Although there are professional goals I hope to accomplish in 2013 (hello dissertation data collection!), I’m focusing on the personal. Maybe it’s because it’s finals week and thinking about anything professional other than what I already have to do turns my stomach. Maybe.
P.S. I realized when I was writing them that they’re all centered around a theme of growth. I was thinking about making “intentional” my one little word of 2013, but maybe it needs to be grow!
- Grow my hair out and figure out 10 different ways to style it.
- Grow a sourdough starter, keep it alive, and bake with it.
- Grow my muscles and my endurance to run the Carolina Spartan Sprint with Jonathan in March.
I want to take a quick moment of silence to note the fact that, if you peek at the top of this page in my blog subtitle, I just went from “family therapist, wife, student, Christian…” to “family therapist, wife, Christian.” The student is gone! It may be temporary (or permanent, who knows at this point!) but for now it feels good to say I am NOT in school for the first time in like 22 years!
That’s all. :)
I try to resist making New Years Resolutions, because I don’t like to set myself up for failure. I’ve made them over the years, but I don’t think I’ve ever kept one. Last year, I thought I was shooting low enough and also choosing something that is important for my current age & stage in life. I got some good Mary Kay skincare products for Christmas, and my resolution was just to use them on a regular basis! Moisturising morning and night with the special cream. That doesn’t sound so hard! But I failed. Miserably.
This year, I’m going to try something different. Ali Edwards promotes a concept that she calls “One Little Word.” The idea is that you choose one word to be your theme word for the year that captures your feeling about where you are right now in life and what you would like to accomplish or focus on for the next year. So, to sum up: goal setting for me is not such an easy thing to do. One word? I think I can manage that!
In thinking about what my word would be, I reflected on where we are in life right now, as well as all the changes that we have coming this year. In the next 12 months, we will travel to doctoral interviews, make a decision about where we’re moving, I’ll decide whether I’m goign to get a new job or do a doc program, we’ll quit our jobs, move across the country from everyone and everything we’ve ever known, and start building relationships and work/school in a totally new place. That’s a heck of a lot of change. What I don’t want is to just let this change happen. I neither want to just drag along and let it carry me, or to fight kicking and screaming. I want to embrace it. And there’s my one little word. Embrace. I like embrace, because it implies more than acceptance, drifting over into the realm of welcoming.
There are several definitions for embrace, and when I looked them up, they further confirmed my choice of the word. (I’m listing them in order that they make sense as my word, not in the order the dictionary puts them in.)
- To take up willingly or eagerly. Eager acceptance. This was my initial utilization of the word when I chose it for my word. I want to take up the changes that we are coming up to willingly and eagerly, excited about the new experiences we will find in 2011, and taking advantage of whatever opportunities we are able to pursue. This stands true regardless of whether where we end up matches what I think I want. (As if I even know what that is!!)
- An act of holding close with the arms, usually as an expression of affection; a hug. This meaning is especially poignant to me. Part of moving is leaving behind the wonderful friends and family members who live in Oklahoma and Texas, at least for a season. One of my goals is to continue to embrace them (figuratively), even from thousands of miles away, nurturing my current relationships even as new ones are built.
- To include as part of something broader. This meaning was unexpected for me, but really struck a chord. I want our decisions about where to go and what to do, and my decision on whether to continue my education, to be a part of something broader—God’s overarching plan for our lives. I don’t believe that God has one solitary path that we have to try hard to stay on, like a balance beam, for fear that he won’t use us if we drift even an inch from that ordained life course. Instead, I think that God, through his word and his Son, gave us specific guidelines for living our lives. Barring a specific revelation or intervention, I believe that if we stay in those guidelines, and give Him all the glory and honor, He can use us in just about any situation. All that to say—whatever decisions we make, where ever we go, I want it to be glorifying to God and evidence of his presence and provision in our lives.
So there’s my outlook for 2011—not a resolution, but a word. Embrace.
2010 was a big year for us. Jonathan and I each turned 25, and we graduated from our Master’s program! 2011 promises to have a lot in store as well—including the first semester ever in our lives that we haven’t been in school (since we were 5 at least), choosing a path for a doctoral program, moving across the country (they’re all far away!), and beginning the next (and final hopefully) chapter of our education.
But, before I jump feet first into the next year, I want to take some time to reflect on this past year. I definitely don’t advocate living in the past, but I know that I have a tendency to jump over things and not take time to be introspective, so, in an effort to counteract that inclination, I’m borrowing some questions for reflection that one of my favorite bloggers (Tsh from Simple Mom) posted on another wonderful blog, (in)courage.
1. What was the single best thing that happened this past year?
- I’m happy to say that this isn’t an easy question to answer. We had so many blessings—but I think I’m going to go with graduating. Working on our master’s has been a very challenging, consuming task for almost the last three years. The feeling of walking across that stage to accept my diploma, right after one of my best friends and right before my husband, and seeing our faculty at the end of the platform waiting to give us congratulatory hugs, is not one that could be easily rivaled.
2. What was the single most challenging thing that happened?
- The fall semester was very trying. I was simultaneously taking classes, teaching a course, carrying a full and difficult case load, and working full-time at my new job. Most days I feel like I was just putting one foot in front of the other; and yet there were so many joys and good times mixed in as well!!
3. What was an unexpected joy this past year?
- God’s provision of my new job. I wasn’t sure what I would do this spring, or how we would have enough money for the semester (with half the income we had in the past), but my job perfectly fits that and many other needs we have, while also being a wonderful use of my skills and personality. I can honestly say that if I had made a list of all the things I wanted in a job, I can check each of them off with this position. I love my co-workers, it’s interesting and challenging, I’m good at it, the pay is nice, it’s a one-year position… I could go on and on! It has been a greater blessing than I ever expected.
