Grief – Resurrection – Mission: Life as Mom in Grad School

27 03 2017

It is my Spring Break – alas, I have a bit of energy to blast a blog post.

I just read an article from the Presbyterian Outlook magazine regarding the first words Jesus spoke to his grieving  disciples in the first moments they meet him after resurrection. The author emphasized Jesus’ first words to be words of peace and then encouragement to send them back into action with the good news that he is alive, has conquered death, and is God incarnate (God/human) whose mission is to point people back to a genuine life of loving God and loving one another. Having just come out of a very emotionally and physically intense seminary quarter of study this past Tuesday (I was granted an extension on a final paper) and getting ready to start back into studies on Wednesday my soul somehow resonates at a perhaps lesser level in experiencing this cycle of working hard, falling into grief, surprise at resurrection, peace and then having to get myself back on task. Actually I feel this almost every quarter.

It doesn’t seem to be a very healthy cycle, but I’m almost certain it is normal for most graduate school students to have a similar experience we have ten weeks on the quarter system to open ourselves up to a fire hose of information with a requirement to filter what we can to produce deep theological and even new and surprising work. At the start, this doesn’t seem too daunting, but by the end it feels like one of those survivor type reality shows where you’re exhausted trying to get to the end and yet working as a team to hold one another up to accomplish the task together. We all have some type of obstacles trying to take us out through the quarter – finances, family, friendships, negative interactions with professors or struggles to complete the workload, work outside of school, health concerns, and more.

My obstacles this past Winter quarter have been a combination of timing of events:

  • Working through the beginnings of a major transition with our church that began the same week as winter quarter and added hours and emotional strain on church members and myself;
  • My husband’s structural engineering workload going overtime because the weather is getting warmer and people can build;
  • Deadlines or major events occurring at the same time for our daughter’s activities – normally it isn’t an issue to take them to a band/orchestra rehearsal, or an every other week girl scout troop meeting, or a sports practice. The difficulty was that all the concerts, cookie sales, basketball games, softball startup events, gearing up for martial arts testing and things requiring extra effort happened throughout the same three weekend/two week stretch of time – including my school finals week(s).
  • Also, ADHD – predominantly inattentive, is something I’m still learning to identify how my life is affected by this and trying out new strategies of which are and some are not effective and from there working to create new habits. However, it is not an easy feat to re-work forty years of very ingrained coping mechanisms to help my habits become a bit more healthy not only for myself, but my family, those I work with and serve, and those with whom I study.

All of this throws me into a frenzy at the end of each quarter and a type of exhausted grief and panic wondering if I will pass, am I worthy of continuing on for a Master of Divinity, and am I an imposter just thinking I can do this? Then by grace and with encouragement of God, professors, co-workers, family, and others I get the work done and anxiously await my grades and sleep – or stare at a wall – a lot. My grades come through and I pass – sometimes with ‘As’ sometimes with a C – but in my mind, a pass is a pass. I am overwhelmed with relief and peace. A few days later I begin receiving emails from Spring quarter professors with a list of books to quickly acquire and assignments to begin working on and have completed for the first day of class. Break and vacation are flexible terms in the life of a graduate student – we are quickly back on mission an ready to start the cycle all over again. Somehow we make it through. I am a part-time student (approx. 8 credits/quarter towards 120 credits total), in my third year, and still have two or three years of this mission left to go — Wheeeee!

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How to Redirect Pent Up Anxiety and Overwhelm for Good – One Time Each Week

25 01 2017

I am NOT a certified professional of psychology, counseling, or therapy in any way.However, I AM a professional at allowing anxiety and overwhelm to take me over and eat me up inside. I am also a professional patient for those who are professional therapists and counselors. I just watched a video on Facebook of Cory Booker US senator sharing words to those who are anxious and overwhelmed by the actions of President Donald Trump and his administration. I really needed his words to calm anxiety that has set on my heart and mind. 

I observe anxiousness and overwhelmed emotions others are also experiencing through their social media posts as well as the face-to-face real-time conversations that happen with my family , with my friends , in the church I work at, and the classrooms of my seminary program. The basic question is: “Is there anything we can do? Is there really anything anyone can do?”. These questions come from people who oppose Trump because it creates legitimate worries and anxieties for the every day happenings in their life. These questions also come from people who are avid supporters of Trump in a manner that dismisses those who have concerns to tell them “The decision has been made, deal with it.” 
Here is the video I watched: 

First Days of a Trump Administration: We Must Resist


My takeaway response after watching this video is:

For all experiencing anxiety and overwhelm in our political climate hear words of encouragement, from U.S. Senator Cory Booker, that give you something to do with that anxiety. 

>> Do ONE THING A WEEK to support fighting for a cause or to show kindness and care towards others. 

>It doesn’t have to be money – but maybe that is what you are able to share right now – pick a different organization or cause each week. (Girl Scouts are selling cookies – support leadership of our future women! #hint #hint)

>It doesn’t have to be time -but maybe that is what you have (support causes and share kindness online or face to face, volunteer somewhere politically, in schools, in churches, in senior centers, after school programs, sports clubs or an organization promoting full bellies for all, etc, write emails/make calls to senators and representatives, etc, march to show your support and solidarity for a particular cause or people group, PRAY, etc)

> it doesn’t have to be talents – but maybe you have gifts, talents, and skills to share with others in your neighborhood or community, use them for good. If you need help brainstorming post here and I’ll help you out. 

>It doesn’t have to be stuff -but what if what you have that is just sitting around collecting dust can give life to another? (Buy Nothing and Giving communities online exist in a lot of places and you can start one up if your community doesn’t have such a thing. Support a school PTA or church rummage sale or “Fill a Truck” fundraiser – even if you aren’t a member or have any children in school. )

We have to refocus the energies of our anxieties and release the pressure of overwhelm in to loving and building up one another rather than tearing each other down. It can be your ONE thing a WEEK combined with the one thing a week of others that makes all the difference in healing divisions. 








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