Thesis It!

My board exam tips continue to be useful to a lot of people. Recently, I have not taken any more licensure examinations so it’s a thing I have put behind me along with my old posts. I still continue to answer inquiries from people who bump into this blog when googling board exam tips. I am incredibly grateful to those people who encourage me to keep writing tips. And so, here I am making more series of tips that will hopefully bring positivity and change.

This time around, I want to introduce a new series called THESIS IT! It’s a series of blog posts I will be making that will give some advice on how to survive your thesis writing struggles.  I am just now sure how long this series will take in between posts but I will do my best to finish it before I give birth. I am planning to do around 7-8 blog posts in this series. It can be more, depending on how my outline will turn out. I am still deciding how to tackle the topic because it covers a lot of issues from deciding on a thesis topic, to narrowing down your techniques, to just getting the willpower to finish it.

Like my board exam tips, I welcome questions from readers and I will do my best to incorporate them in my blog post series for this new topic. 

Informally, I have been assisting friends with their thesis writing and providing critique and the much-needed encouragement when they are feeling particularly crappy or demotivated to finish the final stretch. I also find people asking for general writing help like essays and articles and PR pieces, but the thesis project is extra special because friends tend to need extra long-term support until they prepare for their dreaded panel or defense.

A disclaimer: I won’t really call myself a thesis coach, but I think that observing these friends I have helped along the way gave me some insights that I think are worth sharing in this blog.

Occasionally, I get paid for thesis or academic writing assistance, too. I usually just get offers and I don’t actively seek them out. Specifically, I successfully assisted one businessman finishing his master’s degree in urban planning with a 200-page thesis about using iPhone sensors to detect road roughness, one high school teacher finishing her master’s degree in education with a 150-page thesis about an avant-garde curriculum approach (I was in high school when I began assisting her for this), one particularly feisty client who had to turn in something about first and second tier exclusive economic zones in China (he’s basically a nasty human being who treated me like a slave so I forgot the details of his work),  and some online friend who needed to turn in a term paper for his doctorate that involved proving a calculus theorem using words.

Through this, I got used to charging per page, per hour, or on an agreed lump sum basis for my consultation services. I continued to provide support after defense panels have pitched in their correction or revision requests. If you are in this industry and you want to know how much the going rates are, just leave your email address and we’ll talk. 😉

This year, I provided super friendly support to three key people in my close friend list: one who created a heroic land data model in his thesis, another who created this cool Boracay predictive land use scenario, and another who is using econometric models to help shape the future of the Philippine education sector. The first two are finished already. Really cool stuff. That’s how I learn about different things in various industries outside of engineering. I like picking my friends’ brains so I enjoy knowing what they do, what they are passionate enough to write about in this academically challenging manner, and where this research can eventually take them.

Friends usually just feed me with my favorite food after they’re done with their gruelling ordeal with their manuscripts. 😀 It’s really nice to do things for my friends while I am on my bed rest. Right now, I am also assisting two friends who are setting up their travel and food blogs, respectively, but it’s not as intense as the assistance required from thesis writing. Helping people is more fun than twiddling my thumbs until I give birth.

Back when I was a struggling working student in college, I survived famines of contributing for magazines by ghost writing for one of those foreign term paper websites. It helped get me a more regular income. Eventually, I stopped doing them because I felt like I am assisting lazy students to turn in their homework and get grades they don’t deserve. I was reprimanded heavily by my spiritual mentor about the repercussions of doing other people’s work. In the working setting, though, outsourcing writing work is not a crime. It’s efficiency.

Now, I have other options, writing-wise. But I did these projects long enough to survive my own college semesters so that I have money for basic student needs like food, books, and transportation. Occasionally, I go to the spa to treat myself for my sanity. I only get projects like this when I need to earn a considerable amount. These days, I have a range of options to write professionally and I just pick what I want to do. If anything, though, thesis assistance is a really lucrative form of income generation if you want to earn big in writing. I’d typically use it as a last resort when I am running low on funds and I need a quick boost.

Having explained that, I think that although I never really studied the science of writing a thesis formally, I may have some particularly specific and useful ideas for people who are writing their thesis. All these years of assisting people with their thesis writing struggles eventually ended up with me creating my own system that makes it faster and more achievable. I don’t particularly flinch with the volume of writing work required, in the way some of my overwhelmed friends do. Not because I am better than they, but simply because I’ve seen so many of these in my lifetime. Most people only have to do it once or twice in their lives and it can drive anyone mad to produce such volume of writing work.

