Time Flies: hermeneutic phenomenology the mind field

I can’t believe that I have missed another month, I thought that I had written a blog entry in April but it does seem that I missed it, yikes!

First I must write on my where I am up to with my Ph.D. I have turned in my final draft, I say it is my final draft because I am over it for awhile. It can be so isolating sitting and thinking and writing day after day.  It has now blown out to 95 thousand words, yikes. I will most likely have to reduce this again when I get it back, but for now, I really can’t bear to think about it. I have spent so many agonising days, thinking and writing. I need some space now. Well at least for a couple of days while I mark some assignments. So, I think it would be helpful if I write a few things that I think would be helpful to others while I am thinking about it all.

# First make sure that you whittle down your topic to the lowest common denominator, check that your research question is the smallest that it can be. It is much easier at the end if your research is refined at the start.  Just one small question can elicit enormous data even if you think it won’t. Keep asking yourself why and how until there is no answer

#At the start of the PhD journey make many mind maps, bubbles that are linked to chapters in this way you will have a clear direction forward. Bubbles are easy to move around and delete and add if you need to.

# Within these bubbles add ideas, ask yourself further questions, until you can’t ask any other questions. Write down what comes up, this can all be done while you are sorting out the paperwork and enrolling in the course unit. Each time you ask another question and write it down you will be getting clearer on the topic

# There is a tendency not to talk to others about your topic. This could be due to many reasons, professional jealousy, topic sharing, or embarrassment because you don’t think it is worthy. So find someone who you can talk too. The more you discuss your topic and issues with a buddy the clearer you will be able to articulate your research and this will be important when it comes to understanding the literature and asking more questions. Especially when you asked if there are any questions and how can you know if you do not know what is ahead or what is required.

# If you can’t find enough material then you are most likely not reading widely enough then if you have too much material you have read enough, be aware that it is time to stop reading.

# If you like writing then write, do not stop because someone thinks that you are writing too much. If I had not been writing when the pen struck then I would not have had enough material when I couldn’t write due to headaches, babysitting, illness, and work. I am grateful that my writing was constant and continuous. Having more material enabled me to fill in the gaps to cut out pieces, exchange pieces and make sense of it all

#Attend conferences, this was one of the strongest points for me, it enabled the movement of ideas, it enabled me to gather my ideas and make sense of my work as it progressed. It also gave me some outcomes towards the end of my Ph.D

# Make sure you use your topic question throughout your writing this will bring you back to the core of your question and keep you on track and focused on the question.

# Don’t get offended if your work is returned with lots of red marks on it. This is great at least it has been reviewed. And while anyone can read it and ask why or how this bit fits others will also make those connections so consider this a blessing and keep working don’t get discouraged at it will definitely lead to a refined end product. One that you can be proud of.

Right then that’s it for now…..to be continued

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Marching forward…

I decided to post again this month,  as the link in my thesis led me to my blog, and I wanted to check that it was working. It is really good to share all these incredible struggles that I go through not only to look back and see that although at the time of writing some issues seem impossible to get over, when looking back they have resolved and morphed into a new form. But also, so that others who are undertaking a PhD know that this is the process. That you are not going crazy, that your topic is still worthwhile, even though after writing and writing and getting lost in the words in the end it does make some sense.

I find it is a good practice for me to rest for a couple of days then go back and see if what I have been steeped in is making sense. Otherwise, there is a tendency for me to get lost in an information avalanche. Thinking back to actually being fluent in typing correctly is a real gift, especially in this age of technology where everything is typed. Typing was the first skill I learnt as a wee thing, 16 years old, just out of school and working in an office. My sister and I were living by ourselves and we had to find some way of coping in an adult world. We went to typing school, I soon dropped out when I lost interest and found that I just couldn’t get the words to match my fingers tapping. My sister who is a year older seemed to be able to coordinate the tapping with the letters and she managed to make fewer mistakes.

I do think for anyone who is contemplating writing a thesis learning how to move your fingers with your thoughts is a must and the reason that I have been able to write so many words at speed of thought goes with learning how to type. If I had to physically write every word, and rewrite mistakes and then rewrite the final form it would be impossible as arthritis has a hold on my hands making writing almost impossible, and certainly not possible at the speed that I can think  and type.

Nevertheless this skill is more valuable today years after I originally learnt it, it just goes to show that every learned skill is never wasted, and that I can type much faster now than I could at 16. I have had a few days off, at yet another concert. Lucky me!

This time to Adelaide, the most important thing to me about these concerts is that besides the music I get some important concentrated family time with my sons and daughters. The best time ever, which would not materialise if I didn’t make an effort to travel to distant places and spend quality time with them away from their usual daily activities. These are the days that I recall the most in my life, not the days I spend typing at the keyboard but the days shared with my family where we get to laugh and eat together and have some fun. Rufus Wainwright was of course just the best, his opera was magical and his rendition of ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ was touching.

The Adelaide orchestra was fantastic and it was real pleasure to be immersed in the live music, strings, and keys all making an impressive sound. I also have new job, woo hoo, I didn’t think that would happen, it is online and fantastic to have work from home. I can swap from my class to my thesis without leaving this space, lucky me.

