Episode Description

Mother-Daughter Chats

This week, Kim and Ferne get real. Kim evenly balances her coaching with her mothering as she gives Ferne advice about her struggles as a new Ph.D. student. Ferne talks about someone who has seemingly set her back by giving her heavy criticism, but Kim helps her see that some of our biggest critics are actually some of our biggest supporters.

Episode Transcript


[00:00:05] Kim Ades: Hello, hello. My name is Kim Ades, I am the President and Founder of Frame of Mind Coaching and the Co-founder of The Journal That Talks Back. Today is the day where we have Ferne on the FOM Podcast. Ferne, welcome!  

[00:00:20] Ferne Kotlyar: Hello! How are you?  

[00:00:22] Kim Ades: Great. But for those of you who don't know, Ferne is my daughter, and today we're just gonna hang out and have a mother daughter chat. So Ferne, what's happening? I haven't spoken to you in a while. You've been at a conference all week, you've been busy, you call me for five minutes in between sessions. What's going on? Fill me in.  

[00:00:43] Ferne Kotlyar: Well today, I actually have really good news. About 10 minutes, 10 minutes or so before the podcast, we got news that my partner, my boyfriend just got accepted as a permanent residence to Canada and we are very, very happy.

[00:01:01] Kim Ades: Wow! Woo, woo, woo! That's super exciting! That's very, very good news. That's amazing.  

[00:01:08] Ferne Kotlyar: Good news.  

[00:01:08] Kim Ades: So what does that actually mean? Does that mean that he's gonna be moving to Toronto? So right now Ferne's boyfriend, his name is Adrien, he's from France, actually. Very nice French accent. He's been living in Montreal for how long?  

[00:01:24] Ferne Kotlyar: Five years.  

[00:01:25] Kim Ades: Five years. And he applied for residency, permanent residency, and today he got accepted. After doing all kinds of applications and physical health tests and all kinds of things like that, right? So today he got accepted, we thought it was gonna take another two years, right?  

[00:01:44] Ferne Kotlyar: Yeah, they told us that it would take till January 2024.

[00:01:48] Kim Ades: Unbelievable.  

[00:01:50] Ferne Kotlyar: We were very pleasantly surprised that it came way earlier.  

[00:01:54] Kim Ades: Way earlier. It's not like going to the airport and waiting for delays on the flights, right? It happened faster!  

[00:02:00] Ferne Kotlyar: Crazy. So they set your expectations really low, and then they surpassed the expectations.  

[00:02:06] Kim Ades: Then they make it a big wow, big bang experience.

[00:02:09] Ferne Kotlyar: Interesting strategy, but it makes us happy, so.  

[00:02:12] Kim Ades: Yes. So you were very concerned that you wouldn't be able to live together, be together for another couple of years and now... Surprise! It's happening sooner rather than later. So, I know you haven't had a chance to really discuss it, but what do you hope your plans to be?

I mean, the sooner we can live together, the better, in my opinion, essentially he was restricted because he applied through Quebec and in order to be a permanent resident, he has to have a residency in Quebec, he has to have a home address in Quebec. And so in order for him to leave-- and he works in Quebec as well.

And so in order for him to leave, he has to get that permanent residency, otherwise he'd have to make a new work permit and he'd have to get a different residence and restart the whole application, and way too complicated. So we decided to wait and it came, and so now that he's a permanent resident, he's allowed to move to Ontario, where I will be... I just transferred into my PhD. So we're gonna live there together.  

So we're gonna talk about that in a minute, but so you're gonna live there. So you're gonna come back to Toronto where I live, so I'm happy to have my kids beside me, near me, somehow close to me, and he's gonna come and move in with you in Toronto. He wants to live in Toronto, he's a French speaking man. Is he gonna have fun living in Toronto?  

[00:03:36] Ferne Kotlyar: His English is great!  

[00:03:37] Kim Ades: His English is pretty great, even with an accent.

[00:03:40] Ferne Kotlyar: [Chuckles lightly]  

[00:03:41] Kim Ades: It makes him very charming, right?  

[00:03:43] Ferne Kotlyar: Very charming.  

[00:03:45] Kim Ades: So you're moving, but you don't know when exactly, you don't know how, you don't know how quickly all of this is gonna happen, when you can get a work transfer or anything like that.

[00:03:54] Ferne Kotlyar: No idea. I mean, we just got the news, like I said, like 10 minutes ago today from the podcast and we don't know any of the logistics yet, so we gotta figure that out. We got some work to do.  

[00:04:07] Kim Ades: Okay. Amazing. So, I mean, it's kind of interesting to me because part of the history, the conversation that we used to have was "mom, it's gonna take so long. I wanna be with him, I wanna live with him. It's gonna take so long!" Right? And wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles.

