Some notes on the transcription…

I wanted to provide a transcript of The PhD Life Raft podcast episodes to make the material more accessible.

I have used an automated transcription service to produce this document. These, as we all know, are not 100% accurate. Please excuse the odd typos and grammatical mis-translations. I hope that you will find the documentation of this conversation useful.    

You can find the full interview here:

Okay, you’ve just reminded me just before we came on that we’ve met before, when you came about doing a PhD. And so, as we’ve just said, it’s gonna be brilliant for me now today to hear the end of the story. So I’m quite excited about that.

Thank you so much for having me.

Also, we’ve just had a little cry of started. Because this is a topic that is truly dear to my heart, and obviously dear to your heart. That’s why you’re here. So we can’t promise that this is going to be tears free episode for everybody. But thank you so much for coming to talk about a really important topic in terms of kind of the fertility journey, and especially taking a fertility journey alongside a PhD journey. So that’s what we’re gonna get into in a minute. But before that, I’m going to ask as I do with everybody, for you to tell us a little bit about your journey into the PhD through the PhD, how how was it for you?

Right, thank you. Um, so, when I was younger, I was always quite academically successful. And I think it was expected, I think, probably kind of by everybody around me, and certainly by myself that I’d go to, like a very good university. And, and you’d I did at 18, I went to your kind of, traditionally, top university. However, at the same time, when I was a teenager, I had quite, quite significant mental health problems. And I didn’t, I didn’t manage that transition to university very well at all. And I really struggled. And after a few months, it kind of became clear that it wasn’t going to work out and I came home, and I started university, again, at my local university. And I think part of the reason I’m starting here is because it meant I learned really early on the power of like Plan B, and Plan C, Plan D, Plan D, etc. Yeah, because actually going to my local university, gave me the opportunity and opportunity I would never have otherwise had, which was I worked in, in HMP Winchester with a with a brilliant Auntie McCain with them playing complex company, working in the prison doing theatre projects, which which really set me off on the path that I then went on kind of professionally, and, and indeed, kind of aligns with more with my academic research as well. So and it meant that actually, during my PhD, I was co editing a book about prison theatre, with Annie so so all these things kind of came together anyway. So after my I did my degree in English, and drama, and then after my degree, I went to Central School of Speech and Drama, I did an MA in applied theatre. And then I worked in the community for about five years, sort of self employed, freelance balancing juggling multiple jobs, working in a range of different contexts, addiction, recovery services, mental health services, working with newly arrived migrants. And, and during that time, I had that sense, I didn’t really want to go back and do a PhD, I really wanted to go and do the some some of that professional practice stuff, I wanted to go and work in a range of contexts. But I really did feel that I wanted to go back to do a PhD. And there was a couple of reasons for that. One was I had a very strong research idea that I really wanted to pursue. And the and the other was that I wanted to be a university lecturer. And I thought, well, that’s, that’s the best way to do it. I wanted to be in academia. And part of the reason I wanted that was that, and I appreciate the irony, because now I thought, stability is academia, that’s that’s a strong job. But when I when you’re kind of juggling, zero hours contracts and lots of like freelance, you know, portfolio career stuff. So I thought, Yes, I’ll go so I’ll go and do a PhD. So I went to to Exeter and, and did my PhD. And thinking, as I mentioned before, about that transition for me at the university when I was 18, was part of the it all kind of all links together. So my my PhD topic was, was looking at the transition between child and adolescent and adult mental health services and the possibilities for socially engaged there to practice to support young people in that transition. So thinking about care and narrative and the embodied encounter and that kind of thing. So that was my PhD research. And then I was very, very lucky in having that gold dust of being offered a lectureship during the third year of my PhD, a permanent part time contract to start in the September my fourth year at Plymouth Marjon University, and I’ve been there the last four years. And so I did my PhD. I finished writing out my PhD and was awarded it in my I finished writing up in my first year of my job, which is the fourth year of my PhD. When, and, and then I’m now about to start leading a new master’s in arts, health and wellbeing at March, which I’m really excited about for the autumn.

It looks awesome. Like course I have to say, that looks good.

