Thursday, December 1, 2011

Radvent Day 1: Challenging

This year I'm taking Princess Lasertron's Radvent Challenge to blog about a different subject every day in December. I want to be honest with myself because I could really use some soul searching right now, so I'm easing into it by writing free form in my journal and then summarizing over here. Every day I'll put up her graphic with the topic and a picture of my own. Maybe this will even get me out of the house taking pictures and looking for inspiration.

Today's topic pretty much kicked me in the face. It forced me to write about unemployment. There's no doubt that's my biggest challenge at the moment, and it comes with lots of little micro-challenges. Financially, things are just about impossible right now. I have ups and downs dealing with it but, overall, morale is low around these parts. Even when I'm up, the rest of the house is usually down about my not having a job. I live with two retired people who come from a time when the economy and workforce just worked differently, and a kid who shouldn't have to understand what it's like to deal with these grownup things. It's just me in this little boat, sailing through the storm... with one ore... trying to stuff the holes in the bottom with my dignity...

So, gratitude. I've learned that gratitude and happiness go hand in hand. I want to stay humble and grateful. Out of a long, long period of unemployment, underemployment and job-to-job came the wild notion to move to New York and pursue something completely new that I was genuinely passionate about. It changed me, my life and my future for the better. I don't have a job to show for it yet but it gives me hope that out of this will come the product of my hard work. I was held back a few years ago from things I really thought I wanted and it helped me find my way into what I really want, love and need. The eternal optimist in me believes that that's happening again.

As for reflection... I have a tendency to put challenges I've overcome behind me and not look at them again, or not look at them frequently enough. I'm glad to stop and reflect on my big challenge of 2011: my thesis. I did it. It put a few pounds on my body and wrinkles in my forehead, but I did it. There was a point when I truly didn't think that I could, and I guess I'm only just now as I type this realizing what it means that I did it, did it on time and did a good job on it, despite having no support from my professor and going through some really challenging things in my personal life. I'm grateful to my friend/professor, Moya, who wasn't getting paid to help me but did anyway, and gave me the exact encouraging words I needed to crawl out of my hole of despair and start writing again. I'm grateful to my best friend who never asked anything of me during that time, but stepped up to be there for me to lean on, showing me that he could actually make a pretty kickass husband. I am forever grateful to the six other people in my class without whom I seriously would not have finished MIAP. My gratitude expands beyond those people who were right around me at the time, to my family in Texas and my wonderful friends outside of NYU, to...God.

Yeah. I know I'm not alone. I know there are things in the works out there, just beyond our senses, hovering above our understanding, connecting us and orchestrating the ebb and flow of our lives. I don't understand it but I feel it.

As I reflect, I realize that my thesis was not the hugest thing ever. It was just a paper and people write papers all the time, but for me it was a battle with myself. I challenged myself to meet higher standards than I normally set for myself and I met them. I challenged myself to stop hating grad school and questioning my life choices and actually do something worthwhile. I exceeded my own expectations of myself and for me that. is. huge. But, more than anything, I realize that the best part of life (sometimes, as the world continues to go completely crazy, it seems like the only good part) is that we don't do things alone. We have people who tell us that what we have to say is important, who sacrifice for us and watch out for us, and who send love and good energy our way to give us the extra push we need.

So there it is. My personal journal entry was so mopey but I came here (intending to just summarize) and finally worked it out. As humans we have some incredible things inside of us that help us to overcome challenges (even crippling ones like unemployment) and help other humans through their challenges, and that right there is enough to keep me going in this crazy, mixed up world.

This is my photo of the day. I just took it.
I was convinced I would have Christmas in my own home this year, with a real tree and my own kitchen to bake in. But here I am. I'm looking at Christmas lights through the gauzy curtains of my grandma's spare bedroom as I watch Hulu and apply for Craigslist jobs. It's not very glam, but life doesn't always look like the alt-indie-pretty blogs we love to follow. I'm doing the best I can and, after hashing it out, I feel better about that. 


  1. I love you - you're an inspiration and I don't mean that in the cheesy, Hallmark card way.

  2. I love you, your thesis and this post (thank you for the kind words, by the way--I am not sure I deserve them but I'll take them). You say a lot of the things I'm reflecting on now. Both of us in a similar position of uncertainty, but grasped with the sense that things are about to change very much for the better. PS, I think you have a kickass husband to be out there and I enjoy seeing him every week and sharing his wonderful energy. You two are going to make a very kickass married couple :)