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Fertile Void: Life After …

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She Beleieved

For those of you who have followed my blog, you may recall that 2017 marks the 5th year of its existence. 5 years since my life drastically changed in more ways than I can recall. And 5 years since I recommitted to living out loud, starting with returning to school to pursue my passion of working in higher education. 5 years since I traded in the tangible rewards of a stable job with benefits for a passion pursuit with anticipated endless rewards. Throughout this time I’ve written through the ups and downs of my journey – the sacrifices and rewards, along with major shifts in every area. It’s been both the most exciting and exhausting 5 year-period of my life. And then it happened … exactly 3 weeks ago I accomplished what I know will remain one of the greatest achievements of my life – I successfully defended my dissertation and was announced as Dr. Me J! The moment I had been looking forward to, pressing towards, and focused on for much of this leg of the journey. A moment I will never forget and am working earnestly to continue to find small ways to celebrate.

Some say reaching the milestone of a successful defense is much like a wedding ceremony: months or even years for some are spent planning, organizing, saving, and deciding. But within a few hours the party has come and gone, everyone returns home, and it seems like your big event went by all too fast. For those fortunate couples, your life has changed in other ways. Maybe you are taking a fabulous honeymoon vacation, or moving into your first home, or welcoming a new addition to your family. Perhaps you are changing your name or relishing in the joy of having a forever-partner. Or maybe the thought of having new family members, opening gifts, and looking at wedding pictures serve as reminders of your new normal. I’d venture to say my defense and completion of the doctoral program parallels the experience of having a wedding in many ways. I have made small steps towards my dissertation for the last 5 years. It has been a labor of love and a body of work I am extremely proud of. I’ve spend endless hours writing, editing, researching, and refining. I’ve sacrificed attending events, celebrating major achievements, and spending money elsewhere as writing deadlines loomed or I was simply limited financially by having a part-time income.

When my big day finally arrived, a wonderful village of friends and former classmates stayed around to congratulate me after everything was official. Another close friend took an extended vacation to be with me throughout the week, forcing me to stay in the moment and not rush along to the next thing. The weeks that followed have been filled with SLEEP, catching up with friends and family, and wrapping up this semester of teaching. I feel like I have a whole new life in every way imaginable! It is wonderful to be able to sleep in without guilt of missing a writing deadline. It’s liberating to not check email obsessively as I wait for feedback from my committee. And it’s exciting to know that this is just one major milestone of many – I have so much to look forward to over the next few weeks and months.

I am so grateful for this time and after attending the Female Faculty of Color Conference last week, I am working intentionally to operate in a space of “Fertile Void.” Although I still have work to do – tasks to complete – I am focused on relaxing, resting, slowing down, and being present. One of the speakers at the conference described this as a time when we are ripe with possibility – fertile – but not filling the space with new projects. I am remaining in fertile void for as long as I can. Thanks for taking the journey with me J.

Post Hawaii Reflection: These Things I Know for Sure

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HawaiiII

It is just shy of a week since I left Hawaii and I am working hard to maintain the same sense of calm, intention and peace that I felt while I was there. As this semester nears this becomes more challenging so I am taking a few moments to share the gentle reminders I received in Hawaii and what I know for sure at the start of a New Year & season.

  1. I am a late comer to Mike Dooley, but am now a fan of his work and the daily #tut emails. I now know that taking a few moments each day to be inspired is invaluable. A simple email, an affirmation, a meditation or a prayer all go a long way in sustaining my sense of purpose.
  1. For the last few days I have been binging on podcasts by Myleik Teele of #Curlbox. I am usually reading, watching or listening to folks much older than me and attempting to apply their wisdom and insight to my current situations. It has been incredibly inspiring to hear someone my exact age talk about success, goal setting, overcoming challenges and continuing to grow. I now know that I need more of this. Thanks Myleik!
  2. Related to numbers two and three, I now know that I have to indulge in finding new sources of inspiration and encouragement on a regular basis, not just during a break or vacation. I now know that three months is too long for me to carve out time to simply be inspired!
  3. I have to exercise! This is a no-brainer to most, but when my schedule gets hectic my exercise regimen is usually the first to go. Like many of you, I feel so much better and less stressed when I am active. I now know (more than ever) that exercise is a necessity not a luxury.
  4. Alongside regular exercise, I now know that there is absolutely no excuse that is ever sufficient enough to justify eating poorly on a continuous basis. I know better – it is time for me to do better … consistently.
  5. After such a hectic semester last fall, I toyed with the idea of not renewing my license for Crazy Sexy Wellness (CSW). I now know that this is absolutely foolish! CSW is not where I thought it would be when I worked with a marketing professional 7 months ago; I haven’t done nearly what I imagined I would considering my schedule last fall, but it is still my venture. Slow and steady is where we are right now and I am okay with that.
  6. I now know more than ever that my life is purposed and intentional in every way and this is how my time must be spent. I now know that it is okay to honor my feelings about my aspirations in life; there is no need to try to fit in – in places I don’t belong. I now know that honoring me is critical for my mental health and well-being.
  7. In the midst of all this “soul searching” I also have some very tangible and relevant deadlines – finishing my dissertation being one of them :-). I’ve read countless articles and even a few books on the necessity of creating a daily writing practice. I now know that this is: 1) much harder than it sounds and 2) necessary for my success. I’ve created my schedule and am on day six of writing (or reading) for a minimum of 15 minutes each day on something related to my dissertation.
  8. While all of this (#’s 1-8) can be a bit much to stomach on a daily basis, I also now know that I have to remain flexible. Goals change, schedules bend and aspirations are re-imagined. I will be working to remind myself of this.
  9. And finally, I now know for sure – without a shadow of a doubt – that there is no one on this Earth like my friends and I am grateful for this! I was in Hawaii vacationing and visiting a very good friend of mine who I met while serving as a Peace Corps volunteer. We have grown and experienced so much through the years, but she has remained a constant reminder of the beauty of life, how important our decisions are and that dreams do come true. It was a complete honor to be in Hawaii with her for such an extended time and during a new season in my life. I know for sure that I must honor these friendships … nurture them with care.

Monday is the big day! I am back to both teaching and taking class. While I am a little anxious, this last week of vacation has given me time to resettle, create a semblance of a schedule and realign myself in preparation for the semester. I also downloaded Shonda Rhimes’ Year of Yes to listen to during the commute. I am excited about this moment, tomorrow, next week, next month, next quarter … this year! This I know for sure.

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