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Happy Birthday to Me!

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Birthday 17

If you’ve been following my blog or if you follow me on social media, you know I love a great celebration and I LOVE celebrating my birthday. This year is no different, although special in its own right. In many ways, I feel like I have come out of an incubation period. Attending school full time for the last five years has brought both challenges and rewards. I’ve grown a lot professionally and personally, made some tough decisions, re-aligned my vision, and feel ready for this next phase of my life. If you read my last post, you know it’s been almost 5 weeks since I relocated. In just a week and a half, I’ll begin to explore my new campus as a full-time faculty member. There are lots of exciting happenings so I am pausing this morning to reflect on where I am today and what I’ve learned along the way. Here you go:

  • Each year I am reminded of how much people will put themselves first. And day by day I am learning to do the same – put me first, establish and maintain boundaries, and not apologize for protecting my peace.
  • This journey has reminded me that life is definitely about grace, but also about intentions. We have the power to reshape our paths – to say yes, this is not how my story is going to end. But this requires work. It requires that we are clear about what we want and willing to stay the course until we have it.
  • Life is beautiful! More than anything else, this new journey has reminded me of how beautiful life is, how kind people are, and how much love there is out in the world. The media tries to convince us of otherwise, but my faith in humanity is restored time and time again.
  • And to that end I will close by saying I love my life. I’ve had seasons when I wasn’t able to say this and mean it wholeheartedly, but it feels damn good to say from my core that I have created a life that I love. I recognize both the blessings and responsibility that comes with that so I fully commit myself to serving and sharing my gifts with others.

Happy birthday to me <3!

The Start of a New Book

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I’ve been writing about new beginnings and new chapters for a while now :-). I often post these pieces around the New Year, my birthday, or times of major transitions – I’ve had a few of these since starting this blog. But this season of my life is what I calling an entirely new book.

I relocated a little over three weeks ago and have spent the bulk of my days getting resettled, finding my way around my new city, and creating my new home. All the typical emotions of starting a new venture accompanied my move: fear, excitement, anxiety, and uncertainty. But I am pleased to report that my time here has been incredibly fulfilling. People are nice – I didn’t realize how much I missed that. More often than not, everyone takes an extra moment to add a personal touch to customer care and share a bit about themselves. The scenery is beautiful. This is my first time living so close to the beach and I love it. In an effort to not take my proximity for granted, I am trying to commit to a minimum of extended weekly visits just to sit and enjoy – so far I’ve exceeded my goal :-). My neighborhood is peaceful. I’ve enjoyed getting out on the nature trail for long bike rides – the trail is accessible so no need to drive somewhere with my bike … just to bike. I have been forced to slow down. Things move A LOT slower here. It took me a while to realize that many people are moving at a different pace. At first it was annoying and I am sure these moments will arise again, but in the meantime I have decided to embrace it. I drive a little slower, I move into my days at a different pace, and am I working on releasing expectations around how quickly others respond to requests :-). I am grateful. I recognize that everything about me being here is amazing and exciting – a blessing of all sorts. I am grateful for this opportunity and look forward to sharing more as I transition to my new appointment this fall. In the meantime, here are a few of a couple of my favorite pictures from the beach <3.

How My Friends Taught Me to Be Flaky as F*(! … and I LOVE It!

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flaky

I opened my first email account when I was a freshman in college and didn’t start texting until nearly a decade later. I grew up in a rural town so no one used RSVPs – you just stopped by, showed up, or gave your word. I share these things because I learned much of my etiquette around corresponding via email or text messages and the value of RSVPs: 1) much later in my life; and 2) mostly in the professional arena. This timing shaped how I view email, including the form in which I send emails. It shaped what, how and with whom I send text messages. And it absolutely shaped the value I placed on giving my word, verbally or via an RSVP. However, it didn’t take long for me to learn that the same value I placed on these things was not shared by others. I’ve received numerous emails with no greeting or salutation at all – simply a question or statement. I’ve had colleagues who I have a strictly professional relationship with text me late at night or on the weekends. And I’ve more than my share of experience with folks saying they will attend an event and showing up significantly later than the start time or not showing up at all. Naturally, this used to upset me and sometimes it still does, especially when someone’s RSVP requires me spending money to reserve a spot for them. But this last year has taught me get comfortable with being flaky as f*(!.

