Thursday, August 8, 2013

Full Circle

So it has been a year now.  A year since last August when I sat with a friend over breakfast. She asked some questions that found myself coming alive as I described some of my previous work and realized at that point that it was time for me to inquire about taking a graduate class to test the waters about going back to school.  From that moment on it has been a whirlwind.  Within two weeks I was not only taking one class but becoming a full-time grad student in the Leadership Studies doctoral program.  I interviewed for an assistantship by the time classes started the end of August and have been working on campus since in the Undergraduate Education office as a GA for the general education program.  The year has been full and I still need to breathe it all in as I now take some needed time to reflect.

Yesterday I just finished my last summer course and also met with the same friend from last August and talked about the year.  How incredibly blessed I feel to have had these opportunities.  In many ways I feel like the year was about me exploring deeper into who I am, embracing this liminal space of waiting and the not yet's, and making connections with some great people.  I have written and read more than ever in my life and amazingly I still feel like I can do more :)  Which I guess is good since I still have more to go.

This next year's goal is to narrow in on a topic and research question that I will want to love.  Love enough to read a lot about it, write about it, and research on it.  The problem likely won't be not knowing what to do, but to narrow it down from my many interests.  I have enjoyed reading and writing about so many things this year:  authentic leadership, organizational change and transitions, restorative discipline in schools, authenticity and owning our stories, and generational differences with employee recruitment to small towns.  While I feel like I have nurtured the small flame within me, I still long to know what is around the bend.  So much of life/work has been presented to me and I just take it and run.  I guess I knew I wanted to teach and coach and amazingly the Mennonite school where I attended happened to have my specialized area of Business open at the right time.  I also knew I wanted to do my master's degree and that became a possibility after we made our move to do voluntary service in MI.  A paid position in adult programming became open at Amigo Centre (where we did VS) after we moved to IN.  The amazing process of moving to VA and how the doors of opportunity opened to be at EMU and then later to buy our small farm and then again to work back at EMU was formational for me.

So often I ask myself why this transition to OH has been more difficult. I use to be the one who pushed for change, to move on.  I know deep within that had we stayed in VA, I likely would have been ready to make a change in my work anyways.  Has this change been more difficult not because of work and purpose but because for the first time since living with my parents had I begun to put down roots?  That the difficulty in transition was more about people, about having a place that we adored, a place our children called home?

I keep wanting to land on this amazing topic to research that will launch me into my next career move, that will make an impact on some population and give me an amazing opportunity to make a difference.  How do I relax and trust that the God who has led me in the past will continue to lead me now?  That it is baby steps, that it is opening the spaces in my mind and heart to see in new ways what maybe God has been trying to show me for awhile now - or maybe for the first time.  Maybe I am needing to try again to put down roots, to be connected to here, rather than looking to the what's next before I am ready for what is next.  Has my path not always prepared me well for the next step?  It seems that those steps just naturally happened and this time it feels like I have the opportunity to help shape those next steps and I just don't know which direction to go - higher ed, K-12 schools, Mennonite church, business world, teaching, administration...and likely it won't be any of those.  Maybe school is the avenue that is to help me be patient in the waiting, not yet time?  To help me transition away from the doing, to the being, so that the being becomes stronger than the doing.

For one class I needed to write my personal code of ethics.  That assignment helped me to articulate in new ways this inner sense of being. The song, "One Voice" has become a way for me to capture the image of coming full circle.  I ended up pulling together a number of things from my reading and thoughts into a table and titled it "OWNING OUR STORIES:  Empowering Voices, Practicing Authenticity, Cultivating Hope."  I think I need to sit with this again.  

Wailin Jennys
Empowering Voices/Transformation
Practicing
Authenticity
Community/Circle Cultivating Hope
Spirituality/Faith
Wholehearted Living
One Voice
-          Knowing oneself & our Creator
-          Soul searching & worthiness
-          Inviting grace, joy & gratitude into our lives
-          Loving ourselves
Value & Worth
Personal Experience or perspective
Created by God – wonderfully made

Engaging our lives from a place of worthiness
Voices Two
-          Provides support, encouragement
-          1-1 listening, mentoring
-          Validating, giving dignity & respect
-          Opening ourselves, becoming vulnerable
-          Telling our stories - Truth-telling
Courage

Becoming open, building trust; validating voice of others; sharing story with facilitator; preparation for the Circle process
Beauty is revealed from light within
We are brave and worthy of love and belonging;
Love is something we nurture & grow;
Telling our stories;
Voices Three
-          Belonging, connectedness
-          Inviting diversity
-          Harmony – beauty & creativity
-          Community created
Connection
Group circle; valuing each voice; stating own needs; entering in to others stories, listening; repairing harms
Connected to each other by God who is greater than all of us
True belonging happens when we present our authentic imperfect selves
All of Us
-          Attraction to the harmony
-          Need to express & experience love, trust, courage, hope, joy, forgiveness
-          Open hands – seeking & serving
-          Focus outward, not to just those who we want to call our neighbor
Compassion
Going forward with new hope & perspective – reaching out to others by fulfilling obligations; ripple effect
Grounded in love and compassion
Restorative; choosing to let go of fear

One People/
One Voice
-          A transformation - deeper, enriched person
-          Feels deeply, sees deeply
-          HOPE
-          Resilience, grounded
-          Impact is far reaching
Purpose
Place in the world; responding out of value & worth; seeing beyond self; connected to the whole – seeing all people as valued; completing the circle
Brings meaning and purpose to our lives
Good for the soul; we are not alone; inspired; freedom

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