When life takes over

So… It has been a while, hasn’t it? The last few months have been a bit of a roller coaster ride for me and it’s been quite hard to find balance. Actually, I’m still struggling to fit everything in without going crazy.

I thought I would update you with everything that’s been going on in my life.

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PhD

I had my PhD viva at the start of August. In typical fashion, I procrastinated all through July and didn’t really start preparing for it until the week before. I felt confident that I could answer any questions about what I did during my PhD, and be able to justify it. However, I was a bit worried terrified about having to answer more general questions, after all there is no specified study material for a PhD defence, anything and everything goes. As the big day approached I started getting more and more nervous about it, and I was having ridiculous nightmares every night.

In the end, the viva was far easier than I expected; it was an almost pleasant 2.5-hour chat with two experts in my field. I cannot describe the feeling of relief and joy that I felt when, after a few minutes of the horrible agony of waiting, they announced their decision that I should be awarded a PhD. It was one of the best moment of my life! I suddenly felt as if a huge weight was lifted and I’m fairly certain I’ve been a little bit taller since.

I am now pretty much ready to hand in my thesis with final corrections included, and I’m looking forward to seeing it bound, all pretty and important looking. And that will be it for my PhD.

Work

Continuing in the theme of “All my dreams are coming true!”, I now have a job. A proper job, with a salary and everything. It all happened so fast! Actually, I had my second interview with this small start-up just two days after passing my PhD viva, and then I had the job offer by the end of that week. Insane! I keep telling The Boy, a year ago everything felt slow and difficult and heavy, as if I had to move through honey, while now everything is just falling into place and happening so fast. I love it!IMG_20151023_173815

I started at my new job in September and so far it’s been going really well. My role is varied and interesting, I’m given quite a lot of independence and freedom to take my own initiative which I really like. As if that’s not enough, my commute is a 6-minute cycle ride to the centre of Oxford. How awesome is that? Ok, I’m going to stop now because I feel a bit silly gushing about the whole thing.

Life
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We said goodbye to the summer by spending 3 days in the glorious Cotswolds countryside at The Big Feastival. It was so amazing! It was 3 days of great food, fantastic music, and fun activities. It felt like a brilliant way to mark the end of my student life and the beginning of a new era.

I went back home for a little holiday in September, which you would have seen if you are following me on Instagram. It was the perfect combination of family time, including a super-fun family wedding, great seafood, and relaxation. I did take about a million pictures, which I will try to share on here. I returned from holiday feeling rested and really quite excited to properly settle into my new routine and find a balance between all the things I have to do and want to do every day.

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This is something I’m still working on. Working at a proper job is a lot more structured than writing my thesis was, so that took a bit of adjusting. I started adding a bit of exercise every week, I’m doing yoga every morning and then some kind of exercise (or just going for a walk in the countryside) after work a couple of days a week. Of course, now with the clocks going back it gets dark so early, I’ll have to change my routine but, oh well.

I also took up knitting, after attending a Wool and the Gang workshop at The Big Feastival. My first project was a soft and warm grey snood, which I’ve been wearing a lot recently. I’m now working on a slightly longer project, a beautiful blue scarf, which required me to learn a couple more stitches. I find knitting very relaxing and it’s great to get to wear something that I made.
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Um, what else?

Oh yes! Just last week I heard that the commercial license to one of my photos was sold on EyeEm market. So incredible! It’s not really a way to make much money, but it’s such a nice feeling. And really, I remember I took that picture on a glorious day during a walk in Wytham woods, so making any money for it is the cherry on the cake. It’s this picture, if you are curious to see it.

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Another pretty exciting thing is that The Boy and I felt inspired to make some positive changes in our diet. We try to make our weekday meals healthy and nutritious, and perhaps most importantly we have more sensible portions. Then the weekends are more free and indulgent. It’s all about balance. We’ve both noticed increased energy levels and a general feeling of wellness since, which is fantastic. I’ll try to make a separate post about it, at some point.

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Of course, that depends on whether I manage to find time to actually blog again. I really want to get back at it, so it’s just a matter of prioritising it, as I know people a lot more busy than me find the time to blog.

And I think that’s pretty much it for me. What have you been up to? Let’s catch up in the comments, or link up any great blog posts that I missed, I’m really very keen to get back to the blogosphere.

Speak to you soon!

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Not ready to come back!

A beautiful Cornish fishing town @ alittleadventure.net

And so we are back! I spent last week in beautiful Cornwall and I have to say I’m quite smitten. I just loved Cornwall so much; I was amazed at the beauty of the landscape, charmed by the little fishing villages, and indulged in delicious seafood! As with any good holiday, I was very sad to leave although I tried not to be too grumpy about it and instead focus on feeling grateful that I got to visit such a beautiful area and that home is a pretty good place to return to.

