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: https://thephdliferaft.libsyn.com/

Emma  

Hello, Victoria. Hi, Emma, how are you? I am very well. And I am really, really looking forward to this discussion. And I was just saying, I’m so grateful that you said yes to this woman who was stalking you online? I say so we are going to be talking about the solstice. This is our kind of seasonal episode. And I am really excited to dive into that, think about the solstice, think about attending to the seasons. Think about self care around that. But before we get to that, I’m going to ask the question that I asked everybody in terms of tell us a little bit about your PhD journey, which I’m sure it seems a long time. It’s another lifetime for you. I know. I will get to that in a minute. But can you tell us about your PhD journey into and out the other side for these? Right?

Victoria  

Well, so I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do with my life. I knew that I was good at physics. I went did a physics degree. And it was actually I was in the pub, after doing my getting my results. And a couple of lectures came and sat down on the side of me and said, Can we buy you a pint? Of course, being a student? I said, Yes, please. Little did I know that actually, they were saddling up to me, because they had a PhD place that they wanted to fill. And they wanted me to fill it. So I, like I said, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. So I wanted to do something practical with my hands. I like playing with things. So my PhD was actually building part of the LHC. Which was very exciting at the time. And it was interesting, it was fun. And yeah, that started an academic academic career really?

Emma  

Yeah. So so it was fun. And something that you can put into, I’m sure there’ll be some people listening who was like, Yeah, I just kind of got ambushed and now on this PhD programme. And then you went into an academic career? Yeah. How was it? How was that?

Um, so I really, I really enjoyed it, I really enjoyed the research. But I found after my PhD that I really wanted to help people. So it was it was quite a journey going from, you know, not really having a clue what I wanted to do. But well, I’ll do the PhD because I didn’t have a job. I didn’t know what I wanted to do through to going well, by the end of it. I want to help people and then trying to do that through the research that I was doing. So I moved from particle physics into making imaging detectors for mammography and protein crystallography. But it never really felt immediate enough. So I always felt like I was a bit one step removed from doing actual actual help, if that makes sense. makes

Emma  

absolute sense. makes absolute sense. Because your heart has shifted. And where is it shifted to? She said, I know the answer to this, but tell us where it tell us where it shifted to where you were going. Actually, it

didn’t shift immediately. So I worked moved into academic administration. So working for the research councils, and looking after strategy and policy for for essentially the same area of science that I was working in as a researcher. But I happens to be on retreat, everything seems to happen in my life, just like coincidence, really.

Emma  

I love it. I love it.

I went on a retreat, a meditation retreat, and I had a chance conversation with a doctor and they said, You know, I enjoy my job. But you know, I want to help people. And he said to me, you’ll find your what it is you want to do. Okay. And by the time I’d got off the train coming home from the retreat, I had signed up to do a herbal medicine degree, which I don’t advise

Emma  

working. That’s correct. Yep.

And so that’s been that’s been quite a journey. So from doing the herbal medicine degree, started practising as a herbalist and then realising that actually, in order to look after our physical health, we really need to support our mental and emotional well being as well. So studying coaching and contemplative psychology and a whole bunch of other things to try and bring a mix of like how I can really support people.

Emma  

Gorgeous is that How gorgeous is that? And so now that that is that’s the work that you do, it is we will have we will have all the links to your to your work in the in the show notes because I am sure what people We’re gonna want to find out more about this. So I ambushed you, just like you were I was in the pub I am in terms of talking about talking about the solstice and seasonal practices. Because I knew that you had an understanding of the academic life. But you also now have a quite a different perspective on on life, I guess, generally. So tell us a bit. And also you’d written something really beautiful. So tell us a little bit about the solstice and seasonal practices and how how that is for you.

