Category Archives: Wellbeing and living

One slave many masters

By Fiona Russo

My husband and I had a bit of a ‘discussion’ last week. Neither of us meant for it to happen, but we somehow got into one of those ‘my life is harder than yours’ competitions. I was lamenting the state of my calendar, complaining that I didn’t have a single day available for PhD work without some type of appointment or scheduling problem in the mix. I was trying to work out how I could pick up the two older children from opposite sides of the city just half an hour apart without leaving anyone stranded or unsafe. I had four very different articles due (as a freelance writer) by Friday, and only three half-days’ worth of child-free time.

He was lamenting his priority list at work, talking about how there were never enough hours in the day and he was going to have to forego some important tasks because he was too stretched to fit them in. I started to say (quite stupidly, I realise) how much I envied him the luxury of dropping some items off the list. ‘You know, since your single taskmaster [his employer] can obviously understand that you are but one man with a limited amount of resources at your disposal’. Ha!

I suppose I was looking for some understanding about how difficult it is to balance being one slave to many masters. I feel like I can’t afford to drop ANY balls, because each comes with reasonable demands that are equally important/urgent. My problem is that there are just too many of them. In return, Michael explained that he feels similarly at work, not because he has ‘many masters’, but because he feels the pressure of being our primary breadwinner. He feels that he has to overachieve and outperform everyone else all the time, more so because he wants to be available to the family in the evenings and at weekends.

Luckily, this potential pressure-cooker situation wasn’t so awful. We were both being very careful not to descend into argument territory, but it was a close thing. Sometimes it’s really tough to see each other’s perspective when we’re too busy keeping ourselves afloat.

This week, we had the chance for some role reversal. He had just finished a major project at work and had put in significant overtime. He was taking a well-earned couple of days off and had offered to facilitate the kids’ schedules so that I could spend some uninterrupted time in the office. This is an opportunity I don’t often have, so I gratefully downloaded the information he’d need:
“In the morning, Dylan feeds the cat and packs the snacks, Emily makes the sandwiches, and Susannah packs everyone’s bags. You’ll need to leave by 8.15am to drop off Susannah [6] by 8.30am. Dylan [12] and Emily [16] should be dropped off by 8.45am – they can’t catch a bus to school because there aren’t any at the right time in the mornings – they can bus home in the afternoon. Charlie[5]’s ECDP sessions [Early Childhood Development Program for children with disabilities] don’t start until 9am so you’ll have to double back for that drop-off – she’ll need to wear her Theratogs there, I’ll show you how to put them on later but factor in about fifteen extra minutes for that – Nanna does pick-up on Tuesdays so don’t forget to leave the wheelchair and parking pass. On Wednesday Charlie’s off to kindy but you’ll need to pick her up at 1pm and take her to the hospital to get her new AFOs [orthotics] fitted. You can drop her back at kindy after if you like. On Friday morning, she has speech and occupational therapy in Ipswich at 9.30am for an hour. Dylan should be home by 4pm every day – if you’re not home, ask him to text you to let you know that he got home safe, Susannah goes to after school care on Tuesday and Wednesday but needs to be picked up at 2.45pm on the other days, Emily has Music Extension on Tuesday afternoon until 5pm – she’ll ask if she wants a lift home – she’ll bus home around 5pm on Wednesday and then she’s going straight from school to work on Thursday and Friday so make sure she packs her uniform please…”

…I trailed off. Michael was looking at me with his mouth open, blinking rapidly.

“Are you okay? Is this too much? I can do some of the morning runs if you like – the timing takes some getting used to.”

“No, no, I just think we’d better write some of this down. I can’t believe you hold it all in your head.”

To add insult to injury, Michael’s week of ‘relaxation’ came with a side of nasty illness (always the way, isn’t it?). To his eternal credit, he didn’t succumb to the dreaded lurgy and did all of the running and ferrying and fetching and managing as promised, getting himself some antibiotics and snatching the odd micro-nap along the way. He made copious notes about schedules and appointments, and worried the whole time about the growing pile of work on his desk in the city as he deliberately avoided his phone and emails.

