Groundhog Day 2017 Resolutions: October Check-In

Once again, I’ve missed posts—I didn’t post for August or September. A lot has happened in the last few months, most of it related to school and finishing up my degree. Being out of classes has thrown me off. I prefer to have routines and schedules, and without them I often get kind of depressed and lost. I tend to mostly stay in and do very little. As a result, my health has suffered: I’ve gained a considerable amount of weight since May, and my blood sugar has been quite bad. After I went to see my doctor a month ago, I’ve taken steps to get my blood sugar under control, and I’m feeling somewhat better already.

I finished my McNair final report last month. Now I just have to write a short paper to resolve an incomplete from spring term, and I’ll be done with my undergraduate work. I pushed my official graduation date to end of fall 2017 to give myself time, which was a good decision for me. I’m feeling anxious about being out of school, but it’s necessary to get to the next phase of my life.

And here’s some exciting news: I was chosen for Black Women Being, which is a no-strings gift of funds to Black women and femmes who do community work. They’re given out monthly, and I was among those picked for October. Black Women Being is given out by the creators of the Safety Pin Box, a brilliant project that helps white people learn to do better ally work in the quest for racial justice. I’m using funds from this gift to pay costs associated with my grad school applications (paying for the GRE, ordering GRE reports and transcripts, paying application fees, etc.). I’m looking to apply to 10 programs, and the costs add up.

Other than resolving my incomplete, I’m focusing on grad school apps right now. I’ve narrowed down my list of schools and I’m approaching potential recommenders right now. I just started the application accounts for each school, and now I’m working on writing essays and filling out the necessary information. I am super nervous, but hopeful, and would accept any woo/kind thoughts/wishes you have for me.

(Shameless plug: if you want to support me in completing applications and paying the necessary costs, I would welcome anything you can contribute, but especially funds. You can donate via Paypal.me or support me long-term via Patreon. The cost of a GRE score report is $27 per school, for instance, and while most of the schools waive the application fee for McNair scholars, not all of them do. I haven’t found a job yet, so money is really tight right now, and any help is much appreciated.)

The resolution review is below the cut:

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Groundhog Day 2017 Resolutions: July Check-In

I did not post for June, as you may have noticed, and that reflects how thoroughly overwhelmed I felt at the time. I was wrapping up classes and working on final essays, and really trying to finish up too many things at once, especially without meds. I did manage to finally refill my meds, but it happened just before finals, and I ended up scrambling to finish what I could. Not the best showing I’ve ever given for a term, to be honest. I did present my preliminary research findings in May, though, and you can see the poster I made for the Undergraduate Student Research Symposium here.

Now for the resolution review:

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Groundhog Day 2017 Resolutions: May Check-In

There’s been a whirlwind of activity here. I make frequent promises to myself that I will stop saying yes to every possible opportunity or commitment that comes my way, but I fail to uphold that more than I succeed. This is partially because I usually manage to pull things together, even if it’s stressful and difficult—and it usually is both. I feel deeply blessed to have spent another year on the Queer Students of Color Conference organizing committee, and I’m so grateful for the beauty and joy and connection of the weekend, and I’m really glad it’s over now. Juggling 17 credits’s worth of reading and writing, while helping plan a 3-day conference, conducting archival research, singing in a choir, and taking a sight-reading class was a lot to manage.

Classes proceed apace, with only a few hiccoughs, mostly based on a terrible insurance snafu leading to an indefinite delay in refilling my meds, combined with ongoing sleep schedule issues. I’m hoping to rally post-conference, and get back out in front of work.

Now for the resolution review:

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Groundhog Day 2017 Resolutions: April Check-In

I glutened myself this past weekend, so I’m in recovery/detox mode: joint aches, headaches, back pain, ultra fatigued… It’s the worst—I was in too much pain to fall asleep Saturday night, tossing and turning for hours, and struggled to sleep the next night as well. If last year is any indication, I’ll be recovering at least the rest of this week, and possibly longer, which is gonna make the start of term way harder that it would otherwise have been.

Yesterday was the first day of classes. So far, my classes look great, though I’m a bit worried about being able to balance the workload. I know I complain about it every year, but spring break is just not long enough! I really wish they would shift the spring term out a week and give us two weeks of break. The end of last term was hard, and I spent the break catching up on work that’s been left by the wayside during the term, and now I’m dealing with health issues from gluten. I’m already feeling a little burnt out, and the term has just started. I’d appreciate any well wishes or woo you want to send into the universe on my behalf, because I cannot afford to drop the ball this term: I’m running out of financial aid, and this is my second to last term.

