Inspiration

The Journey of a Year

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In November/December 2012, I read several articles (many sent to me by various friends, others randomly) about rest/self-care/sabbaticals. By the 4th or 5th article in, I remember thinking that this was too coincidental. I started thinking about the concept of rest, and how it could be incorporated into this crazy graduate life we were living. Everyone that knows me knows that being still is not my forte. I like to make lists. I like to check things off said lists. I like to be busy. I like Excel. I like to be challenged. I like to be around people. I like to work on lots of projects. I like to read books. Translation: I. Never. Stop.

In that late December, the dots finally connected. A friend of mine from Florida posted on Facebook information about this site: My One Word, then asked her friends what their one word would be for 2013. I started to read through the comments, and 56 comments later, I realized what my word should be.

For those of you that don’t know about this site, here’s the basic cliff notes:

If you’re like most people, each January goes something like this: You choose a problematic behavior that has plagued you for years and vow to reverse it. In fact, you can probably think of two or three undesirable habits—make that four or five.

Thus begins the litany of imperfections to be perfected commonly known as “New Year’s Resolutions.” All of which are typically off your radar by February.

“My One Word” is an experiment designed to move you beyond this cycle. The challenge is simple: lose the long list of changes you want to make this year and instead pick ONE WORD.

This process provides clarity by taking all your big plans for life change and narrowing them down into a single focus. Just one word that centers on your character and creates a vision for your future. So, we invite you to join us and pick one word for the next twelve months. 

It should be noted that I’m not really into New Year’s resolutions. I loved (and still do) to set outlandish goals or targets that I was more than certain could not be reached in one year. It was (and still is!) fun to look back to see if I actually achieved any of them.

But the concept of one word to describe my year? I loved this idea. I loved that literally one word would and could define not only a year of my life, but also the activities I was involved in, bringing focus and clarity to whatever season I was living.

It would make the things I said ‘yes’ to much sweeter, and the things I said ‘no’ to much easier to let go.

I spent a lot of time over that Christmas break doing a lot of reflection on 2012; what it meant for me emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually. Even though the year ended on a good note, the only word I can use to describe that year was ‘loss’. As I came up on the first anniversaries of my Mom’s cancer diagnosis and my miscarriage, I felt like I entered another season of mourning, although it was not the raw, gaping wound that it was the previous year. I knew that it was part of the grieving process – c’mon now, I was a psych major in college- but I also knew, if I’m honest, I had not allowed myself time to completely heal- this is strictly in the emotional/spiritual sense – because that would call for me to Rest. And since I don’t sit still very well, any kind of healing would be difficult.

So, I dubbed 2013 a year of Rest for me. I had absolutely no idea what it would look like, as it was a definition in progress, but knew it would not involve me lying around all the time on a couch eating chocolate and drinking wine, even though that was a terrific thought. :) It had to be something more uniquely attuned to my personality and the way God designed me.

The very first two things I did identify that needed to be answered:

1. I had to ask myself why I was so afraid to be still and silent. I knew only I could answer that question.

My answer? Staying busy was an avoidance therapy, a place I visited when I didn’t want to address potential emotional issues in front of me. When I realized that, full healing could begin.

2. Could I do this alone? No, I could not.

I decided then to email some friends for help. I sent the email to 30 friends and family members, and asked them to keep me accountable. That might seem excessive to some, but I was intentional about who I asked. I selfishly chose friends that lived in Oxford and Orlando who were part of my graduate journey; friends and mentors from previous cities and walks of life; family that was far away. I asked them to partner with me as I began, asking for prayer (or good thoughts and wishes if prayer wasn’t their thing) so that all my decisions for that year would be clear and focused, completely surrounding the word Rest. I also gave them permission to ask me at any time if I was resting, knowing full well I would and could easily slip back into my busy ways.

I did ask one thing of them – to send me their word for that coming year. It allowed me to reciprocate in both prayers and good wishes, and asking them the same question.