As for me, I was wracked with wife-and-mother guilt as I went to work in the morning without having changed a nappy or made a single breakfast. I tried madly to meet every goal I’d set for myself that week. I turned myself inside out trying to format my lit review without worrying about whether Dylan got home safely, or organise my reference material and not wonder whether Michael remembered to leave the parking pass at school for his Mum, or attend a meeting without feeling guilty that somewhere in the same building (I have a hospital-based supervisor) Charlie might be feeling scared as they plastered her little legs, or listen to a lecture and not feel anxious about Susannah forgetting to go to the front gate after school on Thursday.

I think we each got a good taste of life in the other’s shoes, and by Friday evening we were having a different kind of discussion.

“I’m completely knackered.”

“Me too.”

“Movie in bed?”

“Sure.”

(five minutes later) “Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz……”

Lost

By Susan Sharpe

I often ask myself why I enrolled in my PhD, what I am really doing and whether studying a PhD will change my life or other’s for the better. In such times, I find myself making lists, weighing options, lying awake all night, truly confused and sometimes doubting where I am heading. Two years gone and I do not feel that sense of purpose and sense of clarity I once had while writing my application. I feel stuck at the edge of my mind as I scroll through posts on social media or listen to my fellow students say, ‘It is a tough world!”

I struggle to understand this sense of loss – to understand why, after finally boarding what should feel like my ride to destination ‘Dream come true,’ my world seems out of sorts. Nothing is clear. Suddenly my sense of judgement and confidence, my hope, dreams and aspirations are crowded with such an unsettling speculation. ‘Will I make it? Will I not? When will it all make sense? When will I be at peace with this decision? What is the purpose? To what end? Why am I doing this? What was I thinking? – just a few of endless questions that swim through my head.

And as I regroup to re-frame my journey of inquiry, I see those faces, the ones I cannot accustom to. They show when I tell that I am studying my PhD. You should see these faces, on friends, colleagues, my bosses and all those who earn more money than me but have no postgraduate degrees. ‘You are crazy! You must be insane! I do not know how you do it!’ they say. Can’t say I blame them. After all, even in my day-to-day life and encounters, I feel like part of me is evolving and changing along with my doctoral journey.

Suddenly I feel this excitement about what I know, my topic, my literature review, and the passion to share it. What I could publish a paper or an article about what I have read so far. Perhaps that would help give me clarity. Where do I start from, who is my anchor? Suddenly I remember the stories of rejected drafts. Now I know why they say ‘It is a tough world.’ And as fear of the unknown engulfs me, I am suddenly reminded that it was never about landing a six figure job or a publication gig. That I may, for now, not be clear about my destination, but will one day. In a trice, a short spark of certitude, I know that in the middle of this PhD provoked equivocation about the future, I’m only experiencing my own very biased perception of this journey. This is especially obvious when I consider that I haven’t reached the destination yet.

Above all, I am certain that I am more than my PhD journey. I am not the degrees I have acquired or the one I am currently working toward. I don’t even have the desired research profile to land that dream job, but I am still me and it is up to me to chart my own path and remain my own advocate because I am me!

Productivity in Backpacking: tips from a nomadic PhD student

By Madeleine Arber

I decided to contribute a blog post to ReDBlog about my time solo backpacking whilst continuing my research studies. I’m fortunate enough to have the ability to drop everything (apart from my studies) and travel anywhere I want whilst working, within reason of course! This isn’t my first time backpacking or travelling solo. I have fine-tuned the art of living as cheaply as possible in any region of the world over the years (sometimes this involves sleeping in a car on a secluded beach). But this trip I wanted a new challenge: to fine-tune the art of backpacking and working at the same time. This article may contain some tips which you can apply to everyday study or travel.

Initially I came over to Europe (where I am based now) for three months to conference-hop and complete a research collaboration, but after putting forward a strong case to my supervisor, I managed to extend those three months to six months to complete further research. The following are some working-while-travelling tips!

Your office – the thing I miss most (besides my dog):

