Tuesday, July 19, 2016

On A Dime

Just when you think you've settled in and have got it figured out, things change.

Two weeks ago we accepted a new job. In less than two weeks we will be leaving our island home and making for the cold ocean shores of Westport, Washington.


Yeah, it's out there. But, it has surf. That's what's important.

Just a month or two ago we gave up on buying a house here in Hawaii, however, last week we made an offer on a new house there in Washington and it looks like, after 5 long years of renting, we will be homeowners again in about a month!


Well, kinda a beach house.  We are the second house back from the beach with deeded access to the beach down a little path. Do you see the little bit of surf out there? Do you? Do you?!!

And here is a close up of the beach that will make you drool . . .

Beach for as far as the eye can see.

The last two weeks have not been as glamorous as this lovely stretch of beach.  Instead it has looked a lot like this

 It has not been a pretty sight. Everything in the house is a constant mess. I sort through and organize and pack it all piece by piece. Then everything that gets pulled out gets sold. Lots of stuff is getting sold. I feel like I am selling practically everything.  I learned when I moved out here that stuff wasn't that important and I'm not sure I want all this stuff that has been damaged by the sun and heat and humidity of Hawaii. I'm even considering selling my beloved Bosch. This stuff is getting serious!

If you're local I'm also still trying to find a home for my Suzuki Esteem Wagon, Dave's Ford F350 Crew Cab, a piano, a bird, and a lot of odds and ends. Follow my Facebook for all the details!

Friday, June 17, 2016

Negative and Positive Feedback

Good advice from Performance Coach Carol Wilson for managers, parents, teachers, . . . everyone:

"Negative feedback is best given in private to the person concerned.
"There are times and places for giving positive feedback. These are the parameters: 
  1. As often as you can 
  2. Only when it is deserved 
  3. Immediately 
  4. In public if the recipient is not shy and if it will not belittle the contribution of other members of the team 
  5. Direct to the recipient 
  6. To the recipient’s boss 
"Surveys show that people value satisfaction in their work even more than money. One of the best ways of raising employees’ satisfaction is to tell them specifically the difference they have made and where they are good at their jobs, every day and as often as is appropriate."

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Selling the House . . . Again

Once again we are going to try to sell our house. The market is up and we will be able to pay off our mortgage now (hooray) but it has been rented for the past 5 years so the sale will be taxed (boo). The taxes are such that we will break even on the sale if we get our asking price. Instead of paying Uncle Sam I'm running calculations on sale prices and doing research on deferring those taxes with a 1031 Exchange. I need a place to dump all my research and this seemed like the perfect place to do it. Maybe some of this will be helpful for you too? Do you have any advice for me?

Friday, May 20, 2016

I've Been Doing A Lot of This Lately

Hi Ara,
I am pretty booked up right now and I'm not taking on any new projects for a while. But I do have two recommendations for people who you can call who I think could fit your daughter's dress in.  Both of them are excellent seamstresses. My first choice would be Nan Xxxxxx. Her phone number is xxx-xxxx or xxx'xxxx. Call her right away because she does get booked up too. She has done a lot of wedding dresses and formals. My second choice would be Aurie Xxxxxxx. She too does great work and I can highly recommend her. Her number is xxx-xxxx

I hope one of them works out for you. Congratulations on the wedding! What an exciting time for your family! Thank you for thinking to ask me, I appreciate your consideration.

I have been learning how to say "No" nicely. At least I think I'm doing it nicely. What do you think?

This has been a very difficult thing for me to do. I enjoy helping people out. I enjoy using my talents. I like sewing and creating new things and making beautiful things and solving problems.

I don't like being stressed out and having too many things to do. I don't like having to tell my kids that I'm too busy to help them with something.  I don't like not having the time to do a job perfectly (or as close to perfect as I am capable).

This has been a year full of things to be done: from housework, to homework; from teaching at the University to teaching in Seminary; from costumes to student development. Not to mention being a supportive wife and mother and friend. There has been a lot on my plate and it has been a learning experience. I have learned how to better manage my time, how to better prioritize my task list, how to let things go, and how to say "no".

How do you say no nicely?

Monday, May 02, 2016

The Best Gets Better

I'm a little obsessed with Kelly Slater. I've only seen him in person once and that was at a restaurant in Haleiwa just shortly after we moved here. I didn't have the guts to take a picture or say hi.

Kelly is an incredible surfer and I am especially amazed at his dedication to his sport. The fact that he was a 9x champion when this video was shot and he said that he thought he could still get better shows dedication and drive. He has gone on to win more World Surf League championships and continues to rock contests everywhere he goes.  He is two years older than me and 10-15 years older than most of his competitors. WOW!

Every once in a while when I am feeling down and old I like to watch this video and remind myself that if Kelly Slater thinks he has room for improvement then I do too. Does this video inspire you? Do you have a favorite video or idol you look up to for motivaton?

Saturday, April 23, 2016

How To Help Your Doctoral Student Complete Their Dissertation

How to Help Your Doctoral Student Complete Their Dissertation

pc:work desk via http://photopin.com. (license) CC by-nc-sa 2.0.