However, I don’t quite feel ready to face the real – or online – world yet. I’m spending the day unpacking, finding a home for all the seashells I’ve found on Cornish beaches, and going through the hundreds of pictures that I took. I’m very excited to share some with you in the next few days.

A giant man and his brother were sitting on my chest!

I have finally submitted my PhD thesis and oh my, I can’t even tell you what a relief it is! I’m quite literally jumping for joy.

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I had been working pretty much non-stop recently and now I basically have nothing I ought to be doing. It feels quite odd. I even caught myself feeling momentarily guilty as if I was neglecting doing something. The Guilt has been my constant companion for the last few months, it was a very irrational feeling that appeared whenever I was doing something other than working. I will not miss The Guilt one bit.

I do however feel a bit sad; I’ve been a student basically all of my life, so this is definitely the end of an era in my life. I’m happy and excited for whatever comes next, but also a bit scared and anxious. So a nice wide range of feelings there.

I’m going on a little holiday tomorrow. I’m hoping to spend a lot of time walking outside and to catch some sunshine, after all these weeks of working inside it will feel awesome! My laptop is coming with me, I want to catch up with all of you and I’ve got many blog post ideas I’d like to get started on. But for today, I’m trying to adjust and enjoy a completely carefree, guilt-free day. I hope you are having a nice Saturday too!

Diary of a madwoman

I have a very good excuse for the lack of posts recently. I’m in the last few days -days!- before submitting my thesis and I’ve been dedicating almost every waking moment to it. The last couple of weeks have been very tiring and monotonous: I simply work all day, every day. It’s been driving me a bit mad! So on Saturday, I decided to give myself a little side-project, something that would take very little time but would make yet another day of writing up a bit more fun, so I kept a picture diary of my day. This is what I got up to…

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I got up at 6:45. Outside it was grey and drizzly. This didn’t help with my mood: I had planned to get up at 6 am but overslept so I was grumpy. I really hate starting the day with a feeling of failure. I made a cup of coffee and read my book for about 20 minutes. I’m loving this book about walking along the Pennine Way in the English countryside. It really makes me want to give everything up and go walking for a few weeks. Aside from the fact that it would be a thoroughly silly thing to do just days before finishing my phd, I don’t know what’s stopping me.

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By half seven, the laptop was on. Oh hello there thesis, long time no see! I was still a bit sleepy so I stayed and worked under my blanket on the sofa. I’ve been doing this a lot over the past few weeks and I know it’s really bad for my posture and it makes my lower back ache. But it’s cosy and warm. Most scientific papers and dissertations are written using LaTeX, because it makes writing long equations and inserting graphics far easier than any other editor. Anyway, I’ve been using it so much recently, I even caught myself using LaTeX commands in emails. Not good.

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At nine, I got dressed for my yoga class. This felt like quite the luxury! It was warm but raining, so I put on my hoodie which is bright pink, like my mat. It made me smile. I also had my Gilmore Girls t-shirt on that says “Life’s short, talk fast”. I love it! I cycled to the class, it felt so wonderful to stretch after so many days of only sitting and typing.

On my way home I cycled through the town centre to pop into Boots for a few necessities. Not surprisingly, I got sidetracked by a few non-necessities. It seems to be the law to wander around the make-up aisles whenever DSC07240pI go to Boots. I really liked these Bourjois lip glosses, they came in really fresh, vibrant colours. I almost put this one in my basket but then changed my mind. I thought it would be better if I got myself a treat after I achieve my goal, not before. This exhibition of sensibleness made me feel very virtuous.

I also picked up some things for my lunch from the shop and then cycled home.
 
 
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Our garden roses are having quite the season this year! They are just to the side of our gate and they make for a very welcoming and fragrant sight. I stopped to smell them and thought they looked so pretty with raindrops on their petals.
 
 
 
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I got back home and someone, ahem, was still in bed! I showered and changed and by the time I made myself my second cup of coffee of the day The Boy was up and “volunteered” to take a picture of me being very happy because both my shirt and my mug were polka dot. It’s the little things, right?

I got back to work. I started a run of my code because I needed some final results to add to my thesis. As I was doing that I got a deja vu feeling and it made me feel anxious and worried that something bad was going to happen. Like, that maybe all my previous results would prove to be wrong or something. I told you I’ve been going a bit crazy. The Boy told me a story about the ducklings on the river near his work which calmed me down and brought me back to sanity (or near it anyway).
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I continued with my work occasionally sneaking peeks at the tv because the trooping of the colour was on, for the celebration of The Queen’s official birthday. I love these grand ceremonies, all the fanfare, the carriages, and the horses, it makes me feel like I live in some medieval fairytale!