  • Wifi – be prepared to give up all your details and your soul in order to connect to reasonable, sometimes incredibly slow wifi to check your emails to see if that thing has been processed yet.
  • Believe it or not Hostels are not the most productive of places. They may have wifi included, but your roomies will most likely want to party. Hopefully you can fall asleep in all kinds of environments! Instead head to a café and buy the cheapest thing on the menu then stay for HOURS at a time! Be prepared to listen to all types of music, from jazz to reggae. Bring your headphones if you need silence.
  • Don’t expect to get access to another university’s libraries. This is particularly common in the UK and Ireland. Access is allowed to the students who attend that university. You can apply for a week study pass if you have a letter from your university explaining why it would be beneficial for you to access their library. Unlike cafés, libraries don’t sell coffee though…
  • Know how you work best – not having an office means I don’t have easy access to printing/copying/paper in general. I’ve learnt to use ‘soft’ electronic copies on everything (including travel bookings). I found that sometimes I still need to jot notes down on paper or draw diagrams to fully understand things. This also goes for your most productive hours – are you a morning productive person? This means you get to explore the city by night!
  • Keep in contact with your supervisor! They may have no idea exactly where you are in the world, but you need to make sure you’re both on the same page in terms of timelines and work commitments. Don’t just send them holiday postcards through snail-mail, use your email, or your phone if you want a nice big bill! (Skype has affordable phone calls with skype-credit if necessary)
  • Remember to network, particularly at conferences, which are the perfect networking ground! Here you can corner the author of the research you’ve spent hours reading – think of future research opportunities it may lead to! It’s very important to also take full advantage of the conference’s food, wine, and coffee package.

Your backpack (the closest thing to home on your back):

  • Travel as lightly as you can – this means you won’t be carrying those references books you so dearly love around with you (you’ll be relying on pdfs from now on!), it also means if you are attending conferences or visiting research institutions while away, you may want to look presentable. Quick! Throw in a blazer and find clothes which don’t crush easily and dry quickly. Jeans are acceptable for most occasions.
  • Don’t move around too much and exhaust yourself trying to see everything and everyone! It is tiring enough switching between currencies, let alone travelling distances! It’s important to remember to treat yourself well – get enough good sleep, healthy food, and plenty of water.

General life advice (should you choose to accept it):

  • Be nice – most people are good human beings.
  • Try to learn your ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ in each place you visit.
  • Experience the culture, but give yourself enough time to relax and every once in a while have some familiar treats to cure any homesickness (this is just an excuse to eat chocolate).
  • Remember to enjoy yourself. Your life isn’t just your PhD. You’ve earned some time off for yourself.

Time to go see the world!

Serendipitous Family Moments

By Ruth Wagstaff

I am sure that I am not the only PhDer who feels somewhat disconnected with their children.  I spend a lot of time on the computer reading or writing.  I also work 4.5 day/week, parent a son in grade 12, support a daughter at a distant university, and try to stay connected with my Dad, step-mother and eldest son.  Like many women studying, I do not have the support of a husband or partner.  Recently though, I have found that the skills that I am developing as I journey through uni is changing the relationship with my children in unexpected ways.

Recently my daughter was writing her first “serious” literature review and asked me to help her. She is in her third year of a performing arts degree, and has just completed her first research methods course.  In the process of helping her with formatting and writing style, I learnt a lot about her own struggles. It was a time of genuine learning for both of us.  I also learned a little more about the fine detail of APA.  All of this was unexpected, and helped each other to appreciate each other as adults on the life long journey of learning.

I have also seen my still-at-home-completing-high-school son begin to blossom.  He seems to understand that the PhD is part of a belated adolescent phase in which I am rediscovering myself after my marriage breakup.  Consequently, he will pick-up a broom, put washing and and out, empty and fill the dishwasher all without having to ask.  Sure, he finds that continual mess is stressful, but the key is that he owns it now, and picks up after himself. But he also tells me he does it because he knows I have deadlines to keep and time is precious.

On the other hand, when the still-at-home-completing-high-school son is under the thumb with exams and due assignment, I pick up the slack and do more.  We have learnt to work as a team.  The only rule is to look at the whole picture in a person’s life and help others to avoid melt down. Before you think this to too perfect you, we still have moments of melt down, but we have learnt to look beyond the moment, say sorry even if we think we are in the right, and to be kind to each other.  Before studying, these life lessons were just words but now they are embedded into our lifestyle.

A specific serendipitous occasion was the night my still-at-home-completing-high-school insisted that we watch Zootopia on Netflix.  I had become so absorbed in marking that life existed of work, mark, sleep.  My son reached out to me and in doing so reminded me of the world outside my quest. It was a single act of care and insight that touched me deeply.

So from now on, rather than seeing the PhD as a journey that separates, I will remember it as a time when it brought the family together.  My parent journey includes the cutting of parent/child bonds we can develop adult/adult bonds and live as independent adults.  I am already  proud of my children’s transitions into adults, of their independence, and how they support each other.  And on graduation day, we will all be celebrating.