I registered for graduation (they charge $30 to register, plus a $2 processing fee!), signed up for commencement, and ordered my regalia. I also signed up for the pre-commencement Lavender Graduation ceremony (through the Queer Resource Center) and the Multicultural Graduation (through the Multicultural Resource Centers and ethnic identity studies departments), so I can get the kente and rainbow stoles to wear to commencement. It feels a little silly, since I won’t actually have finished all my courses and graduated until end of summer, but I’ve been assured that several people will be quite grumpy with me if they don’t get the chance to cheer and take pictures of me walking, so I’m doing it. Trying not to stress too much about it—it’s not for a couple of months, anyway. For now, I’m just focusing on finishing these classes. Wish me luck!

This month’s resolution review is below the cut; reading it, you may notice that I spent a lot of money on tools to increase my chances of succeeding this term, along with the funds I spent on graduation and commencement stuff. Because I’m at the end of my financial aid, money’s tight this term; if you can, please donate to help me cover food and protect my health so I can finish up my bachelor’s degree and apply to graduate programs. I have a research stipend over the summer and I’ll be looking for a job after I finish up, but I need to focus on school and research now, so I can get into a strong, fully-funded program in my field. To help out, you can donate through https://cash.me/$tdudleypdx, or you can buy my poetry album. I really appreciate the support—thanks.

Now for the resolution review:

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Groundhog Day 2017 Resolutions: March Check-In

This term has been a roller-coaster. You’ll notice that this post is a little late, and that’s because of all the papers I’m writing. I’ve been considering posting them up online somewhere so you all can check out the work I’m doing, if you’re interested, but I’m not sure where to do that. (If you have any thoughts on a good platform for that, drop me a comment!) Anyway, I’ve been learning lots of stuff, and it’s been fascinating, but I really wish I had a time-turner—there’s so much I need to do, and not enough time!

(This month’s resolution review below the cut:)

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Groundhog Day Resolutions 2017

Just like that, I blew right past Feb 2nd. Schoolwork and life balance got messy last week, and I got caught up in writing papers and reading for class and practicing for choir and planning my research and…

Well, better late than never, I suppose. This is my third year, and if this resolution system has taught me anything it’s that I can be flexible about post dates to prioritize my health and wellbeing. So, without further ado, the goals:

  1. Practice self-care and express self-compassion: always a priority, and too easy to neglect; maybe some day I won’t need to include it in my resolutions, but for this year, it stays. Activities associated with this are reading and writing poetry, building a meditation practice, maintaining a healthy sleep schedule, and cooking meals ahead to heat-and-eat when I’m busy or low energy. I’ve been using the Pacifica app and the Calm app for the last 3 weeks, and will be trying to keep up with that—so far, they’ve helped me reframe frustrations at home, give my body space for rest during the day, and get to sleep at night.
  2. Ask for support and use my resources: I tend to get wrapped up in my head and anxious about asking for help when I need it. I also struggle to remember that there are resources available to make things manageable for me, both accommodations I am entitled to through the Disability Resource Center on campus, and as a student of the university. This will be especially vital this year, because I am taking 15 credits this term, 17 next term, and then completing original history research and submitting an article for publication in a peer-reviewed journal—lots of knowledge and new experiences coming my way! Things to focus on in this area include asking my faculty mentor for assistance and feedback, emailing professors and teaching fellows with my questions, utilizing faculty office hours, keep in contact with previous professors for research and grad school app support, and study and connect with other students in McNair and my classes.
  3. Build discipline and be creatively strategic: I experience a lot of resistance in completing my work, often starting with perfectionism, stalling from overwhelm, stressing myself into a corner, and then powering through to finish my work at the last second, sleep-deprived and panicky. This is not a healthy, happy, or effective system. I need to find ways to start early, sustain effort, squish my perfectionist urge, and produce work on time. I need to think creatively about problems when they first come up, and not give in to procrastination. Focus areas here are things like creating reward systems, finding or making accountability structures, setting reminders, breaking big things up into small doable chunks, tracking and managing sources/data, and streamlining workflows for timely completion. Lots of weird process stuff that will (hopefully) help prepare me for grad school and the life of an academic researcher.

So, those are my 2017 Resolutions! With luck (and discipline) this year looks to be an amazing and expansive one for me, and I hope these resolutions help me make the most of every opportunity. By the last review of the year, I will be done with my undergrad, have at least one published research article, and will be sending applications into grad schools across (and maybe beyond!) the US.

