How is it that I have not updated this site in more than year?  I am not sure what happened.

I am considering reclaiming this space again, because it is important to me to be able to look back and see where I have been.

The BIG updates since we last spoke...

-I got engaged Jan/2011
-I started my career June/2011
-I (we) bought a house Aug/2011
-I (we) got married Oct/2011

I am also not sure if I wrote about the (re)addition of Ringo to our family.  It's a very long story, and I will have to go back and check to see if I already wrote about it, but long story short -- we have a 3rd doggie in the house!  He's a German Shep/Whippet mix and he is 16 or 17 years old.

My job has prevented me from spending much time doing anything else but working and then recuperating from work, but I will try to dedicate myself back a bit to this site.  I have enjoyed skipping around and reading my old entries.

Did you hear that?  That was the sound of me emitting a giant exhale.

-The motorcycle course wrapped successfully, with me emerging hand-in-hand with a passing score and a certificate that I can use to obtain the "M" classification on my license.  While I am FAR from being comfortable on a bike, I'm at least not afraid anymore.  Taking the class made me a better driver, too.  I had never operated a manual in my life, so getting used to a clutch was a big step.  But, I did okay and actually liked going "fast" - we never got up above 25 mph on the course, but it felt fast to me initially.  I'm a master corner-er too.  I can corner, swerve, lean, and do a perfect double U-turn (a serpentine in dressage horse language).  I'm not wanting to go out and buy a motorcycle right now, but it's definitely more possible now.

-My dissertation edits are done and it is in my committee's hands.  I will DEFEND MY DISSERTATION next Friday (July 30)!  It feels weird to even say that!  But, I am very excited and very happy to be approaching the finish line -- it's been a long three years.

-The big news is:  I've decided to move!  Joel and I will be moving to his new job, which is in a smaller town outside of The Big City.  I'm going to spend the first two months closing up my life here, unpacking there, and settling in to a life outside of graduate school.  I'm going to be job searching in The Big City, and I'm really hoping I will land something nice - not just something to get by on.

-We've found a very cute rental house with a great, laid-back landlord that (1) has a black Lab, but (2) LOVES that we will be bringing our two Labs!!  Can you believe it?  She wants us to have our dogs there!  It's almost too good to be true - we had to pinch ourselves.  The dogs will even have a doggy door in the back door to go out into the FENCED BACKYARD!!!!  I'm so excited!  The past three years, Cosette (and more recently, Trooper) have had to wear their leashes everytime we go outside.  Now, they can go out and play in the backyard without having me go out there too (I'm most excited about this during the winter).  It's a small backyard, but it's big enough for them.  Plus, we got $100 knocked off our rent by agreeing to take care of the lawn and garden maintenance!  Score!

-My time with the winery is coming to a close, although I'm not looking forward to leaving.  It's been a great job and something that I've really cherished doing.  I will probably stay in contact for the next few months, just helping out and letting them transition to a full-time person that can take care of wholesale distribution. 

-So, the next few weeks will be spent cleaning, packing, teaching, defending, graduating (Joel, not me - I have to graduate in December), moving, working, and job searching!  Should be a really fun time in its own little way. 

Last night I turned in my draft of my pre-dissertation paper (don't ask, it's just another hurdle) to my chair.  This is the paper I've been working on since I submitted my final pre-dissertation plan (another hurdle) in December.  9 months.  NINE MONTHS!?  Well, for the first 5 months, I worked sporadically - like once a month I'd read an article for it, and half-heartedly write a paragraph.  It just sat at the back of my academic closet, not getting much use and not worn to all the glamorous parties.  I waved my hand at it occasionally, promising I'd fit back into it soon, but just never really had the energy for it.  I was in my last semester of classes.  Then the follow month (month 6) I was preparing for my preliminary examination to be admitted to doctoral candidacy.  After passing prelims, my life became a little chaotic.  I was teaching a 4-week class (2 hrs a day of lecturing, 5 days a week), and during that time, I lost a family member which required lengthy travel.  Then once I got back into the swing of things (month 7), my summer class had ended and I started traveling for various reasons (a conference, a wedding...).  Month 8, or August, rolled around, and I started paying attention to it again, and realized I wasn't that far from finishing my complete draft (not a final draft, mind you, just a full draft with no missing parts).  School started, and once again I put it on a hanger at the back of my academic closet and promised it I would see it soon.  Three weeks into the new semester, I pulled it out of my closet, tried it on (it fit), and then proceeded to party in it day and night, evenings and weekends.  Some sort of inspiration bug bit me.  I partied so hard in that paper that I wore out the zipper and compromised the seams, but dang, I got my money's worth.  Right?  Right.  Anyway, after many attempts to start and re-start working on it, I finally had my rear in gear and worked really hard on it.  I e-mailed it last night to my advisor, who will hopefully have mercy on the beautiful document and have only minor revisions.  Whatever revisions (be they many or few), I have resolved to not let the paper fester.  As soon as she returns the draft to me, I will sit down and crank out the changes for her approval.