I had no idea who would participate, or if everyone would think I was a rambling idiot, but their responses were astonishing. These are some of the many words I received:

Yes.

No.

Anticipation.

Peace.

Live.

Discipline.

Trust.

Purpose.

Love.

I saved them all in an excel spreadsheet, and agreed to journey with them over the coming year, as they lived their words.

So, what happened?

This one word journey was a definite life-changer for me. I think my friends would say the same thing. It is something I intend to do every year going forward. As I sit in early January 2014, reflecting on 2013, I’m grateful I put aside time to Rest last year. In an ironic twist, it ended up being the busiest year we’ve ever had in the graduate journey. We went through a myriad of changes that I didn’t know we would be going through as we headed into 2013: new jobs in a new city, new house, new nursery school for our son, new community, new church, new everything! I think if I hadn’t given myself that space to heal, I wouldn’t have been emotionally or spiritually ready for those changes.

This past year also gave me the space to dream again. It’s amazing what happens when you sit still. I didn’t realize the constant busyness was stifling my creativity. I said no to a lot of things (but not all) that I would have loved to do. My friends were very respectful of my ‘no’ decisions, which I appreciated immensely.

I also learned to accept where I was in life. My good friend, Betsy, always quoted Theodore Roosevelt’s famous quip – “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Let’s be honest, graduate life can kick you when you’re down, and I was spending far too much time being jealous and wishing my life were better like so-and-so, and not living in the present moment that I’d been given. When I started to accept that this was my current season of life, I found joy and peace in the midst of my designated rest. That was a bonus.

My word for 2014? Hope. I love the definition of hope: state which promotes the desire of positive outcomes related to events and circumstances in one’s life or in the world at large.

I have so many hopes and dreams for myself, and for my family as we’ve entered into a new season of life. I am relishing in the hope of seeing those dreams (all or some) fulfilled this year.

What would your word be for 2014?

Maybe you’re in the middle of graduate life. Maybe you’re at the end of graduate life and starting a new season, like me. Or, maybe you’re just at the beginning. Wherever you are, I challenge you to pick a word to shape your year. Maybe your word is perseverance, as you trawl through another graduate year. Maybe your word is community, as you seek to bond with others around you. Maybe your word is peace. Whatever you choose, live it for the next year. And if you feel like sharing your word for 2014, please put in the comments below, as we’d love to see what you word would be!

From my heart to yours,

~Mandy

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Job Search · Professional Careers

REPOST: Plan F

-written by Keeley, a current graduate wife

Any time my husband, Jason, begins a sentence with the words, “Well if this whole professor thing doesn’t work out, I can always…” I know that what follows is going to be a real gem. He’s come up with widely varying ideas of how he can make a living, most of which involve chocolate-chip cookies, or kittens, or a combination of the two. I think my favorite idea involved being a farmer who grows his own peanuts, strawberries, and mangoes (the geographic location of this farm is obviously yet to be determined) and raises baby goats, kittens, golden retrievers, and donkeys (because in his words, their ears are “sweet.”)

In all seriousness, the job market does look pretty grim for professors of just about anything these days, and Jason shares the concerns of any liberal arts PhD candidate, as he is currently pursuing a degree in Modern Christian History. At the end of this endeavor, he will know more about the East African Revival of the 20th century, including all the sociopolitical dynamics of colonialism that helped shape this movement, than maybe two or three other people who are alive. However, this doesn’t ensure that he will find a job teaching or researching anything related to these issues. He is, of course, attempting to get as much practice as possible through conferences, publishing articles, and teaching, and you can bet that he’ll be applying for every job opening far and wide once the time comes, but at the end of the day, his chances depend greatly on the job market and on who’s hiring and exactly what they’re looking for. I only give this background to explain why my husband may have fantasies of being a kitten farmer.