On the reading list, Emma.

It just gets better and better. So, so just before we get into the I just want to take a moment because this will be familiar, I think for lots of people in terms of that, how was that writing up and starting a new job for you?

Well, tricky. We were also doing and also because we were also doing fertility treatments at that point as well. So it was like, Yeah, I mean, it’s very silly thing to do that many things in one go, really. But I think one of the things that was a real benefit was it took that find out I was at, I was very lucky to have a funded PhD. And the funding stopped. And my job started. So actually, I carried with me a lot of anxiety in the earlier years of my PhD about what I would do financially. Right. And so having the financial stability, and because I was offered a three day a week job, you know, not putting six contract. I just didn’t take anything else on in those other days. And then we also had a global pandemic that hit as well, didn’t we so?

So you were you were in it? I think it’s, I think it is also just worth having that story out there. And knowing that it is possible isn’t easy, but it is it is possible. Because I know some people think, oh, you know, can I take this job? Can I do that? But then it is possible, but it is hard?

Yeah. Oh, yeah, had quite high teaching load. And it was, you know, things I haven’t creating new teaching materials, and all of that sort of stuff. And then pivoting online, after only a little bit of time. So, yeah, a lot, a lot, a lot going on fast a steep learning curve. But as I’ll probably say, later, in the podcast, some of these things get a bit of perspective, when they’re not the hardest thing you’re doing.

You got your so let’s talk about it. Let’s get into this car this thing. And I say this is dear to my heart. I think a lot of people know that I also do a fertility coaching because I had a particularly difficult fertility journey. And so it’s, I feel you absolutely. But tell us then a little bit about about this story, and particularly about it being alongside that very intense PhD journey. I think there are lots of similarities between the two journeys, actually. So how tell us about that? 


I was always I was thinking, in preparation for speaking to I almost in my head kind of planned out to like a like a line graph, or most of the two things running alongside each other. They very, very much did. We, my wife, Gemma, and I decided wanted to got married, and they were just have a baby. And it was, as I was writing my PhD proposal, we were doing some of that sort of stuff getting ready to launch into different stages of our life. And because I was I was, we were living in London, and I was offered a place funded by the southwestern world doctoral training partnership for the HRC at Exeter, with reading with a co supervisor. But we were picturing them moving to Devon, and having these babies and, you know, there was a very strong idea of this image in our mind. And, and because we were going to be relocating, my wife was going to be quitting her job. And we weren’t so kind of have this very strong image of what the next stage of our life was going to be like. And we started and then the first part of that, we discovered was actually, it wasn’t going to be that easy. It wasn’t going to be and it’s funny, this looks back at that I feel like there was a naivety but actually I do know people for whom it was that easy. So you can’t anticipate obviously the setting and the for us the very very multiple hurdles that we encountered. But um, so we had to we were already on by we were already on kind of plan. D by the time my wife Gemma first got pregnant and and unfortunately I had her unfortunately such a such a, such an inadequate word. So let’s scrap that word. But unfortunately, miscarried. Just a matter of weeks before I went to start my PhD so in the summer before starting in the beginning of August and started my PhD obviously in the autumn so that was right at the start of having just before I even started coming down. We were then tried to get in the autumn and she miscarried again into November. And we were waiting to relocate because we wanted her to get maternity leave from her current job. But after the second miscarriage, we thought, actually what we’re doing is we’re leaving the next stage of our life on hold. And so what we’re losing each time isn’t just a child. It’s our imagined future. Yes, let’s not wait. Let’s just move. So we moved on. Also, I was a bit sick of the Megabus. And the generosity of friends with the you know, sofa beds and stuff. So we geared up to move and in the process while we were kind of organising, finding somewhere to live and all of that stuff. Gemma got pregnant again, and miscarried a third time, just a few weeks before we moved to Devon in the summer. So it’s that first year of my last year of my PhD was was hugely characterised by, by anxiety and loss. And certainly with I was trying to think back some of these days through the memories are very acute, but the sort of when they happened, and all that thing can sometimes feel a bit blurry because obviously this was a few years ago, but I do significantly remember kind of going to deal with being an extra term and meeting my supervisor when we were still living in London, and Jim calling me and saying I’m bleeding and I’m about four and a half hours away now. So those moments of and then going to like one of my first kind of going to a research seminar in Brighton and then getting another message and I’m having to try and get back on the train and get back to them. There’s that real struggle of actually doing some things that and also, we’re actually my first academic conference in Salford. I went the day after we discovered one of our roundups each week and we’d had a negative pregnancy test and then the next day I was off to Salford so there was a lot of these kind of firsts these PhD firsts happening alongside in tandem in a kind of interrelated kind of life way with all of these things happening as well and and then in the second my second year of my PhD and we have my say that messy middle kind of time but I had where I was studying you have your kind of upgrade Viva I know it’s called different things at different places, but you know your upgrade from and, and the night before I seen you anxious about it. And it had and also we’re about to do another round of treatment and Jen wouldn’t be able to have a bubble bath after that. So we were like a bubble bath before my my vibe light but upgrade viver from London and like some kind of it’s just like a very small the small moments, isn’t it? But they stopped asking your memory. Yeah, I have some kind of like weird allergic reaction that it was like my eyes were like really painful. I went to my my upgrade appointment looking like open hysterically crying. It did nothing for my vanity, but but after it and it went well. And it was successful. And I remember afterwards, just bursting into tears because of the sort of the adrenaline of it. And then getting on a train to we treated ourselves to the train not the Megabus getting on a train and going for embryo transfer for implantation. For another successful pregnancy and that was the first time that we had a heartbeat at the by it, what’s they call the viability scan? And then a week later, Gemma started miscarrying on Christmas Day. I think it’s not my I promise for the podcast won’t be entirely.

