Monday, 26 May 2014

500 miles for coffee ice cream

An interesting casting, rain storms, endless traffic, ending with a client I've been working with for a good while, and 400 miles later.... That's what Harrogate - Manchester - York - Kent looks like all in a day in the life... A bit mad really. Really, it was. I arrived here on Friday evening and spent yesterday with aching arms from so much driving. Never in my life have I experienced aching arms from driving so much, but then never in my life have I found my diary to be such madness.

It was madness, but I have taken myself away for the weekend down to Kent, for what I shall refer to as a 'writing vacation'. It is a three day weekend, and since establishing my rule of 'no work appointments at the weekend', this means that I have three days 'off'. Three days to escape, find some sunshine and peace, and read and write some assignments and case studies. I have adopted a somewhat relaxed attitude to my work for this weekend - I have probably written words and consumed coffee in equal measures. And I have to admit - although I don't feel at all guilty for admitting, that this evening has been spent drinking wine and eating coffee ice cream. Seriously - coffee ice cream is more than delicious. Look at what you miss out on when life is lived within such strict and forbidding constraints. I think that time 'out' for my studies is time out for myself. It is my way of finding balance and it is good to dedicate some time to my studies - I love what I do and I love learning. Life can get very much in the way and it is easy to focus on the immediate issues at hand and forget that at some point last year, I applied for this post grad degree and thought I had the capacity for superhuman potential. I am not so superhuman, but somehow I am making my way through. Even if it takes a 500 mile round trip and a bottle of wine in order to truly focus my energy.

I know I am away from home because I have lost sense of time, and the things that usually matter don't matter so much. I haven't gotten dressed or worn an ounce of makeup all day. My diary is still sat in my handbag in the corner of my room, and I even put some washing on today and forgot to put the washing powder in the machine. I'm eating ice cream (a very rare occurrence for me) and there are emails sat in my inbox that can await replies without my anxiety hitting the roof.

Friday, 23 May 2014

bonkers leading the bonkers

I have survived the day fairly well on less than three hours sleep.. My mind is sufficiently researched out (the majority of today was spent at various research meetings) and then teaching the genetic and hormonal causes of aggression this evening... and yet I am still here, not sleeping. Interesting...

The most entertaining part of the day was not my mad panic wondering how I can schedule my travel tomorrow within the constraints of a 24 hour day. Which trains to take to where, and which cities would be best to leave my car at various points in the day...  In fact, my panic was not entertaining at all! The most entertaining part of the day was in fact the text message I received from my agency... 'Hi Tanya, can you send us a picture of your legs and your feet ASAP please'... The world seems to have gone  little bonkers today, and I am almost certain that it has made me bonkers today too...

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

From the garden...

It is 9.30pm and I am sat in the garden, the sun is setting, and I just finished eating after spending the day simultaneously working on my assignment, dealing with research emails, and planning some work for one of my students on the biological causes of aggression. There is something about this time of year that feels somewhat final, so I am taking every opportunity I can to find moments of calm.

Yesterday was a day out of the norm - end of year assessments. Tuesdays are probably the most predictable day of the week - the most consistent part of my life. The day is usually spent in lectures and groups at Uni learning the tricks of our trade, learning more about what it means to be human, how our brains function, how we develop ways of living in this world that seem perfectly ordinary but are not ordinary at all.. Whilst knowing that 'ordinary' is nothing more than a fictional idea we have created in order to attempt to understand the inconceivable; in order to understand the chaos of the world. To be 'ordinary' is probably the most abnormal idea of them all. The more we know, the more baffling life really is. The more we know, the more we see that there is an infinite amount to learn; it goes on and on. There are no absolutes, no definitive answers, no end to the possibilities. No wonder we usually take a trip down the road for a glass of pinot grigio over lunch, and we return home utterly exhausted at the end of the day. But we keep coming back.

Yesterday was different though - yesterday we had assessments all day and it was also my beautiful sister's sixteenth birthday. It was the perfect opportunity to come together with my family and embrace how wonderfully dysfunctional we all are, yet we fit together and it works. We laugh and we eat and drink wine, and celebrate the fact that we have this beautiful human being as a sister. Happy birthday Brys...

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

'your freckles look great...'

There was no other appropriate title for this post - direct quote from Bryony yesterday morning regarding the impact of the sun on my fair redheaded skin! It has been ridiculously peaceful and beautiful outdoors for the past few days. The sun has been shining and it seems to impact the world and take away from the heaviness that often comes with the pressure of living life. The weekend was spent mainly in the garden working on research and reading (borderline sloth-like habits since I left the house only once!). Today was Monday and it was spent at research meetings and then with a good friend out in the sun on a spontaneous afternoon off. I should not spend time in the sun really - I have a burnt face and a multitude of new freckles which evidence my behaviour this weekend quite spectacularly, but wonderful company and the warmth has lifted the weight of the world significantly. And a few more freckles gathering on my face and hands is never a bad thing in my books.

