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08 October 2006 @ 09:36 am
She Changes Everything She Touches  
It's the full moon, and I am thinking about how far I have come from the moment I stood under a moon just like this one, and dreamt that I could change my whole life... leave my unhappy marriage, stop being an at home mom to go back to school, battle down my fear of failing or worse ending up destitute... truly believing that I was lazy and incapable of taking care of myself.

I have had so many battles since then, my first real job, having to carry the weight of being responsible for supporting my family, an abusive boyfriend, clinical depression, budgets, getting back into college, single-motherhood, moving cross country, blending families, crazy ex-wives, first years of a second marriage.. for both of us, undergraduate degree, honor thesis, cancer...

Recently, I got a few emails from people who check this journal, worrying that I might be very ill because I haven't posted in so long. I feel bad that I didn't check in at all; I wasn't thinking about how that might look for people who care. I'll admit that I did feel pretty down when treatment ended.. maybe physical exhaustion, maybe my mind's desperate attempt to escape the anxiousness of "now what". But right now everything looks fine... on paper. I have my six month check up in a month or so and that is when they do the first post-treatment mamogram. However, in the past two months I have started my Ph.D. program full swing, and I don't have time to worry about cancer anymore... or anything else. Right now it's 4:30 in the morning, and I really should be studying or sleeping, which I only get to do for about 4-6 hours a night these days. There is no time for anything else, and I have to steal time I don't have just to interact with my husband and children.

Don't get me wrong I'm not complaining. Honestly, I have never been happier in all my life! I Love my program, the professors and researchers I am getting to work with, and the freedom I have to develop my own research ideas with multiple mentors (of which there are plenty to choose, given that we work can between three departments, Educational Psychology, Psychology, and Human and Community Development all well respected productive research environments). My primary advisor is just fantastic to work with! And, every time I feel the complete exhaustion of grad school with a family, I think "Oh my god, I never thought I would make it to this!" and I feel giddy all over again that I actually got accepted to a counseling psychology program that is 5th in the nation!

Add to that, the fact that I get to be a part of the most amazing group of people everyday. The other first years in my program are well… they are like a dream come true. They are kind, sensitive, genuinely intellectually hungry and seek to integrate the ideas we are being exposed to into a holistic worldview. We have all gotten pretty close, because everyone is feeling like they can’t make it anymore, everyday… and this feeling is a whole lot easier to take when your not alone there. But I think it may be more than that, because several people have told me that they heard about how close we all are, like that is something unusual and special about us. I think one thing that makes our group's cohesion possible is the diversity of our experiences and skills, and that we have all gotten invested in each other’s success. My most amazing experience so far, was a moment just after we had to debate an ethical issue in class. My brain did that thing were I am just on, and words come out of my mouth barely processed, but eloquent and concise. I was grabbing points out of the other group’s arguments and cutting clear to the logic effortlessly… it was really fun. I didn’t start to worry about the [i]usual[/i] implications of rising to my full potential in that moment, until I had finished the closing argument… just as I began to be concerned, I heard a kind of awe sound go around the room. Then several people from both sides of the debate complemented me. WOW! It was the most glorious feeling, to be everything I am capable of and recieve from others around me, not fear or distain, but the genuine admiration of people I admire. It’s like that! We look out for each other, and we are proud of each other… it’s a very unusual experience for me... maybe just unusual period.

