#iamaphdstudentandiknowit

MOST RECENT

C O F F E E T A L K

Some days I want to quit caffeine because I feel like I consume too much of it. Other days I tell myself, “It’s still water (sort of) and it’s a natural pre-workout boost, so what’s the problem?”

The problem is that I probably don’t drink enough water throughout the day to replace my coffee intake, period. Always working on that but as a full-time grad student COFFEE IS LIFE. And if I’m being honest, tea just doesn’t cut it for me in the morning. I seem to only want it at night.

I also used to think I wasn’t a coffee addict. I could drink it anytime of day and never really feel a “jolt” from the caffeine. I would even take pride in the fact that I could enjoy a cup at 10:00pm and be asleep within the hour. It wasn’t until I temporarily stopped drinking it when I noticed the headaches. If I don’t get the boost caffeine and I’m left with a dull headache when I don’t drink it, is it even worth it? At this point I think I’m just about the taste of coffee.

So what’s your take on coffee and/or caffeine? For me, it’s similar to the back-and-forth nutritional debate about eggs. Plenty of studies have warned us of the side effects of consuming too much caffeine (or in the case of eggs, cholesterol) while others have praised it and encouraged its consumption. Or is it all about balance? Interested in your thoughts regardless if you’re a grad student or not.

In the meantime, I’m going to reminisce on how amazing this Lavender Sage Espresso Soda from @mi_blueowlcoffee is and continue to experience my own existential crisis over caffeine. ☕️😜
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P A T T E R N S

Whew doggy! I have been getting bombarded with messages lately surrounding patterns and changing my behavior. Of course these messages could not have come at a better time because lately I’ve been feeling stagnant and unsatisfied with my current routine (again).

Reading over the introduction to June in my Many Moons workbook, I’m looking forward to honing the energy of both the Sun and Moon to help me keep a clear and driven focus on my dissertation. I need to push myself out of my comfort zone and implement new patterns that will not only become a fixture in my daily routine, but also result in feeling more fulfilled and happy with my day and how I utilized my time.

I also realize that there may be times I slip back into my old patterns, or that I need to create new ones when the current ones have gone stale. Because they will go stale. As one of my favorite sayings reminds me, “If nothing ever changed, there’d be no butterflies.”

So here I am, actively making changes. I also want to use this space to keep myself accountable so here is want I want to focus on during the month of June:..
➰Implement a morning routine that focuses on my physical health.
➰Implement a work routine that cultivates DEEP FOCUS between 1:00-5:00pm.
➰Implement an evening routine that focuses on my emotional and spiritual health and also provides the self-love and nourishment I need to wake up and do it all again.

Happy to report that I woke up at 6:00am and have been productive since. Experimenting with this new schedule today and looking forward to setting new patterns for myself and my productivity. I’ll keep y’all updated and let you know how it goes!

This monthly Cancer mantra is brought to you by the lovely @nadinejane_astrology.
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I had $5 leftover from buying what I needed from the neighborhood farmer’s market and this gorgeous bouquet cost exactly that.

Just a little pick me up while I dissertate all summer. 💐
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Of course Joey demands my attention at the precise moment I finally reach for my dissertation proposal edits. 🙄

I could get mad but I think I’ll take a quick moment to laugh and give this guy a little love instead. 🐱💕
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Raise your hand if you’re a graduate student who is working their ass off during Spring Break? 🙋🏻‍♀️

Anticipating my mom’s visit next week, I’m investing all the uninterrupted time I can to work on projects I otherwise would struggle to finish during a normal academic week.

Up first, a grant proposal to the National Institute of Justice in hopes of receiving funding for my dissertation research. Then, I’ve got to put together application materials for a summer teaching fellowship (because I’ve got to keep paying bills from May 16th-August 15th).

I’ve tried for this NIJ grant before and didn’t get it. Albeit it was my first time writing a grant proposal completely by myself and I had NO IDEA what I was doing the entire time.

(Side note: I couldn’t really ask for advice from my Guidance Committee because I originally submitted this as one of my comprehensive exams. So it was more or less a learning experience, I suppose.)

