Are You Devoted to Your Research? And, We Have OFFICIALLY Launched. Yay!

Are you devoted to your research?

That’s a strong word, huh? We might be committed or interested, but devoted? Hmm.

“Fully Devoted” was the title of yesterday’s message at church. In this post, I think about (and ask you to think about) whether we can translate the lessons shared to our lives as RESEARCHERS.

The message deliverer, Don McLaughlin, shared 4 concise outlines in the endeavor to depict, characterize, and capture the notion of devotion. (I post the 4 outlines at the end of this post). As he neared the end of the lesson, he asked us to reflect on the following questions:

Is your full devotion evolving? Do people say, “Man! I’ve seen you change . . .”

My question to you and to myself is: Is your level of devotion (or commitment) to your research project evolving? If so, how, why, and is it for the better?

Please post away. I’m really curious to know what you have to say. My commitment to my project and my devotion to my field has ebbed and flowed in the past but is quite secure now. I’m going to reflect on the reasons and share them in a comment on this post once I’m clear!

As always, thank you for visiting and posting, and may today be all that you need it to be.

Blessings!

Mickey

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Attempting to Capture the Notion of Devotion in 4 Succinct/Pithy Outlines

Q: What does it mean to express FULL devotion?

  1. List One on FULL Devotion. NOTE: This one is the ONE list that does not as plainly translate to researching (though I see an application), so feel free to skip it! The other lists are cool, though! 😉
    1. It is a mental picture.
    2. It is an example.
    3. It is an inspiration.
    4. It is an imitation.
  2. List Two on FULL Devotion
    1. It is an answer to a call.
    2. It is a standard.
    3. It is a requirement.
    4. It is a goal.
  3. List Three on FULL Devotion
    1. It is a calling.
    2. It is a desire.
    3. It is a pursuit.
    4. It is a lifestyle.
  4. List Four on FULL Devotion
    1. It is a confession.
    2. It is a vow.
    3. It is a determination.
    4. It is a plan.

BIG Q: Can we appropriate any of these in our lives as researchers? Some may not translate well, but others may. What do you think? Too much? Right on point? You know of a book that says it better and pointedly for researcher writers? (If so, PLEASE do share. We’d love to know about it).

In closing:

Message presenter Don then went on to say that he believes that every believer is an ordained believer. I guess in our fledgling-blossoming researcher vocabulary, that would translate to

“I guess I believe that every researcher is an ordained researcher. Even when they are fledgling, and that is why they blossom.”

I honestly believe that your research is important if for no other reason than that it contributes to an important conversation that others will “join.” Your perspective just might spark the idea that leads to someone’s lit review that eventually transforms some aspect of the game. Who knows? Your piece is important though. So, as I often tell myself throughout the day, “Carry on! Carry ON!”

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“Write FEARLESSLY!” (says Dr. Pajares)

FEATURED CONTRIBUTION (a wonderful comment submitted by jchen04)

I’ll post a little ditty about this topic [of being a blossoming-fledgling researcher], although I’m not sure if it’ll stay on topic completely! The life of research is not for the faint of heart, that’s for sure. Frankly, I ask myself on a weekly basis: “Why did I not just stay in high school teaching??!!” But my words of advice constitute my researcher’s motto, and it comes from advice given to me by my late advisor (Frank Pajares): “Just be fearless.” When I was an undergrad, I took Dr. P’s ed psych class. Dr. P, for anyone who doesn’t know, although somewhat small in stature and seemingly innocuous is downright frightening if you read his syllabus (and if you become his doctoral student). He says things like this: “You have 1-page reflections due every week. You MUST make elegant connections and back up every contention with relevant sources. Oh, and don’t forget to be BRILLIANT.” So as an undergrad, I walked into his office to seek his council. We ended up chatting about random things for an hour. I asked him, finally, how I should go about writing this reflection. To which he responded: “Jason, just be fearless. Write fearlessly!” I was puzzled. Over time, though, I figured out what he was saying. I was also fortunate enough to have run into him because he was an awesome teacher. Later on, when I decided to teach, I was nervous because I had to teach chemistry and physics to 120 kids. His wise council: “Jason, just be fearless. Teach fearlessly.”

