the grid

the grid

Thursday 31 December 2015

Inter-Iteration Check-in and Chat

Image result for candleHello everyone!  I hope you've found some peace and happiness in the hurly-burly of the holidays, however you celebrate them, and are feeling some optimism for the coming New Year in at least some aspect of your life and the lives of those you love.

This post is going up as a place to exchange greetings and chat about whatever wants sharing.  As a possible topic, how about we share some of the 'gifts' we've gotten from the TLQ group or from other sources of writing inspiration in the past year (new ideas, reframings, tool kit additions), and if you're jonesing for a bit of structure, why not set yourself a goal or two for the days between now and the official start of the next iteration of the TLQ group, which starts on the weekend of 9-11 January, 2016?

I'll kick off with a few 'gifts' I'm delighted to be taking forward into the new year:
  • using coloured highlighters to divide up editorial comments on my work (my own or those of others) into a small number of categories (e.g. syntax, grammar and spelling, communication of ideas, content and arguments) then look at each in turn - however tempting it is to go after easy fixes, fixing all the grammar/spelling is a waste of time if later changes of content or structure delete those sentences! - I'll definitely be sharing this one with my students, as colouring in is something of a treat, and this is a useful way to get them to start thinking about how to use feedback...
  • I need to keep reminding myself that writing makes me happy.  The bad feelings, the anxieties and stresses, they are ALL about stuff which happens outside the writing - whether that's the politics of building an academic c.v. or disagreements with co-authors or imposter syndrome.  Finding words to explain ideas and putting them on paper makes me happy and if I can find and hold onto that feeling, I will get more written.  What happens to it once it is written is a different story...
  • stickers are encouraging, new stationary is non-fattening, legal and happy-making, and dinosaur note-paper makes writing thank you letters a joy (maybe I should write my second drafts on dinosaur-embellished paper too??).
  • and you, my dear writing group, are one of the best gifts a woman can have - friendship and encouragement and understanding and wisdom shared - so here's to a new year with a lot of great writing in it!
Image result for a toast to us

Sunday 13 December 2015

Last Check-in for 2015!

Well, this semester/term is, as they say, a wrap. I'm not going to repost session goals here since most of you responded to those last week (thanks, Karen!). But it would be great if you want to do one last check-in for the "compressed" goals you set last week. I might even try to see if I can think of the one (or two or three?) most important TLQ goals that I want to meet for the holiday break (family, healthy, reading/writing?), just so I maintain my mindfulness.

(There are some of you that haven't checked in recently. Feel free to offer your last check-in on session goals here. I will read all of the responses!)

I want to thank you all for letting me host this group (and thanks to Karen for co-hosting with me). I've gained so much from this process . Because I was hosting, I made sure to read all of your updates, and I've learned so much from your thoughtful comments and insights. I didn't always feel that I had a lot of wisdom to offer, so I really feel as if I gained more than I gave. Many thanks.

Elizabeth Anne Mitchell and Daisy have kindly offered to be co-hosts for next semester. Thank you! Elizabeth and Daisy, if you email me at, I will investigate how to add you as authors for the blog. Shall we start the weekend of January 9th? Or is that too soon? I'll let you two decide.

I hope you all have a good break in which you are able to give a lot of time to the TLQ things in your lives that really matter.


Last week's TLQ goals:

1) nightly check-ins, including writing down food
2) order shades
3) declutter bedroom
4) exercise 4x

1. Do Table for Other paper
2. Send Other paper to collaborators for final revision
3. Revise CR acc to manager comments (this is a very astute research guy, so the comments will definitely useful) 
4. Do letter to editor for CR paper
5. Do letter to editor for Other paper
6. Submit CR
7. Follow up with all four archives people

Contingent Cassandra
1)continue to sleep and eat as regularly as possible (this is really vital, since I'm battling both periodic stomach upsets and a headache that seems to be stress -- rare for me -- rather than the beginning of the flu or something similar, or so I hope. Anyway, there are signs that I'm operating at the limits of my physical capacity, and need to be careful, since I don't have time to be too sick to work.)

2) keep up with most urgent household/garden/financial tasks as necessary (bills that have to be paid, laundry as necessary, getting some bulbs back in the ground before a hard freeze). 
3)professional project follow-up as possible/necessary (really need to get back in touch with instructors of an online class I'm taking to negotiate what I'll do to finish up; also need to do some follow-up on new and old projects, but that may have to wait until next week).

Finish data/methods/results sections for 3 paper while I'm at the lab and have people to ask...

Earnest English
1. Get a lot of end-of-quarter handouts done for the week.
2. Plod through marking.
3. Keep calm for the service things on deck this week. Lots of relaxation and sleep and calming teas.
4. Work on holiday stuff.
5. Remember to send Snarkmaster a complaint about lack of communication in two ways by end of the week.
6. Figure out next steps on Family Project.
7. Move like water. Nothing, even telling Snarkmaster off, however stress-relieving that might feel in the moment, is worth killing myself over.

Elizabeth Anne Mitchell
Continue to polish some of the posts (I have 32 in draft from the past week!) and get two out in the world.

