Thoughts of the Last Time Part II

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Purpose

What I really could have written in my last post was that my first week of school left me completely overwhelmed, uncertain and mentally exhausted. Even as I wrote, I was working earnestly to sort through all of the emotions I was experiencing.

But then this weekend and today happened … after spending some much needed time exercising, pampering myself, journaling, engaging in leisure reading and simply resting, I returned to work. This series of events and surrounding conversations have brought me back to a place – a place of purpose.

As previously mentioned, I never intended to pursue a terminal degree; this only started in 2012. At that time the plan was so clear on my heart that I could hardly contain myself. But the last few years have involved the more difficult parts: moving from dreams to reality and putting in all the work that it takes to do so. At times, the journey has been so incredibly discouraging. Many times I have felt alone and wondering where were the people like me. There were times when I felt deceived and even more when it seemed as though the journey was much too much for me to bear. But then there were others when I’ve been elated to receive gentle reminders that near and far there are those who are living their lives for a greater cause, searching for purpose, committed to service and willing to sacrifice it all to find their way.

This doesn’t make me ultra-special or some sort of uber saint. It just makes me someone who acknowledges that a whole lot of people have – and continue to – sacrifice for me to be where I am and realistically see the places I am going. The very least that I can do is live my life in a way that aspires to show myself as appreciative, while also striving to give to others just the same.

Thank you for gentle reminders and encouragement along the way,

Me

Thoughts of the Last Time …

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Last week I returned to school for what I genuinely believe will be my final degree – a terminal degree a public health. Almost 10 years ago when I left my first master program, I never thought I’d return to school. Actually, when I left home for undergrad degree, I had no intentions of returning to school … ever! But here I am, many years later pursuing a doctorate. 

Two years ago when I started working on my second masters, I spent days and nights daydreaming of what  the experience would be like. After a year and a half of being enthralled in theology, I was ready to return exclusively to the field of public health. My “return” doesn’t mean that I would leave all that I’d gained behind – I am forever committed to interdisciplinary work – but it does mean that the field of public health is the gate to which I choose to enter in addressing many of our society’s ills. 

So why wasn’t I more excited on my first day? Why did I spend the two nights preceding my first day of class unable to sleep? And why did I spend my first week unable to decipher exactly what it was that I was feeling?

I have had a little time to think and process my thoughts since last Thursday and I have realized a few things. I don’t have any doubts about me “doing well” in my program or finding my groove, but what I have realized is that many of the quotes I have read about being in a doctoral program are true. Yes, “it is not a sprint – it is a marathon.” Therefore, there wasn’t and won’t be any grand entrance events. With the exception of my new commute and class schedule, things will go pretty much as they have. I anticipate some ups and downs, but I must remain committed to the long haul. 

“Those who complete doctorate programs are necessarily the smartest, but they are the most committed – they persevere.” As I think about the next two years of course work, another 2 years of dissertation research and writing and however many years to follow to potentially being in a new work environment I recall being told time and time again about how many people start doctoral programs and the subset that complete them. I will readjust my perseverance hat as much as I need to, but ADB (all but dissertation) is not an option. 

And finally, I am reminded to stay in my lane: what would I like to gain from this experience? What classes would I like to take? What are my career goals and what are my dreams for what will follow? As it so quickly happened last week, moving forward to I am working earnestly to focus on what it is that I want to achieve and the dreams that are deep within my heart. 

With that, I prepare for my 2nd week of class just a tad bit more excited than last week ;-). 

Speechless.

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Like many others, I continue to watch as this story unfolds. I’ve spent a great deal of the week thinking of exactly what I want to write, what thoughts and feelings I’d like to share and what my closing comments would be. However, I remain overwhelmed with so many expressions that any sort of quasi stream of writing is difficult. Instead, I am posting this picture in hopes that it truly is worth the thousands of words that it truly does represent the thousands of words that I am unable to write at this time. 

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