Grad School: The 2nd Fall Semester

I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was looking forward to this past semester more than most, even if it was just by a little bit more than usual. I’ve completed some sections of my degree program that I never have to take again, unless I want to. Doctrine isn’t one of my strong subjects, for example.

But it’s behind me now, so it’s time to celebrate (or at least take a well overdue nap).

It wasn’t a stress free semester but I seemed to have a better handle on things than last year. A benefit of having more than a year of study under my belt I guess. There weren’t as many late nights as other semesters, but it wasn’t because my time management skills have improved. In fact I think it’s the opposite.

I think this past summer served as a good training ground for quick thinking and juggling multiple deadlines without getting confused, or at least not so confused that I couldn’t find my way out.

This semester hasn’t been without its share of disappointment either. I thought having a few semesters under my belt would mean I would have a greater sense of community with my classmates since we are such a small group. Instead I’m meeting more new people than continuing to build relationships with people I already know something about. It’s not a big deal, but slightly disappointing none the less.

I’ve also been busier this semester, with non-school or work related activities, than before so maybe that had something to do with it. I think Lucille Ball once said, “If you want something done get a busy person to do it,” maybe there’s some truth in that no matter who said it.

I’m also grateful for the small break I gave myself this year. It was nice to have some personal time. It’s amazing how many books I can get read and TV shows I can watch even with slightly limited resources.

I thought it would take me months to get through the backlog I had going on Netfl!x. It took a few weeks, if that.

I feel like this past semester was a turning point of sorts for my studies and for my life in general. Yes, the spirit of transition is alive and well practically every day. It’s not always pleasant to wake up to but it’s always there so I’m taking it in stride, or at least trying my best to.

I’m driving into the next semester (and preparing for the summer, yes already). Not because I’m 100% ready, but because the opportunity is here, right here right now.

Advertisements

International Day Of Acceptance

IDoA

When I started gaining attention for being an “adult with special needs” (seriously that’s what I’ve been called, more than one should), I spent time reading other blogs, mainly seeing if there were any common myths out there that needed to be debunked (not many worth debunking, for the record).

I noticed that a few people, mostly CP moms (as in moms who have kids who have CP), would mention something called 3E Love. Curiosity got the best of me so I checked out 3E Love for myself.

I bought my 1st wheelchair heart tee shirt (& sweatpants) at my first Abilities Expo. I LOVE the sweatpants. I wonder how I ever traveled without them.

I bought my dad his first shirt before his first Abilities Expo, and did the same for my cousin (it’s become a tradition I guess).

Several people in my life have 3E Love products; my dad even uses a 3E Love sicker to cover up a ding on his car.

I was able to hear Stevie (also known as Annie’s brother) share the story of 3E Love & speak to him personally a few times.

I never had the opportunity to meet Annie but I have a feeling I would’ve liked her based on what I know about her. Our shared skill of using kitchen tools as accessibility aids notwithstanding, I’m pretty sure she was an awesome person to know.

(I can do a lot with grilling tongs myself)

3E Love & the Wheelchair Heart were created by Annie (also known as Stevie’s sister).

wheelieheart

Stevie & his family started the International Day of Acceptance as a way of remembering Annie.

Join in the movement of acceptance.

*A similar version of this post first appeared on an old blog on January 20, 2014

Pumping The Breaks

To avoid an accident, particularly in the winter, you’re supposed to pump the breaks. The idea is that you’ll slow down enough that the car will stop.

A long time ago I was watching a TV show when I learned that “pump the breaks” was also a term used in skydiving, and it’s used in the worst possible situation. If your chute doesn’t open or if the lines get tangled, or maybe both, I honestly can’t remember. You’re supposed to “pump the breaks” in the hope that you’re able to land safely, or at the very least, as safely as possible.

I think about that TV episode whenever I feel overwhelmed or if I’m headed toward some kind of less than ideal outcome.

Do I need to pump the breaks? Is it even a possible option?

Soon I’ll be starting my 3rd year of grad school, and the novelty has worn off. I’ve gone from being surprised that I was accepted to back into academia to wondering when I’ll finish (if ever).

I haven’t taken a break in my course work since the 1st day of my 1st class. I’ve taken as many classes as I’ve been able to, until now.