Nearly a year later, my advisor forwarded me the final decision from NIJ and it was just what I thought: Rejection. She reminded me the importance in just trying and that she was proud of my effort.

Reading over the reviewers comments didn’t hurt or emotionally sting as much as I thought they would. In fact, one of the major strengths of my original proposal was that they saw merit in my study and the importance in examining barriers to prison visitation. It’s baby steps and I’m making progress.

Continuing to read through the lines I came to the conclusion that, “I can do it ... just do it better the second time around.”

So here’s to second chances, I guess. Keeping my fingers crossed 🤞🏼
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Reminding myself of the promises I made during the super blood moon and at the start of the month.

Made strong and powerful love notes to myself to pin up in my campus office. I even taped a few on my laptop (not pictured).

Definitely will be making this a regular practice to help me stay on track with my dissertation and academic goals as well as my creative/making goals.
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WOMEN IN MUSIC [NO. 1]
〰〰〰
TORI AMOS "CORNFLAKE GIRL" (1993)
〰〰〰
Yes, I already went there by choosing Tori as my first song to show my students. I realize that she may not be everyone's musical cup of tea, but how could I not open up with the first single from her second album, "Under the Pink."

"Cornflake Girl" was a term used by Amos while growing up to describe the type of friend who, despite your level of closeness, would continue to hurt or harm you. Her reference of "cornflakes" and "raisins" alludes to the distribution of each within a box of cereal: the "raisin girls" are much harder to find than the "cornflake girls." Tori sees herself as a "raisin girl." (NME, 2012).

The student reactions to this song were overall positive, though I couldn't help chuckling when some of them commented that it had a "country feel" to it. I simply wanted to share her amazing talent and prodigy piano skills. Tori also does not shy away from the difficult topics and messy conversations that surround female sexuality, sexual assault, politics, and religion.
〰〰〰
KESHA "PRAYING" (2017)
〰〰〰
One student suggested Kesha's new song, "Praying." While I was aware of her current ongoing legal battles and coming forward as a sexual assault survivor, I was not aware that she had put out a new album. They informed me that this song is a response to these experiences and that it is a powerful performance.

We watched the video together, which was my first time seeing it. It was hard for me to hold back my tears; her lyrics, artistry, and bravery blew me away.

One thing that Tori and Kesha have in common is that both are sexual assault survivors. “Praying" reminds me of another Tori Amos song, "Me and a Gun," which explicitly focuses on her response and reaction to her own victimization.

While you may be able to compare/contrast some of their lyrics, that is not the point. The point is that survivors process their victimization on their own terms and utilize their individual agency when they choose to share what that process looks like, or not.

Thank you for sharing your process with us, Kesha and Tori. I see you, I hear you.
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(Continued in comments)

This semester I am teaching CJ 425: Women and Criminal Justice. I utilize active learning so I'm always searching for new ways to help students understand the material. As someone who absolutely loves music (and all kinds), I decided to utilize the free time before class to share some of my favorite women in music artists with my students. Once they watch the video or listen to the song of my choice, I have asked them to choose a modern song they want to share with me and the rest of the class.

Because this course focuses on women as victims, women as offenders, and women who work professionally in the criminal justice system, I am going to be extremely deliberate in the songs that I choose to share. Not only do I want to convey messages relating to women and crime, but I am also going to be extremely deliberate and make sure that the artists I choose are intersectional. I want to represent women in music from all walks of life and that differ in their the race, class, sexual preference, nationality, age, physical body, types of musical talent, and years active in the industry. I am well aware of some of the challenges ahead as the current representation of women in the music industry (all industries, really) is problematic.

I've made a pretty long list already - but it is from my situated knowledge and what I primarily grew up listening to. I think this idea would turn out even better by including more voices, perspectives, and experiences. Which female, LGBTQ, transgender and gender non-binary musical artists have influenced you? If you would like to make a suggestion as to what artist and song I absolutely cannot leave out and must share with my students, please let me know! Bonus points if there is a women and crime element involved.

