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.

Affirmation

The other day, I was buying coffee at the bookstore on my campus. A student was next to me, checking out the refrigerated lunches. He turned and saw me, then said, “Ardith? Hey! You’re my advisor!” I recognized him, and asked him how he was doing. He responded, “I’m doing well, but my time at Clark is done. I just got accepted to Eastern Washington.”

To which I simply raised my hand, and we high-fived.

Yeah, I like what I do.

Catching My Breath

What a whirlwind week. (Hello, alliteration.)

First thing’s first, since my last Wednesday post, here’s what I’ve done:

Thursday, 8/9/12
Run – Couch to 5k: Week 2, Run 1

Friday, 8/10/12
80’S NIGHT! DANCING! And walking 8 blocks in stilettos.

Saturday, 8/11/12
Lots of walking at the Alberta Street Fair (to counter delicious treats at the Garlic Festival and the Street Fair)

Sunday, 8/12/12
TurboFire
Low HIIT 20 Routine

Tuesday, 8/14/12
Run/Walk: Couch to 5K – Week 2, Run 2 (a little bit behind, but happy to still be working through the routine and cross-training)

I’m feeling more energetic (not to be confused with “awake”), and I’ve noticed that some of my work skirts even fit better. I can kind of see my abs again, but they’re still hiding out under the “winter layer” I packed on last year.

I bought a CrossFit discount coupon for six classes. With my schedule, it looks like I’ll at least have a month and a half of Saturday morning work-outs planned out. While this particular box is far from my home, it will hopefully be the catalyst I need while I still work to save enough money for my neighborhood gym/box.

I missed my Friday post, but that’s because it was a particularly fun day. I took a nap after work, then dressed up to go dancing at 80s Night. High heels, leg warmers, a stretchy little skirt, and a cute top were my weapon of choice. I decided to take public transit, though, and the one thing I hate about summer is getting dressed up and having to go outside looking like a street walker. Night club and related clothes just don’t translate into broad daylight or even twilight.

And because I didn’t want to wait half an hour at a sketchy bus stop for my second bus, I actually decided to walk the remaining 8 blocks in the aforementioned outfit. Again, sunlight, clubbing-esque outfit, and city sidewalks means I got some very odd looks, but all was well once I reached the Crystal Ballroom and met up with friends.

The rest of the weekend was full of fun, from the North Plains Garlic Festival and the Alberta Street Fair. I had the chance to meet some of Snugz’s friends, and he got to meet several of mine. There was even swimming later on!

The mindful part of this week comes from practicing balance in this new professional life. I’m easing into the routine of scheduling time for friends and nurturing a new relationship, as well as being more intentional about scheduling time for fitness and rest. This time around, as opposed to 2008/2009, I am ready to be practicing this type of intentional life. I had the chance to re-visit my spontaneous college lifestyle now and then in grad school, and the 2011 summer really gave me the chance to start making the transition from “college kid” to “young professional,” more so than I did several years ago.

It feels good to be putting into practice the lessons I learned.

Whoa. WHAT?

Apparently, according to a stranger on the interwebz, the reason people choose not to have children is because they’re too concerned with “their own selfish ambitions.”

I get it. You’re pissed that breast-feeding in public is awkward when it’s really just a natural thing. Don’t blame the child-free, though. Think about everything we’ve been taught since we were kids about breasts (or boobies. Whatever.).

See, as a child-free and as-of-yet-undecided young woman (because I’m sooooo selfish–more on that later), here’s what I know. My chest stays clothed, and even in “normal” situations–like say, showering–being exposed is still kind of weird. I’ve been socialized to think that covering up my “no-no” areas is normal, and not doing so, IS WEIRD. Yell at me all you want, but it’s going to take a lot more conditioning to shift that way of thinking.

Now, multiply that seemingly odd and petty weird feeling by, like, several million people. And throw in some variables for life experience. Were any of us taught that breast-feeding in public is normal and should be acknowledged as such in sex ed classes? (If your teacher did, props to him or her!) There’s a social factor involved here, and unless we change the baseline dialogue, we’re going to be having this dumb fight for a long time. I’m on the side of breast-feeding whenever and wherever, and I’m also on the side of boosting maternity leave benefits.

I’m also on the side of choosing to not have children of your own if that’s not what you want to do.

