Tuesday, April 24, 2018

PhinisheD

That's my goal in the next few years....to be finished with my PhD. I have been thinking about how I haven't written here in a long while, a little bit on purpose, and that perhaps I should start again, chronicling the PhD journey.

Thus far, I've been in the program for about a year. I just finished my first residency, an intensive week consisting of 1:1 feedback from instructors. It was a really neat environment, getting to hyper focus on my 10 strategic points of my topic, and being surrounded by like minded people.

Since then, I've been thinking a lot about the uphill battle I have to completing this doctorate. Throughout this past first year, there are moments when I feel totally ready to conquer, and many other moments were I feel just beat down and exhausted. Not until recently have I started having those serious questions of "what the heck did I get myself into?" and even more so, "WHY in the heck did I get myself into this?"

For anyone considering getting a doctorate, just know that it's not for the faint of heart. The work to transition into an independent scholar is some serious internal work, aside from the sheer depth of the courses, and then of course, the dreaded dissertation. Which brings me back to my recent serious questionings, where I've suddenly seriously doubted I could actually do it.

On the third day of the residency, my instructor told me to get started on my Prospectus. It took me hours to just realize what exactly that might mean. Later, when we met for our 1:1, she asked me about it and I just stared at her and she's like, "You look nervous"... And for the first time that week, I was. Prior to this, I felt fine, because I felt prepared and like I knew what I was doing. I pretty much had my gap (I hoped), I pretty much had my 10 points, she said I did....and I didn't believe her. So earlier in the day, I told her straight up, "I know you said I have this, but I don't believe you". We reviewed it and I had questions and she told me to look those up and so I did....and then later, she gave me the green light to start on this Prospectus. This was terrifying because: 1-I wasn't prepared. If you know me at all, you know I like to be well prepared. 2-I didn't "know how". I wasn't taught about this yet, I hadn't learned yet, I had only kind of heard of it. 3-This is like a year away that I really focus on this, I thought. 4-This means that I'm doing well and now there is a bigger chance of failure. 

And as I was typing this, I thought "bingo".  Vulnerability. I suddenly felt massively vulnerable in front of her. A vulnerability that I hadn't felt during the days before. I hate vulnerability and want to avoid it. So, I do. I went back to my 10 points. The next day, I basically said again...that I didn't trust her when she said I was good. She literally just stopped me right then and said it was good, something about confidence, and to turn that in.

She was beautiful, amazing, kind hearted, brilliant, held us to a high standard, direct, clear, thoughtful, insightful, and all the things you want in an instructor for your first doctoral residency. She asked thought provoking questions and then expected you to think about it and have an answer for it and she consistently seemed to act with integrity, which were two of my favorite parts about her.

When she noted my nervous look on my face, and asked me about it, I knew then that she was going to be someone who I wanted to make proud. And then, she told me she was proud of me. And I again, shared my doubt...And then, thought number four came rushing in again: This means that I'm doing well and now there is a bigger chance of failure. I can't let her down. What if I let her down? I can't let myself down. What if I let myself down? I can do this. What if I can't do this? I can graduate sooner rather than later. What if I can't finish at all? Why does she seem like such a great human being? I want to be a great human being.

It's amazing how quickly those thoughts come rushing in and how much they can impact us. It meant so much to me when she told me she was proud of me. She's the kind of person that seems like she is proud of a lot of people, yet every single person feels like it's special. I really appreciated the statement, even though it also has somewhat terrified me that now I can really start to let people down.

They had us rate our stress levels and write a reason why our level was what it was. Scale of 0-10, and I just consistently put a 4. Before this moment described above happened, I was chugging along. And then she tells me she's proud of me and I can move forward on to the next step. 9. I wrote a 4. But 9. But in a good way. Like you for real think I can do this? Can I for real trust you? The answer to both of those might actually be yes. It's been about five days since the end of residency and I'm still not really sure where I'm at on all of this.

I have a lot more to process (which she totally recognized, how is she so good?!) and I have a lot more to do. I can't really do much until I process....so processing part 1 starts here.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Enough

Word of the year: Enough

2015: Relentless
2016: Intentional 
2017: Grow
2018: Enough

This year, I'm going to focus on reminding myself of the idea that I'm already enough. What I do is enough. I don't always have to do more. I do enough. Ashley, you can go home, you've done enough. Ashley, you can rest, you've done enough. Ashley, enough. 