I will be sharing my musical selections (as well as those chosen by my students) over the next few months along with a short write up about the artist, their song, and why it was chosen.

I love the creative things teaching allows me to do.

Photo of PJ Harvey, Bjork, and Tori Amos is from a 1994 issue of Q Magazine.

Taking a study break for a little bath time.

I’m trying real hard to turn my black thumb to a green one in 2018. Or at least to some sort of greenish hue. 🌿👍🏻🌿
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Quand tu passes ton dimanche à travailler sous les encouragements de ton chat
#sundaymorning #dimanchematin #sleepycat #siestepower #cat #chatontropmignon #iamaphdstudentandiknowit

N E W Y E A R 〰 N E W Y O U
I know it's been awhile since I've written a ~*serious*~ post or one that is remotely related to graduate school. I'm aiming to get better at that and use this space more wisely, but I wanted to take a moment and reminisce about the emotional rollercoaster that was 2017 and what creating this IG account has meant to me over the past year.

I originally created @phdbalance to be a space for sharing tips on productivity, work-life balance, and self-care for graduate students and busy people in general. I had the intention of staring a formal website and creating a zine series that helped others navigate how to eat, sleep, exercise, and learn how to actually live life outside the ivory tower. I also had the intention of creating a workbook on how to navigate some of the difficulties that come with being a graduate student.

I look back over the past year and I'm a little sad and disappointed in myself for not getting these things done. Like for many others, 2017 hit me hard. There were several moments when I felt like for every one accomplishment I had achieved, I had to endure at least ten failures. Ten times of being told no. Ten times of being rejected, my application denied or not being selected. Constantly hearing NO challenged me, my self-confidence, and frustrated me to no end. I know I have a bad habit of focusing solely on my failures, ignoring all that I have accomplished and forgetting about my triumphs.

In 2017, I started to find myself, got ass over teakettle lost, and felt scared and confused for a good six to eight months. I lived in complete fear of failing as a graduate student and was drowning in self-doubt. Instead of pushing myself to take action and change the situation, I found myself caught in a comparison trap. My imposter syndrome was off the charts. It made me question if I should even be giving advice to fellow graduate students because I clearly wasn't even following my own.

(Continued in comments. Art by @_lauraberger_ ).

It’s that time of year again! Headed off to Philadelphia for the annual American Society of Criminology conference.

This is always the best time of the year, and worst time of the year. Having a conference the week before Thanksgiving, and coming back with only two weeks left in the semester, I feel like I go from 35mph to 150mph until mid-December.

In an attempt to stay as calm as possible, I’m adopting the mantra STRESS LESS this year and aim to focus on enjoying my time away from home and hanging out with my fellow colleagues.
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Turning in my final (really, first) draft of my dissertation proposal to my committee this Friday. So it’s time to just sit down and DO THE DAMN THING.

I wrote this note to myself to help me push through and just get it done. I’m so close I can taste it. And in glancing what I wrote (over six months ago...) I am feeling more confident in my voice and what I have to say now more than ever.

So besides these little tips to keep me accountable what else do y’all recommend? I’ve also started to adopt the Pomodoro Method style of writing where you work in chunks of 25 minutes and take a brief 5 minute break. It’s been helping a lot!

(Also this is pretty much as long as my nails get and they are looking pretty nice these days. As a former nail biter, I’m trying not to screw them up.)
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STILL LIFE OF A GRAD STUDENT.

I am busier now more than ever and it’s starting to bring flashbacks to my first year as a doctoral student. A mile-long to-do list, a mile-high stack of articles you need to read, meetings and places to be, and of course, all the writing.

Currently I’m trying to (finally) finish my dissertation proposal; read and prepare course content for my undergrads; apply for my first academic job (!!!!); and get the writing group that I’m leading up and running. It’s so much that even organizing it into piles and summing everything up in a few bullet points is still overwhelming.

But I’m also older and wiser now that I’m in my 5th year. My tolerance for staying up late and running on 5 or 6 hours of sleep no longer exists. I need to workout regularly and have some downtime. Thus, I find myself walking away from my work more and more in order to spend time with loved ones and to live life.