It doesn’t mean I’m heartless or selfish; what it means is I understand where my priorities are right now. Right now, those priorities are to learn, to travel, to help others, and to explore friendships and community. It doesn’t mean I absolutely loathe children nor that I cast aside the idea of ever fitting “being a mother” into my life. It’s just that right now, I don’t see how it fits into the picture. Am I really that awful of a human being for choosing to go overseas without having to figure out how to carry a baby on one arm and fight jet lag at the infant-level? What if what I learn and write about and share directly influences what your child decides to do with his or her life? And can you really be that angry at someone who chooses to delay having children in order to pursue advanced degrees in social sciences and humanities with the intention to give back and enrich communities? We all have different purposes and roles, and maybe being a parent isn’t for everyone. (Granted, I’m really, really glad my mom and dad saw parenting as one of their roles, and maybe I’m kind of afraid I won’t be as good as them.)

I know it’s absurd to those of you who have kids. I know it’s even strange to those whowant kids. And I know my momma thinks it’s a little bit odd that a 26-year-old woman isn’t entertaining the idea of a family as a priority.

However, if my “selfish ambitions” mean that I understand myself as an individual and my role in the global community, that I understand who I want to partner with in order to even consider beginning a family, and that I understand the implications of bringing yet another human being (albeit probably a really cute and talented human being) into the world… then I don’t want to live on this planet anymore.

I’ll support you in your cause and the effort to shift our cultural perspective if you’ll promise to give a little bit and shift on another cultural perspective, okay?

Sometimes, I feel like I’m being interrogated by emotionless creatures when I say, “I’m not sure if I’m going to have kids.”

Here’s Lookin at You, Kid

image

I have one month left inamy temporary role as a part-time commuter grad student. I’m getting into the swing of a job in which my actions matter and the knowledge I bring to the table is valued.

The road here was full of some crazy twists and turns (to paraphrase tonight’s HIMYM). In a way, it all makes sense. (Again, HIMYM.)

(Oh, and… don’t worry–I was off the clock when I snapped this self-portrait.)

Cautioner

Life is by far not perfect, but incredible things have happened over the past few months.

I’ll be bold and say, at the very least, the uncertainty and the chases in my journey are more exciting than “happily ever after.”

The Working World, Version 2.0

Today concluded my first (almost) full week back in the working world. I did have Tuesday off, but it was by no means a break, since I had to drive at least an hour and a half to get to my day of classes. I’m currently tucked up in a blanket and have been watching How I Met Your Mother and Doctor Who for the past couple of hours, along with reading Mockingjay. Now, while I may seem rather boring and bland for a Friday night, I think it’s perfectly acceptable to veg out since I’ll be heading up to Seattle in the morning for a friend’s birthday. (And heading down to Los Angeles next weekend.)

In regards to the new job, though, things are progressing. I am in training, which means I have been reading lots of documents, running here and there on campus to complete tasks, working through modules, and shadowing fellow advisors. It means that I have been orienting myself to the culture of my new college, learning about the student population through observation and interaction, and looking at how theory is implemented into practice. For example, I was thrilled to discover that my department has an advising syllabus; it just so happens that my advising course at OSU is covering advising syllabi, so to see that in action–and at my place of employment–was nerdily exciting. For those unfamiliar with advising syllabi, the documents are essentially informational documents that allow advisors to communicate a department’s mission and the goals and outcomes students should obtain out of the advising process over time. Learning outcomes, as well as student responsibilities, make up a good portion of the document, communicating that students have responsibility in making decisions that affect their college career. (In other words, we advise, but students ultimately act and make their own choices.)

I have already seen a wide range of advisor-advisee interactions, with students coming in for varied reasons. There are students who have been out of school for years looking to pursue a particular degree. There are students trying to enroll in specific classes to satisfy requirements towards their Bachelor’s degrees (and one who even stated that it was because the course offering in a particular subject was stronger at my institution). There are students who are lost and need guidance, and others who come in to get the nod of approval on a self-designed education plan.

And that’s just the start of it. (And it’s only been a week.)

Of course, being in a new setting and learning how to do my job can be intimidating, but the atmosphere in my workplace is extraordinary. It is an area that has undergone many significant changes, and these changes have positively affected the effectiveness and efficiency of how things are run. It came from strong leadership and the understanding that change happens over time, not all at once, and the rolling out of certain elements, one piece at a time, helped the department move towards its goal of better serving students in advising.

The best part is–the department is still consciously working towards more improvements. There is not a hint of, “Good job! Now let’s call it good,” to be found. That is so important to me, a new professional, because I will not quit trying to improve my well-being and my own self, and to find myself somewhere where that is reflected externally is very reassuring.

There will be challenges ahead, and I acknowledge that I will make mistakes in my new role. But again, and like always, I am committed to continuing the learning process for myself and my students.