Tuesday, January 23, 2018

I am doing fine (and I am not lying)

Next week marks the halfway point in the second quarter of the 2nd year of my doctoral program.
I will defend my dissertation proposal this year and write it next year.
I have the most magnificent cohort of women journeying alongside me.
I have an incredible partner and children cheering me on.
My opportunities to grow & learn & network abound.
I am living my dream

So, if you ask me how I am doing, I will tell you 
"I am doing fine"
I am not lying 
{but I'm also not telling you the whole truth}

The whole truth is...
I am tired
{more tired than when I worked midnights & more tired even than when we had a newborn}
Commuting two time zones for school is not as easy as it looks.
I have serious FOMO with our family’s every day life.
I find it difficult to have to miss our kids’ birthdays.
I still need pep talks on the regular because this feels so…beyond.
I miss sleeping right up next to my partner every night.
I long to connect {in real lifewith my tribe spread around the globe.
I struggle with needing to choose time with my family over time with friends.
I struggle with needing to choose schoolwork over time with family & friends.
It is hard for me to say “no" or "I am sorry I can't..." 
I just miss the way things used to be.  

This season is different.
Living my dream is lovely and validating and also...
really, really hard.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Adolescence, Interrupted

Do people always tell you things they've never told anyone before?” 

We'd just completed a 2-hr interview in a participant’s home and were headed back to the office.  
In the interview, I too, had been struck by our participants’ vulnerability 
but it was in line with what I typically encounter
{occupational gift / occupational hazard}
so by the time I climbed into the car, I was mostly feeling relieved the digital recorder worked and the interview was completed within the allotted time frame.
 My colleague {trained as a lawyer and social worker without clinical or qualitative research experience} was floored.  

Overcome by so many emotions"

The participants we are interviewing are my colleague’s clients.
They are individuals incarcerated for a lifetime at age 14 – 17 yo.
Then, re-sentenced & released following the Supreme Court determination that juvenile life without parole (JLWOP) sentences are unconstitutional.
They have spent more time in prison than I have been alive.

My colleague has worked countless hours, without pay, to assist with his clients’ cases and knows the complex depth and breadth that accompanies each.

He knows the grief, sadness, and pain they’ve inflicted on others.
He knows the challenges they’ve had to face + overcome to be sitting in their home with us.
He knows the costs of their freedom.
He knows the importance of their stories to impact public perception and sentencing policy.

For months, my colleague has been worried the research won’t be able to get very deep given our allotted interview window.  I have been fastidious with developing the interview protocols and training our study team, which I think instituted a sense that the interview might feel constrained or artificial.  For months, I have assured him we would be able to honor their stories through this research project but as he expressed this concern again while we walked up his client’s porch steps, the only thing left to say was:

It’ll be okay, you’ll see

And it was.

During this, his first interview, he heard information and perspectives he hadn’t heard before – even though he has been listening for months and months.  
As we drove away, he was already generating ideas for ways their agency could immediately support their clients better during mitigation and re-entry.  
He was moved to attend to his work differently.   

Policy informs practice.
Practice informs research.
Research informs practice.
Research informs policy.

Trauma-informed, community-based research.
This is why I, as a clinician, feel compelled to do research.


This why I am doing the whole PhD thing.


Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Being True

We are at the end of the quarter and the final assignment in one of my classes is to write "an informal end-of-career journal entry."  We are to pretend we are at the end of our scholarly career and reflect on the accomplishments or impact our work has had.
None of you will likely be surprised by this, my entry:

Here’s the deal, 
I am not super comfortable with the idea of envisioning the mountain top – the end of my scholarly career – and looking back to reflect on where I have been and what I have done.  
That is not me.  
The process is me.  

Choosing how to live in the moment – that is me.  
In the end, what I accomplish is going to be based on decisions and risks I take along the way
what I have learned in my first four decades of life is this: 
I have no idea what those decisions and risks are going to be ahead of time. 
So, when thinking about impact, I don’t want to be looking back, I want to be looking forward.  
I want to be intentional and grounded.
I want to see potential in myself, in others, and in the landscape around us -
{even when it feels like a lost cause}

I am not satisfied with the reflection, “what have I accomplished?” 
I want to forge a pathway rooted in the question, 
how then shall I live?

This is how I want to live:
As a scholar, as a partner, as a mother, as family
{or framily, as my kids call friends who are our chosen family},
as a colleague, as an educator, as a mentor, and as a friend, I endeavor to co-create a society in which I want to live.  
I want to be authentic and gracious. 
I want to challenge and to be challenged – to do better, to be better, and to live fully.  
I want to have vision and purpose
I want to always feel responsibility for what I know, for what I learn along the way.
I want to choose to see the best in others & I want to fight for perspectives other than my own to be at “the table.”  
I want to know and to be known.  
I want to love and to be loved.   
I want what I do to be reflective of all of the intersecting parts of my personhood
I want to see the intersectionality in others.

When I look back
{which I fully acknowledge is developmentally appropriate}
I know I will be able to point to accomplishments
but I want those to be defined by how I choose to live. 

Day by day. 
Moment by moment. 
Decision by decision.

The process is my impact.

The process is me.