There’s a happy ending, there is a happy ending.

There is a happy ending, but also I also kind of I don’t like using that as a punch. I don’t want that to be the punchline of this of this conversation. Because I think people have different extracts for me, it’s really important that that is. Yeah, I just I Yeah, I’m just going through a lot of quite difficult things. But But yeah, there is that there’s light and dark in all of this.

Yes. Yes. And I think that.

But within my PhD, I wasn’t a within within my PhD journey. At that point, we’re kind of trying to come out the other side of that very, very difficult kind of Christmas process experience was when I was analysing my data. And that was something I’d never done before. And I think I’d been able to cope with some of the stuff that was to do with literature analysis, because it was more familiar to me. But when I was analysing my primary data, that was really unfamiliar. It was not something I’d ever done before. That was when I struggled the most, I think because I wasn’t I was learning how to do something. And I don’t think I was always doing it very well because it was also, as I mentioned, my PhD topic was kind of part of my methodology was autoethnographic. So I was navigating, HD was something that was also quite personal. And that was I think the hardest point in terms of my PhD because I didn’t I couldn’t just sort of rest on the fact that I was quite Good academically, because I didn’t know what I was doing with analysing data. I’ve never done it before. So that felt really tricky trying to write that up. And, and trying to do that while really coping with really real intense challenges of loss as well. Yes, I think that was, that was probably that the hardest, one of the hardest bits. But if you’ll forgive me just stepping through the five stages of each of the rest of it, we took a year off after that, right. So this is we need to like to let our body and our minds and our souls have a bit of recovery time. So then, while I was traipsing my way through that messy middle, I, we were at least having a break from trying to do that as well. And, and people will always tell you you’re making you’re making silly choices anyway, weren’t they? In terms of what you were even trying to do this at this point in your life? Why are you trying to have a baby? I’m trying to do a PhD at the same time. Isn’t that a lot? And, oh, you’ve had a miscarriage? Why doesn’t your wife go but like, we’re bodies are just vessels? You know? I love it. No, it happened more than once. Why don’t you just you know, yeah, no, I’m not surprised by that. Thought about have you thought about this, I’ve actually never thought no, you thought about it. I never thought this. I thought I pay all this money. Man, I just didn’t think about it. So So we had that time off. And we had had, we jumped through enough hoops to get some NHS treatment, which then just didn’t work. And after a certain at the time at which I was also starting my new job. So the beginning of my kind of fourth year of my PhD, we decided that we would try for me to try and get pregnant. And that’s again, like not like a great choice, as I said, trying to start a new job and finish and get pregnant. I didn’t get pregnant the first time. And then the second time I did so I was still within the sub six months. And that was that also, too, we were just just in that just at that point of things closing for the pandemic, just at that moment. And I did get pregnant and I miscarried twins in lockdown at the point at which the fertility clinics are closed. And at the point at which you weren’t allowed things like partners in with you. The benefit of being a sex couple is that we managed to get my wife and because I think they just didn’t notice it was another woman in the room. But then I was also at this point trying to finish writing up my PhD, we had unnecessary pause because the clinics were all closed. And then I went for, we changed clinics, we made a few different choices. And I went for egg collection the day before I submitted my PhD. So I was pregnant, I was pregnant two weeks later, I Vibert at about 14 or 16 weeks pregnant. I was awarded my PhD a couple of months before the birth of our son. And yes, and we do also have a four month old baby girl and who my wife was, who my wife get back to who isn’t letting us get a lot of sleep. So that’s the that’s the sort of parallel or criss crossing, journeys of PhD and fertility and loss. As we as we as we went through it ourselves.

