Run and Friendships

We celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. this past weekend. Whenever I think about Dr. King and the inspiration he is to so many, I think about love, the choice of love, patience, and compassion over violence. My husband is once again away from home for work. He’s been very, very busy and stressed out for the past 2 months…and every night, I have to remind him to trust God and everything will turn out OK. So for this long weekend without him, I had planned to spend some time down in Phoenix with friends and run my first half-marathon.

Yup, you read right! I ran my first half this past weekend and it was such a fun, exhilarating, and empowering experience. I will admit that I’m somewhat of a lazy-bum so I am probably slightly undertrained for all my races. I am also the internally competitive type, meaning I usually only care about whether I reached my own goals (and not what others are doing or have done). I wasn’t too sure what to expect for my first half so I set the goal of 1) finishing under 3 hours (OK, like I said, I am not only lazy but also slow) and 2) running all of the 13.1 miles. It turns out I ran the race at 2:42 and I was running/shuffling the whole way! I even pulled out a short sprint at the last 50-100 feet! It was very exciting :D

The best part though, about the whole experience, was running and sharing my weekend with friends. One of the best things about living this Army life is the friends you make along the way. My friend S and I had been talking about doing a race together for a long time. We finally decided to meet up in Phoenix for my first half. We were talking and laughing the whole time during the race and I am so happy that we were able to catch up again. My friend K and her husband (who’s an old friend of my huband’s) were also at the race. I just saw K and Co. in November. It was lovely to hang out together again so soon. You see, these are Army friendships. I live in Colorado, S lives in Texas, and K lives in Arizona, so we usually don’t get to see each other. But this time, we were able to all meet up at one place to catch up and share our lives. More than anything, this is one of the gems that makes this transient-like Army life bearable; this is the stuff that keeps us going.

While the trip was awesome, it was a short one for me. I was home the same day as my run (and I could barely walk to my car because my feet were so sore)! After some TLC the next day (lots of sleep, hot baths/showers, a relaxation massage with a foot scrub), I am almost back to normal. I will probably go on a short run later this week but it’s mostly back to work (aka sitting at my desk), yoga, and walking for now. Nonetheless, I will hold the experiences and the joy I felt this weekend in me for a long time. In a larger sense, this weekend was a reminder that despite all my #firstworldproblems, I am more than blessed. I recognize the beauty that is a life with friends and I cherish it. I thank the universe for all the love.

Finding My Passion

A lot of thinking transpires in my conversations with my BFF M.

I’m incredibly blessed to have a friend like M; she understands me and is always so encouraging without being patronizing. We are like sisters :) Something we’ve both been working on (and have been for a couple of years) is finding ourselves and our passions. I don’t mean “passion” in a frivolous sense. Obviously, we love cooking, baking, fashion, guilty-pleasure TV, and the Duchess of Cambridge (who doesn’t!) but those are more like “escapes” – something fun, entertaining, and a place to temporary forget our troubles! At least to me, those don’t constitute inspirations that I could build a career out of. So, what am I passionate about? Another friend of mine, J, gave up the trappings of an academic life to pursue her dreams of becoming a writer and working for a non-profit. She loves writing and she keeps an amazing blog, along with various writing/writer projects! J was the first person who recognized and pointed out how “boxed-in” I was by academia. I think over the years, I’ve talked myself into thinking finding that university/college TT job and the 7 year climb to tenure with no regard to the quality of life is the ultimate goal of my life. Now, by allowing myself to even consider something outside of the academy as my life’s work, I feel so liberated but also so lost. I’ve been thinking about this very often, especially as I approach the final stages of my PhD education (READ: existential crisis). So, I decided to apply some systematic thinking and problem solving skills to my dilemma (using that education…ha). I start out by asking myself two important questions:

What am I passionate about? 

Teaching, helping others, learning, welfare issues related to our military personnel (including veterans) and their families, the social and political status of Asian Americans, politics (in general)

What am I good/skilled at?

Research, problem solving, thinking analytically/systematically, writing, communication, organization (creating order from chaos)

If you look at what I have just written, it would seem strange that I am trying to look outside of the academy. Truth be told, I’ve never minded the content of what I do; rather, I’m turned off by the structure, the rigidness, and the abstract nature (i.e., sitting in the ivory tower) of the profession. Also, while this might be “blasphemous” (by academy standards) to say, I actually want a life – support my husband’s career choice in the Army, spend time with my family, possibly have children, travel and discover the wonders of our world…etc. I’m not naive enough to think I can have everything, but I am at least willing to consider all possibilities. Right now, I’m not sure if there’s a particular job/career path that fits the bill of what I just described outside of the academy, but I am going to start somewhere.

While I was going through a bout of days long existential crisis this past fall, I started to look around the internet for any topic that might interest me (let’s just call this research instead of wasting time). That was when I first became aware of the possibility of becoming an instructor, teaching Army Family Team Building (AFTP) courses for the ACS on post. Last week, while going through the ACS schedule for my FRG group, I noticed that there are instructor training courses being offered next month. After a brief call with a representative from ACS today, I decided to sign up for this course (3 day series). I think this volunteering opportunity fits the bill of what I would like to become involved in. We all have to start somewhere so I’m looking forward to this!

Intentions

My prime intention for 2013:

I will refuse to allow obstacles to consume and dissipate the quality of my attention in the present moment. I will accept the present as it is, and manifest the future through my deepest, most cherished intentions and desires

–Deepak Chopra

This is the beginning of the 3rd week in this new year…and I’ve been working on myself. It’s been kind of up and down for me since last fall – I oscillate between motivated/hopeful and unhopeful/lost about my plans for 2013 and future career prospectives.  Although I’ve gained some new perspective in this process and feel OK psychologically and emotionally most of the time, I still fall into episodes of “darkness.”

In December, I applied for two teaching jobs but I recently received a “thank-you” letter for one app and didn’t even hear back from the other (despite the fact this current term have started). Even though a lot has changed between submitting my job apps and right now (I am probably not in a position to take a full-time job anymore), it is still very discouraging just because it was kind of a “dream” job and it casts a shadow of doubt on my prospects in the future. I am a fairly rational and logical person…but sometimes it’s just too tiring and difficult to call yourself back from the edge of dark thoughts.

I tried to talk to my husband about how lost I feel in life and that my ambivalence about finishing my dissertation stems from being unsure what’s my next step in life. The pragmatic soul he is told me that I’m in fact, very blessed – I’m not under any type of pressure to find a job immediate because his (fairly good) job will be able to cover the expenses for both of us for the foreseeable future. I guess that is true but it somehow doesn’t make me feel that much better. I’m guessing this is an issue that I will have to revisit in the future…but for now, I’m trusting my head and heart to the intention of moving forward and keeping in the present moment despite obstacles that may arise. I need to keep exploring and searching…but I still need to move my life ahead. I’m always a work in progress.