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Submitted and APPROVED! What now? …

By November 28, 2011November 30th, 2011CrossFit, Jessica, School

We have been the absolute WORST bloggers in history. We just up and went completely MIA on you, and we are so sorry. Life has been INSANE over the past few weeks. Tons of travel, freelance and this:


My graduate portfolio, completed, reviewed and APPROVED! I submitted on the 18th and didn’t think I’d hear back before Thanksgiving. The thought of trying to enjoy the holiday not knowing if it was approved killed me. My advisor must have felt my agony, because she emailed on Monday before we left town and said she had reviewed it and was passing it to the committee to sign off on. Needless to say, I ate and drank liberally over the holiday to celebrate.

A graduate portfolio is kind of a non-traditional approach to demonstrating mastery of the competencies acquired over the course of a master’s degree program. While most people have to write, present and defend a thesis or a body of work developed from research, my portfolio is more of a visual and written display articulating my assertion of mastering the competencies. I’ve maintained and developed the body of work over the course of the program, and the portfolio uses that work to demonstrate my understanding.

I started assembling it in September, with the goal to finish in December. My advisor tried to dissuade me, saying it would be too much to take on with courses yet to finish. Undeterred, I said I would definitely finish in December, and accept whatever burden came with such an aggressive goal. It made for a pretty miserable fall, and coupled with my grandpa’s death, really made my November almost non-existent. We cancelled our trip to Foodbuzz, cancelled camping trips and weekends working on the house. Everything pretty much fell by wayside, and it finally swallowed up my blogging time. Not optimal, but worth not having to take another semester to work. And really, toward the end I could barely assemble coherent sentences, let alone topics or things that we were doing that didn’t involve work.


As you can see, the work was ridiculously writing-intensive. I tried to follow the examples outlined by the program, but somehow still ended up writing several novels-worth of analysis and reflection.


I’m just so happy it’s over. During our Crossfit dinner a few weeks ago, I was talking with one of the guys in our class who is finishing his PhD. I said, “it feels weird to say, but I just can’t wait to have my life back. This degree was my endeavor, but toward the end, it just doesn’t feel like I’m doing it for myself.” He agreed, and said that he had tried to articulate that same point to several of his friends, who just didn’t get it because they weren’t doing it.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve always wanted this degree, and always dreamed of the opportunities it would bring Neil and I, but I seriously had to have a pep-talk with myself every semester to keep going, and toward the end, it didn’t feel like I was doing it for me any more. I’ve given up so much to grow my career. I’ve put off other goals, hobbies and things that would have made the days and weeks more bearable. I’ve lost friends because my lifestyle makes me unrelatable and mostly unavailable. It’s definitely worth it now, but I’m more than ready to take some time and LIVE, before deciding if a PhD is my next step.

I can’t let it go unsaid that all of this wouldn’t have been possible without Neil. He has been so patient with the wild ride I’ve made him endure the past two years, and really stepped up to help this semester. The house stayed clean, the laundry got done, he made dinner every night, and helped make sure my brain didn’t ooze from my ears. I think going into marriage, it’s easy to simplify “for better or for worse” and think that life is nothing but wonderful highs and terrible lows. The truth is that much of it isΒ in-between, and happiness comes in knowing how to thrive in the “middles” and “halfways.” He does that better than anyone, and this degree is really our accomplishment.

So hopefully life can somewhat return to normal now, even though I have no idea what “normal” means or will mean yet…

How do you maintain a healthy work + life balance?


  • CONGRATULATIONS!! Glad you were able to hear back early so that you could relax and enjoy the holiday!

  • cait says:

    Wow girl! How awesome for you! I def understand the pressure of working on a portfolio as I am also in Graduate School (for Library and Information Science) and rather give an oral presentation I also have to put together a visual portfolio. SO TIME CONSUMING but SO WORTH it when you get the approved stamp πŸ™‚ xo Great Job!

    • Jessica says:

      Thanks! I almost went Library and Information Science, but just kind of stumbled onto something that felt like it was kind of close to what I was doing.

  • Sheena says:

    Congrats on finishing your Master’s. That is awesome news. Take some time for yourself and make sure you relax.

  • Megan says:

    That is absolutely fantastic and something to be so very proud of! It makes me smile reading about how you and Neil are such good partners together, you really do seem to balance each other. Keep pursuing your every dream for I KNOW that you are capable of anything and everything!

    Megan S.

    • Jessica says:

      Aww thanks Meg! I can’t believe we’ve known each other for 6 years already, you’ve basically seen and been there for everything! Thanks for the congrats, you’re next!

  • Angie says:

    Congrats!!!!!! I am so happy for you! I keep up with your blog and almost feel like I know you. Great accomplishment πŸ™‚

  • Congratulations, once again, on this wonderful accomplishment! I hope you take the time now to truly kick back, relax, and enjoy the fruits of your labor. That portfolio looks very fancy and way above my head. πŸ™‚

  • Ashley says:

    Congrats!!!!! I am still trying to figure out the whole work + life balance thing. Good luck figuring it all out and maybe taking the plunge for you PhD! There is success in your future, no doubt!

  • Lisa Morosky says:

    Congrats to you! The relief must feel amazing. As for work and life balance? I’m convinced that no one has it figured out. There are worse things, I suppose, than being so passionate about your life that it sometimes gets overwhelming. Congrats again! πŸ™‚

  • Leah says:

    First, congrats! I’ve done one MS and am working on an MAT, and I definitely understand. I have to pep talk myself to work on stuff now (I have just a week left of this semester, including finals, and then I student teach next semester). I keep reminding myself that it will all be worthwhile when I’m in the classroom.

    I have a similar portfolio to do to finish my license (including artifacts and reflections!). So my spring will likely be crazy like your fall was, because I need to be finished up by May. Blegh.

    • Jessica says:

      Toward the end (last two semesters) I had to literally give myself a pep talk every morning, almost like a mission statement. There were times where it felt like my whole life other than school was falling apart around me, all because of this one goal, and I had to remind myself that it would be worth it, and that I would get everything else back eventually. Just remember to get plenty of sleep and take care of yourself. Break the work up, and you can do it!