Thursday, September 22, 2011

there are no bad words for the coast today

After spinning my wheels for the past hour and a half struggling to solve a problem in my dissertation data analysis - re-reading notes, looking up information online, modifying the analysis and running it again, only to receive the same error message - I finally emailed a helpful TA in hopes that she can help me get unstuck. Frustrated with yet another stumbling block in this long process, I walked away from my table at the coffee shop for a bathroom break.

As I glanced out the front door onto the sunlit, tree-lined street, I was struck with gratitude. "How lucky I am to live somewhere so beautiful."

Often in these perfect moments, I lament how they seem too perfect and are destined to never occur again. Like yesterday, when I sat in the shade of a beautiful flower garden while on my lunch break. I was so enjoying the beauty around me, that it was bittersweet realizing that I would soon have to return to my windowless office and that in a few weeks it might be too cold for me to comfortably enjoy the beauty of this garden. All I wanted to do was linger.

But in today's perfect moment, the moment was just right. I only felt thankful to be where I am at this time.

Rilo Kiley – Spectacular Views

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Urban Life: The City Park

I've recently come to believe that one of the best places to experience cultural equality is at a good city park.

I've started running since I moved to this new city. And by running, I mean power walking mixed with jogging, and trying to increase the jogging. Less than half a mile from my apartment, is a lovely little park, adorned with one a fountain complete with charging horse statues, which is often frequented by a flock of geese. It features a track around the narrow park, parts of which are lined with trees and go up and down small hills.

But it's not the picturesque fountain or tranquil trees that I like best about this park.

It's the people who come there.

A middle-aged woman photographing the geese. Six Muslim women in head-coverings sitting by the fountain with their children. White, black, and Latino men playing a game of soccer together. White chicks and dudes playing volleyball. Hipsters juggling and playing with hula hoops. A Latino family taking pictures at the fountain, later followed by an Indian family doing the same. A couple laying on blankets reading. A woman by herself reading. People running, biking, walking their dogs.

I can out power walk the middle aged women but the fit men always pass me. No matter, everyone has a place at the park. It's not like a gym that you have to pay for, where everyone else seems to lift twice the weight and run twice as fast as me. Even with my currently low level of physical fitness, I don't stand out when I work out in the park.

City parks are free. Paid for by taxes, but it doesn't matter if you paid a lot of taxes or paid none or cheated on your taxes, the park is available to you - so long as you have transportation to get there. You don't need expensive equipment or clothes or an invitation or your name on the VIP list. As long as it's safe, anyone can go there and enjoy it - men, women, children, teenagers, elderly.

Maybe I'm being overly idealistic in my park description. Despite the equality offered by the park, the reminders of inequality are ever present as the park is only yards away from the most upscale shopping center in town, mainly frequented by the affluent white citizens and college kids with credit cards. And the park is always populated with homeless men, so going to the park is not a luxury for everyone. For some people, they go there because they have nowhere else to go.

Despite the realities of poverty and racial inequality that I'm still aware of as I walk/jog in my park, the fact that so many people from different backgrounds come to enjoy it makes this park one of most beautiful places I've been to.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Support and challenge

On the first day of my psychology internship, we spent some time getting to know potential supervisors. In response to a question about how much support vs. challenge that she provides her supervisees, one psychologist replied, “I think that you can only challenge someone as much as you support them. In fact, I think there always needs to be a little more support than challenge so that you don’t run out of your ‘support bank’.”

This concept certainly resonated with me as reflecting how I best receive challenge in relationships as well as how I approach my clients in therapy. In order for me to effectively receive a challenge or constructive criticism from someone, I need to trust that the person challenging me also supports me, that the person has my best interests in mind and intends to build me up through the challenge. If I don’t feel an equal or great amount of support, then the challenge feels more like an attack on my person and abilities, and I react defensively instead of embracing the challenge as something that will help me grow.

