Sunday, January 4, 2015
A Sunday Night evening on the eve of hope and productivity
I received a grant to research at the International Marian Research Institute at the University of Dayton. They have some incredible late medieval and early modern sources about the Virgin Mary, and are relevant to my dissertation. I am placing a lot of hope and expectation in this trip. After my colloquium (an intensive workshop) in November, and facing suggestions for serious revision and restructuring in my dissertation, it just was hard to summon the motivation, and courage (yes, there is often the feeling of needing to be brave to write) to write and tackle the dissertation. The feelings of defeat, and discouragement, resonated a lot louder than my goals for completion and motivation. I’m trying to quiet those enough and find the New Year and new semester as motivation to get past this hump and mental block.
I am trying so hard to envision the finish line, even though it is over a year away. When it comes down to it, I’ve always had big goals, ones that require long-term planning and execution, but this is the longest. I’m going to be counting on more people for help, support, and encouragement, than I’ve ever demanded. Otherwise, if I just let it all fester in my head, accountable only to myself, my head will explode and I’ll burn out way too soon.
I want to finish I want to finish I want to finish I want to finish. I have to keep saying that to remember that this is actually the goal – my goal.
For the next two weeks, I’ll either be in the library or in my hotel room, with my laptop as my only roommate. I need to write and be productive, to go balls to the wall and crank out some decent material.
I hope I can look back at this trip with fondness and nostalgia. I’ll be able to link this trip with memories of solid writing and innovative thinking. When future grad students ask for advice, I want to cite this trip as inspiration, recalling with a smile, “Those were the golden days – I was able to accomplish so much and it changed my mentality for the dissertation in the final stretch.”
I recall two different New Year’s and new semesters, coincidentally, both odd years, like this one, where I took on a gung-ho attitude, and ultimately, had a profound impact on my life:
January 2011. January 10, 2011 was my first day of classes of the semester, and also, the first day of going gluten-free after my December 2010 diagnosis of celiac disease. I looked at everything as shiny and new, filled with possibilities. On that Monday, I was at the swimming pool by 7AM for my double-days of workouts (this was also my first day of training for my best marathon ever – Boston). I then cleaned up, dressed in professional drab of grey and black (I still have the top and remember the memories of wearing it on that day) for a directed readings course with one of my beloved professors. It was a grueling one-on-one one-hour session, every Monday morning at 9AM – what a way to start the week. But as the weeks progressed, our conversations progressed and the dialogue became all the more compelling. I became stronger mentally, I gained physical strength in my training, and my insides began to heal as I adjusted to my new diet. I ran a personal best of 3:27 later that spring, and found I had experienced a large mental shift in my thinking and training as a budding historian.
January 2013. I sat down and made a list of goals, with my then-boyfriend, now husband, by my side, agreeing to support me and push me. The big professional goal was to get my dissertation proposal passed. Over MLK weekend (now fast approaching once again), I sat in the desk he made for me, occasionally gazed out the window, and wrote the first draft of the proposal that eventually passed later that spring.
With both of these memories in mind, I am at the eve of another odd-year January semester full of hope and anticipation. I still need to write out some concrete goals, but the dream is out there. Now it’s time to make it count.