The Next 30 Days

It’s “crunch” time. It’s almost the end of the semester. Four plus exams, a case study, and two Practicals left in less than 20 days… only 8 days of actual classes. Four finals followed immediately by mediation with the ex, then starting rotations, then my daughter gets married… less than 30 days from today. My friend, Time, must feel the need to push me forward because this Time is coming so quickly now that I keep thinking I’m forgetting to do something. From one minute to the next I have no idea what I am doing. I’m OK for a bit if I just sit and ignore everything and concentrate on only one thing, but then I get sidetracked because of something I forgot.

I have choices still, I have to remind myself that I do still get to choose. I get to choose whether I will “freak out” and yell at my kids while they run around like wild animals in the house while I study. Or I could take a deep breath, send them outside, and refocus. I have the choice whether I let myself feel the overwhelm that is trying to set in or I can notice that it’s there and stop and plan a way to go forward. Everything I do is a choice.

Problem is is that some of these choices were made earlier when I felt like I had more time. Habits are hard to change. I fill my calendar from morning to night, from Sunday to Saturday and fail to schedule time for me in. This habit has got to change. Sure, I know I’ll be able to make it through the next 30 days. I know I will still be breathing when it’s done, aside from an act of God, these next 30 days will pass. At the end I will have passed my classes, successfully mediated with my ex, married off my daughter to a great guy and be in the midst of my rotations. This will all happen. I believe it. I have faith that these next days will pass and I will survive it. I might even be better for it.

In the meantime, though, how do I go through these days with grace. How do I keep a loving tone in my voice and a caring look on my face? How do I be the person I want to be while I travel through this stressful season? These are real questions. I am definitely open for suggestions.

I know I will force myself to sit and write so I don’t forget this part of my life, and so I can vent. I know I will put myself to bed with things left undone. I know I will continue to rise in the morning. What do I need to do to keep myself sane? More of what I already do but I have to be deliberate. I have to deliberately get up and drink a cup of tea and read before I start my day. I have to deliberately take myself outside and exercise in the fresh air. I have to deliberately make myself go out with friends despite my exams. I have to remember to live my life around and through the next 30 days.

There are three things I know that help me a lot. Writing, reading and eating on time. Sleep is also a huge factor on the way I feel. If I am sleep deprived I tend toward being depressed. If I am hungry, I tend toward overwhelm. Writing helps me do brain dumps and reading helps me think on different things.

Maybe I’ll learn not to schedule everything at once someday. That would be nice, free Time.

So here’s to the next 30 days!

thanks for reading,

me

Stressing

What is stress?  How can I beat it?  Or can I make it work for me?  No one in their right mind would argue with me on whether I live a stressful life or not.  My life is full of the top reasons for stress out there.  Recent divorce – check, recent death in the family – check, doctorate level classes – check, upcoming wedding (my daughter, not me) – check, financial issues – check, and numerous others.

So why am I still standing?  Still smiling?  Still out there trying to help others?  Sometimes I don’t know.  I know I get statements frequently such as “I could never do what you do.” Or “I don’t have the time to do that.”  Or “You are so much better at that than I am.”…

Too often I do make it look easy.  I keep my worries to myself.  I say “I’m fine.”  I offer to help them.  But when I do these things they don’t know my heart.  They don’t understand that given the choices, I refuse to go any way but forward.  Yes, I could have stayed with my ex.  Yes, I could have given up.  Yes, I could have quit.  Yes I could have decided to not change my life.

I did not do that though.  For me, I’ve had this extraordinary hunger to live.  I thank God every evening for all the things that I have: my kids, my health, my house… I thank Him that my roof doesn’t leak anymore.  I thank Him for giving me shelter from the cold, and from the storms.  I thank Him that I have shoes that fit and clothes that keep me warm.  I even thanked Him for giving my daughter lice… she laughed when I did that. She didn’t understand why.  Why be thankful for lice?  Several reasons, now I understand what it’s like to use the chemicals, to clean everything, to pick through every piece of hair on every child’s head.  I have an amazing understanding of something I only barely knew about before.  I told her how Corrrie Ten Boom, in “The Hiding Place”, thanked God for giving her lice while she was in the concentration camps.  Because of her lice and of those others in her sleeping area, they were no longer targeted for being raped and beaten.  The guards wanted nothing to do with them for fear of contracting it themselves.  In addition, as I am soon to be finishing my doctorate in pharmacy, I’ll be much better at helping others who need it.

I guess “my secret” to loving my life, regardless of the stress that is in it, is that I can ALWAYS find something to be thankful for.  But, make no mistake, it is NOT easy.  I may have made these last few years look easy but they were not.  I had two choices 1- go forward, or 2 – quit in some way.  Quitting did not give me power and so I always chose to move forward.  Sometimes, actually often, it meant walking through the fire to get to the other side… or remembering “the boulder is the path”.  Every moment of the day I have a choice.  I can choose to let things bring me down or I can choose to keep on smiling and keep on trucking.  Moving forward sometimes brings me to a place where I have to stop and feel my feelings.  I have to let myself sit and sob and rest.  These moments happen but they let me be authentic with myself.  Much of this time has been learning to be with me again, learning to love myself.

