So, the last time I blogged was on August 6th. THAT SEEMS FOREVER AGO. Those were the days of summer + heatwaves + going to shops purely coz they have air con. I don’t normally take breaks on this blog, and if I’m honest, this one was entirely unplanned. Time ran away with me over summer, and I’m only just catching up.
SO, if I wasn’t blogging this summer, what on earth was I doing? THIS:
1. Riding a Bike
I know, this doesn’t seem like it would take up a HUGE amount of time, but it did. My lovely physio recommended cycling as an exercise that would be good for my knees, and when I saw this gorgeous specimen, I just had to buy her. Her name is Vera, and she is amazing. I hadn’t ridden a bike in YEARS, I have zero natural balance and no fix-y bike skills, but I am loving cycling again. So far, my hyper-mobility is okay with it too.
Over summer I have gradually built up my courage to ride to new places, and go on roads (V scary initially), and go into Tesco’s without freaking out that she’s going to go missing. Exercising is something that I LOVE to do, but with a chronic illness/disability it’s sometimes difficult, and cycling is something that I really enjoy and that I can do in moderation.
It had been almost a whole year since I started my PhD at the Open University (I KNOW–can you believe that?) It’s gone so fast, and I have loved it. I basically spent most of summer writing and re-writing my probation report. It was 20,000 words (ish) of what my research was and why I should be allowed to continue with my studies.
NOW, in the last year, my PhD has changed and developed a lot. Trying to condense all of that into a report was super challenging, but ultimately, really rewarding. I almost feel as if my probation report is the blueprint of what my thesis will be.
After all of this, I then had a mini-viva, which is basically a discussion on the strengths and weaknesses of my proposed research and….I passed. Here’s my happy face:
On top of a lot of academic writing, I was also trying to work on my WIP. This mainly resulted in a lot of scribbled notes and crossings out and thinking, rather than words, but in the last couple of weeks something clicked and I’m back in the ‘I LOVE YOU’ stage of drafting! I also semi-planned and researched the project I’m going to attempt in this November’s NaNoWriMo!
I know, I know–wrong time of year! The little town I’m from puts on a weekend of entertainment every other August Bank Holiday Weekend. I’m part of the local amateur dramatics group, and this year, I wrote and directed a panto–SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN POTTONIANS.
It was super fun and exhausting and stressful and challenging and I loved it. The pros of being a director: you get to boss people around. Cons of being a director: you have to know what you’re doing. I had such a talented cast and crew though, and they worked their bums off to put on a spectacular performance (I’m definitely not bias!)
5. And then I felt a bit sad…
It sounds really weird to say that I spent a chunk of summer feeling really rubbish. So many amazing things were happening, and yet I just felt a bit ‘blah’. I’m so used to being anxious, and talking myself down from being jittery, that feeling cloudy and talking myself up felt startlingly new. I’m so lucky I have such a supportive group of family and friends who understand that I’m not texting back because I’m feeling overwhelmed, and who invite me to dinner or coffee on the regular.
The cloudiness seems to have dissipated now that autumn’s here, but I wanted to show my whole summer, and feeling down was a part of it. Sometimes on social media we (and I am including myself in this), have a tendency to gloss over bad bits and shout about the good times. But bad times DO happen, even when everything seems to be rosy.
You may have noticed that reading wasn’t one of the things I did this summer. I didn’t stop reading, but I did slow down a little. I realised that I’d become a bit prescriptive with my reading habits–100 pages a day, I need to read X book next, etc. Reading was beginning to feel like a chore, rather than a hobby. SO, I stopped that. At the moment, I’m mood reading. Somedays I’ll read loads, and other days I won’t even pick up a book. So far, it’s working out really well. (AKA I’m currently re-reading HP for the a-billionth time).