If that weren't enough.. I am even getting to teach Educational Psychology. I have a class of 25 for two hours each week. It is really the highlight of the whole experience. They are an impressive bunch of thinkers who will go on to be teachers (they are all Ed majors) and I get to influence how they think about that a little more every week. I tell them that this is important to me, because I failed out of college the first time. I tell them that I once turned in a math test with nothing but a poem that was just two steps from a suicide note written on it in high school, and got it back with nothing but a big red zero, no phone call to my mom, not an are you okay.. nothing. I tell them that I struggled with dyslexia, ADD, and a difficult family life growing up… and one day not to long from now, I am going to be in their class. I am going to seem difficult and unreachable, but I am really just sitting in the back thinking I am stupid and that I can't make it. Then I say “and how what you communicate to me about who you think I am, and how you interact with me could have to potential to help me save myself form taking over a decade to get back on track to realizing my dreams.... or it could make the difference between my succeeding at all. Then we talk about science and I try to get them to stopping equating the word with the “who is John Galt” kind of mentally it that the Republican party is selling them right now. The professor, a man distinguished for teaching excellence, who oversees the course is also a joy to work with… and he thinks I am great too.

Wow, I am becoming everything I promised the moon. I am becoming a teacher, healer, and a writer/researcher… without even realizing when I began I was taking up that path. When I started all this I just wanted to leave an unhealthy relationship, maybe create a happy marriage one day. Along the way while striving desperately to become more hardened and to be more realistic vs the starry-eyed idealist of my past... I have ended up exactly where I dreamt I’d be in my most mystic moments... Ha.. she changes everything she touches..

You can find me: My Home Office
Feeling Kinda: Enthusiastic
Listening To: She Changes Everything She Touches, Libana
goattalkergoattalker on October 8th, 2006 02:27 pm (UTC)
It is great to hear you are well. Good luck with the Ph.D. program, though it sounds like you are doing very well and in no need of luck at all.
Hypatia: Coyhypatia360 on October 8th, 2006 05:46 pm (UTC)
Ddd...Duck? Is that you? My ever faithful friend who check in ever when I so selfishly don't..?
goattalkergoattalker on October 8th, 2006 06:31 pm (UTC)
Yes, that is me-- webbed feet and all. Again, I am very happy you are well.
Xanth Vamp: My Happy Facexanthvamp on October 9th, 2006 08:16 am (UTC)
Hey there girl, good to hear from you!!

Things are CRAZY in my neck of the woods... if you wanna read about my upheaval, you can go here and here for the start of it (be sure you're logged in). But I won't sully this uplifting post with my drama, heh.

I'm glad you are well on your way to seeing your dreams realized. That's SO exciting. I hope to keep hearing from you - I only get to hear little bits from Megan on occasion. :D

Take care.
(Deleted comment)
Xanth Vamp: A day I don't dancexanthvamp on October 9th, 2006 08:14 pm (UTC)
Oh! *laughs* See, I replied to THIS one first, so I put my pic on this one, then I figured you'd know when you saw the second one. Guess you saw them in reverse ;).

Take your time - my life is a mess right now.

Good luck on the test! I only took stats in undergrad - I can't even imagine the level you're at. I'll stick with my animals and biology, thank you ;).
Hypatia: pajamma thinkhypatia360 on October 19th, 2006 01:06 am (UTC)
Hey Melinda,
I am glad you put your picture on this one, I was wondering who was inlove with my husband for comics? :)
I won't be able to read up until after the stats test, but I'll check in then.
Shannonchoiceful on October 10th, 2006 01:40 am (UTC)
This makes me happy :)
Hypatia: Ethnic Beautyhypatia360 on October 19th, 2006 01:05 am (UTC)
Hey Lady!
How are you?

Which part makes you happy?
The Ph.D., the teaching, the Moon?
Shannonchoiceful on October 19th, 2006 01:50 am (UTC)
That you sound engaged and happy, that things are sounding optimistic with the cancer, the Ph.D, and teaching.
Hypatia: Big Kisshypatia360 on October 21st, 2006 03:53 am (UTC)
Thank you.
It really is nice to know that you are still around.

Okay, I have to know....
Where are you, and what are you doing in that picture?
And, how's the little one?
Shannonchoiceful on October 24th, 2006 06:16 pm (UTC)
I'm in a pillow bin that I ordered parts for which Patri and friends put together, that is filled with the pillows we had at our wedding that I'd just sewn cases for ;)

The little one is doing great. Here are pics from a couple of days ago :)