My new lease on life is in no way an excuse for me to disregard others’ time or my commitment to complete a task. Instead, it has forced me to separate business commitments from personal commitments. No, I can’t wake up and just randomly decide to take a week off from work. But I can decide that a social event I previously committed to attending no longer fits my schedule and respectfully inform the host of the change. On a very minute, but important level this change also allows me to ignore the need to reply to every personal email, text message, or phone call I receive – which is not a practice I exercise as freely in the professional arena. I have friends who reply to text messages weeks later or not at all; family and friends who never check email, much more take a moment to respond to them. The ironic thing is many of these very same people will obsessively text and/or call me if I do not respond to a message from them within what they consider to be a reasonable timeframe. BUT I’ve opted to stick with my new leaf and do as I need, when I need to – especially as I am working earnestly to balance all that comes with finishing graduate school. *Note to all: We are ALL busy juggling multiple things so your level of busyness is not an excuse to dismiss the commitments others have as well*

So thank you to all my flaky friends 🙂 – I’ve learned a lot from you. You’ve taught me that changing my mind, disconnecting from my phone, and engaging with the social world when desired is an act of radical self-care. Thank you!

Saying Good-Bye to 2016

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It’s almost time to say good-bye to 2016 so before I head out for vacation, I am posting my last blog for the year.

I started the year out in Hawaii – one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited – spending time with one of my most amazing friends. This trip created the tone for the year: intentions were set, wishes were cast, and my actions were aligned with my goals for the year. Albeit rocky, 2016 was a great year! As I scrolled through photo album on my phone, I was reminded of just how blessed I was during this year. From professional conferences and publications to an abundance of quality time spent with family and friends to so many chapters of my life ending – including finishing up my doctoral coursework 🙂 – this year was a wonderful one. I retreated more than ever and am now preparing to heard to my 3rd retreat for the year :-). I traveled; I celebrated; I cried; I laughed; I loved … real hard; I danced; I rested; I renewed and re-found me. I fell in love with my life all over again, remembering that I have the power to decide at any moment that “this is not how my story is going to end”.

As the year comes to a close, I continue to take moments to give thanks for all the ways that I received love, light, and favor.  In addition to all the memories that were created, I must say that 2016 has been my launching pad for what I anticipate to be an even better year in 2017! I look forward to sharing my world with you in the New Year and I hope that somewhere along the way, I inspire you to CREATE your best life.

Happy holidays and Happy New Year! #grateful

What Is It Worth?

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Many of my posts have been focused on my time in school and my journey towards my professional development. More times than not I am 100% committed to my journey and am usually unfazed by things that are going on which don’t contribute to my success. BUT this weekend I felt a heart tug :-(. Many of my former classmates from high school gathered for a collective reunion of sorts. Looking at all the pictures on Facebook brought back so many memories … times of limited responsibility, carefree living, and seemingly unrestricted freedom. My heart longed to be there – with my former classmates – reminiscing, laughing, and celebrating. Instead, I have spent the bulk of the day unable to fully partake in the GORGEOUS fall weather as I edit publications, finish contract work, prepare a midterm, and complete calls for presentations. That has been my Saturday. Yes, I could have gone home, but the work that would have needed to be done once I returned would have appeared to be triple in comparison to what I can do at a reasonable pace over the course of the weekend. Today I was reminded of the sacrifice I’ve made and continue to make in pursuit of my dream profession. Today I was reminded that one day it will all be worth it.

Seasons Change

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This week I welcomed fall with open arms! After an adventurous, active, and somewhat rejuvenating summer, the end of one calendar season and beginning of the next seemed to bring with it much chaos and shifting in all areas of my life. New arrivals, deaths, sickness, and a whole host of other events happening in my family, friendship circle, and across the globe escorted summer to a frenzied end. And all the same, the new season brings with it opportunities to embrace change, new beginnings, and reasons to celebrate. While I don’t long in any way for a replay of the not so pleasant happenings of the last three months, I am reminded that there were many reasons to smile AND of the beauty in recreating. So here I am here and here we are just a week away from October. Ongoing dissertation stuff, a long awaited weekend retreat, a professional development conference and presentation, in addition to a wonderful group of students who I get to share space with twice a week all linger just around the corner. I’ve been spending more time journaling … a lot more time engaged in leisure reading and quiet time … more nights spent reflecting, reprocessing and rebuilding. I am taking more steps to embrace the new and carefully pack away what is no longer.

Hello Fall! Hello New Beginnings! Hello Opportunity to Recreate, Rediscover, Reinvent, Re-purpose, Renew … Rewrite another chapter of my life’s story. Hello World!