When Dr. P died, I went into depression because I thought that everything that I had worked for would go down the drain. But he spoke to me still. And I was reminded again to be fearless. I had to fearlessly carve out research questions, write lit reviews, the whole 9 yards … and with no real advisor. I don’t think the credit goes to me for pulling this off. The one thing that I did was I pulled myself together, and ACTIVELY pursued people to help me. I called people … hunted them down at AERA … emailed folks … went to mentoring sessions and asked people to help me. I don’t normally do that sort of stuff. But it was the will to move on and continue with a dream that drove me. That sort of thing requires fearlessness. I think everyone defines fearlessness according to their context. But that’s something that you need to figure out. What fears are holding you back? Find it, put your finger on it, and ACTIVELY choose to conquer it. I kept a researcher’s journal too for a little while before becoming overwhelmed. But you should check it out, because I’ve written about some things that have helped me. Here it is –> http://lifeafterthedoctorate.blogspot.com/

Z, I do think that you are taking a great and fearless step forward by starting a blog because you are now putting it all out there. If you go to my blog above, read the one about Chef Gusteau (from the movie Ratatouille). It touches on this idea of fearlessness. Thanks for starting this!

submitted via commenting by co-author: jchen04

PREVIEW OF SOME UPCOMING POST TOPICS:

  1. Is there a trade-off between working digitally and working by hand (e.g. paper-to-pen)? If so, what is it, and where have you found your balance?
  2. Now that you are a post-doc or professor, ARE YOU HAPPY? Was it all worth it? (Inquiring minds want to know!) What, if anything, would you change or have done a little differently? (We are ALL EARS!)
  3. Discussion on alternatives to going into research after getting the PhD

Why “BLOSSOMING-Fledgling Researcher?” The Metaphor of the Bird-In-Paradise FLOWER . . . Part 3

bird-of-paradise-flower

Bird in Paradise Flower: Courtesy of wallpaprezt.com

[OFFICIAL BLOG LAUNCH SLATED FOR: November 21, 2011]

. . . . Continued from Part 2

Part 3: In Closing

So the bird-in-paradise flower fits well! Continuing from the discussion in Part 2, we can do a fledgling-blossoming-researcher-in-paradise analysis that might go a little something like this:

Fledgling: Again, we are like a fledgling business: We are in the START-UP phase at the beginning. It’s okay. You may reach a knowledge-base gap that results in a temporary impasse in the writing process. IT’S OKAY . . . as long as we determine the effective “in-th-meanwhile activities” to do (see definition in post 2 of this series) to get back on track. Different things work for different people. Discovering what these activities are for you is part of the journey. Previous travellers have left us their wisdom (for some resources, please view this page at our blog). In-person and online persons have a heart to share. Communicate with your advisor. Meet with a graduate writing research group. Participate at http://www.phinished.org if you have the personality to do so without getting completely side-tracked (wink!).

And blossoming: It can be hard to recognize that blossoming at a “meanwhile activity” is still blossoming. If there is a research-related skill, habit, disposition, or resource that you are GAINING that’s making a difference in your confidence, abilities, or capacity to  advise your own future advisees someday, I say consider it a BLOSSOM! 😉

And maintaining residency in paradise: Acknowledge your growth as it happens. Celebrate each moment of clarity gained, each epiphany had, each topic sentence written, each outline fleshed out (even if you have an inkling that it eventually will get hacked to pieces or thrown out altogether).

I say this with all the love my heart can muster: Don’t you DARE even begin to imagine potentially considering thinking about wondering if you are an imposter. If you don’t have a skill, acknowledge that you need it and get it. End of story. If you don’t have a habit or discipline developed, find someone you can TRUST to help you develop it, and gradually develop it, treating yourself with kindness in the process. (If you’re not willing to treat yourself kindly . . . who should?). END OF STORY. No drama. No mitote. (I keep saying I am going to post a discussion defining and illustrating this word, and I will, Lord willing!)