4. What was an unexpected obstacle?
- Over the summer, when we were trying to plan out our next steps after graduation, we contacted several doctoral programs about the possibility of spring admission. At that time, everyone said, no, we can’t, I’m sorry, apply for next fall. Accepting this decision, we made plans accordingly—including accepting the job I went on and on about above. Then, the first week of December, one of the programs called us and said, “Come! We have an offer for you!” I did not expect how conflicted this left us. We prayed about it, sought wise council, and decided that it was best to stay put for now. This was definitely an unexpected challenge.
10. What was your biggest personal change from January to December of this past year?
- I think the biggest change for me personally was in my growth as a therapist. When I look back on where I was at the beginning of 2010, to where I finished, I am amazed at all I was able to accomplish. If you put me in a room with a client, I know what I’m doing, and I actually had many clients successfully complete therapy this year. However, inextricably intertwined with my growth as a therapist has been personal growth. I have a greater understanding of my self—warts and all—and I am more mature than I was a year ago.
14. In what way(s) did you grow in your relationships with others?
- I had so many friendships this year that developed and grew. I am so thankful for Rebekah, Courtney, Misty, and Candice—all of whom I feel so blessed to have been able to share our lives this year. Each of them played an integral role in my ability to get through the most difficult times of this year, and made my life a whole lot more fun as well.
It’s harder to put my finger on specific ways my marriage has grown, although I know it has. I need to put a more specific emphasis on making intentional observations about my marriage in the next year!
15. What was the most enjoyable part of your work (both professionally and at home)?
- The most enjoyable part of my work was, by far, seeing clients successfully complete therapy. I am so honored that each family, couple, or individual I work with allows me to be a part of their journey toward growth and change, and it is immensely fulfilling to know that I had a part in helping someone accomplish goals so close to their heart.
16. What was the most challenging part of your work (both professionally and at home)?
- If the most enjoyable part of my work is seeing clients complete therapy, the most challenging part is definitely being so close to the struggles they face in the process, and hearing the stories of pain they have integrated from the past. I worked with multiple child sexual abuse cases this year, in addition to couples reeling from infidelity and individuals deep in the throes of depression. When I survey the suffering in this world—even the small sample represented in the lives of my clients—it can be almost suffocating. However—I know the One who loosens chains and gives freedom from oppression. I know the Father of Light who will bring restoration in part today and, one day, in full. Faith gives me endurance to bear with my clients’ suffering and hope that change and restoration are possible.
17. What was your single biggest time waster in your life this past year?
- Blog reading! I love all the millions of good ideas that come with the blogs I read. A quick look at my google reader says I’m subscribed to 161 blogs, which I have organized into the following categories: cool stuff (for random things like icanhascheezburger, various apple blogs, and the blog I read about LOST), crafting, food, friends, homemaking & family, photography, scrapbooking, simple living, and spiritual encouragement. I have more project ideas than I could count, much less actually do, and enough recipes saved to feed us for a year at least. But I love being in the know, and I love the inspiration that comes with reading blogs! Now if I could only learn to prioritize to the most appropriate times for reading. :)
18. What was the best way you used your time this past year?
- I think definitely pouring into relationships. I made an effort to be intentional about spending time with those closest to me, through regular lunches or girls nights, and I think it paid off with closer friendships and many good times. In addition to working on being close to and serving my husband!!
19. What was biggest thing you learned this past year?
- I think I learned a lot about examining my responsibility in a situation. If something happens, or someone says something, my tendency has always been to put it back on the person, or to dismiss my role in whatever it was. (I know this is vague and probably confusing—sorry.) This year, though, I have tried to look at the situation, not just objectively, because that can lead to dismissal as well, but objectively and emotionally at the same time, considering what is my part in it, taking responsibility for what’s mine and leaving what’s not behind, and also trying to learn whatever I can from the experience. This is one example of a way that my growth as a therapist has paralleled and influenced my growth as a person (and vice versa). In working with clients, I have had to examine what part of growth is their responsibility, what part is mine, and what control I actually have in the situation. This is especially difficult when the client is experiencing frustration with the process of change or things are even getting worse. It’s not all my fault—but I may have some responsibility in the state of things. At the same time, I won’t carry guilt for what’s not mine. But I will learn to use that experience to help others differently in the future. Maybe that makes a little sense!
20. Create a phrase or statement that describes 2010 for you.
- 2010 was a year of deep personal, professional, and relational growth, filled with blessings and joy that eclipsed the most stress I’ve ever experienced.
Ode to My iPhone: (Tongue in cheek, really!)
iPhone, my iPhone, how I love thee…
Probably more than I should love any electronic device.
But I just can’t get over the way you know me so well.
You keep my organized, you know my favorite songs, and you connect me with everyone important to me.
Before I had you, I longed for your combination of work and play, all there in the palm of my hand, and yet my longing was not satisfied.
But then you came along.
I remember the day we first met.
I drove a long distance to reach you…
And Best Buy’s limited qualities almost came between us.
Yet nothing could keep us apart.
I had to give up my old phone number to get you… But it was worth it.
I’d give up any number of phone numbers for you.
Sometimes, I fear for your life, when I get clumsy and drop you.
I don’t know what I’d do without you.
(probably be sad a bit… but then move on, get a new iphone… you’re surprisingly replaceable)