[00:04:27] Ferne Kotlyar: [Chuckles]  

[00:04:28] Kim Ades: For those of you who don't know, that's a reference to Fiddler on the Roof. But things change, things always change.  

[00:04:36] Ferne Kotlyar: Yeah.  

[00:04:37] Kim Ades: So what do you make of that?  

[00:04:41] Ferne Kotlyar: We're very pleasantly surprised. Things I think turned out for the best. I mean, it hasn't happened quite yet, but we're really on the right track and we're almost there. So it's a really big relief, and I guess having those expectations that make you upset and hesitate and just kind of look negatively on the future, make things a lot harder.

[00:05:11] Kim Ades: Yeah.  

[00:05:11] Ferne Kotlyar: But that sometimes things can work out.  

[00:05:13] Kim Ades: Sometimes things can work out and sometimes, even if you are having to wait for something, you can turn it into an exciting adventure, you can turn it into something that is not torture, something that's okay and quite pleasant to experience. It doesn't have to be bad, it doesn't have to be hard.  

But you recently had another experience. You just got accepted to do your PhD and you... I mean, just to fill everybody in, you started off as a master's student doing... What's it called? Biology? Science?

[00:05:51] Ferne Kotlyar: [Laughs]  

[00:05:51] Kim Ades: Plant science? Plant biology? What's it called?  

[00:05:55] Ferne Kotlyar: Yeah, plant biology. I mean, technically evolution and... Evolutionary? ... Ecology and Evolutionary Biology! Always mix up the order. And so yeah, Plant Science falls under that category.  

[00:06:08] Kim Ades: Okay, so you got into your master's degree and then they invited you. They said, "Hey, forget about your master's degree, just go do your PhD. If you pick a project and do a paper on it and do a presentation to your committee, and if you demonstrate that you're ready, then great, we'll just slide you into doing your PhD. Did I get that right?  

[00:06:31] Ferne Kotlyar: Well, technically it's an extra year. So generally a PhD here takes four years, because I don't have a master's yet, they just contributed that one year to my PhD and my whole PhD will be five years. I'll take five years without a master, and at the end I'll get a PhD.  

And so I had to prepare a presentation with what my future projects were going to be. So what do I plan to do with these four more years that I have? What projects am I gonna do? What research am I gonna do? And what am I gonna accomplish in a given timeline?

[00:07:04] Kim Ades: We're gonna come back to that. So you had to do this presentation and you had to submit a paper. And what happened after you submitted this paper?  

[00:07:15] Ferne Kotlyar: I sent it out to my committee. Well, I wrote it very early. I had a lot of time to go back and forth with corrections. So I sent it to my supervisor, we went back and forth, she made some corrections, we edited and reedited. And then we sent it out to my committee and two days before--  

[00:07:32] Kim Ades: How many people on your committee?  

[00:07:34] Ferne Kotlyar: Three for-- Three now, but...  

[00:07:36] Kim Ades: Okay.  

[00:07:38] Ferne Kotlyar: So we sent it out and two days or so before the meeting was supposed to happen. One of my committee members was not very happy with that report and he made so many comments, asked so many questions that were very specific and I think probably not necessarily things that I needed to know in order to transfer, because it's...  

Like, in our field, we have an appraisal where that's-- You're two years in. So at the beginning of your third year, you have your appraisal, that's to assess whether you're ready or not to get that PhD eventually.  

But this wasn't an appraisal. I've only been one year in, he asked way too much-- Like, a lot of really tough questions, but also he was very critical, and he commented on the fact that I wasn't taking specific courses and he was upset about certain things, and he told us basically that we don't have the expertise to go through with this project and that we need to talk to experts in the field.

[00:08:39] Kim Ades: So two days before your presentation, where you were supposed to theoretically get your transfer approval, and by transfer we mean transferring from a master's to a PhD program, right? So you're basically skipping a year, essentially.  

[00:08:55] Ferne Kotlyar: Yeah.  

[00:08:55] Kim Ades: Right? This gentleman said, "hold on a minute", he kind of pulled the plug. Yeah?  

[00:09:04] Ferne Kotlyar: Yes. Yeah, it was really hard to hear. I wasn't expecting that at all, I didn't see that coming. We worked really hard on it and yeah, it was very kind of unexpected out of the blue and upsetting.  

[00:09:17] Kim Ades: And you were working with an advisor who said "everything looks good".  

[00:09:21] Ferne Kotlyar: Yeah. I mean, she was also surprised.  

[00:09:24] Kim Ades: Who's presumably experienced.

[00:09:26] Ferne Kotlyar: Yeah.  

