Running to stand still

I’ve been lax with the project 52 posts again. It’s been a busy few weeks and in my defence I was either in the UK, or had houseguests for much of the time elapsed since my last (somewhat growly) post… therefore, my two missing posts (weeks 26 & 27) are snippets of what I have been up to!

So, week 26- I left for the UK on the Wednesday lunchtime and had a couple of days with Matt, in which Adventures were had, went to a wedding, celebrated an engagement, saw my folks and played some silly games. On the Friday M and I went to London for said Adventure – we went to the British Museum, but didn’t manage to get in to see Herculaneum and Pompeii, so we wandered around some bits of the museum we missed on our last visit in February, then walked (!) over to London Zoo, via Regent’s Park, to attend ‘Zoo Lates‘ – this was a lot of fun and as you may have seen on twitter, I learned a lot about aardvarks and got a little over excited by the sloths. I only took one picture though, as Matt took his decent camera along and I left documenting the trip down to him. He had great fun before we even got to the zoo, trying to get pictures of the almost tame squirrels in the park.

#project52 Week 26 Park!

#project52 Week 26 Park!

 

When I came back to the Netherlands last Thursday I brought Cas and Cat with me, and they went home on Tuesday (via awesome pie in Amsterdam). Having two of my favourite women here with me for almost a week was such a treat. We talked about books, and men, and politics, and life as our particular generation. It was particularly interesting to me to see the city through their eyes. Cat is a keen photographer and she looks at buildings and landscapes in ways that I don’t. I think the pictures she took on the trip are stunning. Cas is a writer and inquisitive by nature, especially about people and how they work. She asked me so many good questions, about what life here is like, and how it is different from home. More than anything, it was good to spend a few days with people who know me inside out, and who have devoured the same books as me…. When we get together, Matt swears it is like trying to decipher code as we pull references from authors we love to explain how we feel, or how we see a situation. They are my coven, and I love them.

#project25 Week 27 Cat & Kriek

#project25 Week 27 Cat & Kriek

I went back to work yesterday and spent all of it reading documents that had come in for my edits while I was away, and getting on top of my email. Today I had a ‘supervision’ meeting with a student doing his BA thesis partly with me, then had an afternoon of dealing with Scary Things ™ – like the Student Loans Company, and pressing for feedback on an article I am writing, then cracked on with a report. I met the lovely Vere after work for a catch-up and then came home and decided I had used up all of my bravery for the day, so no more scary things tonight. Once this is posted, I’m going to curl up with a book, and get an early night. My holiday was lovely, but now I need to focus hard on getting some things off of the ‘to do’ list before I leave for fieldwork in twelve days!

repeat after me:

I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.

So. Here is the way through: Breathe. Run (tomorrow after work). Plan: fear of the unknown is more than half of the problem, and a good deal of what is left is due to the chaos created by not having a plan. Eat well, sleep well and remember how in love you are with where you live and what you do. That should do it. Right?

There is no try… the #ISAPafterparty and beyond

One of the things I said I needed to do regarding the #yearofyoda was to start being more proactive in my research career and putting my ideas and professional stance across more strongly and confidently. Boy, is it terrifying. If you follow my twitter feed you’ve probably seen an extended conversation that started at the ISAP biannual conference in Vienna last week, about a lot of serious (and not so serious) aspects of and issues in archaeological geophysics at the moment.

One of the things I agreed to do was post up a series of open documents laying out my ideas in a more expansive forum than twitter’s 140 characters, to try to keep the impetus generated at the conference going. I’ve just posted them up on an openly shared google docs folder that you can find here. I welcome any feedback and I’ll try to keep them updated with what everyone adds, keeping my own opinions clearly demarcated. It’s a little bit scary, all of this. In some ways, I don’t feel like I have the experience or the authority to set an agenda in this way. I’m hoping people I perceive to have more ‘gravitas’ will join in and I can at least act as a collecting point, a facilitator!

In other news, me and my brain have had a bit of an interesting time. Vienna was a good distraction from all that, and getting back in touch with other people working in geophysics was really good for some of the confidence issues I have been experiencing. Various things have gone a bit ‘wrong’ since getting back from Italy and I am determined this week to get back on track, to eat healthily, sleep properly and focus hard at work and on making plans for next year. This week’s photo is a little taste of life in the Netherlands. Here in Groningen we have ‘city sheep’ that belong to the city council and keep the verges and canal-sides trimmed. I was walking home from the shops yesterday to find them all penned in the park behind my house, getting their annual haircut!

#project52 week 23 City Sheep!

#project52 week 23 City Sheep!

Balance

This week has been good. I’ve finished a report that was starting to feel like a millstone (and at 31,000 words, was longer by a third than my MSc thesis, and more than a third of my PhD), and instead of feeling daunted by all the things that were waiting for ‘after’ I’m looking forward to getting my teeth into something new.

I’ve not been running since I got back from my trip to the UK the other weekend. This was for two reasons;  firstly I upset my knees on fieldwork. I don’t think it’s anything major, they were just having a grumble, and I didn’t have a chance to rest them ’till now. Secondly, I’ve spent most of this week floored by some weird bug that never quite turned into the death-flu the initial symptoms portended. It seems to be on it’s way out though, so I am going for a run tomorrow and I’ll see how I go.