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At around 1pm I stopped for lunch. I had a slice of toast with some baked beans and two poached eggs. Yummy!
 
 
 
 
 
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After lunch, I was dreading returning to work. Not so much because I felt tired but I was worried this latest run would produce bogus results and I would have to spend the next few days scrambling to redo everything and come up with actual physical explanations for my results. I probably don’t need to mention here that I am particularly good at thinking about the worst possible scenario and I often re-enact mini Greek tragedies not always having a good reason to do so. By some kind of miracle, the first code run of the day completed without a glitch, and the results were perfectly consistent with what I previously obtained. I was very very happy about this!

The Boy was supposed to be going to a bbq at a friends house in the afternoon. However, as is often the case, the weather was stubbornly sticking to grey and wet, so he ended up staying at home. I was sorry that his plans fell through but I must say, I was glad to have someone around to talk to, other than myself that is. Working alone from home every day can get really lonely.
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After dinner, which was sticky ribs and sweet potato chips and disappeared before I could remember to take a picture, Maisie the cat dropped by for a short visit. It’s always so nice to see her! She stayed only for a little while, just long enough for a couple of cuddles and a vicious attack on my phone charger.
 
 
 
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By around 9 pm I was fading fast. I managed to check everything off my thesis to-do list for the day. So I joined The Boy on the sofa where he was watching Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. He had bought a super amazing dessert, it was a quite ponsey-looking jaffa chocolate mouse thing. Chocolate and orange is one of my favourite combinations so I was very very happy! Floating on a chocolate high I then proceeded to fall asleep on the sofa, just when Lupin began howling at the full moon.

Sartorial musings – Shopping habits

I’ve noticed that since forming my first Wardrobe Resolution, my shopping habits have changed considerably. It may be an oxymoron but while I think about clothes and style and material possessions a lot more, I shop a lot less. I mean, after putting all this effort in ridding my closet of things I don’t wear and I don’t love, it really wouldn’t make any sense to go out and just mindlessly buy more unnecessary items. Right?

I’m slowly trying to change my mindset when it comes to shopping for clothes, shoes and accessories. Mostly, I don’t want to be a mindless consumer; I want to make decisions that are right for me, my budget, and my style. Although, going on a bit of a tangent, what is my style? I don’t know about you, but I find it surprisingly difficult to pinpoint my personal style. But that’s another topic for another day.


After what is probably too much thinking, I have combined the shopping principles I’d like to adhere to into my third Wardrobe Resolution:

“I will make fewer, well-thought out and well-researched decisions when shopping, avoid impulse purchases, and not fall in the sales trap.”


So far, shopping less has been surprisingly easy to achieve. I certainly wasn’t a shopaholic before, but I was guilty of visiting the shops just to pass the time on a Saturday morning, or buying something on an impulse just so that the shopping trip wouldn’t be a waste (which is completely nonsensical, I know). Now, I still visit the shops, because it’s something I actually enjoy, although definitely not so often. I’m always very happy to go along with friends on a shopping trip and I still have fun doing it. Not buying anything, I’m happy to say, is not even a struggle. With my new mindset in place, it doesn’t even feel like there’s a temptation that I’m resisting, the urge isn’t there.

Shopping habits @ alittleadventure.net

I’m trying to make any purchases I do make much more considered and researched. To this end, I’ve found that lists are just the best! As I identify needs in my closet, I compile lists. I have a list for items I need presently (black flat shoes, tan flat sandals, a summer dress), and a list of items for which I’m perennially searching (the perfect white shirt, black courts, and grey cashmere jumper). Armed with my lists, I research favourite websites and I visit shops, however I don’t feel the urgency to make a purchase and I’m actually enjoying the search. I’m very happy to be patient and just keep looking until I find the perfect item – perfect to me meaning it fits me perfectly and it’s the best quality I can afford. This means that there’s a lot of “almost buying”: I will try something one, like it, than just before buying it I will decide I don’t love it and put it back. I also often give myself some time to think about an item; if I’m still thinking about something after a few days have passed, I revisit and re-try it on, and if it’s still satisfactory I make the purchase.

Sadly, items on sale are still my downfall. When I see those signs or receive the newsletters advertising sales, something switches in my brain. The discount makes me feel as if I’m being virtuous and actually saving money, when in fact I may be buying something I don’t need and will likely never wear. I’m making an effort to curb this; I think asking myself the question “would I still buy this at full price?” will help.

I’m very happy with my new attitude when it comes to shopping. I find it is liberating to know that I won’t buy stuff on impulse and not feeling the guilt when seeing unworn and unloved items in my closet. I’m very curious to know what are your shopping habits. Do you get carried away when shopping and succumb to marketing or even pressure from shopping companions? Are you a list-maker? And for those of you who were inspired to work towards a better and happier wardrobe, how’s it all going?