Self-esteem challenge: Day 12

This blog challenge was developed by If you missed the introduction or want to see a summary of all the questions, go here.

Day 12:
If you could change something about your personality, what would it be and why?
What’s the last thing you did that made you feel proud of yourself? Why did it make you feel this way?

I’m starting to feel like I’ve answered some of these questions already…. Anyway, I have always wished I were a more passionate person. Sometimes I feel like there is something standing in the way of me really enjoying something or really caring about something. My husband is a very passionate person, I admire that about him. Within the first few conversations, anyone who meets my husband will know that he loves Batman, wildlife, Coca Cola and Aerosmith. These are his favourite things, but there’s more to it than that. There’s an enthusiasm behind it. I don’t really know how to describe it. It’s like he is inspired by them, maybe. He knows all about them and can spend hours getting to know more or experiencing more. I don’t have anything like this. Sure, I have favourite things, but there is no drive behind them like there is with hubby. Everyone knows I have a sweet tooth and like cake, but there’s no passion to it. It’s not like I bake or decorate them or try exotic flavours. I pretty much eat the same type of cake every time I want a treat. I enjoy drawing, the blogging world knows that, but it’s something I often have to force myself to do. Eventually I get going, but there is no enthusiasm to it. I don’t know if this is a personality trait or if my medication has numbed all the passion out of me.

zen batman

The last thing I did that made me feel proud of myself was comps. This was late last fall. Comps, or comprehensive exams, are a must for Ph.D. students. Basically you have to prove that you have what it takes to do a Ph.D. dissertation. My comps consisted of four questions from four experts in fields that were similar to mine, but not the same. My field is low vision and I was asked questions on certain vision research technology, age-related hearing loss, molecular biology of macular degeneration and genetics of retinitis pigmentosa (tunnel vision). I had to write 10 page papers on three of them, answer the fourth in a power point presentation and then do a presentation defending my research proposal. I opted to do my genetics question as a presentation. There was no way the answer to that question would have fit in 10 pages! The question itself was almost a page long! Anyway, the presentations went well. I got a sneaky thumbs up from my supervisor when the rest of the panel wasn’t looking. The molecular paper was ok, but it was the other two papers I was really proud of. I felt I had taken topics that I knew little about and told a cohesive story. My supervisor even mentioned publishing them! I actually felt like maybe I did deserve to be where I was. I knew what I was doing and didn’t feel like an imposter. Part of comps is finding out if you can find information, but you can’t just regurgitate what others have already said. You have to put it together and tell your own story, offer an opinion and insight for future research. I felt I did a really good job of that on those two papers.

Motivation Progress Report II

It has been two weeks since I started working on getting motivated. I am being good and going through the motions, but the motivated feeling isn’t what’s driving me, it’s the “should”s. It’s not ideal, but I am getting things done. Is that what matters most?

Exercise. I’m still doing a 5am run every other day. It is becoming a routine and getting easier to do. My cardiovascular health has already improved significantly. I wish my legs would improve as fast. My shins and hips are complaining a bit. I think I may need new shoes. I’ve been trying to make the running a pleasure. I run for 30 min and then walk for 30 min. The walking is the part I can look forward to. I can enjoy being outside and enjoy being done with my exercise for another 48 hours. It is nice to have this time to wind down instead of running and then heading straight to the shower and then off to work. Overall, the running does make me feel better and hate my body less. I don’t think I have lost any weight yet, but I am not weighing myself. I am using the fit of my clothes to measure any loss. Hubby says I would see more results with the numbers, but I can’t make myself get on the scale.

Food. Counting calories is hard. Some things are easy, like baby carrots. I can scan the bar code on the bag with my phone and enter the number of carrots I ate and it calculates the calories for me…easy. What’s hard is when you have a meal without a bar code and there are a bunch of ingredients. You either have to put in the whole recipe (tedious) or estimate based on meals that are already in the Fitness Pal database. I try to over estimate the calories when I do this…it’s better than under estimating. I’ve been doing alright, not great. A friend came over the other day and brought tim bits (doughnut holes). She left them on my coffee table when she left. I should have thrown them out, but I ate them.