I hope that you are in a place where you can also be just you and love who you are,

thanks for reading,

me

Third year pharmacy

School starts tomorrow.  What can I do to keep ahead of the game and pass my classes without stressing out too much? Every year I start out with the intention of doing my best in all of my classes and the imagined ability to do just as well in all parts of my life.  I think it’s time to face reality.  My life is full and it’s not just school.  I have four amazing kids,  2 of which are adults.  I’m a single mom. I have a part time job. I’m in pharmacy school full time.  I’m the last stop for all of the responsibilities of the house,  the bills,  the kids’ school,  the appointments etc.  My life is full.  I go to church,  volunteer with scouts,  do in home parties and study.  Yup.  It’s crazy to think I can be my best in all that surrounds me.  Yet for some reason I thought that that was what I was supposed to be and anything less meant that I was a failure.  I kind of took it all personal.  I’ve been holding myself to an impossible standard that no one can achieve.

So?  What could I do differently this school year to live the amazing life I have in front of me?  I’m thinking I could start with giving myself a break.  Write myself into my own calendar so that I really do take time for myself.  I could learn that I don’t need perfection.  I could accept things as good enough.

I have measured myself by my grades and at the same time known that grades are only a small indicator of knowledge.  I have expected my relationships with my kids to go unharmed, by magic.  It doesn’t work that way.

So how do I find the right balance for me? For my family? For school? Work? Church? Scouts? Exercising?  What is my reason,  my why for what I do?  My kids,  always my kids; the creatures that God saw me sufficient to grow and to care for, even knowing my imperfections perfectly.  He created children in my own womb.  I am humbled by the tasks he has given me.

If my why is based on my children then why have I misplaced my measurement on my grades?  Grades are an important part of my graduating, for sure, but they are not the only thing required for my living.  Life,  my life?  I am building an amazing life for myself and my kids.  If I fail to fill myself up,  to rejuvenate myself, then I am merely trying to pour water from a dry cup.  I am no use to anyone, especially my kids. I’ve lived so long putting myself last only to find myself completely spent,  tired,  grouchy,  and depressed.  I’m learning that taking care of myself is required for taking care of my kids.  I’m also learning that I am worth taking care of just because I am,  kids or no kids.  I am worth it.  I deserve to take a break,  every single day.  I deserve to be treated well and I deserve to be loved.  If God sees me fit enough for Him to love then I am definitely worth it.

And so are you.  Thanks for reading.

me 

Respect

Respect. Is it earned? learned? Is it something you show?  What is respect?  There’s different levels of respect.  There’s respect for the position that the person holds, like professor or doctor or president.  Then there’s respect for the person regardless of the position.  This is what I’m speaking to today.  Respect for another because that person is a person just like me with his or her own struggles in life.  Recently I learned a new thing for respect.  This one is the respect you give a person because they are a person regardless of the whether you respect their position… in other words, this is giving respect to someone who’s position you may disagree with or dislike.  A certain professor of mine gets respect from his students because of his title and his ability to flunk them… this respect is because he holds a power over his students that they understand.  But what if you choose to respect this man because of his humanity rather than his title?  What happens then?  What if you start treating your superiors with a common decency that isn’t based on fear?  What happens then?  When you realize that your professor is a human just like you, with pain, happiness, laughter, kids, parents, pets, bills… what if you remember that it’s his job to make sure you learn?  What then?  Then, the respect you have for him is changed.  Instead of fearing flunking because he has the ability to flunk you, you fear flunking because you have the ability to disappoint him.  You have the ability to ruin his day.  You have the ability to fail yourself.  You see?  He knows that you have the ability to pass and he knows that if he can get you to see that, that you will.  Every time someone doesn’t pass it shoots him like a personal failure, a failure of him teaching you what you really need to know.   If you begin to respect him for a person, a real person, then the power he has over you is changed.  Instead of him “forcing” you to learn, you want to learn.  Instead of him “giving you a bad grade”, you’ve earned what you deserve.  The fault of the grade bounces off of him and squarely back where it belongs, on you.  Respecting another person forces you to face yourself.  Facing yourself then helps you to realize that there’s one more person in the picture, a person in the mirror, that deserves your respect too. You.

thanks for reading,

me

Grad School 101

Grad School 101 – how to go back to school after having been away from school for 17 years… One of the first things I discovered was that I had/have no idea how to do an interview. I went to my interview wearing beige pants and an orange blouse, my hair was down and curled, and I had heels on. I looked really good, BUT, I was not professional looking… not interview style anyway. I should have worn a black ladies suit with my hair back in a braid. I honestly think that would be exactly what I needed to get into the professional program I was interested in. That and the fact that my interviewers were all peers to me and so I felt WAY too relaxed and treated them as equals instead of people who could keep me from achieving my dreams. Lesson learned, now I’m in a masters program and not a professional program. I will be reapplying for next fall’s program after having a year of masters work under my belt.

I did, thankfully, get into school though. It’s been about a month since I started and I am still the oldest student that I have met. Everyone of my classmates is about half my age. They are smart, hard-working young men and women. I really enjoy working with them. I’m not the smartest in my classes, and I often speak up when I don’t understand something. In one class I frequently suggest the “wrong” answers in discussions; but, because I am willing to stick my neck out, I am learning. I can actually feel myself learning. It’s only been a month and I have noticed a significant difference in my ability to understand scientific papers, of which I have to read a lot. My vocabulary has expanded to include words I’ve never used before but that are extremely important to the field I am exploring.

I’ve always imagined a brain as a sort of sponge, especially in little kids who seem to remember every detail of everything that interests them. The key is that it interests them. My classes are interesting to me. Most of them. The one that is the least interesting is the one in which I have the least retention. I’m trying to trick myself into being interested in it so that I remember more of it. My memory does seem to be improving. It’s like I can feel the neurons growing and reaching and making my brain more dense with information….(or is that the feeling of having had my head in a book too long?) Good night folks!

And as always,
Thanks for reading!

me