Tuesday, January 31, 2012

DIscussion 1

I had myself so nervous about this!  It is pretty intimidating to know I had to be on the phone for ninety minutes to discuss my reading.  Of course I read the material, several times over to be sure.  But this was my rookie discussion.  I was sweating, and had a terrible headache.  I was honestly probably purple, sitting in my classroom, talking on my cell phone. 

Once the discussion got into full swing, there is only one way to describe the discussion to you... Nerd Glory.  Seriously, this was exactly what my nerd thirst was requiring.  It went great! And it wasn't even really that scary!  Phew! 

So today, I submitted assignment 2, and scheduled discussion 2.  We're rolling for now.  The screeching halt I anticipate next is when I have to design my next 4 courses.  Yes, that will be a challenge.  For now, I'll "just keep swimming... just keep swimming."

Friday, January 27, 2012

On Quitting (Caffeinated) Coffee, and Starting Ritalin

Quitting caffeine stinks--no two ways about that.  Sure, I gave it up when I was pregnant with my kids, but when I was pregnant, particularly with #1, I didn't have anyone to chase around or get me up early (besides my job), so it wasn't so much the dependency that it had come to be as of late. Anyhow, in order to maintain doctor's requests, I dropped the caffeine and swapped it for Ritalin.  That first week was nasty, nasty.  FOUR DAYS of headaches.  But after taking Advil around the clock, they subsided. I've been caffeine-free for about two weeks now, maybe close to 3.

A colleague and friend commented to me today that I look very "professorial" since I have started my doctoral program.  This was such a nice compliment, to which I replied, "It's probably the Ritalin."  Now, I don't want to get all "where have you been all my life" on you... but in all honesty, I started taking Ritalin and it was like, "Ohhhhh, so this is how normal people feel!"  Apparently, feeling like you are literally going to crawl out of your skin anytime you have to sit and focus for more than a few minutes is actually not normal.  Know what else isn't normal?  When your to-do list gets over 2 pages long, and then when you look at it, you go load the dishwasher instead of working to shorten it.  And finally, when given twenty minutes to work, it is not normal to waste fifteen of it straightening your classroom when you have 60 essays to grade. I'm just saying.  After 29 years of living that way, I finally got a taste of how life can be with the ability to sustain focus. 

Obviously, I could get over these hurdles, as I did graduate from undergraduate and graduate school with a less-than-shabby GPA, but everything was done under extreme pressure.  So did I procrastinate? Yes.  I had to be down to the wire to produce work.  Problem was, on the wire---I produced mighty fine work.  But now that I have 2 kids, husband, full-time job, and doctoral student workload--- I couldn't do the "wire" anymore.  Not while maintaining sanity anyhow, which is a definite priority, even to she who has the attention span of a fly.

This week, assignment 2 week, I spaced my reading out and worked a little every day.  For most of the population, this is a no-brainer.  For me, this was like magic.  I finally can see how to prioritize my life.  Tonight, I am typing up answers to questions that aren't "due" till Monday.  And to top it all off, I know exactly what I am teaching every day of next week. This is lots of people's "normal."  But for me, it is totally new.

To some, there is a misconception of Ritalin being similar to speed.  For me, this was not the case.  In fact, quite the opposite.  I feel very calm on Ritalin.  Calm and focused.  I see a to-do list, I prioritize, and I work.  I don't need eighteen million post-it notes just to remember to do my job.  I can think more clearly, my anxiety levels are extremely low, and I have found my normalcy.  I like it here.

In other news, discussion #1 is Monday... I'll let ya know how that goes...

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Assignment 1

Sweet mother of Mary, people... yes, a doctoral program ups the ante in the rigor department, incase anyone was unsure.  Nothing I didn't really already know.  But I assumed (and we ALL know what happens when we assume) that by doing my careful, oh-so-careful readings, taking notes, highlighting, reading again, consulting my friend Webster, noting textual complexities, and yes, reading again, that the rest would be cake.

BAH!  I just proceeded to "finish up" assignment one, from the hours of 11 p.m. till 2 a.m.  Thanks to the ADD, I think really clearly, and write really well in the middle of the night. I discovered this strange clarity of middle-of-the-night writing when I was getting my Master's.  

And please, don't think I am complaining about teensy assignment one of the next six to ten years of my life. No complaints, just a real wake up call.  I am learning that working a little every day, or every other day, will be a saving grace in this process.

So I sent the assignment in, wanting so badly to preface it, with, "ohmygoshisthiswhatyouwantedbecauseholycowIamtotallyflippingoutrightnow."  But that lacks a certain sense of professionalism, and overall intelligence.  So, I left it out.

Step 2? Because I know you are just dying to know... a NINETY MINUTE TELEPHONE CONVERSATION on these readings...  I'll let ya know how that goes.  And I'll be glad to have one under my belt so that I'll know what to expect in discussions to come. 

Alas, in two hours and fifty minutes, my alarm will be going off.  I will not be nearly as witty and fun as I am right now.  Especially since I gave up my dear friend caffeinated coffee in exchange for Ritalin... but that's for another post... Goodnight:)

Sunday, January 8, 2012

I can A.D.D

I love men... pardon me if this is blatant sexism, but many of the males I know, thanks to their chromosomal make-up, just tell it like it is.  They don't sit around wondering how it will all play out. They just tell the truth, like it or leave it.  Not to say this applies to all men, but it certainly applies to the one I am about to describe...

