Week 43: Feeling restored

I caught a common cold and was sick for the entire week. They say that catching a cold is a sign that you need to rest. It sounds like an excuse for laziness, but I am eventually feeling much better after sleeping a lot during the week.

On Tuesday I had a supervision meeting for the first time in a month and gained some useful tips on literature reviews and methodology sections. I had initially planned to write Chapter 2 next month, but it turned out that I need to state in-depth discussions on my data collection, transcription, coding, interpretation and translation.

I borrowed three books on interviewing from the library and bought two books which are more relevant to my project. These are my supervisors’ favourites and I like them too! 1) ‘The SAGE Handbook of Qualitative Methods in Health Research’, edited by Ivy Bourgeault, Robert Dingwall, and Raymond De Vries; and 2) ‘Interpreting Qualitative Data’, by David Silverman.

A psychiatrist recommended that we do not write down too many tasks on your To Do list for a day. The more tasks you have, the more you feel like your head is going to explode. It would be ideal to narrow it down to one or two agendas to concentrate on each day, if that is possible. Depending on your position, you might need to perform multiple tasks. I personally agree that it is ideal to focus on a few important things for a day, because unachieved tasks only put you under pressure.

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Earlier this week, while I was unwell and lying in bed (apart from the supervision meeting and a lecture), I remembered my father and some movies he liked. In my bed, I watched his favourite movie, Back to the Future, for the first time in 20 years! The series still gives me wonderful feelings, and again I was moved by some of the messages from the stories. Throughout Parts 1, 2 and 3, the slang term ‘chicken’ was used to insult Marty. He always reacted to the provocation, and it was described as a part of his inner personality that results in trouble and ruins his life. In the last scene of Part 3, he stopped overreacting to the ‘chicken’ insult, and his future changed. That final scene of Part 3 was really moving and reassuring!

Jennifer: Dr. Brown, I brought this note back from the future and now it’s erased.
Doc: Of course it’s erased!
Jennifer: But what does that mean?
Doc: It means your future hasn’t been written yet. No one’s has. Your future is whatever you make it. So make it a good one, both of you.

Marty: Where are you going now? Back to the future?
Doc: Nope. Already been there.

My goals for Week 44:

  • Finalise Information Sheets and Consent Forms for all participants
  • Start contacting the participants and scheduling my observations
  • Edit Chapters 1 and 3

Week 42: Tidying Up

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Week 42 has been very productive and this might be a great turning point for me, or a starting point.

My achievements in Week 42:

  • Completed a draft of my data analysis for the preliminary data, which looks a rich resource!
  • Added a table of prospective participants and the amount of data and some descriptions of the context in the methodology section, which can be used an important basis for my next fieldwork
  • Made a decision to improve my eating habits, lose weight and undertake ‘Dan Sha Ri (Refuse – Throw away – Separate)’ in my house – I have lost 1kg and disposed of dozens of stuff

Conducted a deep clean of the house was a much-needed event. I am writing this after disposing of a bunch of stuff and cleaning the house, and feeling really good about it!

The concept of tidying up, Dan Sha Ri proposed by Hideko Yamashita, has been well-known in Japan since 2010. I had not read the book until recently, but had been following the tidying up method proposed by another author, Marie Kondo. I liked her first book, The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up. These two authors published their first books in the same year 2010.

Marie Kondo’s method is much simpler: ‘tidying is a special event. Don’t do it every day’. She calls this as ‘a tidying marathon’. The selection criterion of her method when it comes to throwing things out is taking each item in your hand and asking yourself ‘does it spark joy?’ If it does, keep it; if not, dispose of it.

I was not really interested in the concept of Dan Sha Ri until I read the book last week, because I had thought that it would be something similar to ‘spark joy’ and the three letters that Dan Sha Ri discusses are enough to make an educated guess at what the book was about. But what was remarkable for me was that Dan Sha Ri focuses on the ‘relationship’ between possessions and a possessor, drawing on yoga’s philosophy (Dan-Sha-Ri, Refuse – Throw away – Separate). This website explains Dan Sha Ri very well.

Hideko Yamashita proposed ‘the rule of 7:5:1’, which sets three criteria for cleaning up:

  1. If items are in invisible storage (inside of a closet, drawer, etc.), discard items until you secure 30% of the space
  2. If items are in a visible shelf (cupboards, etc.), discard items until you secure 50% of space
  3. For a display shelf (such as ornamental objects), restrict objects to occupy 10% of the space

In 2016, Hideko Yamashita mentioned that she distinguished Dan Sha Ri as not minimalist. She did not consider Dan Sha Ri as ‘I do not need stuff anymore’ or only having a ‘few things at home’. Instead, Dan Sha Ri is something that is constantly aware of the quantity of the material possessions and the balance between excess and deficiency of them. I think that some (beginner) minimalists also share such a relationship with personal items – your perception on who you are is constantly manifested by the things you actually use.

My goals for Week 43:

  • Have an in-depth discussion regarding the methodology, referring to the analysis of preliminary data
  • Reading and editing for the contextualization section
  • Lose 0.5kg

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Week 41: My 38th Birthday

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The new academic year started a few weeks ago. I work in the shared office on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and work at home for the rest of the week.

I met some PhD colleagues around my desk for the first time since I moved into the office in April. Talking with colleagues and having lunch or coffee with someone on campus is mentally healthy for us, because we tend to work alone for long hours, and our way of life tends to be isolating and in total darkness sometimes.

In the shared office, a neighbour spoke to me and we introduced ourselves. It was the first time I had ever seen him, and I asked if he was in his first year. He said that he had just submitted his doctoral thesis! He looked completely relaxed and refreshed. I felt happy to know that this actually happens! and I hope it will happen to me, three years from now.

I organised all the feedback I received through the probation review, and made a summary of what I should do for the rest of the year and sent it to my supervisors. It is important to share summaries of meetings and my proposed next actions with them.

My goals for Week 42:

  • Finish analysing the pilot data
  • Submit the analysis and associated documents to my supervisors

On Saturday, I turned 38. Luca bought a lot of flowers from a market, and we spent the morning arranging them and having pain au chocolat and tea. We had a relaxing time in the afternoon (speaking to my parents, replying to my friends’ messages, having champagne) and went to our favourite Italian restaurant for dinner. It was a really nice birthday with the feeling of love from my family and friends!

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