All things considered though, I think it’s a healthy exercise, right? What’s the harm in coming to terms with the fact that yes, while our lives are largely centered around this particular undertaking, we are still human beings with other identities and interests? This is easier for me to do because I’m not the one staring at a computer screen every day, scanning  through microfilm databases, accessing and decoding handwritten documents, or attempting to write a book which in all likelihood, only a handful of people will probably ever read. But for Jason, I can understand why some days he might consider a “backup backup” plan, (or “Plan F” as one of my best friends calls it, whose PhD husband’s own Plan F happens to be to work at McDonald’s).  I can understand the appeal of being a day laborer, or having another type of job that involves getting up, going in to work, doing the required tasks, then coming home and forgetting about it, versus a career like the one he is currently embarking on, which requires all of him–body, mind, and soul, so to speak.

I think we can all identify with this struggle, and with the pessimism that may come from considering seven to eight years of our life spent in pursuit of a degree which may or may not result in a desirable appointment. This is partly why I am grateful for this very blog, where we can share our concerns as well as ideas on how to make these days, months, and years count as much as possible. This is also why I am grateful for Jason’s hobbies, which include baking (some mind-numbingly delicious cappuccino-cream cheese brownies emerged from the oven last night thanks to him), because you never know when the little cupcake bakery downtown might be hiring! And in between sessions of researching and writing, he gets a fair bit of cat-snuggling in, which has enabled him to communicate effectively through expressions and meows with our two cats (at least he seems convinced of the fact). Yes, we have actually given some thought to which professor he would ask for a recommendation, were he to apply for a job at PetSmart.

In all honesty, I have a lot of faith in Jason and the hard work he does, and the respect I have for him to get up early every morning to develop this incredibly fascinating project can’t be overstated. But being at this stage in life requires a lot of flexibility, quite a bit of humility, and maybe a pinch or two of levity. So once all this PhD business is done and we get settled on our cat ranch in Wyoming, we’ll be glad to have you up to visit. You can stay in our bed and breakfast, where we’ll show you around and introduce you to our baby fainting goats, and we’ll save some cappuccino-cream cheese brownies for you in the kitchen.

In this graduate season of life, do you discuss what may happen if the ‘plan’ doesn’t work out the way you had intended? What does that look like?

Expectations · Inspiration · Moving

REPOST: What I wish I had known… {part III}

-Written by Mandy & Julia

Today we are featuring the third post on the series: “What I wish I had known” going into my graduate wife journey.  Please see the first post here, and the second post here.

Moving:

  •      Pick and choose carefully when packing those boxes.

o      Consider the climate carefully and realistically. If you’re moving to the UK like we did, you might as well leave behind those flip-flops, bathing suits, shorts and sundresses. This girl paid to move all those things, only to end up stuffing them in a suitcase headed back to the US for the holidays.

o      Pack lightly. Are you really going to need all those t-shirts? Could you purchase Tupperware more cheaply than moving it? Sure that crystal vase is nice, but really?

o      On the other hand, I wish I had brought our wedding album and that quilt that has been in the family for three generations. Those extra special items will bring comfort when homesickness hits.

  • Don’t put off the paperwork.

o      If you need residence permits or visas, know the requirements and get started early. Unless you want to be like us, running through the streets of downtown Chicago during the two hour time slot you have before your friend’s wedding in order to get a same day passport.

  • Brace yourself for the (extra) cost.

o      There are layers and layers of fees and unexpected costs, from setting up Internet to paying for a TV license (what? a license to watch TV?). Make room for this in your budget.

o      A furnished flat/apartment could come without a kitchen table. You’ll probably need some extra cash for that trip to Ikea or Walmart [insert local substitute here].

o      When you’ve first arrived and you’re exhausted, emotionally and physically, it may be worth grabbing a taxi and throwing your grand plan of walking the last mile and a half to your new apartment out the window instead.

  • Investigate your destination city.

o      Don’t settle on a mover or a bank or a grocery store until you ask for others’ experiences, even if they are strangers on the Internet (You’ve struck gold if your destination city happens to be featured on The Graduate Wife’s survival guide section.).

o      Don’t be afraid to ask questions, as your elementary school teacher once told you. Seriously, others have gone before you. Seek them out and get some help settling.

