the grid

the grid

Saturday 27 May 2017

2017 Middle Session, Week 2: Do you have a Drishti?

(This post is quite long and pondering, and even somewhat existential, and I won’t be offended if you just skip it and go straight to check in.)

On Friday, I went to a yoga class, probably the first I’ve gone to in at least a year. I’ve been doing a bit of yoga at home, but now that I’m finished with the semester and don’t have a PhD thesis to write, I can go to a class. As much as I like my (sporadic) home practice, classes are good because they push me, and I learn new things.

Yesterday, after a brief vinyasa flow, we worked on balance in a starfish pose. The teacher encouraged us to find a focal point for our gaze. I’ve heard that advice many times, but yesterday was the first time I remember the teacher putting a name to the practice of that focused gaze: drishti. According to Yoga Basics,

A drishti (view or gaze) is a specific focal point that is employed during meditation or while holding a yoga posture. The ancient yogis discovered that where our gaze is directed our attention naturally follows, and that the quality of our gazing is directly reflected in the quality of our mental thoughts. When the gaze is fixed on a single point the mind is diminished from being stimulated by all other external objects. And when the gaze is fixed on a single point within the body, our awareness draws inwards and the mind remains undisturbed by external stimuli. Thus, the use of a drishti allows the mind to focus and move into a deep state of concentration. And the constant application of drishti develops ekagraha, single-pointed focus, an essential yogic technique used to still the mind.

Of course, when thinking about drishti, I couldn’t help but think of our TLQ group, along with some other things that have been on my mind lately. As I noted in my introduction last week, my mother, who is an artist and active member of the community, had a sudden attack of transverse myelitis. This means that she went from being perfectly healthy to being partially paralyzed. The good news is that she is improving, but she is still using a walker and a wheelchair to get around.

As cliché as it sounds, this event has made me think about how quickly things can change, and how I need to “live for the moment” and all that. But what does that mean? Like heu mihi (and I’m paraphrasing here), I often fear I won’t make the most of things when I should/could.

During these sessions, we’ve often asked ourselves, “At the end of these 14 weeks, when I sit down with a cup of tea or glass of wine, what will I feel good to have accomplished?” My “what if” thoughts have taken a bit more of dramatic turn because of my mom, and I’m left thinking about what really matters. As a result, I’ve been trying to think about what is most important to me this session. And because of those thoughts, I was especially interested when Contingent Cassandra set just one session goal: to move more. That is her drishti. I have been trying to figure out my drishti for this session—how I can focus my gaze so that I can be a more balanced starfish.

Do any of you feel like you have a drishti for this session?

As usual, you can use the typical check-in format: 
  • topic (unless you want to skip it)
  • check-in with last week's goals
  • analysis (what worked, what didn't)
  • and next week's goals.

Here is more on drishti

P.S. Earnest English, if you’re out there, I think I can safely speak for the group and say we are thinking about you.

Last week's goals:

Contingent Cassandra
--tie up loose ends from the semester as much as possible
--work in the garden at least once

Dame Eleanor Hull
*First six weeks: primary goal is packing up my house and doing necessary maintenance to sell it. I'm trying to put in 1-2 hours a day on research and teaching tasks.
*Five weeks in UK: in addition to teaching responsibilities, which involve field trips as well as classroom work and grading, visit two places of personal significance, and ramp up the research considerably, since I will be living a few minutes' walk from a major research library that calms and inspires me.
*Final three weeks: take a week off from all work, then prep for the fall semester, mop up whatever tasks need mopping. With any luck, unpack in new place.
*Product goals: sell house, move; review all sections of translation that I have yet to review; get two R&Rs out the door (probably a good UK task); read, take notes, and move my book project forward; finalize syllabus for UK teaching; plan for fall classes.

1) Set session goals and make some decisions about academic writing for the near future.
2) Get grades submitted by Wednesday at noon! (This is really TLQ, but it has a huge impact on the week, so I'm putting it here.)
3) Swim at least once.
4) Order b-day presents for daughter, help her with invitations.
5) Find/plan some good healthy recipes for summer.
6) Go to dermatologist. Do not cancel appointment!
7) Take a van load of books to donate to the library (this might get pushed to next week, but I'll go ahead an put it here.)
8) Help daughter remember to practice for next weekend's piano recital.

heu mihi
1) Get to the halfway point in chapter 3 revisions (p. 22)
2) Finish reading RK; take notes on it
3) Read an article related to ch. 3
4) Pick up library books and prioritize them
5) Finish draft of research portion of tenure statement

1 write 5x
2 read 5x
3 write Pop revision
4 sketch on preliminary outline for workshop

1. Mark like a machine over the weekend.
2. Put in abstract for end of year discipline conference.

1. Recover from surgery (it was last week) and finish up the current rounds of treatment. Negotiate return to work.
2. Submit an abstract for, create a poster for (assuming abstract accepted) and attend conference at end of summer
3. Finish some knitting projects
4. Start and finish a printing project

1) get as much of my own grading finished as possible
2) have a Nagging Schedule for all the paperwork related to grading which depends on other people doing their grading (have I ever mentioned how much I hate team teaching?)
3) make sure all my advisees have made appointments for 1:1 meetings, and have as many of those meetings as possible.
4) run ProblemChild analyses (try & finish step 6 before end of weekend)
5) move a noticeable amount of stuff every day around the house (could be a load of laundry done, a carrier bag of recycling removed, a chair's worth of clutter organised and put into a box, anything like that)
6) eat no refined sugar (starting tomorrow. There was a cookie incident today. SIGH).
7) go to bed before midnight.

1) Finish the outline of Chapter 2.
2) Write first draft of Chapter 2.
3) Finish reading a book.
4) Make a plan of the holiday coming soon.

Well, there really isn't much time this week, but I'll begin the deck clearing (maybe clear out some emails while I'm away from home). Otherwise, it's just relaxing.

1. Full draft of trans paper
2. Get aging R&R close to done
3. Make headway on relat R&R
4. Make progress on lit search for scoping review

5. Read a few more gender articles and add to intro

Sunday 21 May 2017

Time for a new session - Middle of 2017

Hi everyone, I missed you!  I haven't managed to discuss this with my co-lead yet, apologies, but I'm pretty sure we agreed to restart this week, so, let's go for it! And iron out details later if needed... 

This iteration of the TLQ group will run from now until the last weekend in August (25-26 August), which looks like 14 weeks to me.  Everyone is welcome to join, new or old, and as normal for the mid-year session (Summer in the northern hemisphere, winter in the southern) it's absolutely fine to drop in and out depending on travel, vacation and other commitments.

This week, we need to set session goals as well as weekly goals.  Let's use the commenting format:
1) brief introduction/update (you never know, we might get some new members?)
2) set some mid-year session goals - these can be all about TLQ academic stuff, all about TLQ personal stuff, or a mixture
3) set a small number of goals for the week ahead

For a discussion topic, how do you go about setting goals for a long period like a summer break?  I've been setting goals for summer "vacations" since I was a little kid, when I used to fill pages and pages of notebook with things I'd do in the summer, and still don't really know how to do it so that I don't over-commit myself and cause unintended stress, but don't find myself feeling like I achieved nothing significant at the end of the period.

Sunday 7 May 2017

Interim check-in

If anybody's missing the group or the accountability between sessions, here's a place to check in or just chat. I hope you're all doing well!