Oh, goodness, oh, my goodness. And, I mean, I’m struggling even to just respond to all of that, you know, in terms of in terms of just this, this space to honour that and all that you went through. And I think that, as you say, that deep loss that grieving and I think that the future memories that you mentioned, are so powerful. And this is this, this your future babies that you hold in your heart and in your imagination and in your body for a short time. And I think that anyone who’s been through this experience, will their hearts will go out to you and anyone who hasn’t, I think is that sense of just you cannot imagine this. And it’s it’s what they call I can’t think of the term now but it’s a kind of, it’s a grief that isn’t spoken about a lot. If the grief that isn’t I will find the name of it at all. I was

it was really I read this yesterday in a Brene Brown book. Like I can see it on the other side of the room. I definitely know what you’re talking about.

You know, because often when a grief happens, people gather I have a ceremony and you acknowledge what’s happened. And for this, it is it is that doesn’t happen. And yet it’s so profound, so profound, and to be and to be going through that, at the same time as other big life changes, because I think the thing about the similarities between that PhD journey and the fertility journey, is it as a big life transition.

Yeah. And it requires tenacity, yeah, it’s working towards a larger, very emotionally invested in goal. But you’re responding to the challenge challenges as you face them. And the changing circumstances and contexts along the way, are doing something that not everyone can understand, like people that you know, who aren’t on that journey. They’re not everyone can understand or relate to, or might even have might even carry some judgments about, you know, what are you doing that? Why don’t particularly you could do a PhD in drama, or whatever it is, or can be adopted? Right, you know, so there’s, there’s, there are similarities. And, and one thing actually also, I really wanted to share today was how I, I do think that I managed, I navigated the challenges of my PhD, better than perhaps I could have otherwise have done and, and certainly seeing some of my peers really struggling with the sort of existential challenges of the PhD as well as the practical intellectual and emotional ones. I certainly felt that not just because I think I found that having previously struggled with my mental health, I had already developed coping strategies, self knowledge, I built a support structure, I knew from experience the importance of setting up sort of support systems and structures before the points at which I needed them. And all of those things I’ve learned from experience that so I came into this, with that, that sort of lived experience expertise kind of thing. And that served us really well in our fertility, journey. And because we were, my wife and I were both, you know, quite good at communicating our needs to each other. We both had was, so there was, I find resilience, a tricky word, but we had resilience from previous experiences. And, and it also made it actually it sharpened the last because we certainly felt like now’s our time to have a nice, much easier ride. But, but, but it meant that we were able to manage those challenges, I think more effectively than if we had come into this, when everything our lives had been perfect. So far, I think that’s true for the PhD as well, that is having navigated early trauma, that actually I therefore was able to, to draw on some inner resources. And that also, as I mentioned, have a bit of perspective as well about, about the role of some things in your life and, and knowing what’s important to you, and helps you just get through the day to day for me it was I like to go and work in the department, I like to have that physical space and, and and have that routine and structure for other people. It can be lots of different things and working on what you need to be able to navigate that experience.