I’ll admit that I am overly sensitive to any kind of criticism (perceived or otherwise) and even when challenged by someone who genuinely supports and cares for me, it’s easy for me to forget that support and just feel threatened by the criticism. But in the times when I do recognize the immense support I’m receiving and trust the other person(s) to speak into my life in a challenging way, then I can more easily accept the challenge, even if it’s still difficult to receive.

This is also how I approach both therapeutic and non-therapeutic relationships. For me to be able to challenge someone else, I must first support them and build a foundation of acceptance and trust, and continue to supply that support even as I challenge. This taps into what Rogers calls “Unconditional positive regard,” though I don’t think Rogers practiced any kind of direct challenging of his clients. These ideas of support and challenge going hand in hand also reflect the Christian saying of “speaking the truth in love.” Truth spoken without love for the one who is receiving that is just noise, a clanging symbol, that may be heard but won’t be listened to. I also recall a friend advising me, “If you’re coming from a place of love, then you can say just about anything to that person.” And I think it’s more than just having love in your heart as you say something – it requires the kind of demonstrated love that will lead to trust. The people I saw the other night on the street corner with their signs announcing repentance or eternity in hell were perhaps motivated by love for the multitudes of hell-goers they were preaching to, but I highly doubt than anyone who walked by felt loved by them.

While many of you might agree with these ideas (they’re millennials old and not original to me at all), some of us may have different ways of knowing that we are supported. I’m not saying that we all need to hug everyone and dote on them to make them feel loved, though that’s certainly appropriate and necessary in some relationships and in some cultures. In some contexts and cultures, support and love if felt through actions and words that are very different that what I find to be loving. For example, I’ve heard that in some Asian cultures which value authoritative parenting, children feel loved and accepted when their family members challenge them to perform better. Maybe some of them grow up believing that they only loved as a result of their good performance, but many probably grow up believing that the expression of requiring someone to succeed is a sign as love as it reflects a desire for that person to reach their full potential and have a good life.

So, I intend to keep these ideas in mind over the next year and hope to continuously examine how those I’m in therapeutic/romantic/family/friendship/coworker relationships with best feel loved and supported and best receive challenges. And when I receive challenges from others, then I’ll try to remember that (usually) the person challenging me cares very deeply about me as a person so that I can receive the challenge as an opportunity to grow.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

light weight

A few days ago, I spent the evening with a group of friends. There was much laughter, as a friend sculpted a butter cat, we all sniffed the lavender handsoap, the guys confessed their love for Julie Andrews as Maria in The Sound of Music, we tried to guess one another's middle names, and answered random Loaded Questions cards that led to disclosures about the embarrassing things we own.

We also discussed various ways to interpret the Old Testament, talked about why we were Liberal, or Republican, or Libertarian, whether or not our country needs the Federal Reserve, and what is the true nature of the Christian gospel and how do we treat those Christians who profess belief in a different gospel version.

I left that evening absolutely invigorated by both the frequent tear-inducing laughter and the depth of our theological and political conversations. I thought about how rare it must be to experience those two different types of interactions throughout hours of discussion, but then I realized that such a dichotomy is false because the two share the same origins.

Both are facilitated by the abandonment of pretense and judgement, the comfort with oneself that allows for complete openness, and the true acceptance of others the embraces both their utter silliness and their complete honesty in sharing their opinions about weighty matters. Both the light-hearted and the weighty matters spring from the same spirit of authenticity, and when the two are freely shared, the light-hearted utterances are given more weight as they represent the freedom to be and the weighty matters become lighter as we are allowed to laugh at ourselves and question our beliefs even while expressing deeply held convictions.

I crave more times like these, times when I can engage with others both in our utter absurdity and profundity.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

new location for the next month

Well, tomorrow I'm traveling to Turkey for a month, and guess what? Blogger is banned there due to some bloggers violating copyright laws by posting streaming soccer (futbol) games on their blogs. Instead of targeting the criminals, the government decided to just blanketly ban the entire website, similar to their previous bans of of Youtube, and various other blogging platforms.