The tyranny of distance

By Ruth Fielder

Another ReDTrain email arrived yesterday.

These emails arrive so regularly I could set my alarm to their arrival, but it is an alarm I could do without. The ReDTrain alarm is a bitter-sweet reminder of how far I live from campus: and it makes me feel lonely because I want to be with other PhD-ers. But being on campus is not an option for now. This is a third or fourth-hand story of another external PhD candidate’s (Ahhh*) battle with the tyranny of distance, and was shared by a fellow external PhD candidate (Jeezz*).

Ahhh lives in the deep tropical rainforest of far North Queensland. Ahhh’s problem was that his PhD was based in Toowoomba and he was allergic to cold westerly winds. So allergic, that his eyes and nose would run at the mere thought of cold or westerlies. The only viable way do the PhD was to enrol in an external program.

There were some good reasons to study off campus: no on-campus distractions, and he was still surrounded by the world he loved and knew. Supervision was via Zoom. Emails were a great way to ask quick questions The supervisor gave Ahhh her private phone number, so that when weekend supervision was needed or the unstable internet connection was down so he could stay in touch. Ahhh felt like part of a big fuzzy community.

One day, Ahhh was seized by panic and lost confidence. There was no way that this PhD would be a success. ReDTrain notices were informing him of candidates’ topics and by comparison, his topic was vague. It did not have real word application. It was insignificant. It was boring. His supervisor suggested that a face-to-face meeting and a week long campus visit was in order. So, Ahhh reluctantly made the flight bookings and drove 300kms to the closest airport. He was glad it was summer in Toowoomba–-the cold would not threaten his health.

Ahhh was taken back by not only the beauty of the Toowoomba Campus, but communication with his supervisors was much easier and productive. Face-to-face conversations flowed more easily than Zoom conversations, and responses to questions and ideas were instantaneous compared to email. He got more done in five days on campus than a month at home.
Rather than a distraction, campus activities added the richness of his on-campus time. It was not home, but he still managed a laugh or two while having a cuppa and lunch with Jeezz and others. Parting from campus was tinged with a little sadness and longing to return. He even experienced a twinge of jealously toward on-campus candidate.

I got a lot out of Ahhh’s story.

While external study has its perks, and zoom meetings and emails are critical for progress, extended campus visits are invaluable. And who knows, I may even make some lifetime friends. The ReDTrain alarm is no longer a bittersweet reminder of the tyranny of distance, but rather it keeps in me focused and serves to remind me of the fuzzy community I have decided to join.

* To protect the identity of candidates’ these are not their real names.

My first marking experience

By Ruth Wagstaff

The first time as a marker can be daunting.  At least that is how I found it.  I have spoken to other PhD candidates who took to marking like a duck takes to water, and I am the first to admit  I have a lot to learn from the marking “ducks”.  But this blog is not for the marking ducks.  This blog is for those feeling daunted by the prospect of marking.   It is a reflection of my first marking experience, the strategies that I would use next time round, and proof that it is possible survive and thrive.

Not every essay will be easily understood.  Sounds obvious.  The undergraduate essay is designed to allow the marker to see how a student is thinking and is linking concepts.  Essay writing is a complex skill, and it is not uncommon for literacy skills to suffer as students take their first steps in writing an academic paper.  The end result is that the argument can be as difficult to find as car keys tossed aside because one was too busy to put them in their usual place.

Strategy – have realistic expectations of essay standards .

Marking can be mentally draining.  That shouldn’t have come a surprise.  But did.  It took a lot of concentration to understand the essays, to assist with helpful comments,  and grade according to the marking criteria.

Strategy – take breaks, do some weeding, have a cuppa, and ring a friend for a quick chat.

Marking is not a walk in the park.  I had a visions marking while relaxing outside in the sun–a cuppa in one hand, and the other tapping out helpful comments.  Reality was very different– I was inside, stressed, and wondering why had I said yes.  And why was I stressed?  I didn’t understand role as a marker, and what was expected of me.

Strategy – ask the lecturer questions about anything related to the marking, and be honest with how I am coping.