And I think it’s a gift that nobody wants, isn’t it, but it is in terms of having had, as you say, having had difficulties it then you can you build up your resources, and you find out how you work. And you you have that in place. And actually, you know, find often people who have had previous mental health issues, actually, as you say, can deal with a PhD much better because it doesn’t take them by surprise. And they’ve got things in place. Yeah. But as you say, Don’t worry, this is not, this is not a gift that we particularly want to have. But I was something I was really interested in the you mentioning, and I think this is really worth talking about. Because it comes up a lot when people were talking to me about wanting to have a family. But thinking when is a good time, which was there isn’t ever really a good time. But I was interested in what you’re saying about putting your life on hold and deciding not to put your life on hold. And I wonder if you could say a little bit more about that, and how that how that feels. From now, looking back on that.

Yeah. So So when when I started my PhD and then it was also around, you know, the PhD and or the fertility treatment stuff. I take change the screensaver on my laptop. So a Doris Lessing quote, which said, whatever you’re meant to do, do it now the conditions are always impossible. And then I only changed it. And I only changed it actually a few weeks ago and it changed it to a picture of me and my wife and our children. And that which felt very poignant. Yes, but I I thought that was really helpful because certainly people saying, Oh, well, why? Why are you doing this? Now? And it’s funny, because at the start of going from our first appointment at the fertility clinic, and maybe my mom or whoever said, Oh, is this just a PhD to this is a good time to have a baby? Okay, well, we don’t know how long it’s gonna take. And I think I said it without really thinking, I think I probably said it as a bit of a thing to, you know, to give people like to get them to back off. But actually, it was true, we didn’t if we hadn’t started, hadn’t started then, then. Well, you can’t. But actually, for us, it was about it was a values based decision. And I think when you aren’t sure what to do, if you just really sent it back into your values, what was important to us, was, we wanted to have children, and therefore we wanted to do it. And it’s obviously it’s a conversation within a relationship as well. And in my family, my mum had us a bit older, whereas my wife’s family, everybody had their babies quite young. So she was already seen in her late 20s, as old to be. As an only child was my grandchild, you know, she was, so there’s different pressures coming from different family background, that kind of thing. But actually, I, I wanted to do a PhD, and we wanted to have a baby or more babies. And so we thought, well, let’s do that. And we there were points, I think, which we felt we are we being is our tenacity, it, is it? Is it a form of like blindness almost that that what point do we know that this isn’t working? Or when should we stop? And, and that was really hard, because we that sense of hope, being a really painful emotion, and no one was giving us any reason. There was giving us any reason to stop. And no one was giving us any reason everyone was saying. And then there is always that that slight manipulation of hope as well in a clinical setting where they say, well, there’s, I’m sure by this time next year, you’ll be in a very different situation, or there’s no reason why this isn’t this isn’t working and therefore, you know, keep going giving us all of your money. Yeah. Well, indeed, but there was also one thing that was a benefit of being doing or doing a PhD during this, which was when you need to take time off when you have to take a day off if you are self employed or when you’re working freelance. You know, after Gemma’s first miscarriage, I took the I took the day off. And I lost 100 pounds, I’m not going to work because I was self employed. And I went to work the following day, which is which is ridiculous. Because I was working in a summer school for young people were navigating transition to secondary school over the summer it was, you know, it happened on a Monday, I took that Tuesday off and I just made it through the wet I thought I’d just get through the Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, because that’s 300 quid, if I don’t go, and that and we’ve, we’ve just paid loads of money. So there was actually a safety net of being a funded PhD student, that, that I wasn’t in this financially precarious situation. Which I appreciate isn’t the same for all PhD students who don’t have the privilege, you know, that they’re just being funded.

But I think there is something about it can be a great moment, it can be a great moment.