So, rather than mess with figuring out how to change my IP address, while I spend the next month in another country, my blogging will also spend the next month in a new blogging platform. Please add it to your google reader and follow me in my latest adventure here -

Unless of course, the Turkish government decides to ban wordpress as well in the next month.

Sunday, May 15, 2011


Hmm. I mistyped my blog address tonight and came across this -

I guess someone else liked that quote from V for Vendetta, and it was a rather popular quote from 5 years ago.

An abandoned blog with only six posts, and a somewhat obnoxious layout, but I wonder, is she my Oregon alter-ego? If I had grown up in the Northwest or moved there for college, would my life look anything like hers?

I once was riding a train and a car just like mine was driving beside it. I imagined that it was me in that car, from another time, and I was watching my past or future self from the train. I like to imagine alter egos or selves from different times interacting. Maybe it's narcissism, but I think I just like to reflect on my life and ask, "What if?"

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

the good-byes begin . . .

This morning I unexpectedly said good-bye to my favorite allergy shot nurse. I have an appointment scheduled in two weeks, but she realized that she would out for the summer by then, and this was our last time to see each other. We hugged warmly and wished each other well. She is always so friendly and bubbly over with positivity, in a genuine and caring way, but also a little kooky too. I thanked her for always being so friendly, to which she responded, laughingly, "But I'm also kinda weird!" She's always asking me about school and my vacation plans, in way that isn't just chitchat but shows that she truly wants to engage with her patients and know them as people. There's a good chance that I may never see her again. While I won't truly miss her, there is still a sadness in saying good-bye to someone that I've seen weekly or monthly for over three years.

And so the good-bye have begun.

The last couple of weeks, it's really hit me that I'm leaving soon. I've frequently felt brief pangs of sadness as I think about the people and places that I'm going to miss. Despite being busy with papers due, I've been motivated to consistently spend time with those who are are dear to me. Living here for almost four years, I've really put down roots in this place, the first home that I've established for myself as an adult. I've found a great community and have my habits and rhythms of where I go and what I do on a regular basis. I truly consider it home, and sometimes experience confusion when people refer to the place I grew up where my parents still live as home. "When are you going home?," someone asked me. "I'm going back to college station Sunday afternoon." "No, I mean when are you moving from college station?" "Oh . . . " Recently I've thought about how "home" is shifting for me. In two and a half weeks, the BCS won't be my home anymore. I don't really consider my parent's town as home, since I'll only be staying there for about a month and a half, so it just feels transitory. Then I'll probably only be living in Kansas City for a year, which seems like too short of a time to call it home as well. DFW will probably always be one "home," but maybe the BCS will be a secondary home, as long as I have people here who feel like family to me.

At times in the past couple of weeks, I've even found myself wishing that I wasn't leaving. Four years ago, I could have never predicted feeling this way! But even if I feel that way from time to time, I know it's the right time to leave. I'm excited about my travel plans for the summer and excited about moving to a new city in a new part of the country. Great opportunities await me that I wouldn't be experiencing if I stayed here. But I think it's ok to both wish to stay in one place and to be excited about going to another. Just because I love living here doesn't meant that I'm also not excited about living somewhere else. It's just that right now, when I'm in the middle of good-byes, what I'm leaving behind is more salient than I'm headed into.

This week, in addition to the impending good-byes, the realization of just how much I need to do before I leave has struck me. Dissertation data analysis, the packing, sorting, selling, throwing out, & giving away of the things in my apartment, and closing the residence hall are the big things. But there's also many little things that really add up, like changing my address, going to the dentist, finding new health insurance, etc. Fortunately, this realization is motivating me to get these things done, so hopefully this next week will be a productive one.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

voice of inquiry

This morning at work, several coworkers surprised us all with awards for everyone - creatively made on decorated paper plates. Some were serious - the "Strength" award for a coworker who has been battling a serious disease; some were inside jokes - "The Spooning with Rotter Award," many were quite funny; and all reflected some aspects of the person's character or personality. There were plenty of laughs and smiles.

