In the In-Between

I am having some blogger’s block currently. I am processing a lot at work and in my head. My heart is being annoying and emotional, as one can easily discern from latest blog posts. And I’m feeling like this might be another obnoxious SAD season, so bring on the light boxes and CrossFit.

In all actuality, I have had some revelations that must be shared with only a certain few. And I have a personal project that I am starting the very baby beginning stages of. These things are going to take up some time, but I hope to share as much as I can.

I am done traveling for awhile, and I get to spend this coming weekend in town. However, I will be busy–hitting the gym, updating my license, running errands. It will be nice, though, to get caught up. I need it so badly.

Tonight, I spent with a bunch of women from my Seattle CrossFit gym. It was a good chance to get to know folks a bit more, and there are some very wonderful and talented people at this box. I love any opportunity to share stories and laugh and, of course, drink a bit of wine (and a little whiskey a bit later!). I know these folks will continue to push me forward, to tackle my weaknesses, and continue to grow.

My eyes are heavy now; it’s time to sleep.

The Week In

I’m currently sitting at my dining table, drinking what might possibly be the best hot chocolate I’ve ever made. Coconut milk, raw honey, cocoa powder, and a dash of cinnamon all together in one warming concoction.

I’m also currently sitting at my dining table in my new rental in Seattle, WA. I am Ardith Laverne, the young woman who is from many cities in the Pacific Northwest, but most recently from Portland, Oregon, which I left to move back to Seattle.

I knew when I made the decision to move back to Seattle that it would be tough. There are many things in Portland that I love. However, I also know that Seattle is where I need to continue my professional development, as well as the place where I can round out the remaining years in my twenties.

Someone at the gym tonight asked me if I split my time between the two cities after I explained my situation. I thought about it only for a second or two, and realized that yes, I do. Portland and Seattle are both home to me. It’s kind of difficult logistically, although it really isn’t that difficult. After all, on a map, the two cities are only inches apart.

I think roots are going to have to wait. There are so many different factors that can come into play, and I’m feeling like a leaf in the wind instead of a tree. I think a big part of it will be how this whole partnering business goes, so I remain open-minded to lots of different scenarios. In the meantime, all I have to worry about is myself, and anything can happen. (Exhibit A: moving back to Seattle.)

What I’m getting at–just over a week into my new situation and routine–is that I’m staring down the barrel of uncertainty again, but this time, it feels good. When I started my job search in the Seattle area, I asked for friends to think good thoughts. One friend wrote her thoughts out and shared them with me; she sent a message to the universe and said, “Only let this move happen if it is for the highest good.” In other words, let any move be only because the right things have aligned.

As a storyteller, I’m curious to know how this all turns out so that I can look back and turn it into narration. I want to retell the lessons learned, and I want to see how I learn to navigate my relationships in Seattle, Portland, and even my hometown. I want to explore my new city because it’s changed and I’ve changed since the last time I lived here.

But most of all, I’m hoping that this new chapter defies convention in many ways. I don’t like “normal plans,” and I have high hopes for the next few years. I have high hopes of finding beauty in strength, and finding out nothing is impossible, and that second-guessing myself never did me any good.

And on a related note, I PR’d my front squat tonight. 125lbs. (for 3 reps!). That’s my own body weight. And I got there by listening to those three key themes I just listed in the above paragraph.

If believing in those mantras works for CrossFit, well, I think it’ll work out just fine in life.

 

Cheers to the unknown.

Ed.M.

Well, folks, that’s it.

I am Ardith L. Feroglia, Ed.M.

I spent the weekend in Corvallis, celebrating with family, friends, and fellow graduates.The theme of the weekend was not just accomplishment, but love and joy and inspiration.

Our faculty speakers, Mamta and Jeff, relayed stories of small moments in time that made lasting impacts. All of us lead lives like that, with the most inconsequential actions leading to greater change and effect. How different things would have been, for example, if I had delayed pursuing grad school by even one year. Later, my good friend, Steven, addressed the cohort as our class speaker, reminding us that although we will be inevitably separated by distance, we–the CSSA Class of 2012–will carry lasting memories of each other. And Dr. Larry Roper–just Larry to us–gave an impromptu send-off, telling us he knew the profession “would be cared for.” It meant a lot to hear these words and stories from people I admire and have the privilege of working with. They are fantastic reminders of why this field has called me to do my best work.

First Lady Michelle Obama addressed the entire graduating class the next day, a very sunny and slightly windy Sunday. She spoke of leading a rich life, a life in which success is defined on our terms–not the ideas of others or the amount of zeroes before the decimal on our paycheck. She spoke of cherishing family and friends, and she spoke of filling one’s home not with possessions, but with love. Hearing the First Lady relay her story of humble beginnings and giving up the lucrative law firm job to help people again reminded me that what I do is for the greater good. I want to change the world by positively affecting others and by challenging myself to seek out my passions, and to do so all with compassion. I am so much more than just the goofy girl with the big smile; I am love, and I am hope.