So So for me, like I said, this is this, this whole journey for me. So from being like a really hardcore physicist, sciency head, and actually learning a bit more about myself as a person. So whilst I was doing my PhD and my degree, but in the final year of my degree, my physics degree, I was diagnosed with a chronic health condition. And that was after, you know, seven years of being in pain. And, you know, I went through all the standard medical treatment and what have you. And, actually, it was really, when I started to listen to my body very, very deeply, only then did I start to recover that with herbal medicine, you know, I went from being a pain every single day to being completely pain free. It wasn’t, you know, just the herbal medicine and in herbal medicine has been amazing. But the, if you like, the longevity of being pain free has actually been about really listening deeply to my own body. And you can only do that if you feel connected, and you’re quiet. And bringing that back to the solstice, you know, we kind of we’ve lost our connection a little bit with the seasons. You know, we’re used to these days, artificial lights staying warm indoors. And so that natural period of rest that had perms, when the nights get shorter, it gets darker. We just don’t seem to have have we continue to just go Go, go, go go. Because that’s what we can do. You know, we have the facilities to be able to do that. Yes. At actually, you know, that there is a real opportunity to slow down just a touch doesn’t have to be massive, I get, you know, we have to write off these things. But to slow down and allow a bit more space and a little a little bit more opportunity for rest and, and to go in and finding that introspective place.

Emma  

Oh, that is golden. That is golden. And I think it’s something we talk about a lot on the podcast is sense of being so much in your head as a researcher and not being in your body, and not listening to the rhythms of the season. But the thing is, your body’s still listening to the rhythm of the season, even if your head isn’t

exactly exactly

Emma  

where I was just gonna ask what sort of practices How can we come into that place of connection if people are aware that that’s what’s going on, and they want to do something about it.

So there are a number of different ways. The first is to actually spend time outdoors. Now, I’m not just talking about like, going for a brisk walk and to get your exercise in. But actually, there’s a really nice practice called a sit spot, which I’d highly recommend and that’s finding a nice spot somewhere in nature. It could be Speed and garden, if you have access to a garden, could be in a local park. If you’re lucky enough to live near some countryside, it could be you know, on a hill, or in a word or something, just a nice spot where you feel safe and comfortable to just sit and just sit there, you know, as frequently as you can, for as long as you can, but 10 minutes is enough, not having a phone with you. I mean, put put the phone and pocket, stick it on silent, but just really just sit and be present. And just watch what’s going on around us. And noticing the change of the seasons. And then listening to what your body is saying. So, you know, rather than going in your head and saying, Oh, what is my body thinking actually trying to feel? Or what’s my feeling body feeling like in this moment, it may be freezing cold, if it’s in the depths of winter, but it may not be actually you may find that if you relax into feeling your body that the cold is there. But it’s not so intense, and it’s not so present as if it would be if we were in our heads.

Emma  

Oh, I love it, I can already feel my breathing slowing down even as you say, just just just being in the moment with nothing else to do. I think that sense of just just being with nature.

And that connection allows us to find that rest part of ourselves. And you know, it gives our heads a little bit of a break. And, you know, I don’t know about you, but I certainly find if if I’m struggling with a problem, or you know, there’s something going on actually taking myself away from it. And allowing my brain to rest. It actually got the problem for me in a way but thinking about it never could.

Emma  

Yes. And there’s so much research on this in terms of just allowing that subconscious mind to do its work. And yeah, you just taking time to use it to rest. Oh, beautiful, beautiful. Anything Have you got? Have you got any? Because you you said there are a few things Is there anything else you would offer?

There’s, there’s loads of stuff, I mean, the winter is a great time to really like, you know, go deeply into ourselves. And, you know, I talked about my journey about, you know, not really knowing what I wanted to do with my life. And actually the winter, you know, offers up that opportunity. It’s kind of like a sense of hope and renewal, you know, if you look at the trees that you know, they’re all going into themselves in the lives of God, you know, the saps going down into the roots, there’s a real sense of going deep into ourselves. And to understand what it is we want from our lives, and to have that sense of, you know, renewal for the next year. So from that point of view from if you’d like, maybe a bit more of a spiritual point of view, there are things we can do. But then also, there’s practical things that we can do as well to connect with that energy of renewal as well. So for example, cleaning up sounds really boring, but I don’t know about you, when I’m busy focused on something else. You know, the last thing I feel like doing is housework. But actually, it’s a real time to tidy up our space. And that process of tidying up our space gives us confidence. And it gives her headspace as well, in order again to be able to cope with the next part of what’s coming up.