The importance of not succumbing to imposter feelings is what I KNOW, KNOW, KNOW to be true.  You may have a different take on the matter. Regardless, I hope that some thought shared above has either helped or led you to your own right thinking on the matter.

I wonder every now and then: Could I have avoided the depth of the academic and personal pain I put myself through? Maybe. Maybe not.

What I can do is reflect now, and proceed with new self-patience, self-acceptance, and grace going forward. I can recruit mentors to guess post at this blog to articulate the PARTICULAR help (resource/action) that moved them forward personally (perhaps this will inspire, if not directly assist someone). I can stretch out a hand and share what I know to help myself and fellow-researchers remember that the sometimes seemingly impossible nature of this task is just a temporary illusion: It’ll dissipate into thin air over time if, lovingly and without exasperating ourselves, we can know that

to just keep swimmin’ works if you are reflecting and evaluating things along the way. That is one of my mottos. One mantra I try to keep in mind? “Since I’m doing what’s BEST day-bay-day and always pausing to try to make my best better, then an “it’s done when it’s done” stance makes sense. And I am indeed doin’ it, no matter how incremental a step I’m making. Results are pending!My identity? Well, I’m now very, very clear on this: I am a BLOSSOMING-fledgling researcher, in the BEST sense of the term.

I firmly believe in my heart that we need to know deep within that:

There is an OKAY type of fledgling status, like as in a  fledgling business. And, as a “start-up” so-to-speak, I’ve been . . . starting! Just for a little while now. 😀

So okay, yeah: I’ve been dealing with a steep learning curve and I have had a few habits and protocols that needed adopting and implementation. But time is on my side because I swim every day: Progress is being made, and sometimes the results are just . . . latent. The next task, assignment, etc. is done when, now? That’s right: When I’ve figured out how to get it done. No sooner. No later. Work briskly, but don’t self-punish while working.

If we are doing are best, and if we are finding ways to work under guidance . . . SMART and not just hard . . . then the following applies!:

Just Keep Swimmin’ “Finding Nemo” Youtube Clip: 

ONE BIG CAVEAT IN ALL OF THIS: This attitude of “It’s done when it’s done” is only positive and effective and peace-instilling, however, if every day I’m doing what’s best that day. The intention is that the remainder of this blog (the pages, the posts, the comments) speak to how we might to do that and help each other do that.

So, here’s to doing our best! May this blog be ONE resource that helps people maintain dedication to persistently giving it their best, task by task by task, until the work is done.

Well! Thank you so much for visiting and supporting what I hope will be an encouraging, collaborative endeavor if all of us chime in periodically to share our hard-won know-how and wisdom.

Looking forward to your contributions, comments, alternative ideas, musings, links, encouragement, and camaraderie!

Blessings!

Mickey

IDEAS FOR POTENTIAL FUTURE POST TOPICS:

  1. Is there a trade-off between working digitally and working by hand (e.g. paper-to-pen)? If so, what is it, and where/how do we find balance?
  2. What’s a good academic writing methodology and workflow? Why are these two things so personal? What are some tools we might utilize in our personalized work flows?
  3. Is there a better way to use the pomodoro technique to manage writing?
  4. Now that you are a post-doc or professor, ARE YOU HAPPY? Was it all worth it? (Inquiring minds want to know!) What, if anything, would you change or have done a little differently? (We are ALL EARS!)
  5. Etc.

