Thursday, 31 March 2011

How I really got my PhD - part 3...

...a few more tips and things that helped me through my PhD.
A DEDICATED PERSON: I've alluded before to the idea of it taking a village to raise a child idea and accepting or asking for help whenever you have an inkling of needing it! Well, I also think if you can manage it, find an extra-special person to support you. I had my (amazing!) husband, but it doesn’t actually matter who it is. The person just needs to be totally in tune with you and be there for you. Someone who is a confidante. Bear in mind though, that even your No #1 go-to person can run out of energy – just like you, they are human. They need a break too. For the times when they just can’t take any more, it’s useful to have someone else – luckily I had one of these too, though I’m not sure she knows how great she was. I’ll be sure to tell her again!
A DEDICATED SPACE: Create a space that is for you. A space where you can leave your books for an hour (to rest/play/cook/clean) and where you can be sure that when you get back, they’ll still be there. Luckily, we have a 3 bedroom house, so one room is ‘our’ MY study. To an outsider its full of post-its, pin board, spidergrams, stacks of paper piled randomly, topped with books and journal articles. To me, this was the basis of my work – if anything was touched – I’d know. Even if it’s just a corner in your lounge/bedroom, try to have a small space that is yours. A space where you get into the ‘zone’ and get your geek on!
YOU time: OK, I know I just said that you should focus on your studies BUT you’ve gotta have something else too. Something that isn’t kid-related or study-related, but something that is JUST.FOR.YOU. Something that YOU enjoy. I know you might think you don’t have time – but it’s not true. You DO have time for you, you just have to adjust your timetable and take that time out. It will mean a tiny bit less time studying, or a tiny bit less time with your loved ones BUT investing in you is an investment in your family. It’s just like on a plane, they tell you to put your life jacket on first, before helping others – there’s a reason for that. So, to clarify, you need to have it – just don’t let it take over.
KNOW WHEN TO STOP: A strong woman knows when to stop. When it is all just too much or too hard – stop. Like I said, you don’t have to prove anything to anyone. If deep down you really really feel you need a break from your studies – take the break. If you feel you need a break from your child(ren) – take the break. Everyone will thank you and it really is OK. I know someone who took 18 months off from a 3 year course because it all got too much. She went back, finished and has two very grown and handsome sons, a PhD and has also had a fabulous career! If she can do it, so can you!

For now, I think those are about all the tips that I have re. getting through your studies/any life challenge I suppose, as a Mummy or anyone..
Mrs O