#allsummer16

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All summer 16

This summer has been an incredible one for me! After an intense four years of course work; a year of teaching again; more pounds added on than I care to share; comprehensive exams; getting going with my dissertation; and all sorts of other life events in between, I was exhausted at the start of the summer. However I knew I needed to make some changes for my mental, physical and spiritual health. This post of dedicated to what I did to get my life back this summer ~ enjoy!!!

  1. I started the summer out by changing my eating habits. I knew I needed to get back to meal planning and meal prepping so the start of summer break was a great time to do so. You can read more about my final resolutions here.
  2. I got back to a regular exercise routine. Although I started slow, by the middle of the summer I was working out twice a day two to three times a week. The goal was to retrain my mind and body to crave physical activity and make it my go-to during times of stress versus emotional eating.
  3. I continued my therapy sessions. I have seen a therapist off and on for a number of years now. I believe that therapy is one of the most underutilized resources we have access to. Therapy has done wonders for me during seasons of turmoil, uncertainly of stress, and confusion; this summer was no exception.
  4. I paced myself. I had a long list of things I wanted to do this summer, but I knew I couldn’t do it all! I started small and kept going. Each week I added and adjusted my goals – sometimes I wrote more, sometimes I wrote less; sometimes I exercised more and other times I exercised less. Regardless of where I fell along the spectrum, I kept going.
  5. I made an email adjustment! Up until this summer, I checked email chronically. I receive emails about school, about work, from students, in relation the Board I am president of, and everything in between. Opening my email and seeing 50 emails stresses me out, but I realized that checking email so frequently was also stressing me out so I removed my work email from my phone. Best decision ever!
  6. I learned to tune out. In addition to email, I am usually checking and responding to text messages, looking for updates on social media, and just doing too much. This summer was about me learning to turn my phone OFF, check social media less frequently, and just enjoy some quiet time.
  7. I checked my relationships! Second only to getting my physical, mental, and spiritual health in check was checking my relationships. I realize more and more than I tend to keep in touch with a lot of folks from previous seasons in my life: undergrad, Peace Corps, grad school etc. While some of these relationships have proven to be invaluable, others have continued solely on the strength of memories. This summer – by force – I allowed a few people to become permanent fixtures in my past. Had a series of events never happened, I really don’t think I would have had the courage to separate myself from these people. But thankfully the universe intervened so there you go.
  8. I checked the negativity. Related to #7, I learned that I have to constantly and consciously choose to separate myself from negativity – even from people who I consider to be friends. This summer I chose to honor my peace and take as much space as needed from folks who weren’t doing the same.
  9. I danced!!!!! I love dancing and one of the things I have hated most about my school and work schedules has been not having a lot of time to dance. This summer I took as many dance workshops as I could. I have a FABULOUS time and it felt so good to be doing something else I love doing so much.
  10. While I was checking friendships and checking negativity, I also embraced my friendships that truly are treasures. I spent time with my friends – much needed, long overdue, quality time. I made time for lunches, dinners, and other social outings. It was wonderful to have time to spend time with my friends. It did my soul good.
  11. I learned to honor me. I am who I am. It has taken me a LONG time to accept who I am as I am. I honor that I am a hard worker. I honor that I see MYSELF as my greatest competition. I honor that I don’t give up. I honor the hustle in me. I appreciate how and the extent to which I honor my word. I have learned to not make apologies for any of the aforementioned. This is me and this summer was all about honoring me.
  12. I accepted who I am ~ see # 11 :-).
  13. In relation to numbers 11 & 12, I also spoke up for me! In more than enough instances I could have chosen silence when I felt others had wronged me. But this summer I truly embraced speaking up and advocating for ME!
  14. I made a financial investment in my health. This summer I attended workshops, retreats, seminars, and webinars. I purchased books and whatever else I thought I needed to get my life together. I invested in me.
  15. And finally, I LIVED! School has really taken over my life in more ways than I imagined. Now that my course work is done, I am looking forward to having more time to make my summer practices a regular part of my life. My goal for this summer was to focus on me in such a way that these practices become my new norm. I know it’s a daily choice, but summer allowed me to get a taste of how fulfilling my life can be – even with multiple responsibilities.

My summer ‘16 has been all that I needed and more. Unfortunately it’s over – classes resumed on Thursday and I am back with a new group of eager students <3. Let’s see if I can carry a little bit of my summer along for the ride :-).

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