I have been absolutely blessed these past few years, despite the hardships I faced. I could not have made it to where I am today without all the great people who were there for me along the way; you know who you are.

And to my CSSA classmates, good luck in your future endeavors. I cannot wait to see what we all do.

This Song is Ending

In one week, I will participate in the commencement exercises at Oregon State University. I anticipate this week seeming quite long, as nearly everyone else in the galaxy seems to have already graduated, with my alma mater, Western Washington, holding their graduation ceremonies today. Regardless, the next seven or so days will pass, and–if all goes correctly–I will be a Master.

What does the end of graduate school mean? It certainly won’t mean reclaiming my life. The life I led before entering graduate school was fine, at times, but I hope that this second attempt at the real world holds many more good things.

It’s been beneficial to start my professional career as my graduate career winds down. Things are fresh, and I’ve had a quarter full of check-ins with my classmates and new stories to share. Theories click while I’m behind my desk, and I remain more intentional about executing personal balance–even if that means choosing personal care over having fun. Case in point, I had to make the choice to stay home today because I ended up uncharacteristically unwell with stomach cramps all last night–and I was supposed to go to the Seattle area for a wedding. Huge bummer, but if it means that I’ll be 90% better tomorrow, and 100% during the week, I suppose it’s worth it. (That said, I really need to have a doctor look me over. Miserable digestive system, I tell ya.)

Speaking of doctors, I am officially obsessed with Doctor Who. I. Love. This. Show. It’s probably because it’s so fantastical, taking me across the universe(s) at the push of a button. It’s simultaneously removed from reality yet so close to reality with its portrayal of relationships and the dilemmas that come along with such (that’s really boiling things down). Fair warning, guys: I’m a Whovian now, and there’s no going back.

And speaking of guys, I think I’ll be ready–for reals–to date again once grad school is done. Yes, it’s been a thought in the back of my head for awhile now, but it’s something that I am nearly ready to navigate again. I’ve gone through some miserable lows in the past two years, and I have done so much reflecting and processing–and admitting of my own errors–over that period in time that I believe the slate has been wiped clean. I’m hoping that in this coming span of time, any potential partners are met with the best of me, the strong, spontaneous, driven self I have known (yet not always exhibited) all my life.

With this ending comes a sense of renewal. There also comes a need to be thankful for all that has happened, good and bad. All of this has gotten me to this point in time.

Hats off to you, fellow graduates. Let’s go out there and change the world because the world’s changed us–for the better, I like to think.

You Are at Home Within Yourself

Isn’t it fun to learn about all the things you didn’t know about? That’s how work is going for me, but having the challenge is making this job that much more interesting. (And according to my values sheet I created yesterday, “Intellectual Challenge” is in my top ten values. “Happy Hour” is #11, which loops back to “Fun/Happiness” as my #1.)

On another note, I had the most fabulous weekend in Seattle and Bellingham this past weekend. Our little trio of Lady Viks was quite the hit throughout the ‘Ham. We paid a visit to my undergrad thesis advisor at her retirement party, a new oyster bar, Temple Bar’s all-day happy hour, Honey Moon (where we decided it was a good idea to talk about losing pets, which then resulted in three young ladies in their mid-twenties crying and laughing all at one–yes, that was us), and The Beaver Inn in its new location. The Beav was always my favorite dive, and I was happy to see my favorite barkeeps still at work.

I have been consciously trying to enact balance into my new chapter. I have been practicing yoga several times a week, both at home and at a wonderful yoga studio just up the road. I have been reading for fun. And, oh man, have I ever been indulging in Doctor Who. I have been exploring the city and being a bit more proactive in inviting people to come join me on random adventures. It’s hard getting back into the groove of penciling hang-outs into my “real world schedule,” but it is so worth it.

It’s good to connect with myself before making outside connections. Knowing that I look inward first before releasing my love and energy outwards has made all the difference in practicing balance.

And with that, I need to unpack my room and shuffle some things around. Turns out, for all the growth I’ve experienced in the past few years, I’m still not very good at unpacking in a timely manner.

The Newbie

#SAchat focused on how to make new staff members feel welcome at their jobs this week. Since I was working at my new job during the chat, I chimed in with my own thoughts just a few times. One question addressed what has been done to make you feel welcome as a new member. With 140 characters and a crunch for time, I mentioned the call I got from my director and the training scavenger hunt I did. A few people said they would feel overwhelmed by the process, but I tried to hastily explain, “No, no, no! It was perfect for my new college setting! And I loved it! Ack!” given the smaller feel of the community college and the willingness of other employees to converse with the brand-new employee.