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Continuing on then with stuff that I don't want to forget and things that might help someone else in cyberspace in a similar situation - here’s my take on comparing yourself to other Mums, making the most of ‘team Mum’, the pitfalls of juggling too much and the benefits of problem sharing.
DON’T MAKE COMPARISONS: Quit looking at others for comparison. So what if all the people you went to school/university with are enjoying wild crazy professional lives with the disposable income to match. You keep studying – yours will come later, and by that time, your kid(s) will be grown, you’ll have more disposable income than they have now and you’ll have the maturity to know how to use it! (Or you’ll blow it all on expensive handbags – but hey, that’s your prerogative!)
You are living your life, so just do the very best with it that you can – after all, that is all everyone else is doing too. Other people’s lives only look greener from your side. Remember though, the grass is greenest where you water it! Just do the best that you can do with what you’ve got.
‘TEAM MUM’: If you want to pass, then you just have to accept help from Team Mum – they want to help you believe it or not. So, quit the denial. Yes, I know it’s hard – especially as us young Mums often think we have to prove that we can handle it all despite our age or lack of preparedness for parenting.
Trust me, you don’t have to prove anything. No one is waiting for you to fall and you’ll be happier for just saying ‘yes please’ and grabbing all help – with both hands! ‘Help’ could mean anything from your Mum having the kid(s) for a day, allowing a prolific commenter to write a guest post for your blog (Note from Young Mommy: “YES!”) or borrowing a coursemate’s book. The funny thing about help is that if every time you decline help, the ‘giver’ might think that you genuinely don’t want/need it, when in fact you’re just being stubborn/proud/in denial (delete as appropriate).
A PROBLEM SHARED IS A PROBLEM HALVED: Make friends with other Mums (or Dads) at playgroup, nursery – wherever! Just as I said before, these people know what you’re going through with your kid(s). Even if they’re 35, and seem to have everything, it’s nice to see that their kids act up just as much as yours do and that your kid’s behaviour is more a result of them being kids and not a result of your hectic (fine, I’m making assumptions) parenting schedule. No parent is perfect, but sometimes you need to see other less than perfect parents to really believe it!
DON’T JUGGLE TOO MUCH: Try not to do too many things at once. Raising a child(ren) is hard enough, never mind doing it whilst trying to figure who you are and what you’re about (typically done during our teens and twenties). If you then add studying – it’s enough on one plate – don’t you think? It’s not that I believe the ‘jack of all trades, master of none’ proverb, it’s just that if you want to pass, you do need to be able to focus and the fewer distractions, the more able you will be to create a masterpiece in your studies. Creating that masterpiece will give you the leverage to do all sorts of things afterwards.
HAVING A PLAN: Make the plan and try try try to stick to it. Now, don’t feel bad if it goes awry sometimes. I always have a plan – whatever the situation. BUT, I only stick to it about 50% of the time, and still I continue to make my own little plans. Let me explain. You see, for me, the process of making a plan helps me to see all the things that I have to do. Sure, I often freak out when I see the list of ‘must-dos’ and then I pray on it. BUT, once I work out my priorities and separate them from the ‘would like to dos’, then I start having a real plan, and having that little piece of paper/napkin/bus ticket/envelope makes me feel that little bit more secure – that little bit more in control. If I fall off my plan. I don’t panic, I just make a new one. I don’t know if this is good advice really, but it’s worked for me. I am sure God has something to do with me falling off certain plans in order to get back on the right plan – his plan!

Mrs O

Monday, 28 March 2011

Useful tips and how I really got my PhD...

Now, a few weeks ago, I wrote a post about how my Husband supported me in getting my PhD. In case you missed it click here.

So, anyway, I wrote a couple of guest posts for the lovely Tara over on the super fabulous blog 'theyoungmommylife' and thought that I should share them with 'my' readers too... It's weird saying 'my' readers, because I don't really know who you are....but I feel that I should and I'd love to! : )

I mean, who is the sort of woman (I'm just guessing, sorry guys!), who reads this here blog... who are you? Perhaps I'll save that for another post (!), but for now, here are some of my additional useful tips for getting through your courses/whatever obstacle life happens to be throwing at you...

Now, I’m no expert by any means on this topic, but as I’ve just been awarded my PhD, I am so pleased that I made it to the other side and feel now is the time to share (can I get a woop woop and an Amen?!). I know that if I don't write all these things down now, they'll get lost somewhere in my thoughts and they wont be so easy to refer back to. Also, you know how is, but when you're in a situation, half the time, you just muddle through... you don't reflect so much. For me, writing helps me reflect, but I didn't always have time to write as much as I would have liked/needed to.

I don’t really like giving ‘advice’ as such, because I think there are only 2 experts on any one person’s life – yourself and God. However, just because I couldn’t find any practical advice when I was studying, and whilst it’s all still very fresh in my mind and raw in my heart, I just felt that I had to share my tiny pearls of experience with other mummies/students/whoever.

Here's my first top tips…

MOST IMPORTANTLY: Remember that regardless of what happens with your studies, you’re learning. Even when things don’t go according to your timetable and it takes you a bit longer – you’re still learning life lessons. If it does take you a bit longer – so what?!?! You grew a baby in your belly and pushed it out dammit! If you can do that, you’ve already achieved something amazing. So amazing that lots of women with qualifications and great jobs would envy your position – really, it’s true, I work with them now! Everything else after that little person that you have made is a bonus, it really really is. If you have made more than one little person – hats off to you!

Girls, just remember that and you can keep smiling, playing, laughing, hoping and praying – you really can do anything you set your mind to, especially with God behind you. You just have to believe in yourself, know that you don’t have to do it alone and just take one day at a time. If you’re struggling, take a step back– it’s always better to come up for air when the water gets too deep!