Emma  

Oh, yes, no, I have been doing a book called year to clear and in terms of that sense of absolutely clearing energy as a way of, like you say, of clearing your mind and being able to to just be focused. It’s just It’s brilliant, really brilliant. Off such good stuff. This is such good stuff. And I think that that sense of actually taking a pause and acknowledging this time. That’s what I’m really taking away from this to the it’s that sense of allowing yourself because hopefully people will have a will be having some kind of break at this moment and then be able to do that and then return to return to their work with that kind of renewed energy would be amazing, wouldn’t it? Yeah. And so I think that those I’m also aware because I want to just tap you for all your wisdom that you’ve got. Okay, get get our money’s worth out of it. And this this sense of because I’m aware that with your your kind of your your practice, thinks about the The body to in terms of health. And I wonder whether there’s anything particular seasonal practices for looking after the body at this moment. Yeah, so

I think making sure our body gets in nourishment is really important. We, you know, I mean, there’s, we’ve talked about rest in terms of sleep. And that’s, that’s a form of nourishment for the body, but then also thinking about the types of foods that we eat as well. So, you know, if you think of winter, we want that really lovely, warm, comforting food. Now, that can be soups and stews, but thinking about the types of spices that we’re eating as well. So cinema and ginger, the warming herbs, and they use medicinally, as well. But they have that warming feeling that can help nourish the body at this time. But then also, you know, things such as walnuts, for example, again, it has that like warming winter, they’re very seasonal foods, but they’re also filled with Omega three, which is really great brain food. So there’s really good opportunity to bring in that, you know, the things that are nourishing for the body, but will also help with our brain function as well. And again, if you’re a meat eater, you know, again, getting a slow cooker, which I’m sure will be available in January sales, really easy way to know, fill it with lovely, warm, rich Jews, and having you know, that sense of like lots of B 12. methylation, which really helps with the production of neurotransmitters. So there’s really practical things that we can do as well. It’s not just about you know, resting and feeling that sense of emotional nourishment. But actually we can nourish our bodies very physically to Oh, I love that

Emma  

so much. I love that so much. Walnuts, super foods. Amazing, amazing. Okay, so there was so often, so I’m aware of time, and there’s so often there’s so many more questions I would like to ask, but I am going to, I’m going to just leave it with this come to a top tip in a minute. I’m aware, and as I say, we will have all your information that in the show notes, because I know that then people might have more questions to ask or want to follow up a bit more in terms of pretending or carefully to, to what they’re eating or how they how they are, you know, in terms of meditation practice and things like that. And

if anybody does want to get in touch, then please, please do, I’d love to hear from people. So I’m always happy to have a conversation with people.

Emma  

Amazing. And I’m also aware that we do have quite a lot of you know, this, we do have a very international audience. And we’re maybe people who are going but it’s not winter, we ourselves as well, first of all, you could just play this at another time of the year. And also there’s there’s there’s a lot of information that will be useful for you as we come as you come to the summer solstice. Absolutely. And we will it will send us some sunshine. As you’re thinking of that. Yeah. And so then we’re just going to come now you’ve given us so much useful information already. But I just wonder if there, there’s a top tip that you could leave us to take away for around the solstice time.

I think I’ve kind of covered it a little bit. But my top tip is listen to your bodies. Take time to just really get to know what your body is telling you. Because actually, if you can listen, it will give you the most immense wisdom about how you are about what you need, and about what’s important.

Emma  

So gorgeous. Victoria, thank you so much for your time. Thank you so much for signing up for that course on the trade and all that you’re now bringing to the world. Thank you very much. My pleasure. Thank you for inviting me. And thank you all for listening