Some possible tools to help me stay on top of these goals: the 100 Days of Productivity challenge, the Unstuck app (which I still don’t use enough), Zotero, Trello, Evernote, Scrivener, GRE Prep, Dave Seah’s amazing productivity tools, Structured Procrastination, and the studyblr community on Tumblr.

Resolution Review posts should go up on 3 March, 4 April, 5 May, 6 June, 7 July, 8 August, 9 September, 10 October, 11 November, and 12 December, and will show up under the GHDR 2017 tag. If you want to see those as they come out, just click the button under Follow Blog via Email to subscribe!

 

Over to you: what are your resolutions for the year? Do any of mine speak to you? If you don’t formally set resolutions, what are you hoping to achieve this year?

Pre-Planning GHDR 2017—Reflecting on My Resolutions-To-Be

Happy Sunday, everyone. January’s almost over, and that means it’s resolution time! Well, almost: for the 3rd year in a row, I’ll be using Groundhog Day Resolutions to keep myself focused and accountable to my priorities and goals. (You can see all my past Groundhog Day Resolutions posts here.)

For those who don’t know about it, Groundhog Day Resolutions (GHDR) are a system created by Dave Seah to track work done and insights realized in a few focus areas over the course of a year. It’s a great system that helps my ADHD brain a lot, and serves as a good record of effort and discovery. The basics of GHDR are to set 3 focus areas, define them, think about the kind of work that is measurable proof of effort in each area, track tasks done, write reflections and insights, and blog a review each month. Goals are set on Groundhog Day, the 2nd of February, and then a GHDR Review post goes up (ideally) on the 3rd of March, the 4th of April, the 5th of May, and so on, with the last post going out on 12 December.

This means that, in less than a week, I’ll be setting 3 big areas of focus in my life, thinking of actionable items and desired outcomes for each, and posting about it here on the blog. I’ve been percolating a few ideas for focus areas since late December, and now I have to narrow it down to 3. Here’s what I have so far:

  • self-care & self-compassion: this has been on the list the last two years, and will almost definitely stay on this year
  • possible self-care subgoals: build a meditation practice, build healthy habits, read more for fun
  • learning new things: another goal from last year, but it ended up not quite suiting my needs or fulfilling the vision I had for it; if it stays on, it will definitely be overhauled
  • building discipline, aka finish what I start: big things happening in my life this year, starting with McNair and ending  with grad school applications next winter, so this will be an important component of my life this year… but should it be a GHDR? more thought needed
  • ask for help/utilize the resources I have: I have wonderful supportive community and lots of folks willing to help when I need it or who have ideas and resources they could share when I’m stuck, but I’m bad at asking for help when I need it
  • sharing my journey: I’ve been playing with the idea of creating a category here on the site titled ADHD2PhD to collect resources, share my thoughts and process, and create some community around grad school for folks with ADHD; I plan to blog about it a lot this year, and this seemed like a fun little idea
  • creating sustainable communities/creative community building: I’ve been getting more and more reclusive over the last two years, and I have so much on my plate that this won’t likely change much, so I need to think about how to keep in touch with folks, how to support and be supported by community, and how to fit my life into the larger picture; the US is a bit of a mess right now, and that will impact my life and my loved ones, for example, so I need to be ready for that
  • seek collaborations: some of the work I do is all me, but I do love sharing work and collaborating on projects, and I would love to do some small, fun things with other folks this year to decompress

Some of these are a little redundant, and none of them are in their final form yet, obviously, but thinking about it is helping me clarify what I want out of my life and how I want to feel. By this Thursday I will narrow the list and write my first GHDR post of the 2017 cycle. I love the first and last posts of each cycle: the February post is shiny and new, with all the excitement and vision I have for the year, while the December post helps me stop and take stock of all the amazing things I accomplished and the things I learned about myself and the world around me.

But the stuff in between is vitally important, as well. It feels authentic to me, to share my process here; not just the highs, but the lows as well. My moments of failure and struggle are as important a part of who I am as my moments of triumph and strength. By checking in with my resolutions every month, I can recalibrate, figure out what needs to change, and let go of what can’t be carried forward. I can challenge myself and my community to grow. It’s an important time for reflection in my life, and I value it for that. It keeps me real.

I’ve been thinking about what I want my blog to be and do this year. I want to add more posts regularly, and build more community here, to make the blog less about just me and more about other folks. I want to include some guest blog posts, some more resources, and get others involved here. At the same time, GHDR posts are important for me, so they’ll remain an important part of this blog. The rest depends on time and energy—I’m excited to see what this year becomes.

See you Thursday!

 

How about you: do you have a process to keep track of progress and hold yourself accountable to your goals for the year? What works for you?