I have less than a year to prospect, collect data, write the results, and defend my dissertation, and I have resolved that I WILL HAVE MY PH.D. BY MY NEXT BIRTHDAY (Sept 5).  Watch out, world!

“Stanford University psychology researcher Michael Mischel demonstrated how important self-discipline (the ability to delay immediate gratification in exchange for long term goal achievement) is to lifelong success? In a longitudinal study which began in the 1960s, he offered hungry 4-year-olds a marshmallow, but told them that if they could wait for the experimenter to return after running an errand, they could have two marshmallows.
Those who could wait the fifteen or twenty minutes for the experimenter to return would be demonstrating the ability to delay gratification and control impulse.
About one-third of the children grabbed the single marshmallow right away while some waited a little longer, and about one-third were able to wait 15 or 20 minutes for the researcher to return.
Years later when the children graduated from high school, the differences between the two groups were dramatic: the resisters were more positive, self-motivating, persistent in the face of difficulties, and able to delay gratification in pursuit of their goals. They had the habits of successful people which resulted in more successful marriages, higher incomes, greater career satisfaction, better health, and more fulfilling lives than most of the population.   
Those having grabbed the marshmallow were more troubled, stubborn and indecisive, mistrustful, less self-confident, and still could not put off gratification. They had trouble subordinating immediate impulses to achieve long-range goals. When it was time to study for the big test, they tended to get distracted into doing activities that brought instant gratification. This impulse followed them throughout their lives and resulted in unsuccessful marriages, low job satisfaction and income, bad health, and frustrating lives.”

As a fellow psychologist, I felt this entry deserved a little bit more on the history of the study. 
Tonight as Joel and I had dinner, I was talking about how I can’t wait to be in a working situation where I can earn a lot of money.  Not that money is the most important thing on earth, but let us face it:  money allows me to do the things that are important to me on a larger level.  Traveling, exploring new hobbies, going on yoga retreats, having aesthetic surroundings, having healthy dogs, the list goes on.  It’s not that money buys happiness, but money buys things that accentuate my happiness.  There’s a fine line and I’m probably not explaining it very well.
I confessed feeling as if I’ve gone a very long time with a strong focus on my academic career, with very little focus on my personal life or my personal well-being.  I’m a well-rounded, well-traveled person, but when I’m engaged in school I have very little outside time to focus on me as a person in the sense of engaging in the hobbies I want to do, the activities I seek, etc.  As I move closer and closer towards the completion of my degree, I can’t help but feeling a sense of relief, like, “I’ve made it.”  As Joel pointed out, I’ve gone without the marshmallows for so long.  And it’s so very true.  I've been in higher education (undergrad-masters-phd) for 7.5 years.  I haven't taken a summer off since I started.  That's about 22 semesters.  Straight.  No break.  I don't even want to think about how many classes that is.  I’ve put my academic career ahead of my own personal life for so long that I’m beginning to taste the freedom associated with just working and doing what I love, and it’s addictive.  I’m very aware of the fact that my specific sub-section of my field that I’m in, and earning an advanced degree in, is very well compensated.  Very well.  There’s work involved, sure, but I feel like for the first time that I will be able to be well-paid enough and selective enough that I’ll only need to work on projects that I want to work on.  The type of work I’m going into does not need to have bad days.  I’m being a little positively dramatic, but my basic point is:  I have chosen a career, not a job, and it is a career that I love to live and breathe.  My tolerance for hard work and sacrifice will pay off in spades, because the degree speaks to something larger than myself.  It says, this person hasn’t taken the marshmallows

And, this person needs to be paid well.