Like six, I think my phone just gave like six months present and paid full pay. I got, you know, a matter of weeks when I was working. So actually, there’s not it’s not what on the surface for some people looks like the wrong choice. Is this if it’s our fifth judgement, we never know what lies beneath each of those, the messy intricacies of each of those realities until we’re in them. And they may play out not in the way that we expected. They may play out in a beautiful way. Or they may play out in a heart wrenching way that then leads you to the next thing to the next thing to the next thing until you are where you are. And that’s only them for a moment. I don’t think I think one thing is that I don’t find it hard to lean into gratitude, you know, when things are good at work or, or things are stressful in other things, or when you’ve got a toddler who won’t put their socks on or whatever it is. It’s not hard for me to to feel an incredible, incredible gratitude. Yes, yes. I wish things are hard. I still never been happier. 


beautiful. And I totally hear that and I think coming out of that fertility journey is that thing of like, really even when it is a nightmare every day is an amazing like I get to be a mom like how amazing is that? It is true gift and I never take that for granted. And I think that this this sense of of what you’re saying there about having having this space to be with it too. And I think there’s typical things to in terms of if you are a PhD researcher, because as you know, with fertility treatment, you have to be available to kind of go right, we’re going trigger now you’ve got to get into clinic tomorrow. And if you are able to work more at your own pace, this, this can allow it. So I think, as we still haven’t necessarily rule it out, but also want to just pick up on something. This sense of trusting your instincts, and trusting your instincts is something I think, again, is very much parallel between the PhD journey and the fertility journey. And that you you said about being in your values. And a wonder how, how that again, feels now how it’s playing out now, in terms of really having to trust your instincts, doubly?

 Yeah, yeah, I think

I am somebody who I think sometimes finds it hard to trust my instincts, I do you have a tendency towards people pleasing. I do find it hard sometimes to make decisions. People always laugh at me, in my family, if I’m lucky, I’m not as bad as my, I’ve got an identical twin. I’m not as bad as my sister making decisions about a menu that’s in front of us in a cafe or wherever, but I’m close second. I’m also because I’m a twin, My instinct is always to suggest one or two things and cut them in half. Which is funny, being married to an only child whose instinct is not to do that. So I don’t always have a sense of like, I find it hard. But then there are some things where you just, you can’t imagine an alternative, you’re not prepared to give up on that, because you can’t imagine an alternative. And also sometimes, like, I definitely have confidence in some of my own abilities. When I when I applied for my PhD, I felt this was the right choice. And I felt like I had a good proposal and I was and that it was valuable work. And I you know, I there was a confidence in that. And that part of that came from, from an lived understanding of the context in which I was examining, part of it came in, in having worked with some incredible practitioners and scholars in the field and witnessing the power of their work and feeling that I wanted to be part of that community. And those things made sense to me. And I’m lucky because I’m in a relationship with someone who was very also very tenacious, very headstrong, and, and, and, yeah, and can sit with Yeah, could certainly carry us through making decisions at that menus, but desperate, desperate, desperate longing to you. And there was a point at which the decision was that she was more desperate to have a baby than to carry a baby. And, and that’s why we changed our tactic not because our bodies are just vessels and

it’s a partnership, it’s a team thing.

And we were able to have those, those conversations and with honesty and vulnerability and and that serves you well for for other points that which you need to ask for help or for, you know, to communicate tricky things.

Yes. Certainly is a very humbling experience going through the fertility journey. And I think especially for people like us, who are used to being able to think things out and figure it out and make it happen and the fertility journey very quickly let you know that well no, you can’t this isn’t a figure out herbal thing. 

This is

they don’t care how many books you’ve read. And then you can go well I’m I’m fine, I’m fine. I don’t care if I’m an academic Austin Dieter pineapple, if someone says I should i