I received the "Voice of Inquiry" award, complete with a medallion and red, white, and blue ribbon that allowed me to hang the award around my neck. "This person always asks questions in our staff meeting, and voices the questions that I often would want to ask," my coworker said before presenting me with the award. I laughed when I received it - because it's certainly true, I do ask a lot of questions in our staff meetings! I'm always seeking to understand clearly, and have no problem voicing questions to receive that clarity.

To be honest, after the initial laugh, I felt a little disappointed with the award. Do I really want to be remembered when I leave this job as the girl that asks all those questions? I'd rather be remembered as someone who was caring, positive, encouraging, etc. But if I'm really honest, I haven't put my all into this job. I've done an adequate and at times very good job with it, but it's not where my heart is. For many of my coworkers, this job represents the beginning of their career in student affairs, but for me, it's a means to a different end. I've got some great coworkers and believe that I work well with everyone, but I've felt like an outsider at times. Which is ok. I lived here for three years before starting this job, so I already had my life, my academic program, my community. This job has never defined me, nor should I let one award define me.

Thinking about it further though, this award does reflect one of my greatest strengths - communication. I'm constantly using verbal and written communication to be understood and to understand. And in this job, part of that is asking a lot of questions to make sure that, and others, understand. It's also something I tell the RAs I supervise to do - "If you're not sure, just ask! It's better to ask about something you think you should already know than do something that you're not sure about." I value questions in my job, in my relationships, in academics, in my spiritual life, because maybe questions don't always lead to clear answers, but they can lead to better understanding.

After our meeting, I thanked my coworker who made my award. He thanked me and said, "Thank you! You've shown me that it's ok to ask questions." Which I guess is a good thing. In a meeting room of 30 plus people, including our supervisors, asking a question could be intimidating for someone who's more shy than I am. But I'm not shy - I love to talk, ask questions, of anyone, anywhere. Being the voice of inquiry for a team is a good thing.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Monday, April 04, 2011

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness

I've been thinking some about how my being an American has shaped me, my values, my beliefs, my expectations for how life should be, how I create meaning in life, etc, and how this is so different from someone who is Ecuadorian, Turkish, Iranian, or Bangladeshi. As Christians, I think that we like to believe that our beliefs and worldview match a Christian worldview, that our beliefs and how we see the world is entirely shaped through Christ and the Bible. I think that our cultural worldviews often shape our view of Christianity more than the vice versa.

In the US, we live our lives pursuing happiness. And I think sometimes it makes us miserable. It's in our constitution, that everyone has the right to pursue happiness, and I think reflects a cultural mandate that our chief purpose is to be happy. That if we're not happy, if we suffer, if we feel depressed, then something is wrong with us or the world and it needs to be changed. We make most of our decisions by asking, "Will this make me and others happy?" "Will marrying this person make me happy?" "Will this career make me happy?" "Will living in this city make me happy?" "Will doing this hobby make me happy?" And that mindset certainly affects how we approach Christianity - "Will believing this make me happy?" "Will Christ bring me happiness and fulfillment and a good life if I follow Him?" Many Christians continue to try to squeeze happiness out of the gospel as if that were its main purpose, and others walk away when they're not happy.

And I see this as very cultural because some cultures don't pursue happiness like we do. Some individuals don't expect to be happy all the time, if at all. My friend was telling me about a line from the movie Beyond Rangoon (which I haven't seen), where the lead character (an American woman) is talking with a Burmese political official who tells her basically, "In Burma, we expect suffering. We're not shocked by it. We don't expect happiness." Some cultures are better at accepting suffering. My Iranian friend said that this is true of her culture and many other cultures. She said that this is reflected in media, in movies particularly. In the US, most movies have a happy ending. Not all, but a lot of them do. We want to see happy endings because we expect that for ourselves. But in other countries, movies are more tragic. They end with death and mourning and wailing, because that reflect their expectation from life. In the US, we are shocked by suffering and tragedy. We protest and cry out, "Why do bad things happen to good people?"