Over the next day or two, I’m going to be sharing my ‘pearls’ of experience – so look out for my take on comparing yourself to other Mums, making the most of ‘team Mum’, the pitfalls of juggling too much and problem sharing tomorrow. Note that even if you're not a Mum, you might find something to take away from what I am saying. If you plan to be a Mum one day, save this info. for when it becomes relevant!!! : )

Have a blessed day!

Mrs O

Friday, 25 March 2011

Little Miss O says the funniest things...

So, Mr O has recently ditched his iphone in favour of a blackberry. Now, until recently, I have never been too keen on blackberries (the fruit I love, the phone - not so much). I just didn't 'get' the blackberry hype. Besides, I have big fingers, so even sending a quick text on a blackberry is a bit of mission, never mind an email! Mr O has the blackberry torch though, so it has a touch screen and a keypad option.

It's pretty nice actually  and I really enjoyed playing on it.

Me: "Awww, I want a blackberry!"

Little Miss O: "I want a blueberry!"

So cute, so innocent, so funny!

Mrs O

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Interesting quote...

I stumbled across this quote today by Robert Fulghum:

Don't worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you.

This says so much and makes me feel a little better when Little Miss O ignores me outright! : ) Now, to pay more attention to what she sees me do and the way that I behave...

Mrs O

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Mani-Pedis, Marriage and Motherhood...

This week I have done lots of mulling over of 'stuff' - stuff that I may or may not choose to blog about later. In thinking about 'stuff', I've been considering 'what will help me to be the best wife and Mummy that I can be?' It is part of my list of things to achieve after all.

That's where mani-pedis come in. Seriously, this may sound totally twisted, but day by day, I'm starting to realise that I am a pretty important person in our house. Not only am the mummy, the wife, but I'm also the first lady! 

Now don't judge me - BUT, I really think this. I am the first lady.. say it with me!

: )

These two crazy kids need me at my best...they need me in my my happiest, looking my finest...smelling my sweetest, feeling my very best!

And, this means more time for MOI! 

And that means that professional mani-pedis are going back on my 'non-negotiables' list - hooray! You know the list of 'no matter what happens, I'm gonna do this' list.. Well, regular mani-pedis are back on - as of a week ago! It may seem trivial in the grand scheme of things (but then again, most things do!), but when I treat myself in this small way, I feel good...and when I don't, I don't feel as good... 

Don't worry, mani-pedis don't complete me (far from it!), but they are just a small something that doesn't have to be done, yet I do it anyway - and that feels good, it makes me smile and I've noticed that when I'm smiling, Mr O smiles too and Little Miss O laughs!

So, hooray for mani-pedis!

A while back, I started a bi-weekly home pamper session with face mask etc but then it slipped to once a week...and then to whenever I remembered or worse, whenever I had a breakout! As of today - they're back on! Today, I got my hair and brows 'did', have done my own mani-pedi and have just had such fun with my cousin B doing an aspirin/honey face mask followed by tea tree toner and sweet almond oil moisturiser - all made by us! My skin feels so fresh, so vibrant and I feel ready for another week of madness! I'm feeling really good - and best of all none of this broke the bank!

I'm happy to have put a few things back on my 'non-negotiables' list...all in the hope of being the best Mummy and wife that I can be... I know there's a lot more to do, but at least my hair/nails will look cute whilst I attend to the other things! 

: )

What's on your list of non-negotiable 'treats' for yourself?

Mrs O

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Collection/Dancing for Jesus!

OK - So, I know I had sort of finished my recaps on my recent visit to Ghana - BUT... I just remembered something...

Out of the 11 days I was there, 3 of them I spent in church. On two of the occasions (same church), there was a collection. We were given a number of envelopes to put some cash in. Anyway, instead of someone walking round with a collection bag (as in the first church), the congregation filed out of their seats to donate. Live music was being played and the Holy Spirit was alive! Everyone was dressed fabulously - it was like a fashion show actually.

People jiggled out their seats and shimmied up to the front, busting their most 'church friendly but still sassy moves'....some people did a dance around the collection pots and the rest went back to their seats.