Dealing with Internal Battles:

We came here for the purpose of my husband’s education, and that education came at a cost for both of us, and for our family and friends back home. I had wholeheartedly agreed to this new adventure prior to our coming, and I plunged into the job-hunt and life-making once we landed in Scotland (okay, so I cried for the first couple days).

What felt romantic and adventurous while still living in the US, however, quickly became hard. Figuring out a new culture, going through the process of student teaching in Scotland and again in England (since my American credential didn’t transfer) and enduring a climate that happens to have really hard, dark, wet winters were some of the challenges. Add to that the fact that we moved from Scotland to England to Germany and back to England within three years, and I was tired. Really tired. And my emotional trap was to blame my husband, as if the challenges surrounding the decision to study abroad were his doing. It hasn’t been easy to work through my misplaced anger when enduring a particularly tough season.

The best advice I can give is to turn off the DVD player and start talking. Work through it, regardless of how hard the conversation is. Otherwise, the bitterness is at risk of festering and creating resentment. My companion on this journey is my husband, the one who was by my side through every move and bad day at work and hard winter – we must work hard to protect and enrich our alliance. Without his companionship, I simply could not do this another day.

Simplifying your life:

My brother once asked me if it was true that European and British residents rode bicycles to work and often wore the same outfit twice in one week. Emphatically, I said “yes, and it’s awesome” (okay, maybe a slightly smug exaggeration, but still).

Six years living here, and we may have a tinge of this beautiful outlook on material possessions: you don’t need much to live comfortably. Of course, this outlook is not confined to Europe. Anyone on a student budget can tell you that saving money wherever you can breeds simplicity. This is refreshing, and it is conveniently conducive to the student lifestyle.

So, grab a bike and wear that ten-year-old pair of jeans without a second thought, and do it every single day.

Holding on to your own dreams:

So if you are the one putting your husband or wife through school, it may be the case that a dream of your own has been put on hold. For me, I’d like to go back to school. My husband’s doctorate and six years later, this dream has not been realized.

I’ve come, however, to understand that waiting to pursue one’s dreams doesn’t have to mean that they diminish, ‘dry up’ or even ‘explode’ as Langston Hughes famously penned. Rather, the waiting has refined my goal, changed its direction and enriched its beauty. The dream deferred can turn into an aging wine rather than a raisin in the sun. And in this space of waiting, I’ve seen other aspirations blossom and flourish: having children and starting a family, establishing traditions of our own, getting to know another culture.

If you could pass along any lessons learned in your own graduate wife journey, what would they be, and why?

Inspiration

REPOST: To Dream or Not to Dream…..

Recently, my husband and I attended a dinner, and one of the attendees I spoke with asked me about our journey to Oxford, my husband’s dissertation topic, and what he planned to do now that his PhD was finished.  I lumbered through her questions, desiring to give as little detail as possible, while still being polite. She then looked at me and said, “What are your dreams?”

Admittedly, I froze when this question was presented to me, especially coming from a complete stranger. However, she is one of several people who have asked me that question in the past few months. I have been grappling with that particular question for the better part of the last 6 years but it surely gave me reason to pause: What was I created to do, exactly? Or better yet, am I already doing it? And, what does ‘it’ look like in this graduate wife season of life?

As I think back on my own journey of the last eight years, those questions have become more difficult to answer. If you’re like me, sometimes you might find yourself lost as your spouse’s personal assistant, doing laundry, housework, working a job to pay the bills, caring for children, etc. until you have no idea who you are or how you even arrived there. You might find yourself thinking, “I know she’s in there somewhere, but where is she? What happened to her desires, goals, and dreams before this graduate journey?”