We have assessments at Uni tomorrow, and I am in disbelief that this means we are on the straight and narrow to the end of the year. This does mean, however, that I must turn the lights off and rest before the morning

Thursday, 15 May 2014

The unplanned

It is funny how peace can be found at the most unexpected times. Today was set to be a busy day, and it was still busy... but after finishing work earlier and having a longer break in the middle of the day, I found my way to a little gardens with a good coffee and my research. It also happened that the sun was shining so it was a ridiculously idyllic scenario. My sun trap haven was the perfect escape from what I believe is a very mad world at times. It is somewhat ironic that my 'escape' from the mad world involved reading about critical reflexivity, heuristic and interpretative approaches, and methods of capturing the meaning of experience. It seems like one escape from a mad world into another. 

I cannot be the only one who ends up in unplanned places and just thinks 'what...? How? Somewhere along the line I have made decisions that have gotten me right here right now, and it is mad. This evening I really must catch some rest soon. It is a busy week - my A level students have their exams, I have my own assignments and assessments, and my research is ever present. 

Monday, 12 May 2014

Humanly speaking...

The decision to move my Saturday students to during the week, and to free my weekends up for any activity I desire was an incredibly wise decision on my part. It might have been the best decision I've made since I decided to apply for my post grad. It means that my Saturdays are now available for the things I choose to do. Granted, at the moment I have my research to do, and my assignments to work on, and lessons to prepare. However, the difference now is that I can do this from home. I can sleep in if I wish, I can drink as much coffee as I like, and I have no one to answer to but myself. As my good friend says, I can live like a sloth for the day if I wish...

I have done just this, and it has been peaceful. I have read a lot; background reading for some case studies I am writing, and also a lot of philosophical, feminist, and existential perspectives on what it means to be human have been absorbed into my being. I have spent two days straight immersing myself into the work that I choose to do. Ah, and then some wine this evening. Work and wine.

It is impossible for me not to share some words I found this weekend. Emmy Van Deurzen is interviewed and speaks about her life experiences, what led her to her existential philosophical beliefs and values, and her approach to psychotherapy and what it is to be human... In essence, when we are stripped of facades and the armour and uniform of the roles we assume each day, we are left with ourselves. Ourselves - the core of who we are. That is what matters

'Humanly speaking, it matters. It is important that it's real. And I can't be so much in role that I forget to make it real and to make it matter' 

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Who we are

'All that you touch, you change'
- Octavia Butler

Sharing some words before the day really begins, although it seems like it has begun already judging by the amount of emails that keep arriving in my inboxes. This week (and it is not even the end of the week) there has been a phenomenal amount of email exchanges; I suppose that happens when your work life knows no boundaries.

Anyway, I am hopeful that the day shall be a good one. I am planning some tutoring lessons this morning and quite enjoying the luxury of the 'work from home' method (well, the 'work from home' hour or so before I leave!). I have a research focus group this afternoon in York and then a trip to Leeds to teach cognitive psychology and strategies for memory improvement - and yes, I wish to goodness that this subject had the capacity to breathe more life into me! All my students have their exams very soon, and I am certain that I am carrying a little pressure for them.

The reason for my sharing the words above is that the more I work and travel and meet new people, (in every area of my life; personal, professional, whatever capacity I am in) I am struck by the connections I make and the impact we have on each other's lives. We carry with us a great amount of power, whether we fully acknowledge it or not. We carry power, and with that power comes the ability to really impact whoever we touch. After a really good lecture this week about power and oppression (this was really in a social context) I have been thinking about personal power and the power we carry with us by simply being who we are. As human beings, we are powerful creatures and we don't always realise that the language we use, the way we carry our bodies, the clothes we wear, and the small decisions we make day to day are all expressions of who we are. And who we are impacts the other

Monday, 5 May 2014

three days of...

The first week of May has gone in a blur. This weekend has been one of those novel 'three day' bank holiday weekends where everyone around seems to indulge in weekends away or extended pub visits, and long Sunday afternoon walks and morning lie ins. I had quite a scare this week which resulted in a visit to hospital and a rather stark reminder that rest is not just a word, it has a purpose. It meant that I have spent the vast majority of this weekend comfortably at home, logging a lot of research hours, organising life, planning summer, and trying to schedule a week which hopefully does not end the same way that the last one did! Alongside transcribing and literature scoping I left the house once to teach, and again to enjoy a little sushi and wine. Both of which were most appropriate things to leave the house for.

So I sit on the sofa, half tempted to do a little midnight yoga but simultaneously knowing that I must rest before tomorrow begins. Tuesday is Uni day and usually that means energy is required. Positive energy and good coffee