Finale: Reflecting on INFORM and LISTEN

November – INFORM

November was bookended with house guests. Both our mothers came to visit (my stepdad, too) and it was wonderful to show off the house we’ve really settled into. To sip cocktails under the heat lamp on our deck. To laugh and catch up and exchange stories. To hear how cozy and welcoming we’ve made this place. To show off our little neighborhood and discover the strongest, cheapest drinks on a grey and brisk Black Friday.

Thinking back to November, it’s amazing how long ago it all seems. How distant those familial memories feel. I took a pretty huge bite at the beginning of the semester and enrolled in 12 credit hours; my biggest semester yet. And at first it didn’t feel like much. But let me tell you when the semester came to a close with countless essays and projects due, I felt the shift. 

Weeknights became a sprint to fit in research and chapters before bed, breaking for meals. Weekends employed the highly effective and much beloved Pomodoro technique to manage through eight to ten hour study sessions. 

I learned a hell of a lot.
The product of my work came back with perfect scores.
And I bemoaned the whole experience, loudly, from my perch at our game table. Like a child.

I became very INFORMed throughout November. I have read more academic articles about pornography than I ever thought existed. I immersed myself in classic sociological theory. I channeled my inner Brene by creating a codebook and employing grounded theory which led me to some fascinating research. I feel smarter because of the semester, for sure.

I also learned working a full-time job and taking that many credits is not the best for my mental health, work-school-life balance, and general disposition. 

Unfortunately, I was also recently INFORMed at work that I was not qualified for the promotion I hoped for. In turn, I INFORMed my boss I couldn’t see myself staying in this organization or position for much longer. In a wave of boldness, I asked she be willing to afford me opportunities that would prepare me for whatever came next. It was a respectful conversation. Productive, too. Perhaps the most transparent we’ve been with each other… ever in the two years we’ve worked together. 

So that’s a lesson in and of itself, too.

There was a certain element of receptivity in November. Of going with the flow towards which I’m not naturally inclined. It reiterated in order to obtain information, you need to be willing to take it. And when what you’re told isn’t quite what you like to hear, you have to keep on listening…

December – LISTEN

I’m cheating this month and double-posting before the end of the year. The reason for it is to make room for my intuition and higher self to speak. New Years is my favorite but because I’ve been so overburdened by school, I haven’t made the time to perform all my end of year rituals. 

I haven’t closed the circle.
I haven’t brainstormed goals.
I haven’t started the vision board.
Hell, I haven’t chosen my OneWord yet.

My beloved knew how stressful this semester was and how diligently I worked to stay on top of assignments. So he gifted me with a three-night trip at the beach to ring in 2019. Enough time for me to reflect, plan, and envision the upcoming twelve months.

Josh and I joke often about the difference between hearing someone and listening to them. He has a hard time keeping them apart and remembering which one is better. “I listened you” is our cutesy response when the other person thinks you’re not paying close attention to what they’re saying. It’s a demonstration that despite being two-and-a-half years in, we still care and actively invest in thoughts and ramblings of the other. Even on nights when you’re cranky, or meals when your mind is somewhere else.

I’m grateful for the privilege to reflect inward and be able and willing to listen to myself. To the still quiet voice of revelation that says maybe you should consider that PhD offer and wouldn’t it be fascinating to study the relationship  between pornography use and celibacy? To actively engage with something that could be nothing but might also possibly be everything. And other nuggets I haven’t made room to hear yet.

In 2019…

Our Venture is as ever-evolving as our lives are. 

In 2017 we VOWed weekly.
In 2018, it was monthly.
In 2019, we will continue to post, but with the focus on our singular word for the year (once one of us figures out her verb *ahem*).

Join us?
Happy holidays to you and yours. 

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