Graduation

Graduation yesterday was so amazing. After 7 years and a really rough last year it was amazing to have a day of celebration. It was amazing to have my family and friends there to support me. It was amazing to close that chapter of my life and look forward to what lies ahead.

That is a lot of what graduation ceremonies are all about. They are a conclusion on one chapter of your life, and an introduction to the next chapter. At the graduation ceremony we had several speakers, all who did an excellent job in their own right. As someone who speaks at a graduation ceremony for my middle school students every year, I know how challenging it is to say something that is relevant and meaningful. I always hope that with several speakers, each person there can take something from one of the speeches.

It was kind of ironic then, how after graduation yesterday a few of my friends commented to me on something they found moving about from the ceremony and each comment was from a different speaker. So, I guess the speakers did their job.

One of the constant threads of each of the speeches was how we did not make it to graduation alone. Each one of us had help. Each one of us had challenges. Each one of us had life to deal with. And each one of us persevered and graduated.

So to each graduate there yesterday and all those graduating during this graduation season, congratulations for persevering.

Perseverance is definitely something that I learned throughout the process of completing my Ph.D. I can now understand how so many people do the course work and not complete the dissertation. It is commonly called ABD – All But Dissertation.

The coursework was hard, especially going back after many years of not doing course work and having classes three nights a week, having a full time job, and raising two incredible boys, mainly on my own. But the writing of the dissertation, whoa, that’s hard work. And it requires a great deal of perseverance.

It’s about setting goals, prioritizing what gets done when, and making time for research, reading, writing and revising over and over again. I’ve heard of something called post-dissertation depression. I can understand it, don’t think I will be faced with that, but it is interesting think about what I will do differently now. My job won’t change. Many aspects of my life won’t change. But I have changed. So how do I use this chapter that I’m closing of my life, to help me write the introduction to the next part of my life.

chapter

Advertisements

My dad

phd planIn looking at this cartoon about Ph.D. plan vs. Ph.D. reality, I can probably label each one of those bumps along the road. One might be when I started my new job. One might be my divorce. Another one might be for the medical challenges I faced. But that last one, that big one toward the end, I know exactly what that one is. That one is from last fall, when my dad got sick.

Just before school started I took the day off to go with my parents to see my dad’s orthopedic surgeon. He was supposed to have shoulder replacement surgery, but when they did the MRI, they found something suspicious. The appointment was to determine if he could have surgery or if he had cancer.

He had cancer.

The roller coaster began. It was doctors’ appointments, biopsies, and tests, tests and more tests. I sat with my dad as he staunchly told the nurse he had a DNR. I waited for him as he struggled to breath walking down the hallway, but too proud and stubborn to accept a ride in a wheelchair. I smiled and joked with him trying to help him keep his dignity as I undressed him because he couldn’t do it himself. I listened to what the doctor said. I asked questions. I tried to help my parents understand. i tried to comprehend the incomprehensible.

Then one Friday morning when I was at work, my mom called. Dad had fallen down in the bathroom and they were rushing him to the hospital. I left work. Raced home. Packed a bag. And went to him. I stayed with him in the hospital. They were trying to determine the primary source of the cancer. They were trying to determine how to treat it. They were trying to determine if they could treat it.

They couldn’t.

The next month was crazy. He went from the hospital to a nursing home where we struggled as a family to decide the best course of action, or inaction.

All the while, I brought my laptop and worked on my dissertation. I spent hours at night at the hospital or the nursing home sitting with my dad and typing away. He knew that I was close to finishing my dissertation and he was so proud of me. He had done all of his course work for his Ph.D. but never did the dissertation. I was the first in my family to finish.

At first I worked hard because I thought I could finish it while he was still alive and he could see me graduate. But then I knew he wasn’t going to make it until the spring and I was doubly determined to finish it for him.

Writing was kind of a companion for me late at night. I like to think that while the beeping of the machines he was on kept me company, the clicking of the keys while I typed kept him company. He knew I was there.

At the end of October, just about two months after we found out he had cancer, we brought him home to say good-bye. As he was so fond of saying in the last weeks of his life, he wanted to die surrounded by his loving family, and he did.

I was there with him. We had all been there with him at the end. His loving wife. All six of his children and their spouses. All thirteen of his grandchildren and their significant others, and both of his great grandsons.

But his reach went far beyond his family.