I am surrounded by beautiful, clever, thoughtful women who have made abundant sacrifices to allow their other halves to pursue a dream. I am inspired by their ability to keep moving their own dreams forward even if for right now, it is in the smallest of increments. I love when we hover together over candlelit dinners and drinks, those dreams are spoken of in rich, present, endearing terms, like old friends coming for a visit. I love that in the midst of transitions, these women are finding their place in their cities, homes, marriages, family, jobs.

On the days where I lament some of my dreams being put on hold, I am reminded that the work I am doing now is very important, as it will play a part in helping me define and refine those dreams. When I start my daily commute, and spend long hours in the office, it puts things into perspective. I’m not working just to support my husband’s dream. I’m working to support ‘our’ dream.

My friend, Julia, who has put one of her dreams on hold at the moment, phrased it so eloquently below:

I’ve come, however, to understand that waiting to pursue one’s dreams doesn’t have to mean that they diminish, ‘dry up’ or even ‘explode’ as Langston Hughes famously penned. Rather, the waiting has refined my goal, changed its direction and enriched its beauty. The dream deferred can turn into an aging wine rather than a raisin in the sun. And in this space of waiting, I’ve seen other aspirations blossom and flourish: having children and starting a family, establishing traditions of our own, getting to know another culture.

So what was my answer to the question posed by my dinner partner? I told her that I love helping people. I want people to know that I love them, but that God loves them even more. Although I love being an administrator, having a life long career in administration does not interest me. I want more children. I’m learning that I really like to write, and I want to develop that to see where it might go. I am passionate about this blog, and I love the women that I’ve connected with in this season of life. I want to continue to support my husband on this incredible journey that our family is on, and more than anything, I want us to be successful at it. I know he could do it without us, but I like to think that because we are here with him, he’s better at it.

It was probably more of an answer than she was looking for, but nonetheless, my answer. As I walked home thinking about our conversation, I realized that in a way, I am living my dreams, although they look a lot different than I thought they would at this stage of my life. Yes, there are still many of them unanswered, but when the time is right, those planted seeds will grow. All the experiences currently taking place in this season of life is part of that cultivation.

So, maybe I’ll issue a challenge today – What are YOUR dreams? Are you living them? Or have you let them go? How will you cultivate them during this graduate season of life? Don’t stop dreaming!

-Mandy

Job Search · Professional Careers

Plan F

-written by Keeley, a current graduate wife

Any time my husband, Jason, begins a sentence with the words, “Well if this whole professor thing doesn’t work out, I can always…” I know that what follows is going to be a real gem. He’s come up with widely varying ideas of how he can make a living, most of which involve chocolate-chip cookies, or kittens, or a combination of the two. I think my favorite idea involved being a farmer who grows his own peanuts, strawberries, and mangoes (the geographic location of this farm is obviously yet to be determined) and raises baby goats, kittens, golden retrievers, and donkeys (because in his words, their ears are “sweet.”)

In all seriousness, the job market does look pretty grim for professors of just about anything these days, and Jason shares the concerns of any liberal arts PhD candidate, as he is currently pursuing a degree in Modern Christian History. At the end of this endeavor, he will know more about the East African Revival of the 20th century, including all the sociopolitical dynamics of colonialism that helped shape this movement, than maybe two or three other people who are alive. However, this doesn’t ensure that he will find a job teaching or researching anything related to these issues. He is, of course, attempting to get as much practice as possible through conferences, publishing articles, and teaching, and you can bet that he’ll be applying for every job opening far and wide once the time comes, but at the end of the day, his chances depend greatly on the job market and on who’s hiring and exactly what they’re looking for. I only give this background to explain why my husband may have fantasies of being a kitten farmer.

All things considered though, I think it’s a healthy exercise, right? What’s the harm in coming to terms with the fact that yes, while our lives are largely centered around this particular undertaking, we are still human beings with other identities and interests? This is easier for me to do because I’m not the one staring at a computer screen every day, scanning  through microfilm databases, accessing and decoding handwritten documents, or attempting to write a book which in all likelihood, only a handful of people will probably ever read. But for Jason, I can understand why some days he might consider a “backup backup” plan, (or “Plan F” as one of my best friends calls it, whose PhD husband’s own Plan F happens to be to work at McDonald’s).  I can understand the appeal of being a day laborer, or having another type of job that involves getting up, going in to work, doing the required tasks, then coming home and forgetting about it, versus a career like the one he is currently embarking on, which requires all of him–body, mind, and soul, so to speak.

