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We’re Growing

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3 years seems like forever ago – but it was during that time that I finally committed to creating Carter’s Blog Corner and just a year later that the concept of Crazy, Sexy Wellness (CSW) came about. It would take another year to complete the foundational concepts and test the program aspects. This year I was finally ready to hire a graphic designer to pull create an image that embodies what CSW currently is and will continue to fully grow into.

After a very unfortunate first-run with my initial vendor selection, I was paired with an artist who displayed professionalism, courtesy, efficiency and knowledge of the industry beyond simply creating my logo. I am forever grateful to K-WUD Multimedia LLC for this work.

Keep a look out this summer for additional updates to my blog – we are growing slowly, but surely ;-).

CrazySexyWellness_Original

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Unplugged

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Unplugged

This was the agreement: 3 days. No email. No social media. Social media I could handle. Email would be tough.

Relatively speaking, I am not always plugged in – but I am connected quite a bit. While I am not the person who obsessively Tweets during all events, I do check my email chronically. I hate having more than a few (5-7) emails in my inbox and won’t move them to the trash or a folder until I’ve addressed them. I have school, work, professional development, volunteer, personal business and other emails coming in all the time so perhaps it’s understandable why I feel the need to remain plugged in.

I’ve made some steps in the past. I deleted the Facebook app from my phone and only check the site using the web browser. I activated the “Do Not Disturb” feature on my phone so that it doesn’t ring or send alerts between the hours of 10pm and 8am. And although my work emails are still synced to my phone, I removed the alerts altogether. But there was and is still work to be done.

This weekend I removed the alerts for all emails. This means that when I picked up my phone, I wouldn’t see the number of emails waiting for a response nor would I see an alert when my phone was in locked mode. At the start of the weekend I felt nervous. I was waiting on an updated draft of my company logo and needed to provide a timely response. What if some other important email came through that required my immediate attention? What if I missed an opportunity that was only offered within a limited time frame?

Once I was able to relax, I found myself much more present during our weekend away. I enjoyed the drive/ride and spent my downtime and reading and journaling instead of responding to email or strolling through social media sites. Of course, there were no emails that came through – or hardly ever come through – that warranted my immediate attention. I didn’t miss any miraculous “you must reply now” opportunities and social media was still social media … nothing new, missed or all that exciting. I came back a bit anxious to log on, but knowing that I need to practice this exercise again and more often.

I now have an “Unplug” alarm set on my phone. While this is not easy to maintain during the semester, there is absolutely no reason that I can’t do this during the summer. Starting with this weekend and moving forward, I am spending a little less time plugged in to the virtual world and a lot more time plugged in to my REAL world ;-).

Not An Easy Choice … But A Necessary One

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Hustle

I love the quote pictured above! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve talked with people about pursuing their dreams and they’ve said things like: “after the children start high school” or “at the end of the year” or “at the beginning of next year.” In case you haven’t realized it, there is NEVER a perfect time to pursue your passions!

Just in case my decision to submit my notice and return to school as referenced in my previous post seemed seamless and without conflict, let me assure you that it was not! There I was: salaried and gainfully employed, corner office, excellent benefits and a great deal of flexibility. Although I loved the service aspect of my job, I was becoming weary of my role within oncology and how it fit with my ideals of what my professional life would be. While no job brings non-stop sparkles and whistles, my day-to-day overwhelmingly lacked passion.

Following my resignation and gradual transition to part time work, I was punching a time clock for the first time since undergraduate college. I left my corner office for a cubicle and was making a little more than half my former salary. I was chasing a dream that I had no way of assuring would become a reality – but I took a leap!

In Steve Jobs’ 2008 Stanford commencement speech, he stated (paraphrasing) that we never know if things will line up as we are making our decisions. We can only hope that they will line-up in hindsight. Things have lined up – not without bumps. Not without unexpected challenges, but they have lined up.

Take the risk. Create your new and best life. Live your dreams. You can always return to the old if things don’t work out.

For Carter: Rehab My Life

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I’d like to begin by thanking everyone who read my post about my experience with infant loss – the comments, inbox and text messages, emails and other replies were simply heart-warming. While so many women have told their stories of infant loss, I find that they are most often followed by “but now we have [insert number here] beautiful children.” I wanted to offer a different narrative – 3 years after our loss, we do not have children; we have decided to focus our time and energy in different ways. And although we are not the ultimate determiner of fate, we have made a conscious choice to not direct our attention towards conception. I honor the experiences of those who do, but I also find that stories like ours remain untold or silenced by shame or embarrassment – so thank you again for reading.

In For Carter I referenced re-evaluating my life while at home on bedrest. This post is dedicated to a snippet of what that process was like for me.

