Tuesday, February 28, 2012


 In my recent "manifesto" in response to The Burning Question, I wrote:

I want my challenges to feel like a cooking experiment: relying on knowledge, experience, creativity, and intuition, then taking a calculated risk.

Revisiting this statement, plus watching the TEDxTalk on the Happiness Advantage has been helping me change my perspective about my work: as the speaker said, having a positive perspective stimulates dopamine in the body, which turns on all the learning centers of the brain. I could use some of that!

In the back of my mind, I knew that. Isn't that why children have to feel safe, secure, and loved to be most fully prepared to learn?

It was a great reminder though. My work has been feeling like this huge, overwhelming, black hole (because it can swallow me in and suck the life out of me) kind of task.

On one hand, I feel like I'm so close to the end... but on the other hand, there's a steep mountain to climb before I get there.


And then I thought, how do I FEEL when I am in the kitchen and creating? Cooking is a lot of things to me. It's a de-stressor, it's a creative outlet. It truly is culinary therapy. But today when I thought about it, what stood out to me the most is one thing: I feel IN CONTROL.

In contrast, for several months I did not feel in control of my work. Knowing how I am through past history and experience, situations in which I don't feel in control (of the circumstances, not people!) are the ones that give me the most anxiety. I understand that I can't be in control of everything. But feeling like I have zero control is nerve-wracking.

Then I realized, how can I feel in control in this context?

I said this silently in my head: I am bigger than my dissertation.

Somehow, it just all started to click. Just as in the kitchen, in which I have knowledge, experience, intuition, and creativity, I started to relate the same things to my work: I have knowledge in my field. I have experience working with young children and families. I have my professional ethics and professional judgment as a result of my knowledge, values, and experience, thus feeding my intuition. And yes, I can create too. And take a calculated leap.

I can be in control. I am in control of my dissertation. My dissertation does not have to control me. 

And so I take several deep breaths, and go back to writing. I can do this.

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Spanish Pinay said...

Amen. I could very well write this for myself (not as beautifully as you did, though) as I am feeling much the same not about my work but about my new chosen life career - motherhood. I would definitely need to repeat this over and over and over in my head until I convince myself that I am in control of mysel and I will the mother that my daughter needs and deserves.

Spanish Pinay

Mia said...

Spanish Pinay: Thanks for your comment, I'm glad what I wrote resonated with you in some way despite our different circumstances. That's what I always hope for in my writing (more like ramblings, really)!

Kudos to you - I'm not a mom but motherhood is definitely not easy and kids don't come with an instruction manual!

I agree with what you said about being "in control of myself" - because really, we can't control the behaviors of others (adults OR children!), only our own behaviors and responses to them... and that can make all the difference.

But then again... as I'm learning (the hard way, haha!), there are definitely times in which I need to let go of control, choose my battles, and go with the flow.

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