Why “BLOSSOMING-Fledgling? Researcher” The Metaphor of the Bird-In-Paradise FLOWER . . . Part 2

bird-of-paradise-flower

Bird in Paradise Flower: Courtesy of wallpaprezt.com

[OFFICIAL BLOG LAUNCH SLATED FOR: November 21, 2011]

. . . Continued from Part 1

The main idea from Part 1 is captured in the following excerpt from it:

When my eye landed on the the bird-in-paradise flower, I thought to myself: “This flower  . . . is a bird . . . and a flower . . . and lives in Paradise? Well, I’ll be! That is the message! That is the message that I have personally needed all along.”

Here’s what I took from that search experience of finding that image:

Make PEACE with being a fledgling bird. It’s just the way it goes. Besides!: Birds can fly! That’s gotta encourage. You’ll get your wings, and when you do, I’m sure you and your research will take off. But in the meanwhile, during the struggles and down times, don’t deny that you are a flower: You are a blossom, and you blossom at times. You can’t discount that because you are fledgling and will struggle. Make peace with your “both-and” fledgling-blossoming status, and this is how you maintain your residence in Paradise.

I’m absolutely LOVING the Bird-in-Paradise flower!

As I mentioned, I am making a stance, and I hope all fellow blossoming-fledgling researchers have this stance as well: I’m done counting myself out and beating myself up and apologizing to self and others for being a work in progress. If I am giving my best . . . if I am ever endeavoring to work smart and hard . . . then I have GOT to stop seeing the non-linearity of this journey as a catastrophic problem–especially not as a problem inherent to who I am as a student. No–challenges along the journey are attributable to MANY things (my skill set, whether I’m growing, my advisor’s skill set, etc.), but not to my being.

For Part 2 of this series, I continue to reflect on this idea of simultaneously being “blossoming” and “fledgling.”

Part 2: The Good New Is that Though It’s Kind of Mysterious, It Does Indeed Get Better!

At this stage, because I’ve done due diligence and READ my field’s literature, I now recognize language, I have vocabulary (authentically), and I now know where to mentally place what I’m reading. In other words: I’m no longer getting there, but I am knocking at the door. I simply need to speak (i.e. write) now. That’s a relief. I didn’t know if I’d ever find my way.

Take-away: Reading and reflecting helps. It may take awhile to help, but reading + reflecting = pathway to writing progress.

So now that I’ve discovered this, I guess my question is (and the reason for this blog is): What if I had believed this all along without questioning everything? What KNOWLEDGE, WISDOM, PERSPECTIVE, MINDSET, ATTITUDES, and ACTIVITIES would have been required for me to have just believed all along? What if I hadn’t doubted the process but just accepted and embraced the way this pathway works?

It’s not like I wasn’t told or warned that this would really test my resolve. I just had a hard time walking in the dark when it got dark and there was just enough light for each step that I was on, or sometimes even less.

Some “In-the-meanwhile” Activities Are Better Than Others

To move OUT of that space, I had to know what to do when I wasn’t in the position to draft “keeper drafts.” I call this knowing the best “meanwhile activities” in which to engage.

There are good “in-the-meanwhile activities”–activities that keep you inspired, faithful, hopeful, self-confident, positive, and actually on track.

Then there are sabotaging “in-the-meanwhile activities”–activities that take you away from your researcher values: your researcher purpose, motivation, and healthful identity and mantras and mottos.

Finally, and most insidiously, there are the good “in-the-meanwhile activities” that our perspective or attitudes render as sabotaging. This happens via a process I call “guiltifying.” It’s possible to guiltify TO BAD ENDS what should be counted as good (given the moment/situation). Insidious!

Here’s an explication:

When I couldn’t write full papers or paper sections, it turns out that what I needed to do was to keep reading and writing outline after outline after outline, no matter how many times I ended up tossing them. I needed to explain my research and writing aloud to anyone who would listen. I needed to get inspiration and ideas from others . . . both live and in person, and via model studies (“inspiration from afar, on paper” I call it.)

Sometimes I or other people GUILTIFIED these activities. “I see you’re still reading and outlining. WHEN are you going to actually WRITE, though?” Or, “Oh, I see. Still outlining. Wow. Okay . . .”