Groundhog Day 2016 Resolutions: December Check-In & Year-End Review

Here ends my second year of Groundhog Day Resolutions. I feel like I’ve learned so much and done so much this year! In 3 days, I’ll be hopping on a plane to return to the US, and I’ll admit that I’m nowhere near ready. I wish so much I could stay here in Ghana. At the same time, I am very ready to finish my last three terms as a PSU undergrad, and graduate.

Three terms, what? Yep, I’m doing summer, too, because of some really amazing, brilliant news: I was chosen for the 2016 cohort of the McNair Scholars Program! Over the next two terms, I’ll learn skills and make connections that will help me get into a good graduate program and succeed in whatever program I go to. Over summer, I’ll complete a research project and write a journal article to submit for publication. I’m so relieved I got in, and so excited to start!

Getting into the McNair program makes going back a little less scary, and I’m looking forward to seeing and hugging so many people that I’ve missed the last few months. I also look forward to a more varied diet (lots of gluten here, not a lot of gluten-free), though I will miss fresh mango and pineapple.

I didn’t get to travel after my exams, because I couldn’t get the funds together. I also missed my last payment for my payment plan, and now have a registration hold and $100 late fee. If you can help me cover this last $341 of my tuition and fees, and pay for food and toiletries here and during my travels, please donate on Crowdrise.

The review is below the cut.

 

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Groundhog Day 2016 Resolutions: November Check-In

Just one month left here in Ghana. I’ve been trying to take it easy, especially since next week is the last week of classes, and then I have revision week and final exams. I have reading to go through, and prep for a last minute exam in one of my classes — the professor was gone and then things were pushed back, and so on, so we’re taking the 2nd midterm during our last class, and then we have a final in that class on the Sunday of revision week. It seems silly to me, but what can you do?

There’s been a bit of a stir here, since my last post: there was a big fight in my dorm after a white student used a racial slur against a Black student and spat on another Black student. It was all international students, and we ended up having a big forum with the International Programs office to talk about the incident and what would happen next. It was pretty stressful for a while, but life has mostly moved on. Now, however, a lot of folks are feeling very upset and lost after the US election results. (I wrote a piece on Medium about my own feelings towards the election, which you can read here.) There’s a lot of disappointment and frustration, and some fear. The US still impacts so much of our lives here, and soon we’ll be headed back. Honestly, I have pretty mixed feelings about it. (More on that here.) I wish I could stay longer.

Since my exams are all frontloaded, I’m planning to spend the last two weeks I’m here travelling, funds allowing. I’d like to visit Kumasi, Mole, and the Volta Region, and I’m not sure how realistic that is, but I’m going to try to do at least one. If you can help me cover the last $341 of my tuition and fees, pay for food and toiletries, and support me in visiting other parts of Ghana before I have to leave, please donate on Crowdrise. I’ve received so much support, and I’m so grateful for everyone helping me. This has been an amazing experience — thank you.

Review post, as always, is below the cut.

 

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Groundhog Day 2016 Resolutions: October Check-In

I can hardly believe the term is half over! Midterms this week and next, and a bit of melancholy about the time slipping away. Also struggling with motivation, and remembering why I don’t take many 300 level courses nowadays. It may seem contradictory, but the less challenging a course is the less motivation I can muster to study for it. I’m trying to make it easier to study, but I have trouble focusing in my room, and it’s hard to find a secure, comfortable spot to study: the chairs are really hard to sit in for long, and I can’t get up and go to the bathroom, etc., and leave my stuff out unless I’m studying in my room. This is an issue I’ve struggled with for a long time, though, and probably will keep struggling with for years to come. That’s life. I planned a couple pretty successful study groups with folks for the midterm I had this morning, and I think they really helped me and the other students out, so yay for that!

I’m feeling some anxiety about the university charges. The deadline to opt out of insurance for the term was Sunday, but it wouldn’t let me, and I’m thinking it’s because I’m not in the country right now, but it still makes me nervous about them charging me $900 I can’t afford right now. Additionally, my student account reflects that I paid my installment when it was due on Thursday, but it hasn’t come out of my bank account yet, and I hate when they do that. I get paranoid something else I forgot about will go through and then it will bounce or overdraw me and then the school will freak out. Poverty is basically the worst, and so stressful. On that note: I’m still raising funds (you can donate on Crowdrise) to cover the gap between my financial aid and my program costs (including food, toiletries, and $1,023 in tuition and fees). Please give and share, if you can.

The university here is very different than I’m used to. I’m struggling a bit to adjust, honestly, but there’s good and bad in it. Dance class is my favorite, and I really like my Twi instructor and my history professors, but some of my classes are causing a lot of difficulties for me. More on that in the review post, below the cut.