That’s right, up close and personal with Rufus, in his ruby shoes singing,  best night ever.





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Uh Oh March Already

Well, it seems that I didn’t get here in Feb so I had better do two blogs in March. Although I am in the same place at the same time doing the same thing, that’s right, writing I have managed to get through my funk.

I have inserted a picture of the huge crowd that found joy in listening to an afternoon of music as the sun went down. I think as a community we need to get together more often, to spend time amongst others with a common link, that being the sound of music, which has the ability to uplift the spirit. Human beings are social beings and simply living and working in an isolated environment can create a void of the spirit found in the company of others with like minds. The grounds by the foreshore were crowded with people dancing and swaying to the music. Many, like me had travelled for hours to share in the joyful experience, an out door concert, picnic blankets and baskets, feet moving to the sounds of beating drums.

Also, included here is a new family member, who has managed to bring lots of love to the small family unit. Sophie, the dancing poodle.


Although I didn’t realise it at the time that I wrote my previous blog, the picture of the elephant managed to give me insight on how to move forward, in my thesis. I was unable to collate all the information it seemed to much to collate 80 thousand words into a final note. OMG.
However, it happened and I found in afternoon it all came together, I paused and sat for a while letting all the information sink into some sort of form and ideas started to sprout, thank goodness for that. Ganesh, the elephant God managed to pack up my troubles and move me through the mud.

Now in March I find that I am indeed wrapping this thesis up, putting it into a final whole and making sense of all the data collection. I am at the stage of refining the work, adding references and sorting out the sentences that make up the paragraphs that make up the pages. Ensuring that it all flows and makes sense, in a coherent sort of way. I have now a whole document of 82 thousand words, amazing!
Lets see what happens in my next blog.

I must remember that this thesis On the Lived Experience Toward the End of Life contains words, thoughts and expressions of those who may not be living now, and no matter of what I think of my writing the ideas expressed by the participants or storytellers in this thesis remain powerful and sacred last words. And as such must be honoured.

I had a short stint away in Brisbane going to a concert, which was fabulous. Although, I was worrying about getting back to my writing I enjoyed the break away. There is no doubt that Xavier Rudd holds a space that is inclusive of all, his music is so uplifting and reminiscent of the old hippy days where love and peace were celebrated. Despite the war that was raging.
So, I leave this post with a picture and link to the music of Xavier Rudd.

Take a stroll to the nearest waters and remember your place, what does the heart say, follow the sun …….which way the wind blows when this day is done.

Posted in about that thesis, aged care, caring, death matters, family and pets, family matters, health and illness, health and wellness, living at the end of life, loving pets, Nursing, Universal power, writing a thesis in a bush setting | Leave a comment

WHO are YOU? What’s an Alice?


A beautiful  sad looking African elephant I met  while in Africa ,2016.

Hello world,

Well, this ending happened before the end. I’m really stressing out now. My end date is nearly up and as I stare at my work, write and rewrite I am wondering just what the heck, this is all about. All the self-doubt has crept on board, all the,’ you can’t do this,’ is happening, now as I try to finish up my writing. I am running towards February, crashing into March!!!!!

I have just spent the last few days, editing a chapter that blew out to 30,500.00 words, over 100 pages! ridiculous, I would have to pay them to read it! So, after much thinking, I decided to edit each page, writing another chapter, transferring information from page to the other. I managed to reduce the writing down to 20,000 words, for that I am grateful. And achieving this, has enabled me to fill up other chapters, only now I have so many saved copies that I have to be really careful that I am not editing the wrong copy!!!!

Heavens above, am I the only one who has to rewrite, edit, rewrite? I really have to trust my own judgement with all of this chapter sorting and writing, lets hope that I am on the right pathway to finishing, I thought this was so easy to begin with, but staying focused throughout the holidays and juggling my time, with family, with marking assignments, with traveling has all taken its toll on the amount of writing that I can achieve.

Getting ready for Toronto, although I can’t think about it right now, cause all I can think about, is finishing my writing, and writing and writing. What’s worse is that I also booked a concert ticket, in a moment of madness, or was it, perhaps it is the distraction I need or perhaps not!!!! Oh well, I guess I can take one day off or two. Almost forgot that I am traveling to Adelaide in a few weeks to see Rufus sing! can’t wait, well sort of, cause there’s all that writing to do.

It is really incredible the support that I have had in writing my thesis, the conference in Canada is in sync with my topic on resilience towards the end of life. It never ceases to amaze me how the universe lines up with me. Or am I inline with the universe? What ever, I am crashing towards the conference, which will also be on the closing chapter on my thesis. Resilience, and that is what is happening right now! When I rang my daughter and told her how stressed I was and that I couldn’t make sense of any of this writing any longer, she burst into laughter, and said; ‘that’s how we all feel,’ she has just received her PhD award, so I guess I can take comfort in that! Or can I?



