Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Meridith and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Qualifying Exam

I’ve made my way all the way to the end of my 20th year of schooling without much in the way of seemingly insurmountable challenges. Sure, the post secondary life is peppered with exams (SAT, ACT, GRE), finals, applications processes, and so on, but while all of these have caused me stress in the past, none even compare to my qualifying exams of my PhD program. This past May, after a year of courses and months of studying, I tackled three days of intense examinations which included a day of two 3-hour Stats Theory exams and nearly 48 hours of a take home applied project. I went in with months of studying, waves of support from friends and family (thanks!) , 6 pages front and back of notes to use, and even a belly full of sushi. I come out… completely and utterly defeated.


Failed like I failed to keep it together during
this episode of Dr. Who.
Going back a bit, studying leading up to these exams had pretty much become my life on top of coursework for my spring classes. The Fear and Guilt set in early and persisted throughout that time. If I was studying I was afraid of not being able to get enough exam practice and progress made in time. If I wasn’t studying, I felt guilty for spending any of the available time I had on anything else. Maintaining your mental health is important during this time, but it becomes increasingly difficult when anytime you make an effort to carve out time for yourself or your relationships that Guilt is always looming. When that first day finally arrived and we had our two theory exams, I tried to pump myself up and really believe in my abilities. I’d always pulled it together before! My brain was just. not. having it. Some of the questions threw me through a loop, some were from topics from other classes that I had not reviewed, some were fairly straightforward but my scumbag brain decided to wait to remember everything relevant until right as I was turning in my exams.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

#EarthDayThanks and Earth Day Resolutions

Some truth about me as a person?  I'm horrible at New Years resolutions.  Don't get me wrong, I love them.  I plan them.  I hoard them, coming up with way too many and getting overly excited about all of them.  I make lists, and timelines, and mini-goals.  Unfortunately, it seems the outcome 98% of the time is a few months of triumphant, self-improving activity, followed by a slow shift back into my normal pattern of existence.  But, over the past 5 years, each Earth Day I have made a second batch of resolutions.  With this set of commitments, I've experienced an almost unprecedented success rate.  Over the years, I've greatly reduced my plastic consumption, I have committed to the concept of reusing pretty much everything, and I cut all animal derived products from my diet.  As someone who is really used to failing and having to restart as part of her daily life (because, scientist), I've started to wonder why my Earth Day Resolutions stick, while so many other intentions (I'm doing all the dishes everyday starting tomorrow!) seem to fall to the wayside.  After some reflection, I believe the reason is twofold.  First, I have strong examples of conservation champions, and, second, Earth Day Resolutions aren't actually about global impacts for me.

This is an essay in two parts.  The first part is a love letter to to the people in my life who made real for me the importance of conservation and preservation of the Earth.  The second bit contains my 2015 Earth Day Resolutions and explains why I think you should make some too!
True Confessions: I probably have enough pictures of myself hugging trees to fill an entire photo album

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Blog Slacker Gives Peak into Real Life

Meridith and I were commiserating yesterday that we had been STS Slackers.  But, y'all, real life (RL) got so real these past few weeks.  Meridith is studying for her qualifying exams, and my lab mate and I have been racing against phenology to get our projects in the field.  We study the same invasive plant and have actually been experimenting with an amazing work sharing system.  More on that later, probably.

Anyway, all that to say, getting two blog posts out a month is pretty much where we are at these days.  We, of course, have tons of awesome plans and big ideas, but all those take time.  Time's a bit of a commodity these days.  So, in lieu of completely disappearing from the internet, I give you a peak into my RL, as seen from my iPhone.



Here we have the Rachel in her natural habitat, obnoxiously posing with an obscene amount of pin flags.  This might have been the day when I started the "You Might be an Ecologist if..." meme on Tumblr.
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