In archaeology-related news, my paper got accepted for EAA this year, so I’ll be speaking in a session about geophysical methods for studying later prehistory, as well as co-chairing our round table on methods for investigating rural sites. It’s going to be a busy few days in Pilsen, but has anyone got any sight-seeing tips for someone who’s never been to the Czech Republic before? I’d like to cram some touristy things in while I am there.

On a similar note, I’m off to Vienna for ISAP at the end of the month and can’t wait to catch up with the usual suspects. I’ve never been to Vienna before (or Austria for that matter), so, same question really! What shouldn’t I miss? We have an excursion to Carnuntum that I am quite excited about, but what about in the city itself?

I’ve just realised that all that comes off as a bit of a humblebrag, sorry. I love that my job lets me do all of these things!

This week has been about re-learning balance. About an aspect of the ‘simply do’ motto I’d overlooked, or got a bit wrong. The flipside is: or do not. I had a mini crisis at the end of last week, about all kinds of daft stuff, and my mum and dad reminded me that it’s important to be gentle with yourself. Do, or Do Not. But don’t beat yourself up for the things you don’t do. Don’t get stuck in a spiral of negative feelings and introspection. Sometimes it’s OK to be shallow and just skim along the surface of things. It’s how I got through finishing the report: I stopped agonising over every last bit, because it’ll be read and edited by the project team. I stopped hating that I needed to do it, and found that once I was actually doing it, I enjoyed it. I’ve had the same revelation about running, but apparently it’s an epiphany I need to have many times over. I’m struggling to pick a photo this week. I had fun taking pictures of the May fair in the city centre this weekend, I fitted into my old boots (and still LOVE them), I was outraged at/covetous of pink Darth Vader t-shirts, and my brother rightly mocked me for instagramming filtered screen shots, but I think it has to be my first picture of the week, which was a letter from the ever-lovely BrightMeadow reminding me I have wonderful people in my life, and that they need to remember to be kind to themselves too.

Kindness #project52 week 20

Kindness #project52 week 20

 

So, be excellent to each other, and yourselves! I am continuing this theme by spending a chunk of tomorrow being uncharacteristically girly and doing moisturising-type-things… I may or may not post pictures of the no doubt hilarious state I’ll be in while face packs do their thing….

Reminders

This week I have been reminded of my resolution. I’m not going to write a lot today, just explain why the little knight I got in my latest lego splurge actually meant something, enough to be my #project52 for the week.

 

#project52 week 10 - reminders

I read, a lot. I’m a big fantasy and sci-fi geek, and I particularly love well crafted YA (Young Adult) fantasy, even more so when it has a feminist bent. No, for a million and one reasons, I do not mean Twilight (but that is a rant for a different time and place). Anyway, a particular author-heroine of mine is Tamora Pierce. Cat and Cas and I can talk about her books for hours, even though we’ve all read them so often we know the words by heart. All of her books came with me to Groningen because they’re like old friends: I need them around to see me through homesickness and heartsickness, to keep me company on rainy weekends, and to remind me to better. You see, though many of the heroines of the stories have magical powers, or extraordinary talents, my favourite heroine from these stories is a girl called Kel. Kel isn’t absurdly talented, she has no magical gift, she’s not especially beautiful and she has flaws. But she never ever gives up- she strives in a patriarchal society to become the realm’s second female knight, and she makes it. She gets to where she is with hard work, courage, and a strong sense of right and wrong. She is a heroine entirely on her own merit, and despite being from a fantasy book, this makes her all the more real.

So, when I bought some lego as I left the UK (minifigs- you don’t know what you get until you open the little packet), it seemed exactly right that it should be a little knight, grinning at me. Kel reminds me that you keep going. That the only sure way to fail is not to try in the first place. And that a little hard work is good for everyone.

When the going gets tough

… the tough roast chickens and giggle at tumblr all afternoon?

 

… This week has not gone so well, in terms of the ‘there is no try’ motto.

So, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and go for it, right?

There were some good bits this week- the write-and-skype with my Dad was productive and I have something to actually take to my writing group this week. I bit the bullet and went to a gig on my own on Thursday night, danced for 2 hours and reminded myself of that tribal bit of my soul that loves getting lost in a crowd all responding to the same rhythm. I took some nice pictures yesterday of the snow in the park before it all started to thaw today, and reassured myself that the blackbirds, tits and nuthatches were doing OK in the cold.

Always winter, but never Christmas

Always winter, but never Christmas

The sudden thaw has made me think of Narnia, in the first (OK, technically second) book when the White Witch is losing her grasp, and Father Christmas comes, then on his heels the thaw. While the snow has been pretty, it has been quite bleak too. I’m looking forward to green grass, and perhaps some snowdrops or crocuses to tell me spring is on the way. I had my first appraisal this week and things are apparently going well, and we had some positive discussions about this last year of my work on the project, and what happens afterwards, but nothing is concrete and it won’t be for ages. So. Next week will be better. I am off to cheer myself up by taking over the world and drinking tea.