Playing Catch Up: Reflecting on November

So November happened. And I had the fullest intent to post each and every week as it passed because even though I may not have been writing about our VOWs, I certainly felt like I was living them. The weeks piled up at the same rate as my work case load and grad school readings. There are seasons when it feels like all you can do is keep your head above water; be it by skipping workouts or ignoring personal writing assignments. For anyone who missed these posts, my apologies. But now you get a huge recap (and I get a head start on next year’s format where we focus on one VOW per month).

SHOW certainly, well, showed up at the start of the month (November 6 – 12). This fall has been eerily quiet in my office; typically incidents start getting reported near the start of October. But this year? Crickets. It took a full month for the reports to start coming in, this time with the mass and intensity of a plague of locus.

Additionally, I was also presenting to First Year Experiences throughout the month. Let me tell you that talking about sexuality — let alone sexual violence — is not your average 18-year-old’s idea of a fun class session. Typically, I am met with tons of discomfort, a heap of uncertainty, a touch of resistance, and sometimes a sprinkle of hostility. I try to make my presentations to students as painless as possible (given the subject) and engage them in a way that makes the issue at hand applicable to their lives. I have limited success but the song-and-dance feeling of NINE one-hour presentations IN A ROW has the ability to make you feel like you’re putting on a SHOW. And it’s a program no one really wants to be watching.

Thankfully, I can say that those presentations were a RISK of developing my own program, outreaching to faculty members to get on their syllabi, and receiving some positive feedback from at least one or two students at the end of each session, was entirely worth it. It was exhausting and I half-expected to be chastised by several professors because of my liberal use of the word fuck (though I never used it as a verb, solely an expletive). Overall, I felt proud of myself for accomplishing so much single-handedly.

The week of Thanksgiving (#VOWReplenish) was sooo appropriately timed. Josh and I headed to New Orleans for the start of the week. It was our first real trip together, with no work or family obligations to dictate our schedule. It was unfettered, glorious, silly, and extravagant in ways that only New Orleans could be. Strolling aimlessly along streets in a foreign (to me) city is one of my favorite past times, made all the sweeter that my hand was constantly tucked inside my favorite person’s. We drank copiously (something I hadn’t tasted much of since August) — indulging in cocktails in a red-lit, French-themed seance room, champagne on one of the city’s premier patios, and bloody mary’s on a legit steamboat. My heart was exploding with happiness from the moment we embarked on the train.

We returned the day before Thanksgiving in time to collect Sister, and we continued to dine on cheese and guzzle wine for four more restorative days. It was a humble Thanksgiving but one of the best ones I’ve had. I was sad to come back to work but also refreshed enough to see my cases through fresh eyes.

Last week, we HEIGHTENED. Most specifically, Josh and I are now Club People. Hopefully not the insufferable kind. Birmingham’s City Club and UAB partnered on a pretty sweet membership price that offers free breakfast and squishy seats all day to those who want it. And Josh, who currently pops around from coffee shop to coffee shop, could certainly use a new space. Add to it the most stellar view from one of the area’s tallest skyscrapers (that sort of looks like the building from Ghostbusters), we have literally moved upwards. We’ll see if we stay Club People but figured given our current circumstances, we might as well soak in the views next to the clouds.

Ironically, the week I finally decide to post is the week we HUSH

Check the links for all of Steph’s timely VOW posts: #VOWsave/#VOWshow, #VOWrisk, and #VOWreplenish/#VOWheighten

header image courtesy of

Teeter: Reflecting on #BALANCE

Grad school assignments. My first cases of the school year. OCR revelations (and what it means for my field). Prioritizing 5:00 workouts. Quality time with my fella. Catching up with my long-distance people.

Last week I felt the strain of keeping all my balls in the air. Obviously some dropped (i.e. my #VOWprotect post, sorry…). Life felt like an unrelenting personal game of Jenga. I managed to lightly knock a brick out of a precarious position and rest it on top, but everything is swiveling around that it is only a matter of time before everything clatters. It took concentration and energy but goddamn if it doesn’t cause for a mini celebration after each successful turn.