Navigating new UConnect tabs can be like opening up treasure chest or Pandora’s box.  I have a confession. I thought I would be an expert at navigating UTeach.  I am an expert at JustU, ULearn, and  UAsk.  But, quickly realised that I was no expert because I could not find the link to access the assignments.  I had visions of crashing the USQ computer systems and deleting vital student information. (Have I mentioned I have a tendency to catastrophise?)  Once I finally admitted that  The Markers Guide was making no sense, I sent an urgent SOS to the lecturer.  The lecturer made one phone call,  the problem was identified, and in less than five minutes I had all the access I needed.

Strategy – forget pride, and ask for help because I am not expected to know everything.

So, my first marking experience was characterised valuable lessons about expectations, being kind to self, and that I have a tendency to catastrophise. I was also reminded me of the incredible resource that we have in USQ staff.  It was no walk in the park, but it was a worthwhile experience  And yes – I will do it again and put the strategies into action.

The Wandering Researcher

By Jenny Olson

Hello fellow researchers,

I am a PhD candidate and the focus of my research is active lifestyles in regional Australia.  My mixed-methods research is taking place in inner-regional Southern Queensland.  I am really enjoying learning about the lifestyles of people in these regional communities.  The challenge for me is that I don’t exactly live in the environment where my research is being conducted.  In fact, I live some distance away … in Japan.

I am quite accustomed to life as a distance student. My undergraduate studies were also undertaken at USQ in external mode, while I worked full-time on the Gold Coast.  I moved to Japan at the beginning of my Honours year as a result of my husband’s work.  As an undergraduate I had access to the Study Desk, which facilitated regular communication with my fellow students and my lecturers.  I relied heavily on the online forums for academic guidance, but also for social support.  I felt part of a virtual community.  So many resources were available from the Study Desk.  Every learning style catered for.  It was truly a wonderful experience.

In the early stages of my PhD I struggled a little bit with the absence of my old friend the Study Desk.  Yes, technically it still exists, but in a necessarily different form, with the absence of the structure provided by weekly topics that are relevant to course work.  Most importantly, the previously relied upon avenue for social support was missing.  After a few months I was really missing the connection with others.  Suddenly Japan seemed a lonelier place than it had before.  I started to wonder if I could really get through the long slog, and whether my research area was worthwhile – some classic ‘Imposter Syndrome’ thinking (The Thesis Whisperer, 2015) came in to play.

After a rough few weeks I decided that it was time to help myself.  I had a trip to Australia planned in the coming weeks, and I decided to make the most of it.  I booked a meeting with the student counsellor at Springfield.  I planned a number of meetings with my supervisors and others, to talk about aspects of my research.  The most important thing I did though, was to reach out to some of the other PhD students working within my team (Innovative Mental Health Solutions).  I set up a lunch meeting at the Tavern near the Springfield campus.  My world opened up.  We shared professional knowledge.  We shared personal stories.  We encouraged each other.  I had found the social support that I was missing.  I realized I was not alone.

I came back home to Japan, and my PhD world seemed much brighter.  I regained the belief that my research was worthwhile, and that I had the skills and wherewithal to see it through.  I also knew that ongoing social support was going to be critical to my success.  I kept in touch with my fellow students by email, Skype and Facebook.  I arrange social lunches and coffee when I am in town.  I also decided to get involved with the Postgraduate Research Student Society (PReSS) as an executive member of the club, with a focus on advocating for the needs of external students like myself.  (PReSS is a club for all postgraduate research students at USQ.  For more information please email PReSSclub@usq.edu.au)

I also try to be more active on social media.  I joined the PhD Owls group on Facebook (for older wiser learners).  I am still mastering the art of Twitter (@JennyLOlson) and LinkedIn but am finding them to be a useful way to connect with a broad range of like-minded people.  I have also discovered that Twitter is an excellent way of keeping up with new publications/research in my area of interest.  I would love to connect with any fellow research students through these mediums, so please reach out.  As a keen amateur photographer I also have an account on Instagram (the_wandering_researcher).  I do believe it is important to maintain interests beyond that of our research, for our mental health, and for the perspective on our research that can only be obtained by stepping away from time to time.

On the subject of stepping away, I have been fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to travel on a number of occasions over the past year.  This has led to a bit of a juggling act on occasions.  Much of my research has been conducted in airports, on planes, and in hotel rooms (particularly in the middle of the night if I am jet lagged).  This has taught me to manage my time, whilst still taking time out for the fun stuff.  I have also learnt that even a 5-minute window of time can provide the opportunity to tick off a job on the never ending to-do list that we all have.   Sure, there are times when I need to sit for longer periods and write.  But a lot can be achieved in the shorter windows of time as well.

