Archive for January, 2009

Mr. Vulnerability

It’s a new year and already only 3 and a half weeks in, I can tell it’s going to be a transforming one.  Why?  You ask. How do you know what is coming? I know these things for the reasons we all know in part, what our future holds…we look at the past. One of my favorite writers, Henri Nouwen, holds firmly that our past is the biggest indicator of our future. I agree– being a student of history I think I have to. But nonetheless I have always believed that we cannot  safely move forward in our future until we have understood our past.  I believe that sociologically and personally.
But that’s for another blog. All that is to say that I know what is coming because I have had this experience before.  2008 began with a deep conviction that we were all severely lacking hope. Hope that though so many things go bad, someday something will go right. Hope that love will overcome hate. Hope that miracles and good do exist. This year began in a similar way. I felt that familiar conviction again, only this time that 2009 would be for me a year of trust–learning to trust myself, others, and God once again. But you must learn to crawl before you walk.

A very wise man told me just a couple weeks ago that I MUST learn to be vulnerable with others–that it would the very hardest lesson I have ever learned but it would also be the most rewarding.  I know, for me, this will be a life-long learning process, but I am in the beginning stages and since i want to become a person of trust, I think that I must also become a person of vulnerability.

Just typing the word scares the crap out of me.

But what does that even mean?? It really is like the blind leading the blind (both blind people in this scenario are me).  The Miss Independent that I am wants to figure this out on my own, which, as it turns out is the very opposite of the meaning of the word.

Well actually, the meaning of the word is a bit precarious. I looked it up, because, well, I have no idea what I am doing and I figured that would be a good place to start.

The dictionary defines Vulnerability as: Susceptible to physical or emotional injury.

Oh goody.

Why do we think this is a good thing?  I don’t know. But I have a feeling I am going to find out.  I hate this very much to be quite honest. And Honesty, incidentally, is Mr. Vulnerability’s sidekick.  I have always done everything by myself. I figure things out by myself. I know how to be on my own and I am good at it.  But as soon as we are unwilling to change and grow then we put ourselves in a box and miss out on the Goodness that Life is offering us.  So, as scared as I am, I am willing to go forward and do what I have to do to learn to be Vulnerable with others.

Another sidekick of Mr. Vulnerability’s is Wisdom. Being vulnerable, I am learning, is not about being stupid.  It is about making conscious choices every day that give others the power to hurt you.  But not everyone deserves that power so these choices need to be made with wisdom.

So you see, it’s not so easy. And being a vulnerability amateur, I have a long road ahead of me. Right now it just feels like being in front of your 8th grade class totally naked.   I am not even sure what the reward in learning all of this is yet, but I have trust that I will understand someday.

I’ll keep you posted on the journey.

And in case you are wondering…NO, i will not be posting all the details of my personal life online as an act of vulnerability.  That would take us back to the aforementioned stupidity point.

New Year Top 5s

Champagne Toast

To say that this blog is overdue is a bit of an understatement. But since I begin EVERY blog with an apology about not writing, I am going to try something different this time. It’s getting old anyway, and well, it’s my blog so I can do what I want, right?

Sometimes my lack of writing has more to do with deciding on a topic than anything else.  Without a bit of direction I think the idea of simply “writing” is overwhelming.  So, that being said, the theme of this blog is New Year (i’m only a couple weeks late…). Possible titles included “Feeling Fine in 2009” ; “Up for Debate: 2008” ; “Unwind in 2009” and “2008…It wasn’t THAT bad!”  I realize that last one doesn’t rhyme, but it was the actually words I used for toast on Dec. 30th with two of my friends.

But, instead I am going with an old favorite– “Tops 5s!!!”  These are my “Top 5s” for this coming New Year, and the year which is now behind us.

Top 5 things to be grateful for in 2008

I know it sounds, well, anticlimactic, to raise a glass to toast 2008 and declare with confidence that “it wasn’t THAT bad!”  BUT, the truth is, it has been a bit too long since I could say anything of the sort about an entire year. However, it is true that 2007 significantly lowered the bar–beginning with a stressful family feud, the death of a friend, the death of my grandmother, a “break-up” of sorts culminating in a terribly broken heart, a broken bank account, and a great deal of what I will affectionately call “friendship drama.”    I had never been so happy to see a year end.   So it is with great gratitude that I look back on 2008. Here is my list:

1. A supportive family: every family has it’s ups and downs and mine is no different.  Both together and apart we have all had our share of hard times, but the thing I love THE MOST about my family is our commitment to one another. That even though we do not necessarily agree with one another on every issue, or personal decision, we can argue and move on.  We are family because we are family (we have no choice), but I now realize that we are also friends and genuinely enjoy one another’s company. This past year  I had so many moments where I felt truly supported and loved by my immediate family. I also had many moments where I saw each person’s greatest assets and talents. I had so many laughs, so many deep conversations, and just in general, a lot of fun.  We actually ended the year by spending a few days together in New England just enjoying each other company, and getting to know the soon-to-be new member of the family–my sister’s fiance!

2.  Parties: This is a given, I know. But looking back on the year I realize that I participated in a lot of great parties and the truth is,  I love going to parties (i hate hosting them).  Highlights include my birthday part,y themed “Mardi Gras” with guest appearances by Shannon & Brian (sister and fiance), Peter and Steph, and other long-distance friends; Christmas in July (with someone even dressing up as the baby Jesus);  St. Patty’s Day (need I say more?); Half-way to St. Patty’s Day (really, this should be a twice-a-year celebration);  and of course New Years Eve (both years).This isn’t even mentioning spontaneous parties, bonfires, and wine nights.

3.  A New Job–as much as I complain about this, I am thankful to be considered a good candidate for a demanding position…and a pay raise!

4.  Really, really good friends–I say this, like, every single blog. But it’s because it’s true! This year I felt so supported from friends I see everyday and those I don’t.  This is particularly something to be thankful for because since I started new job AND a master’s degree, I have become a much more terrible friend.  I hope to find balance this year and remedy that.

5.  School–It’s funny how, after you have been out of school for a while, you become so incredibly thankful for the opportunity to study. Or at least that’s what happened to me. I love everything about it, and even though it might take me forever to complete my master’s degree, I don’t mind. I have the two best advisors any graduate student could ask for, who have taught me more than just history and literature. I am learning how to teach, how to mark, how to study, how to think, and how to love learning.

Well that’s my gratitude list. Now, quickly, here are my Top 5s for 2009.

Top 5 Things I’m Looking Forward to in 2009!

1. Ireland!! Nothing is set-in-stone just yet, but I am hoping to FINALLY take this dream trip. Right now I am applying for some grants in hopes of finding funding. The trip will be primary research for my thesis (intertwined with Guiness-tasting sessions) and will hopefully include the Scottish Highlands as well.   If anyone has any fund-raising ideas please let me know!

2. Balance: I did NOT do this very well last year. I had many many moments of pure anxiety and panic about my work load, nearing a burn-out sort of state, especially in the fall. I do not plan on repeating this, but instead I am striving to find some balance in my life.

3. No Speeding Tickets–I got another one in Massacheusettes in November.

4. My Sister’s Wedding–I realize that for her, right now, this more a point of anxiety than excitement, but I know it will all come together fine. She deserves a beautiful wedding and I love being a part of the process!

5. The Great Unknown–I love not knowing what the year holds. Likely some hard times, but surprises too.  Not just for me but my friends and family as well.  I’ll try to keep you posted on the really significant stuff!


Good Advice

"Don't sweat the petty things and don't pet the sweaty things"

Currently reading…

"'Tis" by Frank McCourt

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