I'm not saying that we should just lay down and accept suffering and not try to end it. We should be seeking to end injustice and cure cancer and AIDS. There is much needless suffering in the world, and we shouldn't just shrug our shoulders and be indifferent. But perhaps we should be more accepting of our own personal suffering. Perhaps I should be more accepting of personal suffering. By disposition, I'm a pretty optimistic person. I like being happy and I can easily find positives in many situations. When I'm unhappy, I just want to be happy again as soon as possible. I've found myself frequently unhappy this week, often without being able to do anything to change the circumstances that contributed to my unhappiness. I found that the times when I just accepted my unhappiness, when I just acknowledge, "Ok, I'm unhappy right now, and this sucks, and I want to be happy, but I'm never promised happiness, so I can be unhappy right now," were my most peaceful moments this past week.

And does this reflect the kind of outlook I should have as a Christian? Looking at the early church in the New Testament, the church seemed to expect suffering, but there was also much joy. Joy in fellowship with other believers, in pursuing a new way, in enjoying the blessing of the Spirit and salvation. But that joy went alongside the suffering of Christ, the suffering of following a narrow way.

Nothing I'm saying is new or revolutionary. This is all influenced by psychological theories I've read or studied, conversations I've had, or sermons I've heard preached. I'm just trying to examine myself more in light of these thoughts, trying to understand my cultural expectations for what my life should be like, and hold those in light of what could be more true.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

research induced psychosis

I'm in the middle of collecting my dissertation data. And it's nearly turning me into an confused mess.

Due to an unfortunate circumstance, I only have a three week window to collect my data. Which means that my priority right now is organizing experimental sessions and recruiting participants. Last night my adviser told me that I should try informal methods, "word of mouth," to recruit participants. So I spent at least an hour last night emailing professors I know, fellow hall directors, and advisers of student organizations. Then this morning at approximately 9:23 during my 9am work meeting, I received an email on my dag smartphone from the presenter of my dissertation study that he double-booked himself and needed to reschedule one of our sessions next week. Which 10 participants had already signed up for. So, I spent the rest of the loooong meeting worrying about rescheduling a location and contacting the participants. Within an hour of the meeting's end, I had rescheduled a location, confirmed with the presenter, contacting the participants, and met with my adviser. I spent at least another hour munching chocolate covered espresso beans and emailing the folks I had emailed last night to let them know about the schedule change and additional contacts who might help me recruit research participants.

By by 2pm meeting with one of the Resident Advisers I supervise, I was a disoriented, jittery mess who kept asking her questions about things she was working on, to which she would answer by blinking twice and then saying, "I sent you an email about that already . . . "

And now I know why my adviser is frequently so scattered when I talk to him. Not because he's suffering from any kind of premature dementia, but because he is first and foremost a researcher. There is absolute truth to the absent-minded professor stereotype. Fortunately, I don't plan a career which would primarily involve research, so likely this research-influenced incoherent fugue state will be brief. I apologized to my RA, saying, "I'm sorry, it's hard for me to keep everyone's things straight unless I'm looking at them," when I should have said, "I'm sorry, I'm collecting research data right now, and it's hard for me to remember to turn my oven off."

But there is an end at sight. Despite this mad rush of data collection, if all goes well, this could turn out to be a blessing in disguise. How great will it be to have it all collected so soon, and time to spend analyzing it before the semester is up (which will carry it's own madness), before I begin my summer adventures! There is hope for me to be a doctor by next year. Sigh.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011


Yesterday I ate king cake someone made and brought to our staff meeting and saw guys and gals sporting mardi gras beads when I went out to karaoke at an Irish-themed pub. And now today I've seen folks wearing ash on their foreheads, the start of the Lenten season.