6 weeks is a LONG time to be at home, unable to drive, with virtually no visitors and A LOT of quiet time. While this was not where I wanted to be – who does? – I was determined to make the most of it. One of my amazing sorority sisters mailed me a huge box of books so I read. I’ve never been a fan of televangelism, but I was confined to the house so I sought “TV church” for inspiration and encouragement. And of course, I love to write so I journaled.

Over the course of those 6 weeks, something happened to me. I began thinking about how stressful my job was and while my condition was not pleasant, I was actually happy to not have to be in that work environment. I started thinking about all the things I used to enjoy doing that I hadn’t done in a while: spending time with my girlfriends, going dancing, visiting art galleries, listening to international music. I reflected on how I’d lost my way – who had I become? Had I reached a point of being so consumed with my marriage and ideas of the “good wife” that I completely silenced God’s voice in my life about what I should be doing and the direction my life should be moving in?

I had many moments when I literally cried out – I was ashamed. I had allowed my own voice to slip away completely or at select times, whisper in the shadows of someone else’s. I have no idea who I’d become. So I started writing profusely – what were my dreams? How do I get there? What do I love? What are my talents? What activities/careers have I always been drawn to? What was my life story up until this point?

During those 6 weeks I applied to seminary unsure of exactly which route I would take while enrolled, but knowing that I wanted to study the implications of religion and health. I just made the application deadline. Quite naturally, I was drawn to the intersections of religion and health because of my personal experience, but also by the experiences of so many I knew. It was during this time that I also knew that seminary would be but 1 of the degrees I would pursue – I wanted to get my doctorate. I want to teach!

Let me pause here and say that my life has forever been changed by my teachers. I have always been blessed with amazing teachers who offer special care and concern for me, who inspire me in more ways that I can imagine and who provide whatever lack I may be experiencing at that time. As I’ve told countless stories time and time again, I have realized that my encounters are not shared by all – so I have a special place in my heart for teachers. I also love the art of teaching – of offering a new perspective (whether accepted or not); of exposing others to the world through a different lens; of creating experiences where students can find their best selves and cultivate that reality more fully. And finally, teaching is one of the few things I’d do and have done for free. I remember being just 6 or 7 years old, lining my doll babies and other stuffed animals up in my bedroom and teaching to them.  I remember completing my undergraduate applications and declaring myself as an education major, only to be told that I should find something more prestigious to pursue. And then I remember the day some umpteen years later when I realized just how much I love teaching, how naturally it comes to me and how I truly believe it is my gift.

During this time I also admitted to myself that I needed to leave my job. I didn’t know where I was going or how I would earn my portion of the household bills, but the time and energy spent at my job (and often once I got home) stressing over ongoing issues was taking a toll on me. I contacted my supervisor and told her I’d be back, but would definitely be transitioning out of my role. I was both relieved and frightened.

As I was nearing the end of a physically and emotionally draining 6 weeks, I’d re-found my purpose. I recommitted to service. I recommitted to my church. I recommitted to my journey. With all this recommitment I lost balance in my marriage – more on that later – but the next 2 years would be spent getting back to me. Everything worked out with my job. I was able to transition to part time and eventually leave the organization altogether. Right before school started, I was offered another positon working on a faith-based public health initiative – perfect! And during my 2nd year of the program, I was accepted into the doctorate program of my choice.

Although losing Carter is one of the most painful things I have ever experienced, my pursuit of a purposed and service-driven life eases the pain just a little. I feel so encouraged that the way that I am living my life now honors him and his memory. While I recognize that there is absolutely no replacement for a child’s love, I also accept that there are so many ways to love and be loved; to give and to receive; to serve and to contribute to the world. I cannot change the past, nor can I control my ability to have children. BUT I can control how I live my life each day just as it is. My ongoing prayer is that I am on my path to living authentically, appreciating what I do have and giving to others.

Here is what I have to offer to you if you feel like you’ve lost your way:

  • Don’t wait for a traumatic event so force you to re-evaluate your life
  • Find some quiet time to reflect: who are you? What do you believe about your life purpose? What do you enjoy?
  • Even in the most loving and supportive relationships, there is the potential to confuse compromise and sacrifice. Remember who you are and what your goals are. Even if they are delayed, never lose sight of them.
  • Remember the things that bring you joy.
  • Stay the course. I finished my first master’s degree in 2005 and NEVER thought I’d return to school but I always knew the field of public health was and remains for me. Through various career choices, roles and responsibilities I have stayed the course! Today more than ever, I am assured of my decisions for this season.

A Survivor’s Guide for Soon-to-Be College Graduates

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ACADEME BLOG

The term “graduation” typically means that you graduate “from” something. As we enter the college graduation season, however, it is wise to take a moment to discuss what graduation will mean for transitioning seniors –especially young adults — both leading up to graduation day and in the months that follow.

