I'm going to answer the last part of this question, as it relates to things I have been thinking about lately. I recently kind of hit rock bottom in my feelings about my dissertation and things I have feared would happen with it happened. Despite that and the fact that I am in a new city and missing old friends and also that I insanely took on a huge teaching load, I have been really happy. I think I am really happy for two reasons. 1) We know we will be here for awhile. R will be in his PhD program for 5,6,7 or more years. After I graduate and he finishes classes I might get a tenure track job elsewhere, and we might spend time in between two cities, but he will be at this school for the foreseeable future. It gives us some stability we have not had for a long time. 2) I realized that if I spent all my days like I did now with the addition of more money and a PhD, I would really be exactly where I want to be. I really love teaching, and this semester I am teaching some upper level classes which are giving me more of a taste of what I might get to do in a full time job someday. I also think I'll be teaching at these schools for more than 2 semesters, so I'll finally get to see what it is like to settle in a little somewhere, learn the student culture, know where to eat lunch, etc. I have been striving so long for the goal of a PhD, I think I forgot a little what I wanted it for. I wanted it so I could teach and research, and I am teaching and researching (or at least writing up research) right now. I already have my dream job in a way, and if I keep doing it, the diploma will come.
So I am so so close to living the life of my dreams. It is pretty awesome. And what do I want for others? I would really love if everyone could have the space to figure out what they want and then the opportunity to try it out and see how that kind of life fits them. I have so many students who have interests in one area, but feel compelled for financial reasons to follow a path they are less interested in. I wish they could follow their dreams for awhile, to see if those are their real dreams. I know how lucky I have been to end up where I am now, to be encouraged to get into a profession that is not at all 'normal' and that is risky in someways, and I wish everyone could have the encouragement and support I have had.