My recent approach in assisting my friends involves enabling them to write their own thesis and not have me ghost write for them. I can do both, but I prefer encouraging people to find their own writing voice and just be the nagger/guardian angel pestering them until they meet their deadlines for graduation.

I really hope that this new series will also help people in the same way that my board exam tips has.  I look forward to hearing about your thoughts, too, if you find this post somewhere in my lair. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Boundaries

The air is rarely thick with discord. But when it comes to matters that are important to me, I do not really find myself backing down when I think that a course of action is a bad idea. I can be quite stubborn in certain aspects that for me are non-negotiable. For example, my child’s future falls in that category. 

I am particular about boundaries. I have witnessed the chaos brought about by the lack of boundaries. In my former line of work, boundaries can be subject of lawsuits and bitter enmities among people who own their properties. In life, I am quite particular about personal boundaries, privacy, and an ability to individuate when the mainstream choice is not completely sound. 

Early life experiences taught me to grow a spine much earlier than other people. My 19-year-old self made decisions about midterm exam reviews and filing a barangay case against horrible tenants and choosing between watching my sister in the hospital for her pneumonia and attending a crucial exam in one of my major subjects. At age 16, I had to learn about signatures and managing utilities, basically all those things required in keeping a home together. It was not a very easy life, but somehow it trained me to have some foresight that other people my age do not have. It cultivated in me life skills that are handy for adulthood’s demands. It made me more perceptive and able to read situations. Sure, my cooking skills need more work but I know a thing or two about other adulting basics like paying the bills, making ends meet, and multitasking responsibilities. 

That’s probably why there are domestic topics that I am quite firm on. I won’t hesitate to have a vice-like grip on things I have proven to be effective based on my early life experiences. It’s not in my nature to go wishy washy and have a come what may, substandard approach to certain life decisions, especially if it will affect the family and nest I am building with my husband and child who is about to come into this world soon. I know where I have come from, and I know where I want to go from here. It makes me a bit intense and serious but I don’t mind. When the going gets tough, you need that intense seriousness to get you through the very worst until you reach the very best. You can’t have a flippant person in a crisis. You need someone reliable. 

Constantly, I am being tested. I see some warning signs and try to avoid a potential disaster by erecting safeguards. Some people who do not see the danger think of my measures as overkill, but be the first to complain about the consequences after I let them have their way. It disgusts me a lot when people do that. Where is your accountability for your game plan if you do not have the spine to endure the consequence of not preparing in advance? People often wait until the last minute, until it is too late and the consequences are dire, irreversible, and destructive not just to them but to other people. Some people can afford to be painfully choosy and then later end up having nothing to show for it instead of harnessing and taking advantage of what’s already right in front of them. 

I like spontaneity in a moderate amount. But I like plans even when they do not always get followed to the letter in real life. I like direction, order, and clear timelines for achieving dreams. I hate hypothetical conversations that do not move things forward tangibly. That’s like reading a puff pastry of a novel sequence of events that have no bearing whatsoever on the main plot and developing the main characters. Useless and a waste of saliva to even discuss them. 

For years, I often stayed on the safe zone. But you’re never a real adult unless you make tough calls and take a stand for your beliefs. You become a shell of a man when you do not act on your deeply seated principles in life. I take risks when needed. I dare to surprise myself with an occasional dollop of courage when the situation calls for it. And right now, I have to be extra ferocious to make my case on a certain issue. And I know that if I do not get the support of a very important person in my life, I have to stand by this and remain strong even if his lack of support will make this difficult. 

Whether we have someone in life or not, we sometimes reach a point in our lives where we have to make decisions on our own and confront some battles that you and only you can take on. It reminds us that even when we have our tribes and our groups, we sometimes have to break away and oppose the tide, to carve out a new path where there used to be none, and to make difficult choices that even the ones we love cannot fully comprehend or understand. We may be ridiculed for doing what resonates deeply within us as the right thing to do, but the other option in not doing it leads to a haunted lifetime, to hollowed despair that silently cries at night and within the walls of our deepest, innermost selves. It’s exhausting to keep living in the midst of such tension. But that is life. 

It’s the boundaries we do not set that often leads to our undoing. Boundaries are good. Discord is uncomfortable but occasionally necessary. 

Gentle Birth Goals

I already had an inkling that I will not be approaching childbirth in the mainstream way, if I can completely avoid it. A small movement of people in this country are revolutonizing the notions of a painful pregnancy and introduced the concept of gentle birth plans that are all natural. Only a handful of women are into it. I signed up. 