It's not really about materials or fear of not having enough, I struggle more with simply being enough. And this year, I'm going to try to emphasize the word enough to myself. This idea that I'm already good enough, as is. Believing that God is real and that He's enough for me. 

This online journal has been a way to "showcase" the constant push and pull around vulnerability and being enough. Not Enough Blog Post-2013

I am enough.
You are enough.
God is enough.

Enough. 

Monday, November 20, 2017

Better vs. Safer

Being brave is something I've been thinking a lot about, lately. Ashley, be brave has essentially been an ongoing pep talk. Then, I got really sick and that impeded some of my plans, er, progress. Now that I'm starting to get better, be brave has started to creep back into my consciousness. Sometimes it's great. Sometimes it sucks. Because if there is anything I've realized it's that I'm not very brave.

I just had a conversation within myself of, "Well, which option is better? If the harder one happened, would it be worth it...would it be better?" And my response to myself was, "Yes, it would be. But the other option is safer. And safer sounds better."

The question of "what's the worst that could happen" is actually not all that helpful for me. Because I come up with very logical, realistic options. And safety is one of of my biggest values that I hold, and it comes out in a lot of decisions. Sometimes I need people to just not let me choose safety. Other times, I need people to support me when I choose safety.

A silly example of this is with colored pants.
Friend 1: Why won't you wear colored pants? What's the worst that could happen?
Friend 2: I really want to hear this. Although, Ashley will probably have a very logical answer and it will make total sense as to why she doesn't.

Later, when I separately told them my answer, both of them said it made sense and they understood.

There's a facebook group called, Girl be brave and it's beautiful. It's mainly a lot of memes and encouraging quotes, and sometimes women post really kind words to each other.

Anyways. I often pretty much always choose the safe option. I'm good at that. I'm not good at being brave. Being vulnerable. Being real. Telling people how I feel. Wearing colored pants. Asking questions I don't know the answers to. Giving a response to questions I don't know the answer to. Having a conversation without ignoring people.

Some of my friends tell me I'm better at this than what I think I am and remind me to give myself a little more credit than what I do. Sometimes, I do try to choose the "better" option and sometimes I succeed. But I sure do like the comfort of my safety bubble.

God isn't a far away being who encourages safety. He desires intimacy. In another video he says, "God makes himself vulnerable to dwell with his people." This one reminds me that to love is to be vulnerable.

I found some notes I wrote from a conference during undergrad. Here are two questions/answers from it:

What's one thing you could experiment with this week that would allow others to really see you?
Start a conversation about myself

What's the benefit of you doing this?
Someone told me that I test people, but I make the test so hard it's impossible to pass

Those are from about seven years ago. I really have been trying hard to work on this, particularly the first one.

The second question cracks me up, but not in the good way. People have told me the same thing (making tests hard to pass), so I guess I haven't been as good at that one...However! The language has changed from "impossible" to "hard", so I think I have made tremendous
improvement. 

Safer isn't always better. But it sure feels like it is. 


Saturday, September 2, 2017

Runnin' Runnin' Runnin'


"Let's Get It Started" -Black Eyed Peas

I've (sort of) started running. What I think about every time I don't want to run is when I was working with my athletes in grad school. I loved working for the athletics department, even if only as a part time gig while in grad school--athletes are an incredible group of individuals, especially college athletes.

I don't think about them running or exercising...(their practice times are INSANE, by the way). I don't think "if they can do it, so can I" (because that's not really true...). But what I think about is when I would challenge them in the study room to do well in academics. We expect them to perform well in both academics and athletics. Academics comes fairly easy to me. It's not fair for me to push them in academics if I won't push myself in the area of athletics.

When I start to just get tired, I think about the late night study sessions when they wanted to just close the books and leave early and I had to use some motivational techniques to get them to stay and keep going. When I think, "This isn't worth it", I think about them studying for a big test or preparing to write a big paper. And they would do it. They stayed, they studied, they performed in the classroom and in their sport. When I start to get busy, I remind myself of their ridiculous travel schedules with the expectation that they would still go to pretty much every class and again, nonsense practice times and schedules.

They didn't inspire me because of how they performed in their sport. That's not what I think about. It's about if I expect them to do well academically and athletics, I gotta say, "me too".

So shout out to college athletes. They're the real MVPs. 

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Late 20s

I'm officially in my late 20s. Wasn't that long ago when I was just turning 20....about 7 years ago to be exact.