 

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Groundhog Day 2016 Resolutions: September Check-In

Several days late, but only because the internet in the student housing I’m staying at completely stopped working last week. I bit the bullet and bought a personal wifi router, which includes free Facebook and Youtube until mid-October, and free internet between midnight and 5am, for about $30 USD.

I’m still raising funds (you can donate on Crowdrise or Patreon), to cover the gap between my financial aid and my program costs (including food, toiletries, and $1,023 in tuition and fees). I would much appreciate your support.

I’ve gotten a flurry of acceptances for poetry I’ve written, as a result of submitting a bunch of work in July. I’ve got poems in the latest issues of Words Dance and Wordgathering, and I’ve had a piece accepted for an upcoming anthology by Zoetic Press, and another by Hermeneutic Chaos. So, that’s all felt pretty nice.

I’m pretty well settled in here, and dealing with the ups and downs of life. I’ve also been grappling with my own loner tendencies and my course load. More details are in the review post, which is below the cut.

 

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Groundhog Day 2016 Resolutions: August Check-In

A day late, but full of good news and excitement! Despite my fears and stress, everything’s falling into place for my trip, and I’m feeling so excited and thankful and blessed. I’m still raising funds (you can support me on Crowdrise or Patreon, if you have cash to spare), but I’m now officially days out. Lovely friends have been housing me and helping me out, and I wouldn’t be 2 days from departure without y’all — thanks so much for all the love and support, really.

This month once again has no tracker photos, because those have basically fallen by the wayside with most of my stuff in storage and living out of backpacks. This month’s review is below the cut.

 

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Groundhog Day 2016 Resolutions: July Check-In

Still fundraising for my trip (you can support me here), and prepping for that — just about a month left before I go. I am now homeless, staying with friends and living out of a duffel and backpack, which is making everything a bit harder and more complicated. This post is, as usual, late, but on purpose this time, because I wanted to finish up some work before I posted. (More on that below!)

I’ve also been struggling a lot with the recent highly publicized shootings of unarmed/unresisting Black people. I am well aware these happen all the time — US police are on pace to kill one unarmed Black person a day in 2016 — but if I let myself marinate in Black death all the time, I wouldn’t be able to function. Sad to say, but wilfully ignoring the violence is better for my health on the average day. I set aside time to do what work I can in the struggle for justice, including on the Fists Up OR/WA Facebook page, and try not to feel too guilty the rest of the time.

No GHDR Tracker Photos this time — moving has done a number on me and my organization. Should be back next month, though. Review below the cut.

 

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Groundhog Day 2016 Resolutions: June Check-In

Better late than never, eh? I have been so busy and stressed that this is the first time I’ve really had time and energy to work on this post. It was meant to go up on the 6th, of course, but that was finals week, and I had to crank out three papers, give a presentation in Spanish, and take a final exam — everything else was put on the backburner. Since then I’ve been frantically trying to get things together for my trip to Ghana. There’s so much for this trip I didn’t even think about. I’m giving myself serious adulting points for all of this — it’s a lot of work! Below are May’s points, and the Review post is below the cut.

 

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Groundhog Day 2016 Resolutions: May Check-In

I’ve been very frazzled this past month: there has been a lot of violence and unsafety in my community, which has gotten to the point that my doctor and I are talking about me going on anxiety meds. I’m having trouble getting restful sleep, which impacts my concentration, anxiety, chemical sensitivity, and pain levels. I’m tired all the time, and I’ve been really scattered and clumsy. For example, I managed to drop and break my phone rushing to catch the bus to school on Monday of this week, and that really feels like it encapsulates so much of my experiences this past month.

I can live without a phone, but I use it to track and manage my health, so I’d prefer not to, if possible. Unfortunately, I don’t have the money to get it fixed right now, but it’s been shedding glass shards in my purse and cutting up my palms, so leaving it broken isn’t going to work out. I’m trying to do some creative thinking about how to solve that problem.

I’m still using the GHDR Tracker form, and it’s really helping to motivate me. Dave made some updates to the Tracker form; I used the new version for two weeks, but found that the reduced number of bubbles irked me (I missed out on some points because I maxed out levels a few times) and that I really relied on the central task list to help me stay focused, so I switched back to the previous version. Below are April’s points, and the Review post is below the cut.

2016-04-04 01.09.02 HDR 2016-04-11 00.23.44 HDR 2016-04-26 14.44.20 HDR 2016-04-26 14.43.58 HDR 2016-05-02 02.46.20 HDR

 

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