All The Fun Things

My goal for this year was to have more fun. I wanted to get out of my apartment and really start doing things. I realize that in a few months my life may be consumed with data collection and dissertation writing. I want to make the most of the “free time” that I believe I have.  Yes, I know I should be reading and writing and working on my proposal, but I also know I don’t want to miss out on life anymore.

If you check out my wanderlust page, you’ll see that I’ve been making moves in 2015. I keep telling friends that I’ve had more fun since I turned 30 than I did my whole year at 29. I’d like to keep up that streak.

I’ve been very fortunate to have the means to travel for professional and personal reasons.  While I’m still on a vacation “high”, I’m ready to plan my next trip. I actually get a fall break this year friends!  So, we’ll see where I end up.  In the meantime, I’ve been looking at fun weekend adventures right here in South Carolina. Wineries, concerts, cooking classes, comedy shows, and beach trips are all possibilities for the next couple months.  Not to mention that football season is almost here and I’m excited to claim my student tickets to show off the stadium to my dad and visiting friends.

My goal for the fall is to stay productive and positive, while moving forward with my program timeline, projects for my faculty, and commitments to professional organizations.  There’s a lot coming up this year but I’m so excited and so blessed to have so many people sharing my life.

What are you excited for in 2015-2016? What do you do for fun?

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Hello old friend…

Hello again,

I realized this morning how long it’s been since my last real post. In case you were wondering, I survived the end of the spring semester.  I met all of my deadlines, I got high marks in my courses, and I dove head first into a whirlwind summer.

After spending a solid week advocating for my precious PhD timeline and combating class cancellations, I started summer classes. I’ve already finished one, the second will be done next week, then a small 5 day break before the final summer course begins.  Let’s just say I’m excited for July.

But what really brought my back is my friend’s blog post from today. Go read it. Michael Goodman’s wonderful. You’ll like it. 🙂

His blog about wandering and taking risks and not having all the answers reminded me of thoughts I’ve had randomly in the last month or so.  So, whenever you’re in school, people want to know when you’re going to be done with school.  It’s just natural. “You won’t be in school forever, so what are you going to do next and when will you have to make that decision? I want to know so I can follow up with you around that time and ask a more informed question that’s accurate in delivery so you can know that I listen when you tell me things and I care about you.” (These are the thoughts running through our minds.) However, if you’ve ever talked to any student that was on the verge of completing any degree, they most often don’t have an answer.  There are so many factors: getting hired, getting into the next degree program, moving, not moving, other people to consider.  It’s overwhelming and really we’re just trying to finish the first hurdle.

At least that’s how I feel. I feel like I still have so much left in this program to complete so I shouldn’t spend too much time on what happens after.  And still, I want to know myself. What am I working towards? It’s not the degree. I’m confident I’ll get the degree. That’s not the problem. It’s the after graduation that’s the question.

I’m looking forward to (prayerfully) graduating in December of next year.  That’s an odd time for hiring if I’m looking at any job at a college or university. That’s just not the cycle.  I want to use that spring semester to do something different.  I want to travel or live abroad or find some temporary post-doctoral program where I can just live somewhere else for a while. That sounds fun and terrifying all at the same time.  It’s also not me at all.  But hey, I’ve learned more about myself in the last 8 months.  I need to take better care of myself. I can’t work in a place without external support (more on that in another post). I’m probably going to be exhausted after my dissertation is complete.  So what better choice than to go off and do something completely unexpected! You know, with all that money I’ll have after life as a grad student for 2 years. But that’s not for me to decide. If it’s meant to be, God will provide the resources as He graciously continues to do each month.

So, then to add to that, the second confirmation that this might be a path I take.  I’m considering doing a mission trip.  I’ve never done one but I think that’s something that’s been presented to me as an option.  I’m not sure what that will look like or what that could be but having these two out-of-the-box thoughts in the same month can’t be an accident.  Again, I know I’ll be led in the right direction.  I’m excited to see what unfolds in the next year or so.

As Michael reminded me today, it’s ok to not know.  It’s ok to not know what you don’t know. It’s ok to wander. To move. To change. To evolve. To set yourself up for success in whatever way success lives for you.

Do. You. Boo. And do it unapologetically.

Being It

Part 3 of 3. Read parts 1 and 2!

In the first two parts of this series, I talked about life as a cycle of losing and finding myself.  I was thinking about this yesterday but couldn’t quite get everything to come together to write about it.  I’m closer but a series of quotes will most likely explain what I’m thinking.

“Not till we are lost do we begin to find ourselves.”- Henry David Thoreau

This describes the process. This is my life. I’m realizing that growth comes from the struggle. It’s when we’re put to the test that we really see “what we’re made of”.