I LOVED IT and joined in.

But yesterday, whilst playing 'beat that clip' with Mr O, I was so happy to see something H.I.L.A.R.I.O.U.S! Check this guy out - he's in Church (in Texas I believe) and he is giving his collection and dancing for Jesus (or maybe someone else!) at the same time!

I had to share! Enjoy!

This guy certainly puts the praying and playing into PPP!

Mrs O

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Japan!!! : (

Some things put EVERYTHING back into perspective, and whilst a reality check is good for some, its such a shame that next week we'll push it to the back of our minds, lose that perspective and carry on as we were - talking about something else- something that probably doesnt matter - as though nothing in the world has changed...but it has. Maybe not for you but for others. I think talking about rubbish helps keep us sane, it distracts us from real talk- from saying 'what the heck is have we done to this earth, what the heck are we making for our kids?' The world is clearly not how its supposed to be- we're so out of sync with our environment, we're so wasteful, we spend too much time and energy talking about crap! If only we could spend half our time talking/updating/tweeting to actually drive change---me included.

 i'm stepping up my game people, i feel that my actions do make a difference and i'm going to start exercising freedom of choice that i get in this country as a consumer..i'm going to start reading more and educating myself on this our world and seeing how i can make even a small positive difference. I'm probably going to continue talking/blogging/updating about things that in the grand scheme of life are insignificant- but remember this will only be a distraction. Politics, consumerism, unfair trading laws, corruption are all heavy topics n topics that always leave me feeling emotional and fearful that God is angry that we've messed up again and that another Noah's ark is on its way! It makes me fearful that i might not be chosen to get on the ark too!?!?! So, to save me getting too into all of that i.e to my own detriment i'll continue talking about parties, cute finds, funny things my daughter says ... I'll talk about whatever suits me at the time but what i'll also try to do is keep perspective...

Mrs O

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Goodbye PhD, Hello Life

... It's funny but now that i've received my doctorate, I feel like I, we even, can carry on with the rest of our lives. There are SO many things that I'd like to do or atleast try that I've wanted to do or at least try for a while...but I just haven't had the time or energy...until now. Woo hoo, I feel so ALIVE its a bit frightening! : )

I know some people write a 'bucket list' of things they want to do before they're 30 or before they have a baby etc....but my list has no time limits... I initially wrote a little wishlist for this year, but I've added to it now... From time to time, as I achieve certain goals, I'll update my list; I may even remove things from my list if I change my mind...

So, in no particular order, here are some things that I think I would like to some point...

Get closer to God and make being Christ-like part of my to-do list every day without exception!

Overcome my fear of dogs

Spend more quality time with Little Miss O

Buy a brand new car (yet to be specified) and be the first to drive it away from the showroom (yes I know it'll depreciate as soon as I leave, but I don't care - its just one of the things that I'd really like to do)

Learn how to cook more African dishes

Generally expand my repertoire of cooking and become a comfortable and able hostess

Learn more about holistic therapies and/or mixology

Relearn the guitar (I didn't get very far, but I still remember the basics)

Be the best Mummy I know how to be

Be the best Wife I know how to be

Learn to play the piano

Adopt an family of orphans

Keep more in touch with the 'aunties'! Love you!!!

Accompany someone during childbirth (I know its an odd one, but its just something I'd like to do - maybe I could be a doula)

Found a 'from domestic premises' nursery (or something similar)

Spend more girly days with just my Mum and sisters

Go on holiday/mini-moon with (just) Mr O at least once a year

Visit Ghana again

Live in Ghana and/Sierra Leone for a while

Get back into my anthropology

Have at least tri-annual 'Jazz days' with my favourite most girlies

Learn how to use all the functions on my camera - then upgrade it to one with multiple lenses!

Write a book - exact topic tbc

Sleep more (laughable when you see the size of my list, eh!)

Open a charity shop abroad

Visit Sierra Leone again

Build a house in Sierra Leone and Ghana

Be invited onto Oprah(!)

Visit other African countries

Learn to speak French

Understand Ga and Twi enough to fully follow conversations without relying on the situation to guide me

Be invited to speak at a conference in a far-away land.

