May 30, 2005

A Non-Working Vacation (?)

I'm going on vacation with my daughter. She's 24 and in graduate school, with a summer break. I'm already going through withdrawal thinking about the fact that I really shouldn't bring my laptop. No, I won't bring it. I'm sure I won't. It's too heavy. Sigh.

I've told all my clients that I would pay extra on the cruise to have Internet access so that they could write to me, and every one of them told me I was crazy. They told me that the point was for me to relax and forget about them. That's so hard to do!

It's easy to get caught up in thinking that there's never enough time, so this would be a great time to get something done. But my mind needs refreshing. I can tell when I'm starting to get bogged down. Perhaps you've had this experience? Have you ever gone on vacation and not realized until a few days into it how tired and run down you had become? I know that's happened to me.

That does it. I'm not bringing my laptop

And with any luck, I won't even miss it.

Curious where I'm going? Read more ...

For you curious fellow travelers or armchair travelers: this is my 9th trip to Italy. You may or may not know that I'm an Italophile. I'm 1/4 Italian, but with a maiden name of Gina Jaccarino, everyone thought I was 100%! My daughter spent her junior year in Rome, and I went three times that year alone -- actually 2 were with my husband. My daughter and I are both fluent in Italian, among other languages -- see the "About Gina" section in the box on the left.

We're spending 2 days at a bed and breakfast in Rome, then we're departing on a cruise -- 12 days, with a few stops in Italy, then on to Malta, Spain, Portugal, France and Copenhagen. Then we're spending a couple of days in a hotel in Copenhagen. I found a great deal on Vacations-To-Go (I don't get anything for this advertisement, more's the pity.)

If you're feeling sorry for my husband and son, they just got back from diving in Belize.

May 26, 2005

Trust Yourself

I believe that many of the fears that graduate students and professors have that hold them back stem from the fact that they don't trust themselves. Specifically, they don't trust themselves to be able to handle the outcome of the feared event, whether it's rejection by a journal, or negative comments about their dissertation.

For example, they may put off calling their dissertation advisor to arrange an appointment to get feedback on their last chapter. Or more often, they fear finishing the draft of the chapter because it means handing it in and getting feedback. I've known numerous postdocs and professors who have not published as much as they might have otherwise, for the same sorts of reasons.

But what's the big deal? .... Yes, it does hurt to get criticism. And if there is unfair criticism, that's even worse, since the power imbalance in these kinds of situations may leave you feeling angry and disempowered.

You do have a choice about how you handle such situations. You have a choice in how you choose to interpret negative feedback and in how you choose to feel about it. If you knew that you would be able to talk yourself out of staying upset, no matter what the outcome, wouldn't it be better to just get the meeting over with? There's no point in dying a thousand deaths as opposed to finding out the news.

Believe in yourself. You're strong enough to handle this, or you wouldn't have come so far. As I said in yesterday's newsletter, avoid avoiding. It causes more pain than the feared situation itself.

May 24, 2005

Reasons to Share Your Work

I had six appointments today with six coaching clients, including ABD graduate students, postdocs, and professors. What I found remarkable was that in five out of the six sessions, the person had had a conversation with a colleague or advisor, and then felt immensely better afterwards.

The irony is that many people avoid just such interactions. They dread showing their colleague what they have written as a contribution to a jointly-written chapter or paper. They are sure that their dissertation advisor will hate their latest draft. This causes them to procrastinate during the writing process, and avoid setting up the much-needed meeting.

Yet nine times out of ten, the imagined criticism either doesn't come or is just not that painful. I think that such people die a thousand deaths, yet actually they are strong enough to endure should they get negative feedback.

The moral of the story? Bite the bullet and schedule that meeting. You will feel more energized and eager to work afterwards.

May 7, 2005

Do You Have Any Advice for New ABD's?

I realized after writing the previous entry that I would love to get some advice for new ABD's from those of you who have been in the trenches. Whether you are currently a grad student, or a professor who advises graduate students, your words of wisdom would be appreciated.

What do you wish someone had told you?

What mistakes do you see people make, but either they won't heed your advice, or you feel it's not your place to say anything?

What advice would have made a difference in your finishing the dissertation sooner and with more ease? If you have any thoughts on this, big or small, please write them here or in the forum.

May 5, 2005

My First Pictures Using My Graphics Tablet!

I just got my graphics tablet, which I purchased in order to put my own illustrations on this web site. It's an Intuos2 by Wacom. I'm surprised how easy it was to adjust to drawing on the tablet. Read on if you're interested in seeing my pictures -- they have nothing to do with academia, unless you're interested in graphics tablets.

Dogwoods

May 3, 2005

You Are Not Alone

I'm continually struck by the fact that ABD's who are struggling to finish their dissertation think that they are the only ones having this kind of problem. I'm writing this right now to tell you:

You are not alone!

There are so many people that are suffering while working on their dissertation, that I'm tempted to say that they are in the majority. How do I know that? Well, the often quoted and never disputed fact that 50% of graduate students fail to finish their dissertation tells me that there must be another 50% who had a difficult time of it.

Unfortunately, it appears that graduate students in the same program rarely talk to each other about the difficulty that they're having. In particular, they don't talk about how bad they feel about themselves. That's why people like to come to this site and find out that they're not alone. I find that I can never say it too often.