He was a coach. He coached baseball and basketball right up until the month before he got sick. He coached hundreds of kids over the 40+ years he coached. But he didn’t just influence the kids he coached; he changed everyone he came in contact with. Opposing coaches and opposing teams came to his wake to tell us how he impacted their lives through the strength of his character. His entire baseball team, in their uniforms came to the funeral to stand proud for him.

Everyone was special and important to him. He always took the time to talk to anyone he met. As a kid, it drove me crazy that he talked to anyone and everyone, but now it makes me proud to realize the impact he had on people’s lives because he took the time to talk to them. I try to be more like him each day.

I miss him everyday. We all do. I will miss him even more tomorrow, when I walk across the stage and get hooded as the first doctor in my family and he isn’t there to hold me in his arms and tell me he’s proud of me. But he will be there with me in spirit. He will be there in the tears I cry, the shouts of joy, and the sense of pride and accomplishment.

I love you dad. This moment is dedicated to you.

7 years

 

Seven years, seems like a long time, and like the blink of the eye all at the same time. Think back for a moment on where you were in your life seven years ago. Think of all of the changes that have happened over the past seven years ago. For me, the past seven years represent the time it has taken me to complete my PhD in education program.

The ups and downs of the past seven years have been amazing. Career changes, personal life changes, medical issues, academic challenges, even the changes in my committee have been ever present and ever challenging. But they have also helped me grow as a person, in every aspect of my life.

The past 7 years has not been a smooth or easy road, but one that I am glad I have taken. As I begin to prepare for graduation this Saturday, I think back to everything that has happened, realizing that while none of it went the way I had envisioned it, I wouldn’t change a moment of it.

phd plan

Rest for my weary soul

Each morning I read a daily reading bible called The Message remix 2.0 Pause A Daily Reading Bible by Eugene Person. This morning in my devotional I began reading Joshua 19-21. This part of Joshua is about which tribe gets which piece of land. It’s boring. As I started I sighed and asked God to show me why this was important for me to read.

Writing my journal reflection after one part of the reading struck me: “And God fave them rest on all side, as he had solemnly vowed to their ancestors.” (Joshua 21:44). I started thinking about how the Israelites were given rest after years of slavery, after years of wandering in the wilderness, after years of battling for their land. They were given land. They were given a home. They were given rest.

Then I thought about my new home. I’ve often compared it to my own promised land. A place God led me to. No more fear. No more ridicule. No more abuse. Just rest. A place of my own. A place where I have safety and security. A place I have rest.

Thank you God for fulfilling your promise to me and giving me a home where I can find rest. Rest for my weary soul.

Gratitude

I can’t believe it. I feel so grateful for everything that is in my life. It is only recently that I can even realize the many blessings in my life compared to where I was. I currently have the most amazing supports in my life. I have some amazing local supports of friends who will hold me and love me through everything. I also have friends from throughout different stages of my life who love and support me from a distance.

For much of my life I didn’t feel like I deserved friends like the ones I have now. I didn’t think I should have people who loved me. It’s hard to imagine but I feel like for the first time in my life I am letting myself bloom, letting myself be happy.

I look at what I have in my life now and I know that I couldn’t have had this just a few short years ago. My ex-husband held me back. He didn’t want me to have friends. He was controlling. He was overshadowing. And I let it happen. I thought that was love. I thought that was what I deserved.

When he got mad, I also thought I deserved that.

When he lost his temper, I thought it was my fault.

When he blamed me, I blamed me too.

But there was an angel in my life who helped me to see a light. A brighter future. And a promise of something better. And for that I will be forever grateful.

Since then, I have realized that there is an amazing world out there that I am part of. That I deserve to be part of. That I make better by being part of it.

I always thought I was pretty accelerated at things. I was a good student. I excelled in my studies and I have always been pretty forward moving and goal orientated in my career. But when it comes to life, I guess I am a late bloomer.

I feel like a butterfly who has finally gotten out of my cocoon and out of the dark shadows of my past. I feel like I can finally spread my wings and fly. I feel like I deserve this happiness that I am now feeling.

gratitude

I am so grateful for the blessings in my life.

Each morning I wake up with a smile on my face for the amazing gifts I have in my life. That you to all those people who saw I was worthy before I did and who have helped me to embrace my new found sense of self.

Peace ~ Hope ~ Joy ~ Love

 

Over the past 4 weeks of advent, my church has been focusing on these 4 words: Peace, Hope, Joy and Love.

As I think about Peace, I try to find peace in my life in where I am right now. Peace about not being in a relationship right now. Peace about being alone. Peace about the amazing people I have in my life.  Peace and appreciation for what I have and who I am right now.

