(The entry for June 1 is at the end of the May 2018 page)
June 2: In the Lake District, walking with my dog whilst my husband and friends were out running on the hills. Finding new places and enjoying silence.
June 3: Again, this shifting sense of self – wondering where I fit.
June 4: Impostor Syndrome had been looming large, but a positive supervision session showed me a brighter reality to counter the negatives inside my head. My transfer viva had been due to take place in mid-June, but I pushed it back because illness had knocked me out for a couple of weeks. I was very glad I’d done so – a lot of work still to do.
June 5: One particularly pleasing aspect of PhD life is the acquisition of a student card, and with it access to a host of discounts. On this particular day I was busy trying to decide between three pairs of spangly new Adidas trainers.
June 6: With transfer document hand in eighteen days away, this one was about getting things in order – clearing up my famously messy desk space and moving three crates full of dressmaking material to somewhere inconveniently out of reach.
June 7: Trying to locate that red thread again, to give the transfer document some sort of logical structure.
June 8: Someone I met at the AHRC Connected Communities symposium in Norwich was organising a Creative Methods symposium at the University of Derby. She’d seen my stitch journal on Twitter and thought I should submit an abstract. After much arm twisting, I finally pulled something together – and immediately received confirmation of its acceptance.
June 9: A while ago a counsellor encouraged me to sit with and work through tough stuff, instead of shying away from it; the idea was that by doing this, in the way that one might stretch a muscle, the problem would ease and a way forward would appear. As with life, so with PhD.
June 10: Runner beans, growing.
June 11: Inspiration from the Understanding Everyday Participation conference in Manchester this week: a jigsaw puzzle used in a cultural participation project by Wim Burggraaff and Mieke Klaver.
June 12: Again at the Understanding Everyday Participation conference, a presentation by Professor Omar Lizardo left me reflecting on how uncertain I feel around quantitative data presentation and interpretation.
June 13: This one’s about the more down-to-earth aspects of life that end up getting in the way of one’s progress, despite the best of intentions. Two steps forward, one step back.
June 14: Wind rippling back and forth across the meadow opposite the house.
June 15: This was an example of the usefulness of practicing what one preaches – I spent the morning feeling nihilistic about my research into craft and wellbeing, took ten minutes over lunch to do some craft activity (specifically this journal entry) and lo and behold, the clouds lifted.
June 16: Dreams recounted to others are generally tedious, but the dream that prompted this entry was about a figure looming from the past, admonishing me about wasting time. PhD time goes by surprisingly fast – weeks slip into months in the blink of an eye.
June 17: Staring at the bottom of the swimming pool for length after length. Others find it boring; I find it restful and mind-emptying.
June 18: Things were catching up with me, and I was reminded that a holiday wouldn’t go amiss.
June 19: It felt as if the task of refining my transfer/upgrade/progression/confirmation document was interminable. For those not in the know, the ‘transfer’ process is the method by which the university ascertains that the student is ready to progress to become a PhD student, that the topic is still worthy of research and that the student is up to the task. The transfer document consists of a literature review, a sample chapter, an indicative bibliography, a proposed methodology, and so on. I think at this point I was up to the fifth or sixth draft.
June 20: It’s fair to say I was starting to feel haunted by the aforementioned document.
June 21: The swings and roundabouts, highs and lows, of PhD life – I received news of an exciting project to work on, whilst fretting over the still-unfinished transfer document, due in the next day.
June 22: Feeling quite conclusively drained by the process.
June 23: This one was about making clothes, and making mistakes – when I posted the image on Instagram, I showed a second picture featuring the back of this square, to show the mess I’d made. Part of the entry got unpicked three times, much like the trousers I was making. One of my supervisors was wondering why I’m so interested in failure as part of making; I think that part of it is about the learning process, and part of it is about frustration and wanting to scream when you mess up something that’s well within your competence. A day offering much to ponder (and some new trousers!)
June 24: This one was about how we create boxes for ourselves that limit our experience (and enjoyment) of the world, and how ‘busy’ is definitely one of those boxes – after an article by Olivia Laing, author of The Lonely City, in The Times (behind a paywall – apologies).
June 25: The magic of the Pomodoro technique (focus for 25 minutes, fidget for 5 minutes, repeat ad infinitum)
June 26: I found a feather whilst walking the dog by the local reservoir – apparently feathers are a symbol of freedom.
June 27: Home life was getting somewhat out of hand with the pressures of PhD, the demands of my husband’s work, and, adding to this the seemingly glacial pace at which I write, I began to wonder whether something needed to be done to restore some balance. My suggestion was to go part time, which I’m not sure would have been the right thing. Glad I didn’t.
June 28: Feeling empty. I finally sent off what I hoped would be the final draft of the transfer document; I wasn’t particularly happy with it, and I didn’t feel relieved, just very tired.
June 29: A day of metaphors: up at the reservoir with the dog, trying to cool her down in the remarkable heat, whilst reflecting on how out of my depth I was feeling.
June 30: Taking time out to play records and take my mind for a walk through old songs.