Graduation comes with well-earned accolades – and maybe some cards and gifts. It is a seminal moment. In many settings, a college graduation is a defining celebration for families and friends. As a graduating senior, you have earned their praise and good wishes. You should live in and enjoy the moment.

Yet graduation also implies that you graduate “to” something.   And this is where things can get a little murky at times.

Even before you graduate, it’s time to look beyond the college gates. You need to think about how to prepare for your exit from the security of…

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Re-Blog: When Mother’s Day Is Not Necessarily Happy … 7 Women Share Their Experiences

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A few different narratives on Mother’s Day:

When Mother’s Day Is Not Necessarily Happy … 7 Women Share Their Experiences 

Repost: An open letter to pastors (A non-mom speaks about Mother’s Day)

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This is a repost from: Time-Warp Wife. As we prepare for Mother’s Day and the celebration of all the ways in which many women mother, I hope we also remain sensitive to those who have lost their moms and mother figures, those who’ve lost children and those who may never mother in any traditional sense. 

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I’ve asked Amy Young to share her “Open Letter to Pastors,” with us. I came across this article a few years ago and it really spoke to my heart. I hope it serves to encourage you as it does me.

Dear Pastor,

Tone can be tricky in writing. Picture me popping my head in your office door, smiling and asking if we could talk for five minutes. I’m sipping on my diet coke as I sit down.

You know that I’m not one to shy away from speaking my mind, part of the reason you love me (mostly!), so I’m guessing that internally you brace yourself wondering what might be next.

I set my can down and this is what I’d say.

A few years ago I sat across from a woman who told me she doesn’t go to church on Mother’s Day because it is too hurtful.  I’m not a mother, but I had never seen the day as hurtful. She had been married, had numerous miscarriages, divorced and was beyond child bearing years. It was like salt in mostly healed wounds to go to church on that day. This made me sad, but I understood.

Fast forward several years to Mother’s Day.  A pastor asked all mothers to stand. On my immediate right, my mother stood and on my immediate left, a dear friend stood. I, a woman in her late 30s, sat. I don’t know how others saw me, but I felt dehumanized, gutted as a woman. Real women stood, empty shells sat. I do not normally feel this way. I do not like feeling this way. I want no woman to ever feel this way in church again.

Last year a friend from the States happened to visit on Mother’s Day and again the pastor (a different one) asked all mothers to stand. As a mother, she stood and I whispered to her, “I can’t take it, I’m standing.” She knows I’m not a mother yet she understood my standing / lie.

Here’s the thing, I believe we can honor mothers without alienating others. I want women to feel welcome, appreciated, seen, and needed here in our little neck of the body of Christ.

Do away with the standing. You mean well, but it’s just awkward. Does the woman who had a miscarriage stand? Does the mom whose children ran away stand? Does the single woman who is pregnant stand? A.w.k.w.a.r.d.

2.  Acknowledge the wide continuum of mothering.

To those who gave birth this year to their first child—we celebrate with you

To those who lost a child this year – we mourn with you

To those who are in the trenches with little ones every day and wear the badge of food stains – we appreciate you

To those who experienced loss through miscarriage, failed adoptions, or running away—we mourn with you

To those who walk the hard path of infertility, fraught with pokes, prods, tears, and disappointment – we walk with you. Forgive us when we say foolish things. We don’t mean to make this harder than it is.

To those who are foster moms, mentor moms, and spiritual moms – we need you

To those who have warm and close relationships with your children – we celebrate with you

To those who have disappointment, heart ache, and distance with your children – we sit with you

To those who lost their mothers this year – we grieve with you

To those who experienced abuse at the hands of your own mother – we acknowledge your experience

To those who lived through driving tests, medical tests, and the overall testing of motherhood – we are better for having you in our midst

To those who are single and long to be married and mothering your own children – we mourn that life has not turned out the way you longed for it to be

To those who step-parent – we walk with you on these complex paths

To those who envisioned lavishing love on grandchildren -yet that dream is not to be, we grieve with you

To those who will have emptier nests in the upcoming year – we grieve and rejoice with you

To those who placed children up for adoption — we commend you for your selflessness and remember how you hold that child in your heart

And to those who are pregnant with new life, both expected and surprising –we anticipate with you

This Mother’s Day, we walk with you. Mothering is not for the faint of heart and we have real warriors in our midst. We remember you.

3. Commend mothering for the ways it reflects the Imago Dei (Image of God) by bringing forth new life, nurturing those on her path, and living with the tension of providing both freedom and a safety net.

I know I might be an unusual one to be speaking about Mother’s Day; but maybe that’s why so many talk to me about mothering, I’ve got the parts, just not the goods.  Thanks for listening and for continuing to mother us in a shepherding way. Even though I’m a bit nervous to come on Sunday, I will be here. But if you make us stand, I might just walk out =).

Warmly and in your corner,

Amy

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