I think we can all identify with this struggle, and with the pessimism that may come from considering seven to eight years of our life spent in pursuit of a degree which may or may not result in a desirable appointment. This is partly why I am grateful for this very blog, where we can share our concerns as well as ideas on how to make these days, months, and years count as much as possible. This is also why I am grateful for Jason’s hobbies, which include baking (some mind-numbingly delicious cappuccino-cream cheese brownies emerged from the oven last night thanks to him), because you never know when the little cupcake bakery downtown might be hiring! And in between sessions of researching and writing, he gets a fair bit of cat-snuggling in, which has enabled him to communicate effectively through expressions and meows with our two cats (at least he seems convinced of the fact). Yes, we have actually given some thought to which professor he would ask for a recommendation, were he to apply for a job at PetSmart.

In all honesty, I have a lot of faith in Jason and the hard work he does, and the respect I have for him to get up early every morning to develop this incredibly fascinating project can’t be overstated. But being at this stage in life requires a lot of flexibility, quite a bit of humility, and maybe a pinch or two of levity. So once all this PhD business is done and we get settled on our cat ranch in Wyoming, we’ll be glad to have you up to visit. You can stay in our bed and breakfast, where we’ll show you around and introduce you to our baby fainting goats, and we’ll save some cappuccino-cream cheese brownies for you in the kitchen.

In this graduate season of life, do you discuss what may happen if the ‘plan’ doesn’t work out the way you had intended? What does that look like?

Moving

Costly Dreams

Today’s blog post comes from Carol Stratton, author of ‘Changing Zipcodes: Finding Community Wherever You’re Transplanted.‘  Carol is a veteran mover (22 times!) and has written articles for The Grand Rapids Press, Zionsville Times Sentinel newspapers as well as Purpose, The Christian Communicator, Fandangle, In Touch, Women’s Touch, Your Church and Forsyth Woman magazines and has reviewed books for the Christian Book Previews. She won the 2005 Paper Cottage “Smart Women” Essay contest and has taught at The Write-to-Publish Conference and at the CLASS Christian Writers Conference. She has kindly agreed to share one of her stories from her new book with The Graduate Wife. You can find more information about moving tips and moving stories from her website: http://www.changingzipcodes.com.

Living in South Lake Tahoe, California seemed like a dream location for a new job. My husband and I had the Sierra Nevada Mountains in our backyard and one of the most beautiful lakes in the world only a few miles down the road. When my husband accepted a position managing a camp, I knew we’d hit pay dirt. I pictured us taking leisurely days off to hike the trails, boat the turquoise lake, and explore abandoned gold mine towns. In winter we’d ski down the powdery slopes.

Reality quickly slammed us. My husband worked almost seven days a week, on call like a country doctor. He faced strong-willed staff members, a flu epidemic that almost shut the camp down, an overturned boat (with the threat of the boater going into hypothermia), and a health department inspection…all within the first four months. Throw that together with my becoming pregnant with bad morning-sickness and my rose-colored view of his job turned gray from stress and led to exhaustion for both of us. Suddenly those snow-capped mountains didn’t matter much. I missed seeing my husband as I craved an opportunity for him to have a day off.

Sometimes our dreams collide with practical life. We were newlyweds when we took the camp job, but before we left the area for a new job, I gave birth to a 7 week early son. Our Tahoe experience taught us that we, as a couple, need to really think things through before we pull up stakes and jump into a new career. Though we both tend to come out high on the “craving adventure and change scale,” we’ve learned through hard experiences to take time to research and understand the impact a move will make on our family. Planning and analyzing is essential. Seriously scrutinizing a possible move may save us money and heartache down the road. We ended up moving to another state and couldn’t sell our home for eighteen months. That particular dream cost us a lot of dollars.

