Dissertation Day!

Dissertation Day!
Years of work, culminating:
It’s finally here!

Yep, today is the big day! My final dissertation defense (a presentation followed by Q&A) is scheduled for 3pm EST. Prayers are appreciated. 🙂

Favorite shirt

Human emotions are so peculiar. In the midst of being sooooo very excited about my upcoming dissertation defense, I have also experienced waves of anxiety (time is running out to make these edits!), frustration (the kids are driving me bonkers!), and one that surprised me last night after the younger kids were in bed, as I happened to be walking into the kitchen — grief. Suddenly, I had a fierce desire to call Nathan and tell him about my dissertation progress and talk to him about the defense, graduation, and the whole nine yards. I sat down in a nearby chair and just cried for a few minutes.

I know that he would be proud of me, and I know that heaven is a lot more awesome than driving 17 hours to sit through a graduation ceremony just to watch me walk across a stage to be “hooded” by my faculty. Still, I miss him. So many times when I think about things he is not here to experience, it usually has to do with the boys — achievements in school or other milestones in their lives. But this, this is something that’s just for me … an accomplishment that I wish my brother was here to celebrate with me.

So, that’s where my heart was when I saw this week’s Haiku Friday post on Osler’s Razor this morning. (By the way, if you are interested in law, politics, or poetry, you should check it out. I love the invitational feel of his posts, where disagreement is ok because discussion is welcomed. Plus, Haiku Friday is a favorite treat.) Here’s my entry for today’s topic of favorite clothing:

Dr Pepper red:
my brother’s faded t-shirt,
cotton soft with age.

Along with others,
I took it from his closet
to be reminded

Of his warm bear hugs.
It smelled like him for a while …
I wish it still did.

Less than a month to go!

Something truly fantastic happened this week! I was going to wait and write about it when I knew all the details, but I can’t wait any longer to share the exciting news. I received an email from my committee chair saying: “Your committee has unanimously agreed that you should set your defense date in March.” Squee!!! I cried lots of happy tears and practically ran through the building sharing the good news with my colleagues.

We are still ironing out the details, but it’s looking like Monday, March 24, or at least sometime that week. THAT’S TWENTY-FOUR DAYS FROM NOW!!! 😀 😀 😀

I spent some time last night reading through the committee’s comments on my latest draft, and I was nearly brought to tears again with relief. The suggestions that they want me to make are relatively minor, whew. I still have a lot of work to do on Ch. 5, but I’m motivated to finish asap!

Everything (that is, a draft of the full dissertation) needs to be submitted to my committee two weeks before the defense, in order for the department to make the public announcement. That means I have a week to get my act together! :p

Thanks for all of your prayers & encouragement over the past four years. I can hardly believe that we’re this close to the finish line!!

Dear Morning Me:

Dear Ang in the morning:

You are smart, capable, and nearly finished with this tremendous feat that you have worked so hard to complete over four-plus years. Criticism is supposed to be constructive, so build from it and don’t let it crush you. (I realize you find that difficult to do; I’ve known you your whole life, but trust me.) Right now, you are too tired and too sensitive.

Your dissertation committee is supposed to challenge you, because they want you to conduct & write the best research project possible. It just feels crappy right now because you feel like they are picking on you. I don’t think they are, so don’t take it personally.

Get some sleep and then hug the kids good morning, one by one. Then, go and enjoy a cup of coffee at your weekly ladies’ Breakfast Bunch life group in the morning and appreciate a new day.

Love,

Sleepy & Cranky Ang

What else to study

I learned recently that our local technical college offers enology & viticulture certificates (as well as associates degrees, but that’s kinda beside the point, at this stage). Enology is the study of the winemaking industry, in general, and viticulture is specific to grape-growing. How interesting would that be?? I may be at risk of becoming a professional student, but either of those programs sounds like a much more fun way to spend my post-doc “free time” than catching up on four years’ worth of tv shows. 🙂

2014-01-23 19.30.32-3

Dissertation notes & a few minutes of quiet time while practicing my vinter skills 😉

Besides, I could consider it an investment in my retirement years … one of these days! 😉 Ah, just imagine: a quiet home in the country with acres of grapevines, winemaking equipment, and my own cellar to host friends and enjoy the fruits of my labor. A girl can dream, can’t she?

Alas, I’m no where near retiring yet. I still need to finish my dissertation, and then I hope that I’m on the cusp of a new direction in my career — meaning that I’ll be able to move into a faculty position in the not-too-distant future (hopefully by the fall semester).

As for the dissertation, I’m making progress on Ch. 4, and I intend to have a pretty solid draft before the end of the month. I’ve already got an outline of Ch. 5 in the works, so I’m cautiously optimistic that I’ll be able to defend in mid-March as I have been hoping to. Cheers to that!

Make Me New Again (Prayer Devotional for the week of December 29, 2013)

Whether you make annual New Year resolutions or not, there’s something about another January rolling around that causes us to think about changes. My eldest asked the other day if I had any resolutions this year, and I simply said, “Graduate.” I’ve been working toward this goal for the past four years, although it feels like decades when I’m stumped on part of my research. Graduation is a tangible result – a date, a ceremony, a fancy robe and a piece of paper to prove what I’ve accomplished.

Not all goals are so concrete, though. Some goals we strive toward our whole lives and never quite see the end result. Take your spiritual journey, for example. I reckon if you asked any champion of faith if they have reached the ultimate goal of their Christian walk, they would probably say no. In Philippians 3, the apostle Paul (definitely a big name in church history!) wrote that he was still striving for the finish line.

I love the repeating stanza that the songwriter wrote in Psalm 80 (NIRV): “God, make us new again. Let your face smile on us with favor. Then we will be saved.” Is there anything greater that we could achieve than to experience the Lord’s favor? Everything else seems to pale in comparison.

Our faith journey is not like graduation, where you receive a diploma and call it done. Again and again, we need to be renewed. Over and over, we need to refuel our efforts. As Paul stated in Philippians 3:20, we are citizens of heaven, and until the Lord returns to stamp our eternal passports, we have work yet to do. Let’s make the most of it in the coming year.

Stealthy reading

I have a confession to make: I’m the “random selector” for an annual Christmas lunch and book exchange with some old colleague friends, and I gave myself someone because I wanted to read one on that list. Done & wrapped! Didn’t even curl the edges. 😎

(In related news, I need to get back to my dissertation revisions, but the brain-break was nice for a few days.)