Ah, the dissertation! The seemingly never-ending last step to degree completion that puts the terminal into terminal degree.  Four years ago when my husband decided to pursue his doctorate I gave him a strict deadline: 2.5 years of classes and 1 year of dissertation work. For some this can go on for years. For us one year has been more than enough. The writing, the late nights, the literature, the research, the writing, the late nights, the statistics, the weekends, the holidays, the writing, the late nights, the procrastination, the mental blocks, the writing, the late nights, the distractions, the edits; all of it has been at times more than we thought we could bear.

PhD Widow comic.JPG
But this week, today actually, the final edit gets turned in and we--I mean he--are/is done! I am breathing a big sigh of relief and feel like after all this hard work I have learned something that I too must share: How to help your doctoral student complete their dissertation. I have adapted my thoughts from this article for academic advisors.

First, Make Them Write
For a while there in November, December, January (heck until 2 weeks ago!) I was thinking it wasn’t going to happen. He was gone all the time and the list of dissertation to-do’s was getting longer instead of shorter. The research kept getting rearranged and new statistical methods being applied. He was talking to a lot of people but he wasn’t writing.

Kerry Ann Rockquemore advises “For a wide range of reasons, the hardest thing for doctoral students to do is the one thing that will actually lead to a completed dissertation: sit their butt down and write!”

My strategy for making him write has evolved over the course of the dissertation. At first it was important for me to give him time to write. He needed the hours to get in the right frame of mind, to get stuff down, and to stay in that flow as long as possible. I was very careful to not give “curfews” on him or schedule events that would press him for time. If he was writing I wanted to make sure he could continue writing. This worked great for the first couple chapters; that is, until the fun of writing a dissertation wore off.

The next strategy I used was asking for a report on his progress: a simple “how’s it going and where you at?” Followed up every week or so with an offer to do proof-reading. It was a gentle friendly offer of help that also supplied proof of progress for me and a feeling of responsibility to produce for him. This really kept the ball rolling, until it didn’t.

A couple weeks ago he hit a wall. A really big wall. The whole thing was written in penultimate draft form but needed to be gone through with a fine tooth comb; all the chapters finally put together in one and made to be a concise and cohesive whole. That is when I pulled out all the stops and sat by his side. Yes, really. It is hard and overwhelming to look at what you’ve been doing for the past year and perfect it right down to the last subheading, space, and percent; so I sat by his side and looked through his reference books and google searched every last detail. At first it made him uncomfortable and a little self conscious but within the hour that had melted away. The other day I overheard him bragging to a co-worker about how much I had helped him straighten out his statistics.

Perhaps you can think of a few strategies that may work better for you? Ultimately if you want to help your partner finish their dissertation, first, make them write.

Then Eliminate Distractions

As I already mentioned writing takes time. To allow your partner to get the most out of their time help them to eliminate distractions. You can do this by not putting extra demands on their time nor allowing others to put extra demands on them. You can also do this by taking things off your partner’s plate, figuratively and literally.

For us we had a lot of distractions come up in the last month. The car broke down. There were extra demands at work. There were some family scheduling issues that needed ironing out. I made phone calls for him and took over a church service project for him. I enlisted the help of friends to get kids to their scheduled activities. I insisted on taking him to work and picking him up so he didn’t have to worry about fixing his car. I packed him lunches and brought him dinner and snacks so he didn’t have to leave for food.

Distractions can also come in the way of a need for exercise or time away from the project. We planned together for family time that was active play. He decided to turn off his messaging and email alerts while he was “dissertating” and he avoided working on the dissertation in places and at times of day where distraction was inevitable, like at home and in the early afternoon.

Eliminating or lessening distractions is essential in helping your significant other finish their dissertation. What distractions can you help your partner overcome?

And Then Get to Work With Them

You can’t formulate their hypothesis, do their research or create their tables and figures but there’s plenty you can do. Familiarize yourself with their field of study so you can be a worthwhile and easily accessible sounding board. Learn to speed read. Freshen up on your APA (or whatever format style they use) and stats. Be available as a resource for them. They aren’t sure if Figure 1 is supposed to be italicized? Find out for them (it is). They need to know the proper abbreviation for mean? Find out for them (M). They need to know when to use % vs percent? Find out for them (2% vs two percent)! They don’t have time to look up that little piddly junk. They’ve got bigger things to think about, yet those little things still must be taken care of. You can do that for them.

Working alongside my husband this past week has actually turned out to be a really fun project. I brought snacks, we’d turn on music, we worked both together and separately proof-reading and finalizing his work. We debated the relevance of some of the findings and played with ideas for future research together. He felt supported and good about his work and I felt like he was grateful I was helping him stay on track.

Helping your partner with the piddly details of their dissertation helps keep them on track and feel supported in their work. What kind of dissertation help would your significant other appreciate from you?

We will be celebrating tonight though we know his work is not actually done yet.  Next up is defending the dissertation and that is still a couple weeks out. I’m sure we will have some more late nights in preparation. I will continue being a support to him encouraging him, clearing distractions and working alongside him where I can. I hope these tips will help you and your doctoral student and if you have other ideas you’d like to share I’d love to hear them!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Favorite Quotes: Learning

"Learning must be a way of being – an ongoing set of attitudes and actions by individuals and groups that they employ to try to keep abreast of the surprising, novel, messy, obtrusive, recurring events…” 
Peter Vaill in Learning as a Way of Being
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