Relax between doctors’ appointments and let the mind wander.

Corral all the copies and iterations of PMM so that I can set up short, medium, and long tasks to fit the time in the break until next session.

Spend twenty minutes every evening readying for the next day, whether meditating or free-writing.

1) Prepare all syllabi for next semester
2) Write fancy, new DH assignment for next semester
3) Do some additional reading and note-taking in preparation for revising what is now Chapter 3.
4) Ask hubby if I can have a two-day writing retreat in January before term.
5) Make good progress on primary source (one of the many big novels I haven't read yet).
6) Finish Christmas present shopping, wrapping, and (when necessary) shipping.
7) Make Christmas cookies with the kids?
8) Make at least one doctor's appointment.

1. Christmas presents ordered/bought/sent/listed for final purchase interstate.
2. Value sleep, move like water, think in the body.
3. Create short, focused to do lists each day.

1. the stockings and Christmas cards must be done.  
2. scary project data needs to be coded and a plan made for analysis and write-up
3. gather references for scary and put them into reference manager software

Get all the new teaching for this semester prepped
Make decision about attending conference
Make some small better health decisions by putting myself first occasionally, even if that's just by shutting my door for ten minutes whilst I eat my lunch, or buying a more expensive but tastier and possibly healthier instant food for my quick evening meal (e.g. a fresh soup from the chiller cabinet rather than a tin).

Saturday 5 December 2015

Week Twelve: Compression

We're now one week away from the end of this session of TLQ. For me, it felt like life started accelerating in October and just kept speeding up from there. With only a few weeks left of semester for some of us, and into the last month of the year for all of us, now seems like a good time to think about what to do with the limited time left. What goals need revising? What goals are worth pushing on? How do we compress what needs doing into the remaining time? And are there things that we need to let go?

Below I've listed last week's goals first, and then the session goals.

And if anyone wants to volunteer to host the next session, maybe comments are a good place to start that discussion.

Academic Amstr
1) write 5x
2) nightly check-ins
3) exercise 5x, bunny hutch 2x
4) write down what I eat

1) health: continue exercise habit, continue to develop good eating habits
2) creativity: write at least 2x per week
3) career: get letters of rec in my file from advisors
4) household: declutter garage, office, and master bedroom; order and put up shades
5) community: once or twice a month, get together with a neighbor or fellow school parent
1. Do final check of CR data, then send to senior manager for comment
2. Finalise other draft this week and send around to co-authors
3. Submit other draft
4. roughly draft proposal submission for new funding
5. Email collaborator SN about long overdue paper and when we might do it
6. Email request to 4 archives

My goals for this session are ambitious, but necessary for reasons I can't go into here. The first is around physical health, and the second is work-related: to be productive, in a way that increases my potential opportunities.
So,I plan to answer the question for each and every week of this session, have I put my personal health and wellbeing ahead of work?
My second goal is to submit three papers. It is ambitious, but knowing what I do now about national science organisations, I think this will make a real difference to a number of things. and, I have a number of papers more than half written, so I think it should be possible, and I will feel greater wellbeing once I have a sense of work being finished.

Contingent Cassandra
1) follow-up on a new professional project (at least the most urgent bits) and conference follow-up as possible (the latter is postponable)
2) continue to try to get regular sleep
3) complete urgent cooking chores (mostly processing fresh food/last garden produce before it goes bad)
4) complete most urgent household chores (especially laundry)
5) deal w/ most urgent financial tasks, and plan when to tackle more TLQ-ish ones

1) continue progress on household/financial projects [I actually got one big chunk of one of the financial projects done during our intersession, so I've got some momentum on this]

2) continue self-care, especially regular exercise (walking and weight-lifting) and sleep and eating regularly (healthily, if possible, but some days just regularly would be an improvement).

3) do something to get back in touch with writing and research. This might include building on conference presentations (one just completed, one scheduled) on DH class to write a pedagogical article; starting a DH project to accomplish a planned (very early planning stages) book; and/or finishing up another article that has been in progress at least as long as this group has been meeting (so it's about time). The first two options are the most likely to fit into my schedule, and I'll be happy if I do a bit on even one of them. 

Survive end of classes, get all the things done before going away for lab work.

1) Finish data work for three collaborative papers (CP)
2) Draft two of my own new papers for a new field area (NP)
3) Major grant application
4) Exercise
5) Reading project
6) Deal with Old papers as needed

Elizabeth Anne Mitchell 
I have an online writing class that I have neglected, and I plan to catch up on the first week’s lessons.
Polish and publish 2 blog posts.
Final edits on DH’s paper.
Call all the doctors listed on Monday’s schedule for questions and plans.

Re-establish the habit of writing 5 out of 7 days. Those of you who have been in earlier iterations of this group know that I suffer from what my bereavement counselor calls grief exhaustion. Virtually all of my abilities dried up and went away.
Rebuild my organizational skills. I’ve been assured that my brain fog will go away, I hope sooner rather than later.
Add some movement and mindful eating to my day. I had gall bladder surgery at the beginning of September, and need to improve my eating and exercise habits, or lack thereof.
Concentrate on my PMM article. I need to update my literature review for this article, which will lead to some edits in the article proper.