What I Took Away from All of That

I don’t recommend engaging in “in-the-meanwhile activities” over more immediately productive activity if you know more directly what steps to take. But I do recommend these types of activity over the cessation of activity–possibly stemming from an internal fear founded on thoughts such as: “Should I be struggling this much? What does that mean? I’ll just stop for a moment. Just a moment.” The imposter syndrome is so insidious: It’s a lie baked in semi-reasonable yet WRONG surmisings, and I wonder if someone has written a dissertation on THAT. Probably so!

The point is: If I have learned any one lesson it’s this: Beyond the natural need to step back and reflect, don’t stop activity: Do something forward-moving (authentically productive) everyday until momentum and clarity come back around. Because they ALWAYS do given enough work and reflection.

I will continue and wrap up my reflections in Part 3 of this “Reflecting on the Metaphor of the Bird-in-Paradise Flower” series..

Thank you for visiting! PLEASE post away. We would LOVE to gain your perspective on these important matters.

Speak Your Mind!

So what say you? How do you keep going through a stall or through writers’ block? What activities constitute good “meanwhile activities” for you? What activities constitute bad “meanwhile activities” for you? Have you as has anyone else ever GUILTIFIED your good “meanwhile activity?” How did you respond/handle it?

Well! Thank you so much for visiting and supporting what I hope will be an encouraging, collaborative endeavor if all of us chime in periodically to share our hard-won know-how and wisdom.

Looking forward to your contributions, comments, alternative ideas, musings, links, encouragement, and camaraderie!

Blessings!

Mickey

PREVIEW OF SOME UPCOMING TOPICS FOR POSTS AFTER THIS SERIES ON THE BIRD-IN-PARADISE FLOWER:

  1. Is there a trade-off between working digitally and working by hand (e.g. paper-to-pen)? If so, what is it, and where have you found your balance?
  2. Now that you are a post-doc or professor, ARE YOU HAPPY? Was it all worth it? (Inquiring minds want to know!) What, if anything, would you change or have done a little differently? (We are ALL EARS!)
  3. Discussion on alternatives to going into research after getting the PhD

Please click the following link for the final part (Part 3) in this series of posts. Thank you!: Part 3: In Conclusion

Why “BLOSSOMING-Fledgling?” The Metaphor of the Bird-In-Paradise FLOWER . . . Part 1

bird-of-paradise-flower

Bird in Paradise Flower: Courtesy of wallpaprezt.com

[OFFICIAL BLOG LAUNCH SLATED FOR: November 21, 2011]

Fledg-ling noun, often attributive     \ˈflej-liŋ\

  1. A young bird just fledged
  2. An immature or inexperienced person
  3. One that is new <a fledgling company>

Blossoming: from blossom

Blossom verb     \ˈblä-səm\

: BLOOM

1 a: to come into one’s own: DEVELOP <a blossoming talent>

b: to become evident

c. to make an appearance

Source: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fledgling and http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/blossom

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Welcome!

Please visit the About page for an introduction to the blog and please visit other pages at this blog for resources and discussions or to add content to the discussion yourself!

Below is the official first post!

May something therein be a blessing to you!

What Is the Way Forward from Here toward Developing a Writer’s Mindset While at the Same Time Being a Student of Writing?

Given this blog’s purpose as explained in the About page, I’d say that reflecting on and responding to the questions/prompts below is just as good a place to start as any.

  1. At the moment, where am I in this thesis/dissertation/article journey? Where is my next destination? Do I believe I can get there? Why?
  2. My researcher motto, mantra, and identity are (or would be if I had them), the following: ___________________________________.
  3. I have ways to still give my best, even when I’m a bit in the dark on things. My strategies for this include: ____________________________.
  4. I stay at peace despite the fact that the pathway is so winding. Here’s the wisdom I’ve gleaned about that: _________________________.

