Archive for the ‘nature’ Category

First there were 2 and now there are 5… 5 foxes living next to us on my cul-de-sac inside the Washington DC beltway.

We first glimpsed the parents in early morning or late at night.  During the winter, when new snow and a stillness of the day gave them claim to our street, we would watch from our windows, the two of them walking and playing in front of our house and up and down the street.

This spring three pups were added to their family.

Fearless and fun, they roam around our back yard and travel to our neighbor’s yard.  There they have dug holes and deepened indentations where trees once stood, making a work-and-play site.

In that large yard, they hone their inborn instincts, playfully and relentlessly.

They set boundaries:  They own their space, digging holes for themselves, enlarging holes to fit their needs both for protection and for living. 

They are self-sufficient.  They take charge of their environment, find their own food, stay on the alert, guard against intruders and danger, nurture their relationships.

They set schedules that work for them.  Most often we see them early in the morning and after dark, probably when they are most alert, least likely to be disturbed, and also when they are safest.

They combine work and play—their amazing leaps and speed, combined with their rough play as they wrestle with one another, must be great fun for them but is also their work, strengthening their skills.  Even as they play, they’re wary of danger and alert to the possibility of real or imagined prey.

They take strength by being with one another. They form alliances.

This is just one moment in their lives. They won’t be here forever.  The situation will change for them because the trees in the wooded lot where they hide away and sleep are marked by developers for removal.

Sometimes we forget what nature can say to us, or we just don’t take the time to watch and muse.  As I watched the foxes, here are some takeaways for writers of dissertations that occurred to me:

  • Set boundaries:  claim your space and dig in.
  • Be self-sufficient:  take charge of your work and don’t wait until you have gained permission, feedback, or pats on the back.
  • Be opportunistic:  Trust yourself and go after what you need.  Stay alert and dedicate time and energy to where you might succeed.  Take risks.
  • Combine work and play:  Feel the exhilaration that comes from doing what you do best in writing.  Enjoy the moment. 
  • Make alliances: Find a writing partner or a someone to work with.  Make connections. Stay connected.
  • Don’t wait for perfect:  Go with what’s available and get the job done.  

And remember how you have been preparing for this task since you were, well, a pup.

Best to you,


Nancy Whichard, PhD, PCC
Dissertation Coach
nancy @ nancywhichard.com

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