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

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#VOWreplenish + #VOWheighten = a Recipe for Hope?

Lin is deep into Finals during her first year of graduate school, which is why she has been quiet.

My excuse is not quite as good–I spent Thanksgiving with Sister, REPLENISHing. We drank wine and ate cheese, and she let me spend a day reading a book that devoured every square inch of my soul (thanks, Sis–I needed it). And I just wasn’t quite ready to go back to the Real World.

But I had to, and after a day of traveling, I was back in my apartment with my cat, getting my life organized for Hell Week.

That’s what I nicknamed this past week of work. You see, I’m starting a new job on Monday–one I didn’t ask for and am not sure I want, but I know it’s one that I need to be good at. So…I’m in Stephanie Mode. Those of you who know me know exactly what that means:

Head down. Eyes getting ready to look up. Scared shitless. Heart reconciled to not disappointing the opportunity and the people who gave it to me.

Everything in me was HEIGHTENed this week. I’m all too aware of what life needs to look like as I get my bearings in this new job and in preparation for my last weekend of YTT this semester and the Holidays: Wine becomes a thing for the weekends. Meditation EVERY SINGLE MORNING a must. Yoga an every-damn-day reality. Body language in check. Food as fuel. All the coffee.

And there’s something else at work here. I’ve struggled to name it, but tonight I have: grounded possibility, also known as hope.

I think it’s important, when our hearts find themselves floating somewhere we aren’t quite ready to fly, that we keep our heads grounded, without pulling down too much. Because hope is a pretty powerful thing, and it can lead us places we don’t know.

I spoke to my Grams at length tonight about what’s in my heart, and she said the thing Stephanie needed to hear: Just let it be; see what happens; trust the Signs, and then let it be what it is.

I have this feeling, though she has never said it, she prays for me every night, and maybe that’s the reason I consistently feel some kind of faith. Because no matter my stance on a Higher Power, she has a firm one, and because of her, I have a firm belief in something.

In myself.

In my judgment.

In love.

In hope.

We are nearing the end of this year, of BUILD, and the words that are coming–#VOWhush, #VOWresolve, and #VOWwait–are ones I already feel. Things I am already committed to. Verbs that hold power to change the course of my life, whatever they bring.

So keep me where the light is, and this week, we