"Man, I hope people don't give up stuff for Lent!" one of my RAs mentioned in our staff meeting a couple of weeks ago when we were discussing upcoming programs and what food to serve. In the previous meeting, I had talked with them about offering more food choices to be inclusive of all residents and their diets, whether for religious or health reasons, so I just gently reminded the RA that this is another reason to offer different food options at our programs.

Her response stuck with me, because I think that's how many people view Lent. Some sort of hassle for Catholics or all Christians to give up something that they usually enjoy. Just another example of Christians doing something that doesn't sound fun, going against our society's emphasis on instant gratification. I'm not Catholic, but I started adopting Lenten practices of fasting from something for a season in high school when I gave up drinking sodas during Lent. I thought Lent was about giving something up until I talked with a Catholic friend in college about it.

"What are you giving up for Lent?" I asked him. "Lent isn't about giving up things," he explained, "It's a season for spiritual renewal. That can take the form of a fast, but it should also be a time when people do things and make changes, like being more generous or forgiving." Since then, when this season rolls around, instead of praying, "What should I give up this year for Lent?" I think about what I should do for Lent and what it should mean for me this season.

Recently, I asked my boyfriend if he was going to do anything for Lent, and he said no and shared some of this thoughts about why he believes Lent isn't something he should practice. I'm not going to recap what he said because it probably wouldn't do his opinions justice, but I do want to share the thoughts that it prompted. The first is the idea of "seasonal holiness," of doing things to make oneself holy for a season or doing something that would please God for just a few weeks, but then not doing it the rest of the year. There is something hypocritical sounding about it. But for me, Lent isn't about making myself holy or more pleasing to God during this season. It's about practicing something new and different for a season, and maybe I'll continue that practice after Lent, and maybe I won't. I don't think that God necessarily expects the same things from his followers all the same. I might do something that for a season is beneficial to my spiritual health and is what God wants for me at that time, but at another time, as I grow and mature (hopefully) and face different circumstances and challenges, then God may want me to do something different. I don't think there's some point of spiritual practice that I'm supposed to "arrive" at. I don't think I should keep striving until I read my Bible, pray, fast, etc every day. I don't think my prayer life should always look the same. I think there will be ebbs and flows and differences across time, and I see Lent as one of those ebbs.

The second thing I took away from our conversation is the idea of trying to make changes based on my own effort. I struggle with spiritual disciplines, even when I enjoy them and see the good in them. Lent is the exception. I can make drastic lifestyle changes during Lent that I wouldn't always have the willpower to carry out the rest of the year. It's the conviction of the Lenten season and the accountability of other Christians all around the world doing something similar that helps me to stick with my Lenten convictions when I don't keep other promises. But is Lent something that's about me and my own willpower and my own dedication to do or not do something? Or is it about the Spirit working through me, changing me from the inside out, in ways that I never could? Am I humbled during Lent? Or am I filled with pride in what I'm able to do or give up?

I've decided to do the following this Lenten season:

1. Fast from lunch once a week and spend that solid hour in prayer.
2. Not use the internet after 10:30pm, unless it's legitimately for word.
3. Read John Owen's Mortification of Sins.*

I certainly don't think that all Christians should participate in Lent. I don't know that I'll continue to participate in Lent year after year, but I am participating in it again this year and I look forward to seeing how God will use this season in my life.

*Don't be afraid of the Puritans! Give them a chance. I read Jonathan Edwards' "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" sermon in a high school English class, and my Christian friends and I decided that the Puritans were as nutty as those street evangelists in our city who said you were going to hell if you drank alcohol, didn't wear long skirts, or went to see movies. But recently I've been reintroduced to Puritan writers through reading The Valley of Vision, a beautiful and moving collection of prayers, and now John Owen.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

the "big" day

Tomorrow is the "big" day. Match day. The day where I find out if all of my efforts on my applications and interviews pays off getting matched at an internship site.

If facebook posts are any indication, my cohort-mates seem to be freaking out in anticipation. My friends and family keep bringing it up, with one friend saying yesterday, "I'm nervous for you!" This is a big day that is giving anxiety and excitement to thousands of graduate students across the continent.