This week, I floated the idea to my ultra kind OBgyn and while she supported my childbearing rights to decide on my mode of labor, she told me that such choices will require me to switch to another doctor. Prior to discussing my birth plan, I was already sold to give birth to a cozy private hospital near where I live in the East. After our conversation, it was back to the drawing board as far as hospital birthing options are concerned. The support for my chosen method for birthing is poor. 

I am quite fascinated with the outcome of my research, but I was not at all surprised that I am game to try something new for welcoming my little one into this world. Of course, that did not sit well with those who have never tried this method. But that’s the thing about pregnancy: what your mother or mother in law or friend chose for their birth plan is not necessarily your fate or destiny. They can scoff all they want but they won’t understand why I think this will work for me. It’s a unique journey. I may get laughed at for my birth method choices but I arrived at this method for a reason. I did not just chance upon the resources I have found online by accident; I was meant to find them and make empowered decisions about my personal pregnancy journey as a result. And it allows me to firmly decide on it even if nobody else wants it. 

Gentle birth is the goal, that’s what I am sure of at this point. Getting there has different paths, and the availability of those paths in this side of the world is quite limited. But I am willing to try. I truly hope that it can happen. 

The Beauty of Black Mirror

Black-Mirror-Netflix

At my good friend Jehz‘s recommendation, I watched all 7 existing episodes of Black Mirror show in one sitting through Netflix. For days, he kept telling me how I should watch Black Mirror already because it’s full of those ultra cool science fiction nerdy things that I usually enjoy in shows like Sherlock, Orphan Black, and Doctor Who. What he did not tell me, however, was that it also shared the super somber mood of Mr. Robot, in a the-world-is-super-evil-and-twisted kind of way. So I opened my computer early in the morning and began binge watching the show. In hindsight, I should have watched it with my husband because it was gripping and really seriously twisted.

I found myself weeping during the first four episodes (thanks, pregnancy hormones!) or so. But it was brilliantly written, thought provoking, and worth watching despite the immense emotional investment it requires from hormonal pregnant women like me. I just felt the need to look for TV shows and movies with rainbows and unicorns after the 7th episode, understandably. I needed sweet dreams for my baby after all.

All my feelings aside, I highly recommend it. If you do watch it, just make sure that you do not mind some serious entertainment or you are not particularly desirous of harming yourself. The humor is morbid. Best to watch this during the days when you can manage your ennui.

Don’t tell me I did not warn you. 😀

 

 

 

Bedrest Anxiety and Talking with the Baby

Yesterday, I tried writing for two hours. As I approached the third hour, the heaving and retching of my pregnancy vomiting returned with a vengeance. I haven’t exactly stayed with the bland diet after my hospitalization. I ate some really good stuff from Angono’s Balaw Balaw restaurant when my bestfriend Homer visited me last weekend. I also wolfed down a lot of pastel which Homer brought as pasalubong from his Mindanao trip last week. So I resumed eating oily foods and it was okay for a maximum of three days until I started feeling dizzy and nauseous again. I immediately reverted back to my bland lugaw diet to tame this hyperemesis gravidarum.

While I was taking a shower last night, I decided to do a strange thing advised to me by one of the hospital nurses. I gently rubbed my belly and talked to my baby while I showered. According to my readings, the baby does not hear anything yet until midway during the pregnancy. So I was not really counting on a response. I just told the baby that maybe he or she can help me manage my nausea and maybe we can write a little during the day, reassuring him or her that I am doing my best in this whole wide universe to keep things healthy and less intense. I kind of made a tiny deal with him or her and said that I just need a few hours of normalcy during the day so that I can still do something for our future.

This morning, I was able to write for two to three hours with no incident. I still feel nausea but it was unlike the one I had yesterday. I still have enough energy to create this post, even. It’s as if my baby “cooperated” this morning and let me do my thing for a few hours. I am feeling deeply encouraged that this baby is really smart. Can’t explain but he or she helped me out. At this point, I just wanted to feel him or her kicking so that I can always know if he or she is alright but it won’t be until my fifth month of pregnancy. This tiny sign from early this morning somehow comforts me in some way that we are connecting already at this early stage.

I still can’t help but feel misty-eyed when I remember the first time I saw his/her arms move vigorously in the ultrasound and the first time I heard his/her heartbeat. It’s a feeling unlike any other.

Prior to this, I used to be a huge and intense workaholic and this bed rest is putting some brakes, brakes that I am not personally used to. But I welcome the change because there is a tiny passenger inside my tummy that deserves the best of everything. Literally everything. I can’t be self-absorbed anymore because this baby needs my undivided attention.

