happiness" by Chris Prentiss (for those of you who don't know, he founded Passages of Malibu, a treatment facility for addicts). Don't worry, I'm not an addict; unless we are including work as a drug.

Prior to reading the book, my friend who had already read the book came almost dancing into the lab one day. She said she had started reading the book and that it already had her handling stress differently. Despite my wanting to punch her in the face by the end of the day (love her!), I was intrigued by the idea that just beginning to read a book could get someone feeling as good as she did. So intrigued that I went home that evening and started reading the book. I must say I was not disappointed. Long story short, the moral of the book is that everything happens for a reason, deeming stress pointless (hence the title "...or lack there of?), and that we should embrace change.

I can't say that all of a sudden I feel like I can handle any and all stress, but I will say I feel like I can put myself in the right mindset to better handle my stress and anxiety. And for me, that's the most important step. I recommend anyone who is struggling with stress or going through a rough time give this a read -- it's a short read and really helps to put things into perspective, no matter who you are!

Not gonna talk your ear off this time (though maybe I already did :D)...more to come soon on publications and closing the semester as (and finishing my time as) WiCS President!