And me? When I allow myself to think about, I feel excited and nervous and antsy and all the usual emotions. But this past week or so, I mostly haven't been thinking about it. I've been acting and thinking like this is just a normal week, not a week leading up to some life-altering announcement. Oh, it's definitely a big deal for me and something I've excited about. I've organized a dinner out with friends to celebrate with me or console me if I don't match. But I've still got other things to do this week and other things to look forward to this weekend. Surprisingly, I think I went almost the entire day yesterday without thinking about it. Maybe it's denial. Maybe it's healthy. Whatever it is, it's helping me get through this week without being a big bundle of craziness. I am an 11 after all, what with all my nervous energy and stuff.

Still, I probably won't sleep well tonight.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Reviewing 2010

A year ago, I posted about things I'd like to do in 2010. Not resolutions, just things I thought would be great to do in 2010. Let's see how I fared last year . . .
  • Be more active - take yoga classes, ride my bike more, and swing dance again. – Yup, I was more active in 2010 than I had been in previous years! I took a couple of yoga classes, but didn’t stick with them, but I did bike pretty regularly during the summer, took swing dancing lessons, and consistently went swing or salsa dancing once or twice a month.
  • Grow an herb garden that stays alive. – Fail. I attempted to grow herbs twice and they died both times. Then my RA thought I liked plants and gave me an orchid that also died within a month.
  • Start an investment fund. – Uhh, this still needs to happen.
  • Propose my dissertation. – Yes! I totally did this and it was a great accomplishment!
  • Get a new job. – Yup.
  • Find a new roommate. (One of mine is graduating, I love both my roommates!) – Well, my new job includes a one bedroom apartment, so finding a roommate wasn’t necessary.
  • Clean the catbox more often. Maybe I started doing this, but my cat continued to pee on the carpet, so this is probably a fail.
  • Have less boy drama. (I probably say that every year, which is why these are just things to do, not resolutions). – Hmm, depends on the definition of “drama.” If by drama, I meant not get super emotionally involved and heartbroken by some dude who’s just going to dump me, then I guess I kinda did this.
  • Bake bread every now and then. – I made banana bread once over the summer. Does that count? It had peanut butter and chocolate chips and was really yummy!
  • Apply for internship OR decide what to do and where to live in 2011. – Yes! I applied for internship, and had 11 interviews J
  • Buy a used roadbike and ride a marathon/race on it. – Got my Trek 2300, courtesy of Craigslist, but still haven’t ridden that marathon yet.
  • Read more non-fiction, non-academic books than I did in 2009. – I at least started more non-fiction books than usual, so I’ll consider that a success.
  • Complete the Celebration of Discipline by Foster with my church small group, and start to practice more of those disciplines. (I'm sure there some fodder for some good Lenten practices in there) – We read this book through April or May, but I never finished it. I fasted a couple of times and confessed my sins more often, so this was semi-successful.
  • Take a daily photo. (check out my facebook account for the link to my flickr account, or comment and I'll email you the link) – I did this through March or April before I lost interest.
So, this is about a 57% success rate, which I'm actually pretty proud of. It seems like so often I have ideas of things I want to do or try, and then laziness or busyness with other priorities kicks in, and I don't do those things. Or I start them and don't finish them. So having set out these goals for last year and accomplishing over half of them does feel like quite an accomplishment for me. I made major career accomplishments (finding a new job, applying for internship, proposing my dissertation). I made lifestyle changes (starting to dance again more regularly, buying a bike, at least starting more books). It seems like every semester I resolve to be more physically active, but this was the year when I finally took steps in that direction by pursuing activities that I actually enjoy. I attempted some things (growing herbs, taking daily photos) that I didn't stick with throughout the year, but were still rewarding activities while I was doing them. I'm proud of myself for taking daily photos for at least a few months, because it was a new creative venture for me. I also challenged myself to write more on this blog, and I'm proud of that too.