When I was in college, I had an English professor say to me, "I see a lot of myself in your writing."  Of course, I was elated, yet all the while slightly confused because he had just scored my paper a less-than-breathtaking D.  Then he went on, "Yes, and I have ADHD and dyslexia..."  SLAM.  There it was.  My darling student, your writing leaves a lot to be desired... It sucks.  Now, he didn't say that last part, but he may as well have.  Naturally, I took what he said, swallowed the massive golf ball in my throat (after all, it looked like literary criticism just might not be my thing... and his suggestion to change majors confirmed that), and finished the meeting we were having to correct my D paper.  Then, like any self-respecting individual, I ran to my dorm room and cried.  Following a few days of wallowing, I did what I always do:  I took the bull by the horns.  I changed my major, and met with a learning disability specialist at my college.  She basically told me that having ADD was a very real possibility, but my compensatory skills were so strong that she didn't see need for me to do anything about it unless I so desired.  I considered medication, but then other things (that are not worth a single sentence of my blog) got in the way, and I had worse/bigger things to deal with. 

Thanks to those "compensatory skills," I finished my undergrad in Elementary Education (where, according to aforementioned English Professor, "lots of LD students find success...") and completed a minor in French.  A year later I got married, and 4 months later I was back in school getting my Master's.  The glorious thing about not having kids, working, and getting a Master's all at the same time is that you CAN stay up all night to get things done.  This was a very good thing for me seeing as I am the queen procrastinator.  I'm one of those people who literally MUST wait until the last minute.  Problem is, I wait until the last minute, and then I produce some pretty nice work. Graduated with the MEd having a not-so-shabby 3.9.  All the while I was a teacher, director of youth ministry, and graduate student.  We won't talk about my housekeeping skills though.  There is never enough pressure to complete tasks in that area of my life!

At present, we all know what I am pursuing: Insanity.  No, that's just what some people think... but we'll just call it what it is.  My EdD.  Having 2 kids and a full-time job lands my house in disarray.  This is no surprise to anyone, but for some reason, I feel like mine is worse than everyone else's.  You won't find me on an episode of "Clean House" or anything... but you might find me on the "Help-me! I-cannot-finish-what-I-start-and-I-procrastinate-like-it-is-my-job!" show.  Granted, I can compensate for my inability to focus for a longer period of time than a fruit fly would focus, but it is exhausting.

 So, I decided to get myself evaluated.  I spent an hour of my Saturday with a Psychiatrist.  I answered all the questions, I filled out the inventory.  And guess what? I have A.D.D.  Not the kind of A.D.D that people think they have when they can't get things done occasionally; no, I have the kind that prevents people from getting things done every minute of every day.  I was that kid who always made stupid mistakes in algebra.  I was that kid who messed around with her binder for half of the testing time, and then scribbled down some vague answers for the second half.  I was the kid who couldn't stay organized.  I was the kid who "wasn't listening."  And then I became the adult who worked her butt off to lose those labels, but still gets slammed from time to time for taking too long to do things; or forgetting to show up to a meeting because it is on the calendar but I didn't look at the calendar; or because no one in the house has clean underwear (or it isn't folded, so no one can find it, nor can they distinguish the clean piles from the dirty ones).  But I also figured out along the way how to take these hurdles in stride, and keep moving forward (even if I am doing eighteen other unrelated things at the same time).

I bet you're wondering... since I found out I have A.D.D, what will I do?  Just keep on compensating?  No my friends, no.  I am taking the road yet to be traveled... Ritalin Lane :)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

My bundle of "joy" arrived today...

...and I'm not talking baby (2 is plenty for me)!  My "bundle" of books arrived at my house today.  When I pulled up from work, I found this...

At first, I did a double take... whaaaaaat?  Yes, I ordered all the books for the entire doctoral program, but still... This is a LOT of books!  In sets panic!  So, instead of puking, or reconsidering, I grabbed my cell phone and took this picture. 

I've thought a lot in the last week or so about this decision to go on in school.  Is it selfish?  Will I regret it?  Will I finish the program?  How many times a month will I be in tears from exhaustion or stress?  Am I smart enough?  Will my family suffer as a result of this decision?  Was the decision the right one to make?  And I suppose the answers are, I don't know, I don't know, I don't know, and I still don't know.  I'm not the type to not finish something, so quitting is unlikely.  But the rest--we will have to wait and see.  For now I'm resting in the feeling that this is the right thing for me to do.  I just rely on those nerd juices to keep me going.  And more than the nerd juices, it is the settling feeling in my heart, that most likely this is part God's plan for my life.  I can't take a doctoral degree to heaven, nor can I take all these darn books!  But, I can use it to make a difference, and that's what I hope to do. 

As a final thought tonight, before I get to my reading and stay awake this time.... When embarking on a journey into unknown territory, especially one that seems challenging... I rely on my dad's wisdom... He says, "If you start to panic, you might get light-headed.  So take a deep breath, put your head down between your legs... and kiss your arse goodbye!"

Love that humor :) 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Let the Reading Begin!

I sat down last night to officially begin my doctoral reading.  I grabbed my snuggie, my books, my highlighters, and my pen.  I was feeling very special (the nerd juices were really flowing...) to begin this process.  I started responding to one of the pre-reading questions found in my course materials...

... and I fell asleep.

The end.

(Here's to take #2 tomorrow!)