Work. I’m totally frustrated and uninspired. I have had a few small successes this week though, so I’m trying to focus on those. I got a program I needed fixed, so I can continue writing a paper I was working on. Yesterday I spent the whole day at the hospital trying to recruit people for the studies I am working on. No one was qualifying, so it was quite boring, but then at the end of the day three people qualified and they all said they were interested. This is excellent as most people say no. Hopefully this will give me the boost I need to get more into it.

flowers vs weeds scan

Trying to focus on the positive

Q is for Quotes

I like quotes, especially the inspirational ones. They lift me up when I am feeling down. Some of them mention facts of life that are so simple and so true that they are usually overlooked. For example “If you are tired of starting over, stop giving up!” Well, duh! I don’t know who said it, but they are smart. It’s a truth that we don’t often think about.

I can also appreciate negative quotes sometimes. I usually struggle to put how I am feeling into words. In this case I rely on quotes or even better, picture quotes to illustrate what is going on in my head.

I’m going to post some of my favourite quotes that describe depression or inspire hope and motivation. I usually try to draw my own pictures to go with the quotes. If you’ve been following my blog, you may recognize some of the cartoons. I’ll keep the negative quotes to the end, so if you don’t want to see them, you can just skip them.


Unexpected Inspiration

I was lucky enough to catch wind of a Dr. Jane Goodall lecture put on by my former university. I knew Dr. Goodall was an expert in primatology and a legend in chimpanzee research, but I had never heard her speak before. Since I’m mostly from the medical field, I didn’t know much more about her and would have let the opportunity slide. I had been feeling pretty low about my own research endeavors lately and the last thing I wanted to hear about was a Ph.D. success story, let alone the Jane Goodall story.

She was scheduled to give a lecture followed by a book signing. Upon hearing this, my husband, a former wildlife biologist, hijacked my alumni identity and signed us up before I could protest. This lecture was only open to those affiliated with the university, so hubby couldn’t go without me. Finally, after all the “please donate” harassment, there was a perk to being alumni….for my husband at least. So Friday night found us standing outside in the rain waiting to be let in to the lecture venue. The night was not off to a good start.

In the end, I was pleasantly surprised. Jane Goodall is an excellent speaker and story teller. Of course, my husband had told me this, but I figured he was biased, still being a wildlife biologist at heart. I had expected her talk to be more chimpanzee research oriented, but it wasn’t. She talked about hope, inspiration and humanity, topics I think everyone in the audience could relate to and some of which (hope and inspiration) I was severely lacking. She spoke of her mother who encouraged her curious mind as a child. She told us her inspiration to study chimpanzees was Tarzan and that he had married the wrong Jane. She was funny too. I was more surprised to learn that she didn’t have the money to go to university and it took her years to save enough just to go to Africa. Once in Africa, she convinced the leading primatologist that she should be the one doing his research despite having no degree. She stressed the importance of patience, curiosity, tenacity, and of learning from mistakes. She did eventually go on to get the research qualifications, at Cambridge no less, but she didn’t start until she was 27! I’m 28 and I’m already significantly ahead of where she started. Maybe there is hope for me yet.

What’s the difference between the 1960s Jane and I? She wasn’t going to give up the fight when the going got tough. She was driven by her passion and curiosity to learn more about a developing field. That was originally what drove me. I guessI had lost patience and forgotten somewhere along the way what my reasons for this pursuit were. If I could contribute to my niche a fraction of what she has given to the world, I would be more than satisfied. It’s time to pick up the pieces of my shattered self-esteem and get back to why I started my Ph.D. in the first place.

To remind myself of this, I bought one of her books, Reason for Hope. It’s basically her memoir. I’m hoping that reading it will help keep me optimistic about my future despite how many times I have failed and have yet to fail. By the time I had gotten my book and waited my turn to get Dr. Goodall’s autograph, it was about 10pm. At nearly 80 years old and after traveling, lecturing and meeting fans all day, Dr. Jane was tired to say the least. So I quickly thanked her for the autograph, wished her a happy early birthday and went on my way. I couldn’t speak for the audience, but what I wanted to tell her was that her lecture was a success, I got the message. She reached me and inspired hope where there was none.

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