What about you? What did you do last year that you were proud of?

Monday, January 17, 2011


Take a deep, slow breath. Hold it for a few seconds. Slowly exhale.

I had a busy end to an even busier semester, a couple of weeks off with my family and friends, and now I've spent the past two weeks going non-stop. I've had nine interviews, with two left to go. I've traveled to four different states, with one more to travel to tomorrow. Flown on 10 flights, with 2 more to go. Ridden 12 miles in a car to go to Oklahoma. I've got 11 more hours of car travel to go this week. I've talked about my strength, my growth areas, my most challenging supervision experience, what my clients have taught my, and what my goals are for internship countless times. I've asked over and over again, "What is your supervision style? How does your staff support intern self care?"

When I haven't been traveling to interviews, I've been working as a hall director, training RAs, opening the hall. Fortunately I've been able to see some dear friends in the past week, but even those times felt fast and furious. Most mornings I've been waking around 6am, and trying to go to bed earlier to accommodate those early mornings. I've had a couple of mornings where I was able to sleep in, and boy, did I take advantage of them. I've finished two books, am over halfway through a third, and a third through a fourth. I've been sick with a cold and suffered from an upset stomach after an unfortunate encounter with Thai food. I got an Android that now keeps me connected to gmail, facebook, google reader, weather forecasts, etc.

And now I'm taking some moments to breathe, sitting in a lovely coffee shop in Knoxville. I've prepared my questions for this interview tomorrow, already drove by it to make sure I know where to park, and soon I'll meet up with the friend that I'm staying with and we'll talk and catch up and go to dinner. But for now, this time is mine. Finally.

These past few weeks have been exciting, but oh I'm craving more time to slow down like this. More time for myself. More time to just breathe. This semester, I hope to have more free time than usual. I've kept dreaming up ways to fill that time - cycling, dance lessons, yoga classes, studying a foreign language. I've been so excited to finally have time for non-academic things like this, but maybe I don't need to fill up my hours with more time commitments, even if they are things that I love and will enjoy. Maybe I need to make this the semester where I finally learn how to slow down - or at least start trying to more. Maybe I'll drop into the chapel to pray. Maybe I'll go to a coffee shop and only bring a novel to read for my own pleasure. Maybe I'll take a slow walk around campus with no destination.

Maybe I'll start moving slower.

I am an eleven

“You love purple, it must be your favorite color.”

The man in the black turtleneck standing next to me in the airport terminal tram commented. He was in his 50’s probably but had a youthful grin as he spoke excitedly.

“You must be a 7 or an 11.”

I had no idea what this meant, but the mention of the number “11” caught me off guard, as that’s my favorite number.

“Yeah, I love purple,” I replied, “That’s because I’m a TCU Horned Frog.”

“No, no, you must be a 7 or 11.” He obviously didn’t care about the Horned Frogs, but continued to speak and spout questions rapidly.

“What month were you born? 7 or 11? What day?”

When I told him I was born on the 11th, his excitement grew.

“See, I knew you were an 11!”

“11’s like purple?”

“11’s are great leaders, great advisers, and they get better as they get older. You’re great at sales! I bet you could sell ice to an Eskimo!”

I laughed, “No, that’s not true of me.”

“Yes it is, well, maybe you’re not great at sales now, but you will be. You’ll get better as you get older. What year were you born?”

I told him, and he made some calculations with my birthdate, and continued his speale.

“That means you’re a 3-11! 95% of the country’s greatest sales people are 3-11s. They make millions of dollars. People like you, that’s why you’re good at sales. I do this for a living, I go to companies and talk with their employees about this.”

I just smiled and let him continue to rant about what a great salesperson I am, and as he exited, he said something finally that was true of me.

“It’s great being an 11, besides, you’ve got all that nervous energy.”

Then the most interesting comments followed.

“That’s because you don’t know why you’re here.” He looked me in the eyes as he passed to exit the tram, “And that, is the portal of God.”