When I turned 20, I thought about what I wanted this decade to be and when I turned 21 I had reflected and wrote:


On my 20th birthday, I decided that I wanted this decade to be one that I spent loving people and loving Jesus. I wanted to be excited and be surrounded with people that love and support me and I want other people to know that I love and support them. 


So, now that I'm in my late 20s, it is a time to check in on this....

Also, this was truly a great birthday--
  • I had a meeting at 8am and someone came by and brought me Starbucks coffee. 
  • I went to my office and it was decorated with streamers and balloons.
  • Every time I left my office and came up, something new was on my desk all from different people
    • Succulent plant (my first plant)
    • Candy (sour gummy worms) and chocolate
    • Mountain Dew
    • Multiple cards
    • Handwritten puns
    • A printed out pun taped to my door
    • A handwritten card from an 8 year old, quoting my favorite song from "Hamilton" and a "bath bling bomb"
    • A birthday hat that I wore most of the day 
    • A mini cake
  • Delicious dinner
  • Lots of awesome things from my parents

I want to spend my twenties simply loving Jesus in the most passionate and powerful ways.

I want people to feel joy, feel loved, feel cherished, feel excited. Excited for their life, for the year, for the decade. 

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Loneliness



I don't even know what to write about this...except something's gotta change. 

Monday, May 8, 2017

Discipleship

"Becoming a disciple does not mean doing a few religious things once a week and leaving the rest of our life the same. Authentic discipleship transforms all aspects of life, every day, at work, at home, in all relationships." -Dallas Willard

Beautiful Exchange, Hillsong


I heard this song for this first time yesterday at church and I have essentially been listening to it on repeat ever since.

I've really been thinking about being a Christian and a disciple of Christ. Well, avoiding is maybe the more appropriate word. I've been avoiding thinking about it. And if there is one thing I'm good at, it's avoiding. Truly, if I am not able to avoid a conversation, I will then avoid answering questions. I will literally sit in silence for however long needed to avoid the conversation. It's a skill, really. Sometimes, quite helpful. Other times...quite harmful. I avoid with people, I avoid with myself, and I avoid with God. Last night, I realized sometimes I try to trick myself and play worship music and pretend I'm at least trying to connect to God. Oftentimes, it's genuine. Other times, not so much. And recently, not so much. The actual idea of just sitting and listening. Or sitting and praying. Thanks, but no thanks. I don't want to.

I wrote out the lyrics of this song in my journal and then underlined the parts I loved the most...every line ended up being underlined. But here, I do want to highlight the beginning and what originally got me hooked:

You were near, though I was distant
Disillusioned I was lost and insecure
Still mercy fought for my attention
You were waiting at the door

So yesterday, that quote from Dallas Willard and that song happened. And the message was on Matthew 7:24-29, about the wise and foolish man building their houses on different foundations. My notes are basically as follows:

Essentially, everyone is building something (a life)--how are we building it and what are we building it on? We can tell based on our decisions, choices, reactions, relationships, and priorities. The storms will come, so it matters how I build.

What people often build on: career (me), family, health, money (sometimes me), accomplishments (me), hobbies. I need to choose. I can be an admirer from a distance (like basically what I've been since moving back) or follow Him in all decisions. I need to be a person who wrestles and chooses Jesus. Oftentimes, we believe from afar. In all areas, there is a challenge and I need to step out and do this. It all begins with a decision to base my life on Jesus. Will I follow and actively choose Him in all of my decisions. Jesus asks us to follow Him--not to be amazed by Him. He's not looking for me to be amazed by Him. He's looking for me to follow and obey Him and to be his disciple.

Today, I wrote this in my journal:
Be God honoring in all you do, Ashley. In the way you think, feel, act, interact. In the way in which you experience emotions and express them. It is about honoring, pursuing the God of this world. He needs to be your foundation, your base, your all. Your heart and what it longs after needs to be given attention and more important than your career, academics, relationships. Worship in all you do. Trust Jesus, Ashley. Trust that He's real. Trust that He's got you. Trust that He loves you. that He's worth more. Make an actual decision. Commit. Let Him in. Let other people in. Let people dig deep into you. And base your faith in Christ. 

I know I haven't been an authentic disciple in a long time, because I can keep it all separate. And I don't want that. Because my relationship with Jesus should permeate in all areas of my life. In a way that is real, genuine, kind, forgiving, patient, joyful. The fruits of the spirit should be evident in what I do, say, think, and act. I absolutely need people in my life to hold me accountable to this.