Overall, I have learnt that the experience of a wandering researcher need not be a lonely one.  I am so grateful to my supervisors, fellow PhD students, and many of the staff (both professional and academic) who have provided professional support as well as social connections that have significantly enhanced my experience of higher degree research.

Juggling

By Jeff Gough

Sometimes, the hardest part about doing a PhD, is not really the PhD.

For me, as the sole provider for a family of two adults, three children (including a teenager) and a mortgage, the greatest pressure comes in the attempt to balance the need to work, the demands of family, and the desire to do research. It is a real juggling act to keep all of the balls in the air at the same time.

Initially I thought working fulltime as a Research Associate would be a great way to earn an income during my PhD and be a wonderful adjunct to my learning, and in many ways it has. I am eternally grateful for the experience. The insights and knowledge I have gained into the real world of the researcher has been invaluable and has fore-armed me against many pitfalls. However, coming home after a full day of research, doesn’t make you conducent to sitting down and doing more research. Especially if they are quite different areas of study.

Add to this the reality that your kids want to interact with you when they see you, because that’s what families do, so you still need to pick up some of the parenting duties. Along with the handyman requirements that keep the household operational.  And the end result is that you have intensely conflicting demands on your time.

Sure, you can say you’ll get some PhD stuff done after the kids have gone to bed, but let’s face it, once you’ve wound down for the day, it’s hard to get wound back up again. Motivation is like the cat of human behaviour. It does what it wants, doesn’t come unless it feels like it, can never be found when you’re looking for it and turns up for some attention when you’re busy doing something else.

While the idea of working to support your knowledge addiction is fundamentally brilliant, the reality is far less grandiose. I can’t describe how envious (and guilty) I feel sometimes when I walk past the PhD room and see the students in there, all working diligently on their respective Theses, knowing that I’m only attending to mine for a few hours a week.

However, another round of scholarships has just closed and my application is in. I’m hoping to be successful this time around. In the end though, I can’t rely on that to be the case, because in the back of my mind hides the thought that my work contract ends in September. Well, the thought isn’t really hiding there so much as its presence is being ignored, in the vain hope that the thought will get bored and go away.

In the event that things go pear-shaped, instead of the cherry shape that I’m hoping for, contingency plans need to be made. My degree is in psych, so I’m redeveloping the thought workshops I trailed last year into a set of formal seminars to take to the market place. So in addition to work, and family, and study, I’m attempting to start a business to help replace the work I will lose in September. I need to up my presentation skills a bit though, so I’m also engaged in a short series of presentation workshops learning how to work in front of a camera (something I find far more anxiety inducing than working in front of people). Of course, there is an opportunity to do actual paid work from this as well. Another possible avenue for income later in the year.

Oh, did I mention that I also organise the Brisbane part of a worldwide charity event which happens at the end of September every year, raising money for men’s health issues ($2m we raised last year for prostate cancer research). Plus I’m hoping to do my Confirmation in November. The back half of this year is going to be bigger than ten big bears.

Usually when I tell people all of this, they just stare blankly at me and sometimes offer an opinion that starts with ‘F’ and ends with ‘that’. To be honest, if you had have told me 5 years ago that I’d be doing all of this, I probably would have offered the same opinion. The question, ‘How do you manage’ is one that falls out of people’s faces sometimes when they’ve shaken their head back and forward for long enough.

The truth is, I don’t know. There is no secret to making life work, you just do it. You do it because you have to, because the alternative is doing nothing and where’s the future in that? I think about the things I need to do, but I try not to dwell on them. I try to engage my curiosity such that I work on the logistical aspect of it all, on the puzzle of making the pieces fit. A curiosity about the challenge and finding the solution. After all, I’m training to be a researcher, curiosity is part of who I am.

On the flip side, I try not to over-think it. Identify what needs to be done, acknowledge that it’s huge and daunting and anxiety inducing, and then just do it anyway. The most important aspect I think though that gets me through, is that in the end it all means something. I’m not doing this for someone else, I’m doing this for me.

Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche once said, “He who has a why to live for, can bear almost any how”. You can endure exceptional circumstances, if what you are doing has meaning for you.

When it gets too much, look inside, find the reason why you are doing this and then give it a hug.