“A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.”- Unknown

So what now? After a struggle or a trauma, it’s natural to want to hide and become invisible.  It feels as though everyone is looking at you and seeing what you’ve done.  You’re marked. You’re stained. You’re tainted in a way.  But here’s the thing. You are not what you do.  You are more than your actions, your job, your title.

I commit today to no longer define myself by my actions, right or wrong, good or bad.  That’s only a piece of my story.  I will reflect upon and pick the adjectives that describe me, my character, my heart. I will keep that at the forefront.  No longer afraid to live. To be seen. To be happy.  To experience the full spectrum of emotions.

“And the day came when the risk it took to remain tightly closed in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to bloom.  This is the element of freedom.” -Alicia Keys, The Element of Freedom

Stay encouraged, everyone.  Every day that we have on this earth is another chance to get it right. Another chance to reinvent ourselves. Another opportunity to live the life that was meant for us.  We don’t have to suffer. We don’t have to be ashamed.  We can learn from the hard times and take those lessons with us into the future.

I leave you with this. Found on a friend’s cover photo.

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“It’s okay to be a glow stick. Sometimes we need to break before we SHINE.”

Dear Memory

For those of you following along, I’ve been participating in a blog writing challenge for the last couple of weeks.  Today’s prompt challenged me to pick up a book near me, flip to page 29, and pick out the first word that stuck out to me to use as inspiration. Well… the only book in my backpack was my APA manual. So…pg. 29 was devoid of inspiring words. But I did see the word memory on the page so… here we go. I’ve had some issues with my memory. I’m pretty forgetful so I thought I’d share my concerns.

Dear Memory,

Are you there? I’m not always sure you come to work every day.

I have a few questions for you today. I’m concerned with your performance. I know you have a very sophisticated filing system, but I always feel like you can’t find the file I’m looking for when I need it. You’re very responsive about sending me files that I haven’t requested, but again, not usually what I ever need.  What’s the issue? Is there a reason you can’t provide the requested information at the time of the request?

Have I overworked you? This is a fast-paced, working environment so I realize you have a lot of juggle at the same time.  You’re the only one working in this department and the demands are high.

Are you really tired and just taking a lot of vacation days? Perhaps you forget to put up your “out of office” message but then don’t check your email upon your return.  I thought we had a good system for submitting requests.  Let me know if you need to re-evaluate the process for file retrieval.

And what’s with the damaged files? You know the ones that have missing pages so that I have the beginning and ends of a document but not the middle? What’s up with that? Was there water damage in the file room? Please let me know if I need to remove certain liquids or start providing supplements to boost file protection.

But, maybe you’re protecting me from something. Are there encrypted files that I’m not supposed to access? Do I not have a certain level of security clearance? Who does?  Are there files that you deleted for my safety because I’m better off not seeing that information?

I trust that you know what you’re doing. You came highly recommended at one point and I’m not trying to fire you. I’ve just been concerned with your performance in the last few years.  Please let me know how I can best support you in the coming years.  There’s no end date on your contract so this job is yours as long as you want it.  I hope you’ll stay with me for a long, long time.

Sincerely,

Management

 

Ten Minutes

Time is precious. We know that. We give minutes away all the time. But how much time do we give ourselves?

A couple months ago HigherEdLive hosted a show on Positive Psychology .  After I watched I decided I wanted to learn more about meditation. The concept of meditation seemed like a good place to start as I explored these concepts of positive psychology and mindfulness (future blog post to come). I started with Keith Edwards’s blog on meditation  and decided to watch the video on meditation at the top of the page.  The video was 9 minutes and 24 seconds.  I thought, “Oh this is short. Cool.”  Do you know how many times I tried to watch this video?

I honestly lost count. I would try to watch as a break from an interview I was transcribing or when I had some time before class one night.  I couldn’t seem to get more than 2 minutes into it before I’d have some thought about something on my ever-growing to-do list, or I’d get an email or a text or some other interruption.  Some thing always stopped me from being able to watch this video.  It was the strangest thing.  The real kicker? The whole message is about taking 10 minutes a day to meditate and actively DO NOTHING.

So, of course, I’m now mad at myself that I can’t take less than 10 minutes to watch a video about meditation. How am I ever going to take 10 minutes every day to not do anything?  Needless to say, I’m a little unsure of how this meditation thing will go.  It seems like something that would benefit my life. I have an overactive mind that prevents me from focusing on one thing for any considerable amount of time to do anything with it.  But still, I’m intrigued.

I will continue to try, however, to find that delicate balance between focusing too hard on my thoughts that I become anxious and not focusing enough on them that I fall asleep.  I’ll let you know how it goes, and you can give it a try, too, if you’d like.

If you could change your life with just ten minutes a day, would you take the time? Can you give yourself ten minutes?