I know the question on the mind of everyone (ha! ha!) is this: How is Dianna keeping her sanity with a heavy teaching load while working on her dissertation? (an especially great question after learning that I have no been "off" diet soda for 6 days!).
I have two responses: (1) hot yoga and (2) poetry.
My friend Peggy bought me a Groupon a few months back for a new hot yoga place that opened up in Edwardsville, IL (not too far from where I teach in Granite City). I did do hot yoga a few years back -- and sorta liked it -- but because the location in the city was not convenient and the price was on the high side (and, okay, perhaps I was feeling a bit lazy too!), I stopped going after 5-6 times. But now I am back doing it about 3 times a week for the last month. I love it! Yes, it's hard and all that but there is something about the actual fitness challenge -- and the fact that the yoga keeps me in the moment -- that I am enjoying. In fact, would say that there is almost a "joyous" aspect to the whole thing that I can't quite describe (which you wouldn't think would happen when I am in room with a bunch of twenty somethings who are wearing hardly anything on their size 0 bodies!). Just in case anyone is in the area and wants to try it out, click on this for the link to "Hot Yoga Edwardsville." The most important piece of advice is that you have to try it more than once. Seriously. You WILL want to give up after that first experience but stick with it. Honest!
The other moment of sanity in my day is the free class that I am taking online in Modern and Contemporary Poetry (called "MoPo" to the 30,000 of us who are taking it!). This is my first experience with a MOOC (Massive Online Open Course) and I am loving it! The class is offered through coursera.org (click on the name for the link) and the class is taught by Dr. Al Filreis from the U of Penn (he has a fabulous web site!). Poetry has always been a little of a puzzle for me and I guess I thought that since I am so focused on composition matters right now, it might be fun to encourage my mind to work a little differently as I am writing up the dissertation. But I do recognize that it is hard for me to not get obsessed with something so .... I limit myself to about 30 minutes a day. As a teacher, I can't express how much I am learning in this fun class and forum. As a student, I am in love with William Carlos Williams, Walt Whitman, and Emily Dickinson (something I didn't think I would ever say!). In fact, I thought I was just going to follow along with the readings and not to any of the assignments, but ... I do submit a paper for the first writing assignment. We were supposed to simply respond to one of Emily Dickinson's poems and reflect a close reading. I set the timer on my computer for 20 minutes and came up with a snazzy little response (that I actually submitted). That 20 minutes got me fired up enough to work on my methodology chapter for 30 minutes before class started this morning.