Salvage

Once again, this is a weekend in which not enough will happen.  Sure, it is  quite early on a Sunday to making such a declaration, but enough chores need to be done that I know dissertation writing will fall by the wayside.  Well, it will at least not get the full 15 hours of attention it needs to make up for the last week.  However, instead of beating myself up about this, I’m trying to take some of the advice I’ve been dole-ling out to everyone else this week.  I’m trying to give myself permission to do my chores and to NOT feel bad about the lack of writing.

In order to help myself in this process, I decided to salvage what I could of this train wreck of a process.  Today, instead of the incessant whining about the dissertation, I give you some bullets of any good that had come from working on my dissertation.

Positive Things I’ve Learned From Writing My Dissertation
(These are in no particular order, and will probably be quite short.)

  • Two dogs on your lap are essential to the writing process.  Only one dog is unacceptable, you really need two.  If your dogs are too big for your lap, they should lay near you,preferably keeping your feet warm. Two are essential because you will be sitting at the computer much longer than their attention span will accommodate.  When one tires of keeping your lap, lumbar region, and/or feet warm, the other can come take his/her place.   I love my cats as much as the next person, but they demand too much attention when in your lap, and therefore are too disruptive to the writing process.  Also, as Ouiser has learned, they steal your chair when you leave to refill your coffee.
  • An ergonomic keyboard is always worth the money. I don’t really think that needs explanation.  *The wave in the keyboard actually helps.  I was skeptical, but I’m loving it.
  • Dissertation writing requires trust. This is multifaceted, and perhaps specific to me.
    While I prefer to think of my independence in a positive light, it also reflects my inability to really trust many people. Because I’ve had to focus so much time and energy on writing, it has forced me to actually let other people do things for me, specifically the DH.  Having been through at least one trial by disaster, (which I’d like to believe will be as bad as it gets, but that feels like tempting fate, so I will cling to my believe that it can always be worse), the good that has come out of all of this would be that it forced me to let myself rely on the DH. This was not an easy lesson to learn, and I won’t say I’ve learned it completely, but progress has been made.
    Additionally, I’ve learned to trust my readers (most of them, most of the time).
  • Being gentle with myself. Along the way, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, I’ve had to learn to recognize what I can do, and to be okay with what I cannot.  Again, I’m not always great at this.  I want more, and expect more, from myself all the time, which isn’t necessarily bad. What is bad is that I often use that expectation of more as a way to measure myself, and when there is no more to give consider it a failure on my part.
  • I do best when I’m doing things for others. (And, not in a co-dependent way) Perhaps this has been the biggest obstacle in this process.  The dissertation isn’t really for anyone other than myself. This has also, I feel, been the best lesson to learn.  I do my best work when I’m reaching out to someone else. Perhaps this is selfish, but when I get truly down at any point in the process, which has been many points in the process, I’ve learned that the best way to get myself moving again is to reach out. Not necessarily, reaching out to find support for myself, but to give support to someone else.  I don’t mean for that to sound mercenary, because that is not really how I feel.  It’s more like Myers-Briggs, in that I find motivation, purpose, and energy when I’m helping other people.  Perhaps this is something I’ve always felt, something that has drawn me to the work I do, but if so it’s been on an unconscious level.

Maybe at the end of this process there will be more of these bullets, and more of them a little bit deeper than dogs and keyboards, but for now this is it.

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