Travel to Asia - India, Thailand and Japan to be specific

Teach Little Miss O how to understand Krio, Ga and Twi (poor girl!)

.... and the list goes on!

What's the one thing that you always wanted to do?

Mrs O

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Dr Mrs O: 'We' got my PhD!

So, a week ago or so, I was awarded my PhD. I am officially now a Doctor of Philosophy. I knew four weeks beforehand that it was on its way. I was putting the final touches to my thesis - but now its official....

I'm Dr Mrs O...

That really is my official title now - Dr Mrs. As I sit here this evening, laptop on lap, my new title could not feel any more appropriate! I have sat down a few times in the last week to write this post - but its been SO hard. This PhD has been such an emotional journey - a lot of major things have happened in my life - in my families life. Oh goodness, I'm getting choked up again! Eugh!

Anyway, like I say, it's been emotional. The reason I really wanted to write something here about getting my doctorate is because writing on here has helped me get it - especially when last year I had a crazy email response to a post I sat and wrote through tears. Heck - maybe emotion is good after all! :  )

I'm pleased that I decided to call this post by new title - Dr Mrs O, because to call this PhD mine, is totally unjust. 'My' success, this doctorate - well, it's anything but mine alone.

I'm totally choked as I type, 'cos I feel like a fraud. Fine, I wrote the PhD, fine the information is not falsified, but the thesis itself has my name on it.  I know deep down that there should be two names on it, one name is missing.

This PhD really belongs to my now-Husband. Mr O. I say now-Husband because when I started my PhD, he wasn't my 'Husband'. He was my 'boyfriend' - who lived at the time over 100 miles away. This PhD has seen us living in 6 different places between us and in 4 different cities. Even geographically, its been hectic!

I can honestly say that without my darling Husband's support and encouragement, there really is no way I could have made it through. FACT! There really just is NO WAY and I have to give a huge shout out to J.C. for bringing him into my life. Such a blessing in disguise. Mr O has been there - through thick and thin, at 2am, at 4am and again at 7am - with coffee! He has put up with my moods, my depression when a chapter of my thesis was due but I was suffering writers block, an untidy house when I'd leave said coffee cups lying around (day -after - day). He's put up with eating take-aways (day-after-day) when neither of us had time to cook; he's pretty much took sole care of Little Miss O when I was really snowed under. And that's all at the end of the PhD - when the good Lord knows that if I was sick of hearing about my PhD, so was he! Even in the early days, he was supportive. I remember one particular pub-lunch we had when he visited for the weekend and I said to him

'I'm not sure I'm clever enough to do this PhD, maybe I should just quit - I've never actually been that clever, I just work damn hard - I'm not sure I can be bothered again?!'

My Mr O was there, just like the other Mr O (Barack Obama, that is). I remember him telling me

'Yes we can!'

 - and I believed him.

My Mr O was there to wipes my tears of frustration (on innumerable occasions!), to hold me when I couldn't even speak from over-tiredness in the early hours of the morning. He was there to select and buy me a new laptop when mine was stolen just weeks before submitting my thesis.

Every step of the way. He has been there. EVERY. STEP. OF. THE. WAY!

When we were pregnant with Little Miss O, our antenatal teacher (a doula and mother of 4!) told us that being a birth partner is SO much harder than giving birth. She explained that when you're in labour - there is so much emotion and so many hormones involved that you're delirious and not fully aware of things. She said that when you're a birth partner - everything is very real. All actions are intensified, every contraction amplified and every ounce of tiredness exaggerated. I think it's the same for PhD partners. I honestly think that this entire process has been worse for my Mr O than it has been for me. Seriously - I mean that. Like I say, I experienced all the emotion - but he had to manage  it when at times I couldn't and he had to live with it, well with me!

Before you start feeling too sorry for my Mr O, you should know that he bought himself a shiny new car last week in recognition of his success! And he deserves it!  I'm still selecting my handbag! : )

So, to my Mr O:

Baby, I've said it before, and I'll say it again - you've been my rock. Thank you. You were right, we did it! So, in future, when I write my official name as 'Dr Mrs O', I'm going to remember that its a product of our marriage, I'm going to remember our struggle. The Bible says love does not keep a record of 'wrongs', but luckily I've not read yet that love doesn't keep a record of 'rights'.