Please provide your reflections/answers in the comments section below. Our collective responses should be amazing! Thank you in advance for your contribution. Your participation is greatly appreciated and just might bless someone!!! : D

If you are pressed for time, then I’ll see you NEXT post. May the rest of your day be as you need, and thanks for stopping by the blog!

However . . .

If you have a moment to reflect on the Bird-In-Paradise flower and how that’s a perfect symbolization of our identity as blossoming fledgling researchers and thus of this blog’s title and purpose, please read on. I hope you’ll find this metaphor and concept encouraging! My reflections on this are longish, so I’ll break those thoughts up into three posts.

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In Thinking about the Aptness of the Bird-in-Paradise Flower: It Couldn’t Be More Perfect!!!

I don’t know about you, but I have seriously struggled at times trying to do this thing we call researching. I’ve been really lost and sad at times in this whole “becoming/being-a-researcher” process. I am just now viewing myself as a researcher, and I’ve been in graduate school trying to complete my thesis for a while now (my cohort will tell you!).

Today and moving forward my stance is this: Not ONE MORE TIME will I beat myself up or count myself out or apologize to self or others for being a work in progress regarding this research journey. And I’m done “sitting” on helpful information that would support fellow budding researchers.

I announce to the universe that YES, it’s been a SERIOUS challenge at times, but I am no longer succumbing to the “it’s-taking-me-longer-than-it-should-so-something’s-wrong” syndrome. I’m fledgling. I’m blossoming. Both at the same time. And it’s okay.

Anybody out there feel me on this?

Everyone who is in a similar boat, let’s take the stance, and then let’s just take a deep breath and say a big “wooo saaaa” together.

Ready?

Woooo saaaa! (Do you feel better? I feel better already!)

Since we are NOT beating ourselves up, what are we doing instead?

While you’ll have to find what works for you, what’s working for me is to understand that my identity is that of the bird-in-paradise flower. How did I come to that conclusion? Well, one definition of fledgling is a young bird. So I googled “bird and flower,” hoping to find a signature icon for this bog. When my eye landed on the bird-in-paradise flower, I thought to myself: “This flower  . . . is a bird . . . and a flower . . . and lives in Paradise? Well, I’ll be! That is the message! That is the message that I have personally needed all along.”

Here’s what I took from that search experience of finding that image:

Make PEACE with being a fledgling bird. It’s just the way it goes. Besides!: Birds can fly! That’s gotta encourage. You’ll get your wings, and when you do, I’m sure you and your research will take off. But in the meanwhile, during the struggles and down times, don’t deny that you are a flower: You are a blossom, and you blossom at times. You can’t discount that because you are fledgling and will struggle. Make peace with your “both-and” fledgling-blossoming status, and this is how you maintain your residence in Paradise.

I’m absolutely LOVING the Bird-in-Paradise flower! Inspired I am!

A Major Truth

I’m only in a better place academic-self-efficacy-wise right now because I’m starting to experience the effects of acclimating to my discipline’s discourse. And that just simply took me a while. That process just does. The pathway is not linear, and that is a challenging thing for my math-y mind and sometimes my ego to deal with!

Please check Part 2 of this post for a continuation. There is good news to all of this! It’s just a matter of stepping back and gaining perspective. And then aligning ourselves with folks who can help us regain perspective when we lose it.

Speak Your Mind!

So what say you? Once again: (1) How do you feel about the researcher’s journey? (2) What would YOUR researcher motto, mantra, and identity be? (3) What are ways you still give it your best when you are a bit in the dark on things? (4) As a blossoming-fledgling researcher — a bird-in-paradise FLOWER, how do you maintain “residency”?

Well! Thank you so much for visiting and supporting what I hope will be an encouraging, collaborative endeavor if all of us chime in periodically to share our hard-won know-how and wisdom.

Looking forward to your contributions, comments, alternative ideas, musings, links, encouragement, and camaraderie!

Blessings!

Mickey

Please check out Part 2 of this series of posts. Simply click the “Next” link (possibly a few times needed) at the very top of this post. See you there! . . .