Well, here’s the thing that you don’t, you don’t even I don’t know, it’s fun it is it’s such there’s it’s such more intense and, and it can take you to places emotionally that you don’t enjoy in terms of anger or resentment or, or jealousy or any of it but and you might be feeling them at a different point to the person if you are doing it with someone obviously over the years. But if you are doing it with somebody, you might be feeling those things at different points, or not at all. And it’s about having the I guess the generosity and the humility and the compassion to let them experience exist alongside yours and as well which is which is another thing is another thing to navigate and then while you’re doing that your head is quite busy, and then you’re going to go and try and write a literature review or a conference papers. I mean, if there is something there is something that I felt very grateful for about the fact that I was doing my PhD because because we relocated and and I was doing some thing that was important to me, it was something that was completely different and was something that was mine. And it was something that I was creating. And I think there can be this real desire, this impetus to create to be generative and, and I was meeting some of that need to create something at the same time. Something very different. But, but something that was mine, which was hugely for me, it was hugely helpful. And creative community as well of people, outside of maybe the people who are on a similar trajectory in terms of our age, and people who just maybe just couldn’t go for a coffee with anymore. And they’re, so you know, meeting a new community, and lots of my friends were international students, or people I met through but other parts of my life in activism, and, you know, so there was, there was that those benefits of as well as doing a PhD in that or, you know, existing within a really different and diverse community, and not least one where the food I mean, with so many international student brands, brilliant food to keep us going.

 Exactly when I think the thing is, it’s like you said, it’s a very visceral experience. And that actually can be really useful for the PhD journey to beat to kind of to not be totally in your head, and actually, to come into the visceral but but perhaps in a less extreme, extreme way would be helpful. Yeah, very, very full on very, very full on. K, I’m aware of time, and I genuinely this could go on, and should go on, these discussions should go on for much longer. And I always feel uncomfortable drawing to a close, but particularly today, in terms of all of it, all that has been here. But I’m gonna ask you, I mean, I wish I did that I set myself up for these questions. This kind of pain, loss, grief a different place, if you could just emphasise that, 

No, it’s alright, I’ve got I’ve got one. And it’s not just my daughter setting quite it’s I was thinking about this and beyond all of the things about setting up support structures, and all of the stuff to do with self, self care. And all of those things, I was thinking about this. And I think that my top to mind something that would be about if you have an imagined in your PhD or beyond, obviously, but in your if you have a very strong image of what you think it’s going to look like, or an imagined future, if it is no longer serving you trying to let it go. And I think we can have a really fixed idea of what something should look like. And sometimes we don’t realise that it’s holding us back or limiting us or making us unhappy. And a little example, if this in my PhD process was, for me, this was about the role of practice. And I, I pictured my PhD. And because I’ve been working in the field, I had friends who were just working, not in academia, but who were doing that, who were delivering the kind of work that I was writing about, I had a very strong idea about the role of practice in my PhD and what that would look like methodologically in terms of how I would gather data, and it became clear that the best choice for the research was something slightly different. And I was going to draw on practice, but I wasn’t going to do an original piece of practice. And that was partly because I didn’t want to do some of the things that I was writing about not doing which would be to dive into a situation and dive out again, and do it purely for your own research purposes. So there was an ethical imperative behind why I did but I still have this idea of what it was going to look like. And that was obviously a good thing alongside a broader idea of how I was picturing my life and in depth and etc. But But this idea of how, how I was going to do something I needed to let go because it wasn’t helping me move forward. So I think for me, yeah, that top tip is about if something isn’t serving you if something is, is harming you or is holding you back or is limiting you or does not carrying you forward is about finding a way just to just gently and self compassionately let it go and move into actually what is practically possible. What is more possible is more is able to happen, or might even be a better a better choice. And there’s certainly been stages across my life where I’ve said about the you know the power of plan B and Plan C and D etc. But But taking those moments to go and now I’m just going to gently risk like with respect for what I’ve been through. Just move into that next point in a way that maybe might support me and serve me better

Oh, just gorgeous. And it is that thing isn’t it, you’ve got to let go to have your hands open to taking what’s coming next. It just, I love it. Thank you so, so much for that. I just thank you for your openness and your generosity of spirit and you’re just beautiful story. 

And it’s important to share it I hope that can be a very isolating experience. It can be like a lonely experience and, and also I feel like queer stories just aren’t heard as much as well. So for me, it feels I think there’s that that thing about the you know that the vulnerability because it is it is honourable sharing these days, hopefully allows for others to find those points of connection as well. 

Really, really, really, really appreciate it. Thank you so much, Kate, and thank you all for listening