Earnest English 
1. Take ridiculously good care of self with lots of relaxation because of Big Service Event taking place this week and next.
2. Grade regularly.
3. Continue sneaking in some reading.
4. Smile. Move like water. It's almost over now.

I've got a very difficult quarter coming up with a ridiculous number of preps and overfull classes, a number of big service commitments, some research work I really want to get done in a very slow and plodding way, and some health issues that I really must take seriously so exercise and stress reduction are crucial. Before all that starts, I have a small chapter to write and at least one major home project: making the home office/library more livable by buying bookshelves and unpacking boxes. Meanwhile I also want to keep up with our family projects -- somehow! Really just thinking about all I have to get done by the end of the calendar year makes me want to crawl back into bed. So I have to just keep my head down and keep working, but without stressing myself out because of the health concerns!

1) Complete Christmas list and shopping (ambitious!)
2) Get new debit card
3) Make hair appointment
4) Make at least one doctor/dentist appointment.
5) Submit book order forms which are way past due.
6) Read important secondary source book, along with an additional article or chapter or two.
7) Make cookies for 4-H event and remember to attend said event.

1) 2nd draft of Chapter 2
2) 2nd draft of Chapter 3
3) submit article based on Chapter 1
4) Draft introduction
5) Take regular five-minute breaks to exercise, and also take long walks, swim, and do yoga (a combo of at least 5 per week)
6) Go on a 3-4 day writing retreat

Do something research/writing related every day and keep track of it
Finish the book review
Work on abstract due mid-month

1. Make significant progress on manuscript revision
2. Continue weekly meditation
3. Finish remaining outstanding projects (2 book reviews, conference presentation, miscellaneous service things) and make deadlines (for what is not already past due!) 

1) Survive week with teaching and grading done on time
2) Wrap some Christmas presents
3) Make up mind about whether to pull out of the upcoming conference. 

a) tie up all the summer writing projects that made it off my desk (that's write and give two conference talks, do minor revisions for two articles and a revise and resubmit for a third, contribute as needed to a multi-author paper and complete the writing and submission of a smallish research grant. Oh, and a Research Service project in my field). I'd like to also make some progress with the things that didn't quite ever get off my desk, which are several articles and grant ideas in various stages of incompleteness, but these will probably have to wait until January.
b) look after myself - keep up and improve my exercise habit, eat well, go to bed before midnight, declutter, all the usual stuff

1. Set up pre-break meetings with all postgrads with a focus on having a clear sense of their direction for the next month.
2. Wrap up remaining writing commitment.
3. Set up meeting for next year's online unit planning.
4. Self care by focusing on filling up on nutritionally-dense food and 3x online yoga class/self-directed practice.

1. Complete P1 events and have a first draft of a paper relating to it
2. Improve self care in sleep, exercise, and eating
3. A smooth run into Christmas

1. final push - gemstone paper will be submitted
2. christmas crafts - I have a lot of stocking shapes to cut out!
3. acronym report - need a plan!

1. Submit a paper (Gemstone or acronym)
2. Conduct scary research once ethical approval is received (hopefully for the planned start).
3. Make 100 hand-crafted items (including squares for my latest knitted blanket and Christmas cards)
4. Get into the habit of regular time periods to focus on my research projects and papers. At least 4 hours (a half day) per week.

1) Finish the draft of the paper.
2) Do three minute-exercise three times a day. 

1) Revise Chapter 2 of my book and finish the first draft.
2) Write an article related to Chapter 1 of my book.
3) Do three minutes exercise at least 5 times a day.
4) Write at least for 15 minutes every day. 

This is my year before I go up for tenure, so I'm feeling the pressure of getting things done. My mentor and dear friend has sent me a timeline of what he wants from to help me get my stuff written (since I need external accountability), and he wants a full length article by October 15th. Uh, so the research for the article is nowhere near done. I've read like 2 things. So I guess the next two weeks I'll pound out some research and then turn what I have from the conference paper into a full length article to send to him.

It's all imperative that I eat right, sleep, and workout during all of this, otherwise, I won't make it. 

1. finish complete draft of HA paper so it can be sent off (either to friendly readers or into the world, depending)
2. keep up w/teaching, prep, and grading without overdoing it (i.e., no prettying up PPPs)
3. make time each week for each kid, partner, and self (lunch walks, play w/kids, museum visit)

1) Grade assignments that are way post due
2) Spend an hour a day on my own work
3) Rearrange living room/office area to eliminate chaos

1) Finish editing Behemoth
2) Write 1500 word review essay
3) Write 1000 book review

1. Keep making progress on references
2. Work on big deal thing - draft letter

I was on leave last year, finishing a book manuscript. I'm in to the "almost final revision" phase, based on comments from an editor. By the end of the session, I want to have submitted my manuscript to a publisher. That means one more round of revisions, and also fixing footnotes. In the midst of all that, while serving on a boat-load of committees, I am giving three different papers (four, if you count one in early January). Three of the four are based on the book and not too difficult, but still, they will be interruptions. I'm also trying to get back into the exercise routine.