When I sat down to make my course plan in the fall I had intended to take an intensive class between semesters. But it just didn’t feel right for many reasons.

I took it as a sign that it was time to pump the breaks.

To work on projects I had intentions of working on this summer. To enjoy my family and spend time with friends. To take a break. Then I had a relaxing vacation only to arrive home to fight off sickness.

A confirmation of my decision to pump the breaks.

My laptop died a quick, yet anxious, death within hours of my getting it up and running after unpacking.

Yet another confirmation, because there’s no way I’d be able to complete any classwork of any quality on a tablet.

I had 2 separate follow ups with two different specialist about my nagging hip injury. One of which I’ve been putting off for a year, because I didn’t think anything would come of it so why bother. At least that was the plan.

Both appointments were on the same day with doctors in the same department, although different subspecialties, so it was booked as a “complex appointment.” Although this may not seem like a positive development it’s been something I’ve been trying to organize for years. It’s much nicer to have consulting doctors down the hall from each other or a phone call away rather than waiting for notes to be transcribed or emails to be answered.

Even though there was a level of excitement about finally having the luxury of a complex appointment I was uneasy, emotional, and in a bad funk on the drive up.

Another sign that I needed to pump the breaks now rather than later, when it probably would’ve been too late.

Good news is one doctor has bowed out of consulting on my case since it’s not his area of expertise. However I thoroughly questioned him on why, potential differences, and when if ever he would come back into the picture. I’m not happy that he doesn’t have an answer but it is nice to have one less opinion to take into account.

Not so great news is I’m still in a trial and error phase with potential treatments. However I appreciate her honesty (not to mention her ability to see though my vague answers to her questions).

The timeline for my movement and exercise restrictions was increased. Although I negotiated that down to a shorter period, for my own physical as well as mental state. I think the fact that I’m more inclined to lower impact sports helps. The hope is that more rest will yield more and/or longer lasting benefits.

Even people who have no idea what my day to day life is like are telling me to pump the breaks.

So here I sit fighting off germs, writing away on a tablet while on a steady plan of ice and pain killers, and trying not to feel so restricted.

One Word: 2016

This is my 4rd year choosing one word for the year. Why one word? It’s easier than keeping a list of resolutions & failing to keep them (and then feeling like crap because you didn’t keep them). Last year I had a hard time picking my word (Providence). This year my word came to me early, as in 6 months ago, early.

I learned a lot my 1st summer of grad school and I made a lot of friends. Most of them were further along in the program than I was so I knew that there would come a point, or rather summer, when they weren’t going to be around for wine & cheese nights anymore.

What I didn’t realize was just how soon that was going to be.

That same summer one of the 1st friends I made joked that she was appointing me the new social director. A plan that promptly flew out of the window when word got out (from me) that I would be arriving after everyone else; also there was already at least one wine and cheese night in the books before my arrival was announced.

That’ll show anyone and everyone what happens when I’m appointed to anything (and never do it again).

After everyone left I had the chance to explore campus. Alone.

I took the time to visit the places people had told me about but had no need to visit. I took pictures of all the things

That’s when I found my word and it was only solidified by the last week of on-campus course work, because when people start asking you the same questions you asked other people when you first showed up it’s pretty clear you’ve taken on a new role in your life, whether you want to or not.

Therefore my word for 2016 is:

Transition

I think this year will be easier to tackle if I just call it what it is from the get go, rather than being in denial for an unspecified period of time.

I’ve also been putting things off the irony is, not all of them are hard things, just things I haven’t gotten around to. I’ve been “too busy” among other things. Really I’m just being non-committal about a lot of it. That’s what happens when I approach a transition I’m not ready for, I flop around and make up reasons why I can’t do something right now.

I get excited and look forward to being able to do something, like reaching a personal goal, but as soon as I’ve reached it, or sometimes I just had to come close, I tend to back away. It’s almost like I became so focused on reaching that one goal that creating a new goal and moving on from the achieved goal creates a greater fear than never being able to reach a goal in itself.

This will be my year of transition, and as exciting as it is it’s just as daunting.

Is there anything you do to help yourself deal with or go through transitions?