Quite a few weeks have passed since my last post, and you might be thinking I’ve been either
a) too busy working on the PhD, or
b) too busy enjoying myself to think about the PhD.
You’d be wrong.
The past few weeks have been busy, but not in the way I’d have liked. Following quite a determined effort to find time to study and to use that time well, I was beginning to think I might be getting my head around the fast-approaching fieldwork. Forcing myself to draw mind-maps, and scribbling ideas like there was no tomorrow, I felt as though I was getting somewhere. That was, until a pipe burst in the bathroom, causing a flood in our kitchen. That halted my progress somewhat but, as we watched our home slowly dry out, I knew I wasn’t about to let leaky pipes stop me in my tracks.
A few days later, we received the bad news that my husband’s gran was in hospital. At age 88, she was expected to last a few days at most. No ordinary woman, however, granny wasn’t giving up without a fight. It was eight days before she passed away. Eight days of sitting with her through the days and the nights, reminiscing with family, and thinking about all the joy she had brought every one of us. She wasn’t technically my granny, but for the past 18 years she had stepped into the shoes of my own grandmothers who had long since passed. To my husband and his sister, she was more than a gran. She was a mum, dad, gran, grandad, and friend, all neatly wrapped up in one loving, caring, laughing bundle. She took care of them, and in her last few days, they returned the favour. Life goes on, but it’s safe to say that life won’t be quite the same without her.
Life does go on, but the PhD was paused (at least as far as I was aware).
Getting back into it after a break is something I always find very hard. So, in a bid to kick-start my studying, I went to the first of this year’s monthly IPA meetings – not to be confused with a monthly AA meeting, although I’m sure they have a lot of similarities. It worked. I left feeling invigorated and ready to tackle what I’d paused a few weeks before. Always in the back of my mind, however, was the fact that I might never find participants.
I knew I had to trust the people who were helping me with recruitment, and I did trust them. That doesn’t stop the worry, though. So, a few days later, when I received an email telling me I had a participant, I was so pleased I think I told a colleague I’d take that over a free cash handout any day. I’m pretty sure he didn’t believe me, but I meant it. About 30 minutes later, when I received another email telling me I had another 13 participants, I couldn’t believe my luck (and decided to put a lottery ticket on later that day which, as someone who never plays the lottery, I promptly forgot to do).
Is it luck? Perhaps a little. I think it’s more to do with having the right people helping with the right things. I trusted someone I knew I could trust, and in turn, he did the same. Both he and the person he trusted came up trumps.
It can be easy to think you’re the only person with any investment in your PhD – financially, professionally and emotionally. But, other people do care – family, friends, colleagues, and anybody who agrees to take part in whatever way they can. Some of these people even carry a bit of the load for you when you’ve had to stop or slow down. Those are the people who help you to keep going in difficult times, and often they don’t even know they’re doing it.
With special thanks to those who have helped with recruitment – you know who you are.
In loving memory of a beautiful lady. I know she’d have been one of the first to help if she could have.