Are you considering a move state to state or even just a change of houses in your town? There is a story in the Bible that reminds us that when a man decides to build a tower he first counts the cost. How will this possible relocation affect the emotional, financial, educational, and social needs of your family? Trust me; sometimes it’s easier to ask these questions before a move, not after one.

Taken from Changing Zip Codes: Finding Community Wherever You’re Transplanted, published by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas Available through Amazon.

Inspiration

To Dream or Not to Dream…..

Recently, my husband and I attended a dinner, and one of the attendees I spoke with asked me about our journey to Oxford, my husband’s dissertation topic, and what he planned to do now that his PhD was finished.  I lumbered through her questions, desiring to give as little detail as possible, while still being polite. She then looked at me and said, “What are your dreams?”

Admittedly, I froze when this question was presented to me, especially coming from a complete stranger. However, she is one of several people who have asked me that question in the past few months. I have been grappling with that particular question for the better part of the last 6 years but it surely gave me reason to pause: What was I created to do, exactly? Or better yet, am I already doing it? And, what does ‘it’ look like in this graduate wife season of life?

As I think back on my own journey of the last eight years, those questions have become more difficult to answer. If you’re like me, sometimes you might find yourself lost as your spouse’s personal assistant, doing laundry, housework, working a job to pay the bills, caring for children, etc. until you have no idea who you are or how you even arrived there. You might find yourself thinking, “I know she’s in there somewhere, but where is she? What happened to her desires, goals, and dreams before this graduate journey?”

I am surrounded by beautiful, clever, thoughtful women who have made abundant sacrifices to allow their other halves to pursue a dream. I am inspired by their ability to keep moving their own dreams forward even if for right now, it is in the smallest of increments. I love when we hover together over candlelit dinners and drinks, those dreams are spoken of in rich, present, endearing terms, like old friends coming for a visit. I love that in the midst of transitions, these women are finding their place in their cities, homes, marriages, family, jobs.

On the days where I lament some of my dreams being put on hold, I am reminded that the work I am doing now is very important, as it will play a part in helping me define and refine those dreams. When I start my daily commute, and spend long hours in the office, it puts things into perspective. I’m not working just to support my husband’s dream. I’m working to support ‘our’ dream.

My friend, Julia, who has put one of her dreams on hold at the moment, phrased it so eloquently below:

I’ve come, however, to understand that waiting to pursue one’s dreams doesn’t have to mean that they diminish, ‘dry up’ or even ‘explode’ as Langston Hughes famously penned. Rather, the waiting has refined my goal, changed its direction and enriched its beauty. The dream deferred can turn into an aging wine rather than a raisin in the sun. And in this space of waiting, I’ve seen other aspirations blossom and flourish: having children and starting a family, establishing traditions of our own, getting to know another culture.

So what was my answer to the question posed by my dinner partner? I told her that I love helping people. I want people to know that I love them, but that God loves them even more. Although I love being an administrator, having a life long career in administration does not interest me. I want more children. I’m learning that I really like to write, and I want to develop that to see where it might go. I am passionate about this blog, and I love the women that I’ve connected with in this season of life. I want to continue to support my husband on this incredible journey that our family is on, and more than anything, I want us to be successful at it. I know he could do it without us, but I like to think that because we are here with him, he’s better at it.

It was probably more of an answer than she was looking for, but nonetheless, my answer. As I walked home thinking about our conversation, I realized that in a way, I am living my dreams, although they look a lot different than I thought they would at this stage of my life. Yes, there are still many of them unanswered, but when the time is right, those planted seeds will grow. All the experiences currently taking place in this season of life is part of that cultivation.

So, maybe I’ll issue a challenge today – What are YOUR dreams? Are you living them? Or have you let them go? How will you cultivate them during this graduate season of life? Don’t stop dreaming!

-Mandy