I’ve always had an interesting relationship with my birthday. It comes once a year and usually I feel unprepared. Last year and this year I decided to get away and take a trip. This year has had a lot of ups and downs. I moved, traveled, taught, and adulted through a lot. I’ve made some new friends and let some others go. I’ve reconnected with people and had an opportunity to take on some new responsibilities professionally. Lately I’ve reflected on the last decade of my life and it’s crazy how much can happen in ten years. Here I am four degree and several cross country moves later. It’s been an interesting ride but I’m looking forward to more personal and professional growth and new experiences. Maybe staying home for a change and putting down some roots for real.
I recently realized how much my circle has changed. I’m not in close contact with many of the people I grew up with and over the years I’ve also grown apart from some friends I met during my college years. One thing I like about my current circle is the fact that everyone wants to do better. There’s intentionality around improving personally and professionally. One great quality of a good friendship is that you feel accepted as a person. You aren’t judged or made to feel like your friend is trying to change you. However, I’ve come to realize that the mark of a good friend is one that challenges you to grow—even if it’s an uncomfortable process. They aren’t trying to change you but they also realize opportunities for growth that you may not see so they challenge you to be better. Constructive criticism feels different when it comes from someone you know who genuinely has the best intentions for you. Instead of becoming more defensive, it’s easier to internalize what they’re saying. This type of a friend is rare to have and if you find one be grateful and keep them around.
I remember reading somewhere that men are like waffles because they can easily compartmentalize while women are similar to spaghetti because everything is connected in some way. Once again I’ve relocated and along with the change in location has come a renewed commitment to be more healthier after I was challenged to make better choices. There’s this story in the Bible about a guy that had a skin disease and he was told to wash in a muddy river 7 times. The guy almost turned around and went home because he was expecting to be told to do something big and the remedy was just too simple. However, his maid convinced him to do it and it worked. In a world of fad diets, special equipment, and fancy fitness plans that consume your life, there still isn’t a substitute for eating healthy and exercising regularly. It’s a solution that seems too simple to a lot of people so they spend money (sometime unnecessarily) in the hope that it will take the place of hard work and discipline. I’ve learned more about discipline in these last few weeks than I have in a long while. It’s the same kind of internal motivation that I had to use in order to finally finish my dissertation and it’s really uncomfortable. However, it’s the only way to get the results that I want. It’s not something that I can delegate or outsource to anyone else. Like most decisions to make some significant changes, the question is, “How bad do you want it?” I’ve always admired people who genuinely enjoy working out but as I’ve been more consistent I can see how it can become a habit–regardless of the degree of “like.” I’m looking forward to seeing how this turns out despite the fact that it’s still uncomfortable. But anything worth doing is worth doing well and I’ve never been one to back down from a challenge.
I recently wrapped up my summer job and I must admit that it has been quite an eye opening experience. I’ll have to post a bit more about that later. Anyway, here are a few pictures from the last part of my time away from home.
It’s rare that I find articles that discuss being an empath and I found a great one here. So much of our self image is shaped by our perception of the world. As I’ve gotten older I’ve found more value in disconnecting for a bit in order to recharge. I’ve also learned the importance of protecting my space and being mindful of energies that drain me. There are countless challenging moments but self soothing can work wonders as well as getting out my head a bit and finding a worthy distraction.
It’s interesting how an upcoming milestone birthday can make you question your life in great detail. There are these invisible benchmarks that people are judged from that indicates where they “should” be at a certain age. There are always choices to be made and sometimes these choices have to be made blindly because all the information isn’t available. I’m becoming a bit more comfortable with trusting my gut and evaluating my decisions based on my long term goals. I’m pretty much convinced that I want to retire. Not that I won’t work but it would be great to free spirit it. No expectations and true responsibilities. However, the path to getting there is not as clear as I would like it to be. But it’s a great time to take some inventory and really focus on what exactly is important.
Sometimes I think that it’s easier to process through writing than it is through speaking. There’s the opportunity to delete, revise and edit in the writing process and talking out loud doesn’t come with those same privileges. I remember either hearing or reading somewhere about Reason, Season, and Lifetime people and I’ve noticed a similar phenomenon in my own life. It’s fairly easy to meet seasonal people. You cross paths with them while doing routine activities like going to work or attending a class. Being in a familiar place again has been eye opening and also challenging in a way that I had not anticipated. There’s something to be said about feeling the push and pull of relationships that seem to hover between the Reason and Lifetime. It’s one of those grey areas that can be a bit anxiety provoking because you don’t quite know what the outcome will be. There can be emotions that catch you off guard because the process is full of surprises along with disappointments. While you may have a preference, there’s not guarantee that the cards will play out the way that you want them to. The process isn’t linear because relationships and emotions aren’t linear and they rarely fit into a nice neat little box. The perfect solution in your head is at odds with the conflicting emotions in your heart. There is no easy answer because the questions are too complex. It’s almost like making a house out of cards and wondering which card will crumble the whole deck. One thing that I can appreciate is that the process makes you take an honest inventory of yourself in the context of relationships. Time can often be the deciding factor of which category the relationships will land in.
As I’ve mentioned before, May is one of those months that makes me really nostalgic. I’ve had the opportunity to take some great trips this month and see some familiar (and new) places. I was reminded today of the fact that I graduated from college exactly 8 years ago today. I remember being ready for the next part of my life but also being terrified of what the future would hold. School was familiar to me and it had become comfortable. I had spent so much time in the library and I knew a good portion of my fellow students so it felt like a home away from home. For most of my senior year I put the finishing touches on my plan to relocate across the country to Colorado and graduating from college meant that the move was about to happen. I had taken the time to collect some medals that I had received throughout my college experience so I had the opportunity to wear them all at graduation and hear the medals clank together as I walked. It was an extremely satisfying feeling. It was great to experience the festivities of the weekend and to reflect back on the years I spent on campus. I remember feeling so happy to finally be done with that chapter of my life. I knew that my goal was to be a therapist and that I also wanted to complete a doctorate. Eight years later I have done both. Here’s to eight more years of progress (or something like that).
Last week I had the opportunity to do one of my favorite leisure activities–cruising. It was pretty good and I had the chance to chill out for a bit. I even had the opportunity to pick up a few continuing education units. The only downside was that I was on the clock so I was teaching six classes and responding to emails while on “vacation.” The food wasn’t great either but there really isn’t a substitute for being on the ocean. It’s so calming to look at. I’m looking forward to my next getaway.
Lately I’ve been spreading myself a bit thin. It hasn’t happened on purpose but my calendar has become crowded with various obligations. The rest of the month is filling up fast and my “do nothing” days are quickly disappearing. I’m mentally preparing to temporarily relocate once again and I’m already looking forward to August where I’ll deliberately chill out for a bit. The intricacies of juggling 5 jobs present a unique challenge. But I’m getting the opportunity to do some new things and also keep my clinical skills up to date so I’m glad about that. I’m learning the importance of prioritizing and also sleeping enough hours per night. I will be making more strides towards finding a much better balance. Maybe more cruises are in my future.