There have been other times when I’ve struggled with keeping my BALANCE. Those were days before I fell in love with Brene Brown and she taught me the dangers of perfectionism. I can gratefully now say that despite the bustle of almost too many tasks, I managed to keep things aligned. Similar to standing bow, you tend to topple when you focus too much on the act of balancing itself. Overthink things and you’ll wobble. But determinedly fixate on one spot ahead of you in the distance and things will seem to fall into place. That was my week — not set in stone but not too wavering, either.

And amazingly, I’m starting to reap some rewards of my efforts — such as an offer to possibly instruct a class next autumn. Or maybe moonlighting as a research assistant for a respectable study. More things to juggle for sure, but definitely well worth the effort. All it takes is practice.


This week we not only keep the status quo but we level up as we ENHANCE

Lin’s VOW mantra: 

Lin’s SOW (Song of the Week): Mercy by Katy Flower

Be sure to check out Steph’s lovely #VOWbalance post here

Searching and Measuring: Reflecting on EXPLORE

My god, this would have been the perfect week to travel.

One of my favorite things in life is taking to a new place on foot. Winding through streets with a general destination in mind but no hurry or rush to get there. To see the touristy sights, to discover the hidden gems, to picture what it would be like to live here. Is it for me? How would my life be different? How would it be the same?

The escapism of a new country or a new town or an unknown road speaks to all of us in a similar way to the familiarity of our childhood homes. There’s something there that you want to soak in until you’ve covered every square inch and can finally feel satisfied.

Alas. This week I did not get to travel. I did not even make an attempt to explore my new city on foot, though last Friday we did have a new neighborhood recommended to us with some good ol’ Southern architecture.

Rather my exploration was more about mapping my future. Over a matter of days, two paths unfurled themselves in front of me. One was the promise of a new skill set and better boss. The other, homework and late night coffee fixes.

For me, grad school has been a long time in the making. Working in higher ed, I have to earn another degree at some point. But at 32, I don’t want to study for the GRE and re-learn all the useless information I’ve lost in the past 15 years post-graduation (I’m looking at you, geometry). And finding a program that actually fits with how I want to build a career but won’t take an eternity to complete has been a struggle. But last week I finally bit the bullet, applied to a program that the more I EXPLORED it, the more excited I became. Josh heard me proclaim more than once a class on Deviant Behavior? Oh my god, that’s PERFECT! I drafted the essay, deposited the application fee, requested the referrals.

And of course as soon as my mind was made up and submissions made — poof. Another opportunity to throw me into a tailspin.

Now don’t get me wrong, I recognize this as a true blessing and a privilege. But there’s nothing quite like an equally promising, well, promise that makes you doubt all your well-intentioned choices.

A job posting, related to my field and supervised by someone I have a positive standing relationship with opened. I was more than qualified and the words “love to have you” may have been bandied about. My heart was aglow with the feeling of appreciation from an office I respect. This position was a glittering resolution to my six-month struggle with new leadership of my office. A remedy to the soul-crushing lack of value for my efforts. A muffle to the ever-growing rants about infuriating decisions towards which I have no (official) voice.

Last week I found myself awake late at night, mentally EXPLORING my options. Weighing one versus another. Envisioning which would make greatest impact and afford me greatest future success. Stressing and dreaming and scrutinizing.

I ended up not applying for the job, putting all my eggs in the familiar basket. Metaphorically choosing to stroll the streets I cross every day seeking for a glimpse of something yet-unseen. The tucked away door that leads to the Secret Garden. That’s the risk of EXPLORE, I suppose. It can be fun and exciting but also tiring and kinda scary if you turn down an unfamiliar street and find yourself at a crossroads.

Wish me luck.

This week we REPAIR…

And be sure to check out Steph’s post on #VOWexplore