[00:09:27] Kim Ades: Yeah. So your initial reaction was?  

[00:09:31] Ferne Kotlyar: I mean, upset! I was kind of angry and embarrassed and sad that I felt like I wasn't good enough and that my work wasn't good enough, and I didn't know if I was gonna be able to transfer and I had everything planned out and it wasn't supposed to be that hard and... I was really disappointed. I was really, really upset.  

[00:09:54] Kim Ades: So you were reconsidering your whole entire future.  

[00:09:57] Ferne Kotlyar: A bit. [Chuckles]  

[00:09:59] Kim Ades: A bit. Okay, and then what happened?  

[00:10:02] Ferne Kotlyar: And then we postponed the meeting. We answered all of his questions, we sent out a new document applying to every single one of his comments. We did all the background research, we reached out to people trying to get an expert on the field on our team. We had a lot of conversations about it and we agreed to push it back, as he recommended, and kind of follow everything he suggested, and take it with as much grace as possible.  

My supervisor's really supportive and she basically told me that this isn't ideal, but it's better to hear it now than during the meeting, and I think she couldn't have been more right, to hear that at a meeting in front of everyone to not know how to respond, to not have the time to look up the things I needed to look up and get the background information, would've been a lot tougher than him telling me in advance.

[00:10:58] Kim Ades: Yeah. So you get the news, you're a bit crushed, I'll say it you were a bit crushed. Right?  

[00:11:05] Ferne Kotlyar: How could I not be?  

[00:11:07] Kim Ades: You were hurt, you were mad, you were nervous, you were concerned about your future, you didn't know if you were gonna be able to move forward as a PhD student. And there was this one guy kind of seemingly getting in your way, and then you decided, "okay, fine. I'll postpone my meeting. I'll take his notes into consideration, I'll address his concerns and his issues, and I'll find some answers to the things he's bringing up, and I'll come in prepared, I'll redo the paper, I'll add the bits that he needs to it. I'll resend it out. And I'll add a new committee member who is more... An expert in the field and who could back me up a little bit better".

[00:11:47] Ferne Kotlyar: And there you have it, you did your presentation. And what was the comment that they gave you at the end? Once they said, "yes, you passed", they said, "we appreciate how well you took the feedback". Isn't that what they said?  

Yeah.  

[00:12:04] Kim Ades: Yes. So, proud mother over here.

[00:12:06] Ferne Kotlyar: Impressed you remembered. [Chuckles]  

[00:12:07] Kim Ades: Of course I remember. I remember a lot of things. Aren't you surprised at how many things I remember?  

[00:12:14] Ferne Kotlyar: Yeah.  

[00:12:14] Kim Ades: So why am I bringing this up? Why is this something that I wanna discuss? Not because I want Ferne to relive this torturous experience, but because I want to actually cement this experience for her so that she leverages it in the future.

Why? Because we will all experience adversity. That was a moment of adversity for her, that was a moment where her plan was thwarted. She was going straight ahead, she was on track, and then suddenly there was a spoke in her wheel and she, she tripped when that spoke showed up and it hurt a little bit.

And part of what our relationship is like is that I try very hard to fortify her, even when it's hard, even when she is crushed, even when she's angry and hurt and not sure about what's gonna happen next. And so my personal angle was, Hey, okay, so postpone the meeting and leverage this.

Like, let's use this, let's answer all his questions, let's do all those things. But when you go into the meeting, before you start your presentation, make sure you acknowledge this man for his questions, his concerns for his feedback and giving you the time to come in more prepared.  

[00:13:36] Ferne Kotlyar: Yeah.  

[00:13:36] Kim Ades: And I think that's what you did, right?

[00:13:39] Ferne Kotlyar: Yeah, absolutely.  

[00:13:40] Kim Ades: And so, the real lesson in all of this is that sometimes we get slowed down in life in order to speed up. Sometimes those spokes are in our benefit, so they might trip us up, but they don't actually cause us to completely fall or destroy ourselves, get destroyed. Those spokes are there sometimes to make ourselves better, to make us better, to improve us, to strengthen us.

And so the idea here is, guess what? You're gonna have more spokes along the way. You're gonna have a lot more experiences where people throw stuff at you. And it's not about ducking, it's really about standing up and saying, "okay, this is part of the experience. I don't have to be so crushed. I'm stronger now, I can take them and understand them and run with them. And I can leverage them in my research, in my work and in my character".  

[00:14:37] Ferne Kotlyar: Yeah. But I think it's also... I mean, it's hard to hear always, it's hard to hear critical feedback, but it's really important. Like, I think it's good to use it and to strengthen your research because at the end of the day, like reviewers would have had similar comments probably. So it's better that I address them sooner at the beginning of my project than five years down the line, and it's too late to go back and fix.  