Hope is more about the future. About the hope that I won’t always be alone. It is about hope for what is yet to come. If I have faith that I am in the right place right now then I hope that being in the right place, both physically and spiritually, will lead to blessings yet to come.

Joy is about celebrating the small things. Celebrating the blessing of friends and family and appreciating all of the little things in life. Celebrating my boys and watching them grow. Celebrating time together with family and friends. Sharing a simple cup of tea, or dinner out. Or simply sharing text messages from friends near and far. Celebrating the many joys I have in my life.

Love, well that is harder for me. Being divorced twice this is an area I feel fairly incompetent in. Something I struggle with constantly. I have numerous friends whom I love and adore, just can’t seem to make the whole relationship thing work.

I am trying to find an inner peace, which will give me hope for the future and a joy about love I have yet to experience.

My wish for you (and me) this holiday season and in the upcoming new year: Peace ~ Hope ~ Joy ~ Love ~ blessings for all.

 

 

 

 

A Joyful Heart

Finally – Equal opportunities for all. I am a Christian who supports ALL of God’s children.

Raising 5 Kids With Disabilities and Remaining Sane Blog

150626213815-rainbow-white-house-exlarge-169

One of my biggest faults is that I am apolitical. I tend to do my one little thing raising my kiddos, and consider that my contribution to the world. Whom I admire most are those who are activists, those who stand up for what they believe in and work diligently to make it happen, even if they have to work year after year after year. And so my hat is off to those who have worked so sincerely to legalize gay marriage. Congratulations! WHAT an accomplishment!

I assume that everyone knows someone who is gay. People who are gay are, and I say this jokingly, “just like us.” I understand that there are some religions who firmly believe that being gay is not appropriate. I admire truly religious people who do what they think is right, even if their position is different than mine. But I feel comfortable with my…

View original post 149 more words

Holding

Great, simple, post. I love the message here.

Lessons From the End of a Marriage

We push people away because we are afraid of letting them in and being hurt when they leave.

We grasp on to people that are not good for us because we are afraid of being alone and someone is better than no one.

Pushing and pulling are fear, not love.

Love is holding.

Loosely enough so that each person has the freedom to grow and change.

And firmly enough so that each person knows they are supported.

It is trusting the other person enough that they want to stay even if they have the ability to leave.

And trusting yourself that you will be okay if they do.

View original post

Eat to run

This a great post from my cousin that reminds me think about how we think bout our bodies and the messages that we receive about food and our bodies.

seanacooks

Sometime in high school my friends and I started saying that we ran/worked out so much so that we could eat as much as we wanted. It was our play on the old “there are people who eat to live and those who live to eat.” I knew then that I am a person who lives to eat. I had also found my eating buddy — my bestie — the person who has a similar intense love of food and cooking to my own. When you find that person, I believe you should keep them close. Close for us meant eating together and running together.
While on my run today I thought about that quip that we had. It followed us through high school and college and into adult hood. In my early 20s, meeting someone for lunch, hoping off my bike I would say “no salad for me, I’ll…

View original post 1,778 more words

I hate Saturdays

I hate Saturdays. I know, that sounds crazy, awful and probably very strange to most people, but it’s true, I hate Saturdays. It’s because that is that day that I have to share my son with his dad. It sounds selfish, but I don’t like sharing. And I don’t like having to deal with my ex. So, therefore, I don’t like Saturdays.

 

I had to go back to court (again) the other day to finalize our “sharing” agreement. It was horrible. Parceling out which day I will get to have him with me this year, and which day he will be with his dad. Of course we both want him for all of the holidays, which I guess is a good thing, but then one of us misses out for each holiday we don’t have him with us.

 

It felt so petty. Chopping up the days: you get him Christmas morning, I get him Christmas night; you have him 4th of July in even years, I get him 4th of July for odd years. It feels like he becomes a non-entity in this. When does he get to make decisions about where he wants to be for the holidays? When does he get to decide where he wants to sleep at night? When did my life become about parceling out my son, and dreading Saturdays?

 

The good and the bad news of the final (I hope) court date is that we now have everything “set”. Bad news is he sleeps away from me every other weekend. Good news is he stays with me on alternate weekends. Bad news is I have to share holidays. (Have I mentioned I don’t like sharing?) Good news is he has a dad who cares about him and wants to be in his life. Bad news is, now instead of hating Saturdays, I hate every other weekend…