You helping me with this PhD is one 'right' that is going to save you on many many occasions to come and one that I just will never forget - 'cos I'll see a reminder of what we have achieved in black and white every single day!

Mr O, you're my rock and you rock! Fine, I know you'll call it a 'cheesy lyric', but who cares - I'm Dr Mrs O!

We did it!


Thursday, 3 March 2011

Little Miss O says the Funniest Things

In the car:

Little Miss O: Mummy, what did you say when you were a baby?
Me: I said 'waaa waaa waaa!'

Little Miss O: Daddy, what did you say when you were a baby?
Mr O [following my response]: I said 'gaaa gaaa gaaa!'

Little Miss O: When I was a baby I said.... 'OOOH NAAA NAAA, WHAT'S MY NAME, OOOH NAAA NAAA, WHAT'S MY NAME!'

I think it's time to tune out of the radio and into nursery rhymes again!

Mrs O

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

You can't live abroad forever... or can you?

or can you? Can you live abroad forever? Can you make another country your 'home'? Will it ever feel the same?

Somebody said this to me whilst in Ghana and it really got me thinking...? Moving to Ghana is something that Mr O and I have discussed before but since visiting Ghana together is a hot topic for conversation in our house. Ghana, from what I saw in just 10 days is one different place. The pace is slower, certain issues are not taken seriously and others are... I mean malaria was considered to be 'like the common cold'! Really? I don't think I could ever swing to that way of thinking? I am still afraid of mosquitoes and I imagine that I always will be If you wanna talk about respect on the other hand - this is a HUGE issue!

But health aside, I am facing the serious prospect of at least seeing how we like living in least for a little while, at most forever? But can I live abroad forever? Maybe I will love it, maybe I wont... what I do know though, is that to my Husband, Ghana and Ghana alone is home...where his heart is. It's home. For me on the other hand, the UK is home. This is where I feel comfortable...this is where I know how things work....this is where my heart is - or is it? When I was in Ghana, I realised just how very 'British' I am - despite looking like everyone else there (in Ghana I mean)... I was born and raised here in the UK and I am very much an Afro-British woman....and quite comfortable with this. It's just who I am. I drink cows milk in my coffee and not UHT or carnation milk! I eat bagels and yoghurt for breakfast and not waakye, spaghetti and a boiled egg! Though, I have to admit that by day two of our trip, I laughed at the idea of eating cereal for breakfast and said 'I'd prefer the kenke, tilapia and shito, please!'

So, when I call myself (if forced to label myself), Afro-British - that really is who I am. But what will Little Miss O describe herself as? Will she say she's Ghanaian? British? Sierra Leonean even? To me, it doesn't really matter what we call ourselves, but it does matter what we feel we are and where we feel we belong...where we're most comfortable...because when you don't feel comfortable and when you don't feel you belong - it can be hard.

So, back to my point  'you can't live abroad forever...' Or can you?

If Mr O can't live here forever and I can't live in Ghana forever, will we be shuttling back and forth? That is funnilty enough what I always thought I would end up doing. I just always had this feeling that I would have two places that I'd call home and would flit between them. But this is before I grew up, realised that I would have to work and not just be a lady of leisure and no I studied antrhopology. I figured I could just do health projects in my 'second' home, but be 'based' in the UK. But like I say, then I grew up some more, and I became a Mum and now we are considering where to continue raising our child(ren)...

Now, I am seriously thinking about this issue of living abroad... to move, or not to move, when and how... I guess this is something to add to our 5 year plan...

'can we live abroad? and for how long? Can either of us live abroad forver?'

Either way, Mr O will reach a mutual decision - it's something we've spoken about before, in fact well before we got married - so neither of us were under any illusions, but now, having travelled to Ghana, it just feels a lot more real...

What are your experiences of living away from home? Regardless of whether home is another town or country - how does it feel to live away from home...?

Mrs O
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...