Does this make me more enlightened or productive? Yes. No. Sometimes.

If I’m being honest with myself, my work/life balance has tilted more towards LIFE these days. Trying to shift back to WORK and honor these new boundaries I’ve learned in the process. Reminding myself that no perfect, harmonious balance exists between them. I’m going to take it day by day and shift where and when I need to.

P.S. I’m not a graphic designer but I made the flyer for my writing group on Canva yesterday (instead of writing) and I’m pretty proud of it. .
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Sometimes you find motivational messages in the most random places.

This was just before the train tracks near Fee Road. Over the summer, I would park all the way out there and walk to teach my weights class (because free parking).

Every Monday and Wednesday I would step over these words and internally repeat them back to myself. I was in the thick of trying to navigate my feelings towards academia and what to do with my life. At my worst, when I had no utter clue what I truly wanted, this was a reminder that I will at some point. That all is not yet lost.

Thank you to the individual who took the time to write this and share it with the rest us. It's been a nice reminder in times of need.
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I stumbled upon this drawing last night and immediately fell in love.

As a recovering perfectionist, these are the thoughts I live with daily. Sometimes it feels like a never-ending cycle that I will never beat, surpass, or overcome. I have days where I make progress, knowing that perfection doesn't exist, but then I have days that I let myself get trapped by this false narrative and scold myself for not being good enough.

This mindset is stifling because, at the end of the hour/day/week/month, I haven't gotten much done. I've been too busy poking, prodding, primping, and obsessing over one thing until I deem it perfect enough.

And even in those moments, I already know that it's not perfect, it never will be, and that's okay. It's more important to recognize the work I put in and what I produced. To learn from the process.

Obviously this is so much easier said than done but I always appreciate the reminder. Especially a pretty visual one!

Poster created by @grantdraws and @jonacuff. I will also be looking into their books, "The Shape of Ideas" and "Finish" as I'm about to embark on my dissertation and knock this last year of grad school out of the park..
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ME PRAYING TO THE DISSERTATION GODS

All jokes aside, I've been a little quiet on sharing tips and advice on work-life balance, self-love, and productivity lately because, frankly, I don't feel like I'm being a good role model in following my own practices. Why should anyone listen to me?

I have been working on some of my own issues over the past six months and it can be quite humbling to be reminded just how much of a work in progress life (and grad school) really is. I have made strides, but I've also had setbacks. And I know I'm not the only one..

I've found journaling and workbook material helpful in guiding me through this process. So much so that I'm going to put a hold on the grad student zine series in order to focus on creating a grad student workbook. And since I'm going to be the one to try it out first hand, I think it will be a good exercise in learning how to practice-what-you-preach and taking actionable steps in meeting your academic (or life) goals.

In the meantime, I want to give thanks to some of my grad students friends who have patiently listened to me discuss my thoughts and feelings; who have allowed me to be vulnerable; who have shared their vulnerability with me; and for giving your love and support to me every day. Thank you for holding me @quickjo1989 @celina.cycles and @aksiroky.

Together we will make it through this.
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Afternoon study scenes. ✨🌤📖📚✨

Since it's such a gorgeous day, I made a makeshift office in my backyard using only a blanket and a pillow and moved myself outside to enjoy the weather.

Changing scenery always helps shake things up for me after I've been working for awhile and re-center my focus. Since we installed a fence gate, I've been having a lot more outdoor study sessions with Rosie (and thus fresh doses of vitamin D!). I've noticed that whenever I need a pick me up, I go outside.

P. S. I thought about taking this moment to share a quick list of "Tips on How to Avoid Study Burnout/Boredom" but will do so in following posts if that's what y'all are into. IDK, trying to get back to sharing tips/advice for other grad students rather than me discussing my own issues all the time. Thoughts? 🤷🏻‍♀️
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In the midst of cramming for the fall semester, my new favorite hobby is to forage local flowers and arrange them into bouquets on my dining room table. 💐

It sure beats facing the cold reality of how much I have left to do and how far behind I am already. 🤦🏼‍♀️
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