And really, it’s been much, much more than those few things that have helped me begin to integrate into my new setting.

Even before I started, I was welcomed via phone by not just my supervisor, but also our director. When I arrived, my name was already on the entrance of my space, with little to indicate that I was stepping into a space that used to belong to someone else. It was my work space from the start.

My department took me to lunch the first day.

Human Resources gave me a training binder that not only required me to complete modules and worksheets, but to talk to people and to explore my new setting.

I was even invited to attend trivia night at the end of my first week.

I am included in campus events, and I shadow my colleagues during advising sessions and presentations. I have regular meetings with my supervisor. We close emails with smiley faces now and then. I am introduced at meetings, and people are genuinely interested in the academic and professional experience I already have.

This is a two-year institution that is proud of where it has come from, and it has set many strong goals for itself due to the foresight of its administration. This is an institution that doesn’t just display its Mission Statement for show; I see the commitment to enriching students’ lives and enriching the community. And I see that by integrating new members by orienting them to not just their jobs, but the campus culture.

Of course, how each department and institution approaches welcoming people will differ. And that’s good! I like exploring and independent projects, but that would have been nightmareish on a bigger campus. I could not imagine replicating all the orientation activities I did at Oregon State University or even smaller Western Washington University. That would have resulted in something scary–although probably very humorous in hindsight.

In essence, the trick to integrating new staffers seems to center around not just job processes, but the social and cultural aspect. And why wouldn’t it–we’re all social and cultural beings. (Don’t shake your head, Reclusive Gamer!)

As Week 3 of the new job winds down, I am settling happily into my penguin den. Is that what penguins live in?

Transient

Sometimes it seems as if life is a “Connect the Dots” picture, with checkpoints and milestones along the way.

Sometimes it also seems as if the fact that pathways connect the docs gets lost in the fold.

It’s that loss that drove me crazy in 2008. It was the expectation that I needed to be at Point A, Point B, and so forth at a certain time. You all know that about me, though.

The thing is–do you know that about yourself? Or are you going to wake up in twenty years and feel utterly stuck?

There is not enough emphasis in learning from the in-between. I cannot help but think about how much change could come about if, for example, more American youth were supported in taking a gap year. I know, I know–it screams of privilege at first glance. (We certainly would not want this to happen.)

But think about it for a second. What if more of us had taken a service year between high school and college? What if we had even taken a year just to work? What if we built in a year to humble ourselves before leaping into college? Do you think it could alleviate that “stumbling out of the gate” feeling that I found and others have experienced?

Even more so, what if more of us had taken the route of one of my incredibly intelligent friends, working for several years while taking some classes here and there to narrow down his field of interest? He has gone from science and medicine to photography and film and creation–and I must say, he is finding some outstanding opportunities, probably due to a combination of growth, experience, and wisdom. And yes, some of the experience is outside of his direct career field, but it is transferable.

What if it was encouraged… no, acceptable… to take one’s time. (Completion Agenda advocates are rolling their eyes, but hang on a second.) I see it in my new job. I see students who slow down so that they can succeed by devoting time to fewer classes, and a lot of them are, by no means, in privileged positions to dawdle. No, instead they are deliberate in their progression, and they are understanding of who they are and their unique circumstances.

If we let people take time to live their lives and explore who they are and find ways to contribute to the global community instead of implying, “When you’re done with high schoolit’s time to decide on a career path (which includes the perfect major, if you go to college)! And make sure to get done in a pre-determined time frame because otherwise… fail!” maybe students will be more deliberate in their choices of school and major and path. Maybe young people will stop berating themselves for not having it “all figured out” by their mid-twenties.

I am not advocating racking up a ton of student debt, though, by switching programs and majors and staying in college for a gajillion years. What I mean is, perhaps if someone is having trouble in finding that set path–maybe they need time away from the stress of searching. I certainly should have taken some time off before locking into a pre-music program; it could have saved me the trouble of panicking when I realized I needed to be doing something with people. Programs that encourage active exploration of interests, too, are so useful.

But what if those were available before college on a wider scale? I don’t have the answers.

What I do believe is as follows. When you are given the chance to forge your own path, you learn much more about yourself than when you follow a trail that was blazed by someone who did not know you or your life’s story. It won’t be easy, by no means, but if you can live life between the dots and take time to be aware of what that looks like, I would imagine your discoveries will be ten times more amazing that if you rush to the next checkpoint.

Move through transitions. Take time to explore. Spend time with yourself. Find the little things–like a tiny yoga studio or a nearby park or whatever moves you–and enjoy them. Discover your talents. Consider your passions.

I can’t imagine that Newly-Graduate Ardith in 2008 would be happy if she had ended up where she thought she “should” have been.

But I do know that About-to-Graduate Ardith in 2012 is ready to try this “real world” thing one more time, with deliberate and intentional baby steps, day by day.