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A jaunty chapeau, Part 2

September 7, 2017

Lessons Learned

Wow! It has been so long since I have written a blog that I have ached to bring my fingers back to the keyboard for something other than school work.  Do not get me wrong – I LOVE learning, but in the last few months I have perhaps taken on more than I should have. My passion for learning and teaching and my desire to give back in my community have kept me from another true love – writing. Recently, both my dad and a fellow professor friend implored me to tone it down a little on the schoolwork.  Those that know me well know slowing down isn’t always in my vocabulary.

Lesson Learned #1:  Sometimes too much is simply too much.

Okay, true confession time! In the last twelve months I completed 32 credits of work for my doctorate and an additional teaching license.  I am not listing that number to boast about my accomplishments, but rather to ask my friends to hold me accountable. (As in, never let me do that again.) While I like to believe that I am superhuman, one of the first lessons I have learned in my pursuit of the jaunty chapeau has been that there is a too much.  Too much learning took me away from other really great and amazing moments, and no family ever stated that they wanted a stressed out momma functioning on very little sleep.  Maybe if I just focused on one or two things rather than balancing a bazillion hats in my juggling circus, the too much would be kept at bay. But of course, this would have to come after I embraced the ability to say “no” for requests for my time.

Lesson Learned #2: Passion matters! It really does.

Learning has always been an adventure for me, but for some reason this time around it has truly become something intensely personal.  I am relishing every new morsel of knowledge and understanding, dreaming of ways I can pass it on to my students (and in some cases, former students because I still cherish their dreams too). I have been amazed time and again by the feedback I have gotten from my professors, not because I think I am all that amazing, but loving what you do shows.  I have gotten personal notes and letters from my professors thanking me for the dedication I bring to each assignment.  I don’t have much of a poker face so imagine me doing the “What you talking about Willis?” face while pondering the proverbial, Doesn’t everyone do that?  But looking closely at some of the discussions had in these courses, there are definitely people just going through the motions. I cannot imagine electing to do something I didn’t love. Ever. Period.

Lesson Learned #3: Stop pigeonholing yourself!

Anyone who has ever been at an event where I speak knows I always share that I only had two dreams in life – to be a teacher and a momma.  I never really dreamed too far out of that box, pursuing my studies ardently (see a theme here) and waiting for the (I mean THE) right boy to come along for the second one.  I loved math and science and I never ventured far from either one until I realized I had a voice and began writing.  Starting with a simple blog, my new adventure took me down a path I could never imagine – authoring one book with three more in development.  I’m not laying this at my parents’ or teachers’ feet, but I grew up in a day and age where it seems that rather than embracing children as holistic wonderful beings, we were pigeonholed into categories.  We were the smart ones, the bookish ones, the sporty ones, the creative ones, the nerdy ones, the sensitive ones, and rarely were we told that we could be anything more than our assigned categories.  Twice in the past year, I have had professors pull me aside and ask if I had political aspirations.  In both cases, I was incredulous.  If I thought becoming a writer was a stretch, becoming a politician was (and still is) unfathomable to me.  Both professors said that I should consider it (and ironically they came from polar ends of the political spectrum),  but both encouraged me to think it over, cementing their encouragement with “You’d have my vote”.  Wowza! I’m still pretty certain that is not in my future, but the truth is just like writing books, God spoke to me through the encouragement of others that I am so much more than I see myself.

I know that not everyone aspires to earn a terminal degree, but these lessons apply to all our  lives. I am taking some really long hard looks at the definition of too much in my life – too much stuff, too much clutter, too many “yes’s” that should have been “no’s”, too much sugar, too many good choices – and I am reevaluating how I want to claim my days.  But more importantly I am listening closely to God’s whisper on my heart for how he wants me to live those days, less encumbered with the things that pull me away from him and the call he has on my life.  Honestly, graduate school is not for the fainthearted and it is a labor . . . that I am loving.  But seriously if I didn’t love it, I wouldn’t be doing it, no matter how many job opportunities it could bring.  At the end of the day, I don’t for one minute believe that God called us to be miserable.  Oh we may have (actually Jesus said will have) dark times and struggles that he uses despite our efforts sometimes, but when it comes to how we are choosing to spend our time and our energy, being miserable shouldn’t even be a box that can be checked off.  Even at my age, I still see myself as the nerdy little science and math loving girl, but God sees me as so much more.  I believe he has many adventures in store for us, if we would just take a moment to see ourselves through his eyes.  If we did, I think all of our dreams would alter significantly.

For right now, I am going to keep on working hard in pursuit of that jaunty little chapeau and see what other lessons I can learn!

go yotes

Proud University of South Dakota doctoral student. Go Yotes!

Part 1 of this adventure can be found here.



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