Saturday, November 29, 2008


  • Monday, Adviser gave me some good news on my proposal: "Great Progress!" I celebrated by not doing any more work.
  • Tuesday, I had a day full of supervision and counseling to do. The administration and traveling was a good excuse to not work on my proposal.
  • Wednesday, I had no excuse not to work other than that my back has been achingly sore the whole week. Prolonged sitting would not help it get better any faster. I did spent time clearing off more administration work and spent more time with the kids.
  • Thursday, American Thanksgiving day, I did two hours of transcribing of a pilot interview. That made me happy. The rest of the day/evening was spent with friends. Imagine that. I still have friends.
  • Friday, I met with my buddies for breakfast and went for my haircut. I did not do any work. But for the first time in 8 days, I was able to wake up and get out of bed without remembering that my back was sore. A good sign.
I would say that I have had a good break and it is time to get back into action. Especially now that my back is doing much better. Saturday's goal is to work for four hours.

I am thankful for the Thanksgiving break. I will not feel guilty for having taken it. No, I will not.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Bamboo

One day I decided to quit...I quit my job, my relationship, my spirituality.... I wanted to quit my life. I went to the woods to have one last talk with God.

"God", I said. "Can you give me one good reason not to quit?"

His answer surprised me.

"Look around", He said. "Do you see the fern and the bamboo?"

"Yes", I replied.

"When I planted the fern and the bamboo seeds, I took very good care of them. I gave them light. I gave them water. The fern quickly grew from the earth. Its brilliant green covered the floor. Yet nothing came from the bamboo seed. But I did not quit on the bamboo.

"In the second year the fern grew more vibrant and plentiful. And again, nothing came from the bamboo seed. But I did not quit on the bamboo.

"In year three there was still nothing from the bamboo seed. But I would not quit. The same in year four.

"Then in the fifth year, a tiny sprout emerged from the earth.

Compared to the fern, it was seemingly small and insignificant.

But just six months later, the bamboo rose to over 100 feet tall.

It had spent the five years growing roots. Those roots made it strong and gave it what it needed to survive. I would not give any of my creations a challenge it could not handle.

"Did you know, my child, that all this time you have been struggling, you have actually been growing roots? I would not quit on the bamboo. I will never quit on you.

"Don't compare yourself to others." He said. "The bamboo had a different purpose than the fern. Yet they both make the forest beautiful.

"Your time will come", God said to me. "You will rise high."

"How high should I rise?" I asked.

"How high will the bamboo rise?" He asked in return.

"As high as it can?" I questioned.

"Yes." He said, "Give me glory by rising as high as you can."

Thursday, November 13, 2008


Remember Sisyphus? Well, things are actually moving along now.

I finally have enough material written on my proposal that it made sense to put in a table of contents. I had a total of 21 pages two days ago. Today, I have 24 pages, and I'm feeling good.*

It's not so much the number of pages that makes me feel good, but that I've broken through a major research block that Adviser put up for me. On the one hand, I understood what Adviser was saying and agreed; on the other hand, I kept feeling like I have a case too with my (different) approach.

After about 6 weeks of going back and forth between methodologies, I finally read enough, thought through enough, argued with myself enough to feel solid about my approach. What is neat is that given all of my back-and-forth, my approach now not only makes sense, it is philosophically congruent and I can articulate it well.**

I've also stopped meeting Adviser weekly for 4 weeks now. That helped to allow my ideas to "brew" without me having to meet Adviser and get confused each time I did.

I had consistently set goals for myself to finish since September, but failed to meet them. Now that I have pushed through my block, I feel like I can really complete my proposal by this weekend. And I have the pages to show for it. Whether or not Adviser will be happy with it is another story, for another post.

For the record, I really like my Adviser. I think having a tougher adviser will end up making me a much stronger scholar. And Adviser is generally very supportive, so long as I can defend my position well.


*MS Word has a great table of contents feature that is automatically updateable.
**For anyone interested, my methodological struggle was between using Analytic Induction or Grounded Theory. Grounded Theory won, that is, the constructivist version of GT (reference: Kathy Charmaz).

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Remember To Take Breaks

My latest timer technique is working out really well. [Also, see earlier post.]

I press the timer (set for 10 minutes), and I work while it counts down. Whenever I am tempted to deviate from work, I look at the timer and say to myself for instance, "only 4:26 to go, keep working." I actually stay focused.

At the end of each 10 minute segment, I make a check on a piece of paper: four vertical lines and one diagonal line across to denote fifty minutes of effective and focused work. I draw a circle around the five lines for the last 10-minute segment to denote the completion of one full hour of work.

Sounds good, right?

The trouble is, the method is so effective that I am forgetting to take breaks. And thus, I find myself unable to work for longer than 2 hours, by the end of which I am so exhausted from the intense focus that I don't want to look at the work for the rest of the day.

Not good.

So now, instead of drawing a circle around my five lines to denote a full hour of work, I press the timer at the end of 50 minutes, and I take a 10-minute break.

We'll see if this makes any difference to me being able to focus effectively for at least 5 hours a day.