[00:15:01] Kim Ades: Right. So what sometimes feels like somebody is stabbing you in the back, is somebody having your back, sometimes.  

[00:15:09] Ferne Kotlyar: Sometimes.  

[00:15:10] Kim Ades: Doesn't feel like that.  

[00:15:12] Ferne Kotlyar: No, but he committed to doing another four years on my committee, so that was really surprising, I thought we would switch him out for somebody else because he seemed unhappy. And he actually is pretty supportive in the sense that he offers to help, he offers to have conversations, he offers to send us material. And it's tough, but he's really giving us his mental energy.  

[00:15:37] Kim Ades: Yeah.  

[00:15:38] Ferne Kotlyar: He's giving us that thought that we need. And so it's actually... Like I said, it's tough, but it's really helpful. And so if you can use that, if you can leverage it to be helpful rather than to feel that resistance, it can propel you forward, as you said.  

[00:15:53] Kim Ades: Sometimes in our lives, we have a person who's hard on us, right? Somebody who kind of beats us up a little bit, and we sometimes feel the blows, but we have to determine whether or not those people are beating us up to help us rise.

If they see a greater element in us that we are not rising to, or if they're just beating us up for the pleasure of the beat, right? So you have to kind of sift through all that. In this case, I think you had a gentleman who was saying, Hey, there's a higher standard here for you and I'm inviting you to rise up to that standard", and you absolutely did.

You crushed it, you did well, you pass with flying colors and you are now a PhD student, and I'm super proud of that. But sometimes we do just receive criticism with no positive outcome. And so we kind of have to sift through the people in our lives who are there to lift us by being a little bit hard on us sometimes, expecting greater of us, versus those people who are just hard on us for no good reason.  

[00:17:05] Ferne Kotlyar: How do you sift through that? How do you decide who's there for a good reason and who's there for a not so good reason?  

[00:17:11] Kim Ades: I think the ones that are there for a good reason, share a vision with you that says "here's what I see in you. Here's what it could look like. Here's what's possible for you. Here's what you're made of. Here's the picture for you on the other side of this. And I believe that you have it in you to get to that other side". Whereas the other people, they don't have that vision.  

They don't say here's what's on the other side of the hard work. Right? And so they're not showing you what's possible for you. And sometimes there's not always a belief in you. But what you have in this case is you have a team of people who are believing in you, especially your advisor who really went to bat for you as well, in terms of receiving the feedback and working with you to address all the issues.

[00:18:01] Ferne Kotlyar: Yeah.  

[00:18:01] Kim Ades: So you really have a team of supporters, including this guy.  

[00:18:07] Ferne Kotlyar: Yeah. It's hard to see, but yeah.  

[00:18:10] Kim Ades: Yeah. I mean, I think you recovered so well from that, and you put your head down and you really figured out, "how do I address these issues? What are the questions that he's asking? How do I figure those out from a research or academic standpoint?" And you nailed it. And you took a blow, but then you got back up fast. And I think that's one of your greatest strengths, is the ability to get back up when you take a blow.  

[00:18:41] Ferne Kotlyar: Thank you. Yeah, I think I do. I fall sometimes, maybe more than others, but I can get back up, which is the most important part. [Chuckles]

[00:18:49] Kim Ades: I don't think more than others, I think just like others, but I think you have a very, very strong backbone and you have the ability to get back up.  

[00:18:59] Ferne Kotlyar: Thank you. It must be genetic.  

[00:19:01] Kim Ades: I don't know. I don't know.  

[00:19:03] Ferne Kotlyar: [Laughs]  

[00:19:04] Kim Ades: For those of you who are listening, very often we talk about the concept of resilience, we talk about what is resilience. And really resilience is the ability to get back up from an adversity, from an experience that's difficult with speed and agility, and even leverage the adversity somehow.  

What we saw with Ferne is exactly that this very, very high degree of emotional resilience, where she was knocked down, she got back up and really ran with what she was given. She learned fast, she addressed the issues that were in front of her, and she came out very gracefully, acknowledging this gentleman for his feedback. So totally leveraging the adversity there.  

For those of you who are listening, please keep tuning in. We'd love to hear your feedback, we'd love to hear your thoughts, we'd love to get some subjects, things that you would like us to talk about. Ferne, how do people reach you?

[00:19:57] Ferne Kotlyar: Please email me! My email is Fernekotlyar@live.com.  

[00:20:06] Kim Ades: And you could reach me. It's Kim@frameofmindcoaching.com. We will catch you later. Have a great week, everyone!