As part of trying to live a life focused on maintaining health and well being rather than preventing illness I decided it was time to reintroduce regular exercise into my weekly routine. I am not into gyms. I like the idea of running but have never been one for endurance. I did used to do yoga regularly and really enjoy it, but yoga can be expensive and time consuming. Thankfully I found a great you tube channel – fightmaster yoga. The name makes it sound a bit hard core rah rah intense, and many of the practices are extremely challenging, but she (Lesley Fightmaster) has the most perfectly soothing without being annoying voice to talk you through each practice that it’s come to be something I look forward to each day. I’m now eight weeks in to doing yoga every day (three exceptions) and feeling much better for it physically and mentally. At the end of each practice there’s the resting pose where she reads a quote or excerpt from a book, and for the past few days it’s been from a book The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz, talking about how you need to “be impeccable with your word”. Now I haven’t read the book and don’t know about its origins, so this is not an endorsement, but it has got me reflecting on a number of different areas of my life, but two in particular.
Words need to have meaning. When I set out to write a paper I need to be clear on the purpose and what it is I’m trying to add to the conversation. If not I’m just regurgitating and rearranging other peoples words. That may demonstrate effort but not thought. I need to ensure that the papers I write leave the readers with the impression that I have given the topic considered thought, whether or not they agree with me. This can be difficult, as sometimes its only through the process of writing that the story emerges. However, I need to make a greater effort with this, especially the papers written for the ‘scientific’ type readers.
Authenticity is something that I value greatly in others and also myself. If that is true then I think I need to stop censoring myself when it comes to using this blog. What I mean is that I don’t need to be too concerned if some of the things that I write later demonstrate that I don’t know everything. If the purpose is to grow and learn then this should be expected.
Given that I was so adamant that initiating this blog was not part of a new years resolution the vast break between blog posts sure does call that into question! But in truth my lack of writing blogs more reflects my naivety that I would need a blog to practice writing. That quickly got blown out of the water, because over this past year I have been writing a LOT and been a bit fatigued by it. But right now I’m feeling energized so I’m going to take advantage of it and catch things up a bit.
I got my first peer-reviewed paper accepted which was an interesting experience. It took six months after submitting (Jan to June) to receive the feedback. Although one of the reviewer’s was completely infuriating (I’m being polite) it did result in a much improved paper so I suppose that’s what is important in the end. After all, the fact that one of the reviewers so grossly misinterpret some of the content is a reflection of my (in)ability to clearly communicate my key messages, not solely their (in)competence. I took the pragmatic attitude that sometime’s it’s better to complete something in a timely fashion than to wait around forever for the time to make it perfect, especially when one is caring for a one year old child, and it definitely wasn’t my best work. Despite submitting my changes promptly and being accepted by July 2015, the paper is still is awaiting publication. As more time goes on not only is its relevance declining but so is my acceptance of it as a reasonable piece of work. I don’t think I’ll be pursuing that journal for papers associated with my PhD.
PhD wise I have been (properly) stuck in to my literature review, starting with an oral presentation at a conference and preparations for publication. A more pressing deadline arose before that was complete however, and I’ve spent the past few months working on a chapter on care integration for a book on chronic conditions in cancer. Perhaps not surprisingly this time spent reading and considering the subject more broadly has provided much learning and new perspective which has helped me to clarify what direction I which to take my research, and lead me to reconsider the original publication.
Putting the chapter together has been a really valuable learning experience, especially regarding the practicalities of writing in collaboration with others. I’m glad that I have experienced some of the teething problems early in the PhD as I can see how they could contribute to a lot of stress which I would rather avoid if possible. It also provided me with a much deeper understanding of the topic area. A lot of what I researched and wrote about initially wasn’t included in the final draft. Some of this was because it was as boring as the proverbial, but other parts of the content interested me so I’m aiming to get those bits into a fit enough state to put up here. Hopefully I can get around to it in less than 12 months!