I think the relaxing pregnancy music playlists on Spotify also made some difference as I tried to relax and write this morning.

Mozart-for-Babies-Helena

 

My husband has been completely supportive and I am deeply thankful for the level of support I am getting from home. Something so colossal as this meaningful life event is a bit of a community effort to handle. Having said that, this is just about as much as I can personally handle. I don’t want to over exert myself given my recent hospitalization and I am already feeling the need to throw up again. That’s my baby with the STOP sign already. Haha. I’ll just post some new stuff later.

The 4Chan Rabbit Hole 

Down the rabbit hole we go with 4chan and Reddit. I only got to know 4chan this week after watching an interesting documentary on Netflix. Curiosity substantially piqued, I found myself browsing through ebooks and music files, particularly this Mozart collection with lossless audio quality. It’s not the world’s most filtered place; I had to scroll through an assortment of, eherm, really colorful stuff. But after years of seeing nastier people on Facebook, I think I have developed a steel stomach for the other visuals and used the site to sift through intellectually engaging materials. 

I am still amazed by the number of things the internet can allow me to do during my bedrest for hyperemesis gravidarum and delicate pregnancy. It’s so rich with information but you need a good eye to filter it out from the filth. Through the years, I have learned to dig digitally and I thrived in this modern form of hermitage. 

I am restricted at the moment physically but that’s no reason for me not to enjoy this phase of life.??

Hyperemesis Gravidarum during Pregnancy

That sounds a lot like a Harry Potter spell, and it’s even made a bit more glamorous by the fact that Kate Middleton had the same condition during her second pregnancy. But there’s nothing glamorous and fun about vomiting so hard that you end up having blood on the sink. It warranted a 2-day hospital confinement for me. I only take consolation in the fact that my baby is healthy growing, kicking and flailing its arms wildly during my latest 9-week ultrasound yesterday afternoon.

9-weeks-baby-ultrasound-Helena

 

My little fighter is very happily settled inside my tummy, so I am happy and content even if I am vomiting wildly and can hardly do anything during my bed rest. Prior to my diagnosis of hyperemesis gravidarum, I was already advised to stay home and rest until August so that I can cruise through the first trimester with lesser risk of miscarriage. My pregnancy story is not quick and easy, and we are doing everything to stay on the cautious side. Fortunately, I have a support system to help me get through all the retching and the very restrictive diet that HG requires. This little miracle inside of me is worth all of the pain and suffering I may have during this pregnancy. Most of my life decisions now revolve on ensuring a bright future for this little one. A little plus for me is I finally am part of the Mommy Bloggers community. Whether that merits a change of blog site remains to be seen.

Surprisingly, eating bland foods and taking antacids work wonders and reduced my vomiting. Really bland foods like tasteless white porridge or lugaw coupled with Skyflakes crackers distributed evenly during the day helped me a lot. Small but frequent feeding is preferred because a pregnant woman’s digestive system is slower than the usual, leading to constipation and flatulence.

Despite the hassles of a very severe onset of morning sickness during this crucial time, our happiness is unparalleled. Even if my baby cannot hear me yet, I am talking to him or her regularly. I also lurk in a lot of parenting forum sites to check out what I can do during this bedrest to maintain my sanity. I watch ultra cool TV shows, too. I am suspecting that this baby is a boy because I seem to be inclined to enjoy testosterone-laden and gory shows and ones involving a lot of kicking and action lately. Boy or girl, I am happy and extremely excited (and scared) to give birth this December. I just hope that I can be strong enough to deliver the baby normally instead of have my tummy sliced open. I am just hoping to do normal labor first and see what becomes of me after. Haha. It’s really so Game of Thrones when I come to think of it.

Being responsible for someone so tiny and beautiful is a game changer in so many ways. I can no longer cultivate negative emotions because I know that my baby will be affected. I just need to stay positive no matter what happens and as stress-free as humanely possible. I stay within the radar of pleasant people and things, most of the time. If I need to engage in a discussion that involves disagreement, I use writing as my form of therapy and release from negative emotions.

All the pregnancy hormones make me extra emotional but nothing beyond the worst of my mood swings. I think that a lot of women are shocked with the onset of their postpartum depression because they never got depressed prior to pregnancy. I had my fair share of depressive tendencies for a long time and I think I can sort of anticipate the baby blues with ample preparations on my end. That’s one good thing that came out of that, if anything. I think I am more equipped to handle something that I have become really used to for years.

Just typing this up is already enough to cause some morning exhaustion so I am going to end this post while I watch Black Mirror season 1 and prop myself up with lots of pillows. <3 <3 <3