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I have missed writing in the month of December, which illustrates just how chaotic my life has been for a few weeks. Christmas knows how to creep up and consume life. Not to mention that having 4 children their spouses and 12 grandchildren is a lot of responsibility to fulfill. Nevertheless, Christmas was hot and grand affair, with all of the family together, my dream Christmas. However, this did impact on my writing, well almost non-existent writing for the last month. I am now thinking that perhaps I cannot do this task that I have set myself, self doubt is an awful thing as it eats away at your capabilities and in the end it has the potential to become realized. I think I will set my self a new goal, that is to learn the ukulele-lets see how that goes, 2017.

2016, was a great year with two of my children gaining their doctoral degrees. And a visit to Africa for a presentation linked to my PhD and a family trip to New Zealand. An empty beach house, which means trips to the beach more often and I gave up my physical on-the -wards nursing career. Since giving up work mid June I have been busier than usual. I really do not know how I ever went to work in the first place! I am so grateful for my scholarship, which ends soon.

We also have another grandchild on the way…so bring on 2017. I also have another conference to attend in Canada, so that will be interesting as I am racing towards the final of my PhD. Back to writing again, it feels confusing and also scary at the same time. Especially as I have another chapter to work on and decide on the best way to precede.

So far I have written far too much!!! One chapter blew out at over 90 pages! that is with reducing the amount of storytellers. So, what to do? I will have to delete, delete and delete!

So at the moment here is an image on the confusion as it unfolds in my writing process. 2016-11-30-11-24-41


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Africa-Cape Town

Just a few days back from the long trip to Africa and I am still tired! Trying not to fall asleep in the middle of the day and getting up at 2am is still ongoing. I was really surprised to see that Africa was very much like Australia, environmentally that is. Hot, dry weather and sparse vegetation, actually Africa was in the middle of a drought. I was pleased with the amount of people who turned up to my presentation and the amount of discussion that it generated. It was also very rewarding to see the little picture/poetry books being enthusiastically received. One person in the audience was reduced to tears, I guess then, that my presentation had an impact of a certain kind.

How about this fact, my presentation was programmed for the Slave Lodge! Imagine presenting about death and dying in an environment filled with the ghosts of the slaves. The atmosphere was heavy, filled with emotions, the stone steps were worn where the slaves once walked. It was very confronting, to say the least, coming to terms with past events, not usually so prominently physically evident. The Slave Lodge was built in 1679 as the slave lodge of the Dutch East India Company. From the website -It is believed that up to 9000 slaves, convicts and the mentally ill lived in the building between 1679 and 1811. The Iziko website The Heritage of Slavery in South Africa gives details of the slave period in the history of the building. Surprisingly, the insensitivity of the South African people to continue to use this building as a venue for performances, is simply a calamity! And does not respect the people who were imprisoned and died there in the past.

Also, surprising to me about Africa was the Englishness of the place. The buildings, the way the people dressed, the silly suits that the men wore at the hotel, and the silly politeness of it all, was really elite and frustrating. Given the history that Africa has undergone, I guess it is not surprising, however, I found the African Indigenous people very kind, shy, smiley, gentle and humble. During the conference when the speaker was addressing the participants, there was a disruption caused by an African woman who was extremely upset at the research that was being undertaken. Unfortunately, her opinions were right in one case, however, it became apparent that her intentions to disrupt the proceedings were paramount and slightly misguided, although given her first interruption and the complaint it is not surprising that she was upset by the research process.

Whilst in Africa I could not leave without at least seeing the animals in their correct place, on African soil. So, I booked a safari. It was fabulous to see the animals at home and content in their environment but at the same time very disappointing to see the mutilation of some caused by the greed and I guess the poverty of people. IMG_6378.jpg


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New Zealand:catching up

On returning to my blog page, I realise that I have not written since my post before travelling to New Zealand. It was a fast trip, but great to see my favourite sites again. The Auckland museum is a real winner with its Kai room for children to have snacks during their visit. It was lovely to travel with my grandchildren watching how they experience new surroundings, especially the smells and sights of Rotorua. Rotorua is important to my family as my great grandmother was a survivor of the volcano that destroyed the surrounding villages around Lake Tarawera. The buried village is now a tourist attraction that brings visitors from around the world. It is so sad to see reminders of the day the volcano erupted, the tiny cot all burnt and twisted, the small baby shoes, clumps of hair in molten mud and broken crockery. All presented behind the glass walls of a cabinet. It is especially important for my grandchildren to see the place where my family originate, and it was great to see their tiny faces light up at the seeing the bubbling mud for the first time. There are striking parallels with my great grandmother’s life and mine. She was a teacher of the first native school in the local area, she died at the same age as my father, leaving her children to be looked after by their grandmother. She was a fluent speaker in Teo Maori, unfortunately, I am not. The following pictures I found when I returned home from NZ.  While looking through my son’s wedding album, I noticed that he had visited the buried village  on his honeymoon without knowing that he had a relative who survived the eruption.
IMG_5889.jpg In fact, being raised in Australia it wasn’t until late in my life that I found out that I had this connection in New Zealand. We stayed around the lake for a few days and let off firecrackers on the lake’s edge. It was an eery feeling knowing that the sky was lit up as it was on this night many years ago with the fire of the volcano. And that we had returned to the lake’s edge once more. This time with extended family members from the original survivor, Clara Haszard.


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