Thursday, February 3, 2011

Diploma Day Reflections [2010]

Hi Colleagues,

Do-do-doooo! [Trumpet sound!]

Today is diploma day, at least in my world! I received my diploma for my MA in Communication and Leadership Studies from Gonzaga University. Perfect timing to brighten a cloudy and dark Seattle day. For the celebration part:  Time to mat, frame, and display it in the office, Baby!


Happy Diploma Day (above 5 images)!
Well wishes much appreciated! (above)
I'm an Alumna (again!):


Cause for Pause

Celebrations also invite me to reflect on epiphanies and lessons learned. This last week my body has been sick. For future studies, I write and want to continue to research communication, leadership, and art-related topics in response to my 17+ year history with this to-be-named illness starting with a paper that I wrote about envisioning change in western medical organizations.  Given this past, I thought my life was and would always be confined to illness and disconfirmation. Thankfully, this MA journey has proved me wrong (a good research requires falsifiability or a willingness to challenge assumptions, ask questions, be proven wrong, and understand that all measures we create reflect our reality).

Dream Lessons

Last night, before I went to bed, I journaled to acknowledge life is not one thing (e.g., illness) and be content, grateful, celebrate the good that God gives and does for me and that I do in partnering with his bigger picture. This morning, before I woke up, I had a dream. I'll spare the details, but the dream involved me wanting to run with family and friends, except that I couldn't even though I didn't want to be left behind. 

Go celebrate with them and let the fire burn in your belly for next year...

So I thought to myself in my dream, a thought within a dream, but I fought this thought and tried to run anyway. At the end, I told my dad and niece, "I'm getting emotional because I forgot what it was like to have fun." I awoke, coughed, and thought how could I run when I don't feel like it now?  Who likes to wait or invest in redeeming problems when used to running?

From this God whispered an epiphany.  He, through this MA process, has helped me transition to a core belief in life that each day is a new day and different from the last. Live for something and pursue goals in faith that life is and will be different and with this perspective, a willingness to see and be the difference... and have fun throughout. 

Party Like a Rock Star

Dare, risk, enjoy, heal, smile, forgive, laugh, pursue, live the love for life in part by drinking life to the full. This epiphany frees me and gives me the stillness and rest I need inside after years of striving to succeed while fretting and struggling to maintain a quality life amid health challenges. I learn that Life is not as a glass half or full, but about appreciating that there exists a glass to carry the water and fresh water for me to drink at all!  Consider, with gratitude, the successes in our year in review!  I look forward to walking in commencement, God-willing, to party like a rock star!

A Day in A Credo-ed Life

I worked very hard for this degree (5-10 hours/day/6 days/week for 2.5 years hard). I loved every moment of it. My credo in the program was to "wholly absorb myself in my gifts so that others may see my progress... and pay close attention to my teaching so that it will save others including myself" (1Tim. 4:14-16).  This credo applies to my career, too.

The Message in the Bottomless Glass

Elsewhere I write that I regard my vocation as holding a bottomless glass in a river [1]:  I do not power-hold, but experience the power of the river.  There remains a difference between absorbing and striving. Absorbing likens to density of focus, determination, and a joie de vivre in creating and working. Striving runs an undercurrent of constant anxiety, and anxiety feeds off of the belief that all will be unwell, that one divines the future to fail them and steal their investment. 

Quietly Listen

  It's been quiet in our house this week since I've been sick.  Perhaps there's a message here, too:  Quiet my spirit to ready for what is to come.  After all, my diploma signifies a closed chapter and a transition to a new one.  "Be still and cease striving and know God is God" in the process (Psa. 46:10 ESV). The NASB translation puts this concept as "cease striving." Put together, these epiphanies and Scriptures teach me to accept what God's hand gives me and be glad while living by my conscience and gifts.  So, worried about your next assignment, paper, thesis, or transition?  Be still... absorb!

Coda

I enrolled in this program with the encouragement from friends to "choose life" and "Why not teach at a University?" I began this program with the conviction to credentialize my perceived calling, to grow in my skills/gifts, and to consistently deliver quality results. I'm so happy for this accomplishment and know it comes with help. Overall, I learn the power in making paths for myself in light of my adversity and future hope, and to finish what I started and finish it well and whole.

Sailing an Even Keel

One summer I registered James and I for sailing lessons through Renton Community Services Recreation Department.  I wanted to participate with something he liked even though I feared the water.  

"Do you trust me?" the aged instructor asked.

"No, I don't know you," I replied honestly.  

Poor guy.  Oh well, we tried.  I enjoyed sailing with others in the larger boat.

Do I trust God? Loved ones? Myself?  I trust who I love, and not who I fear.  Fear reveals distrust and leaves life to chance.  I loved communication studies and the academic life and so pursued this program with the aforementioned convictions.  I'm a more confident and happy person for it! 

Be Happy

Here are some Scriptures brought to mind today:

In the day of prosperity be happy,
But in the day of adversity consider -
God has made the one as well as the other
So that man will not discover 
anything that will be after him.

Do not boast about tomorrow,
For you do not know 
what a day may bring forth.
~ Prov. 27:1 (NASB)

The key word is boast. The Apostle James reiterated this concept:

Come now, you who say,
'Today or tomorrow we will go 
into such and such a town and 
spend a year there 
and trade and make a profit.'

Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring.
What is your life?
For you are a mist that appears for a little time 
and then vanishes.
Instead you ought to say,
'If the Lord wills, 
we will live and do this or that.'
As it is, you boast in your arrogance.
All such boasting is evil.

So whoever knows the right thing to do 
and fails to do it,
for him it is sin.

Sounds harsh, but I see living by a conscience and passion requires mindfulness of my lifespan.  Make each moment count for eternity.  Boasting makes no room for love because to boast means to keep one's world small.  I'm grateful for the enlarged horizons I now enjoy from taking a risk by committing to a MA program.

Path Maker


Most importantly, this passage speaks aptly to what I have learned as a whole from my MA:

Strengthen the feeble hands,
steady the knees that give way;
say to those with fearful hearts,
'Be strong, do not fear;
your God will come,
he will come with vengeance;
with divine retribution
he will come to save you.'

Then will the eyes of the blind be opened
and the ears of the deaf unstopped.
Then will the lame leap like a deer,
and the mute tongue shout for joy.
Water will gush forth in the wilderness
and streams in the desert.

This passage encourages me that God will make a way inasmuch as I'm willing to steele my resolve to do the same. A diploma symbolizes my degree as a process of learning and growing in this precept. So, as I said, time to mat, frame, and display it on my office wall! Been waiting for that moment for 2.5 years! :D 

Matted + Framed! (above)
Shout Out

Let me encourage my colleagues still in school:  Press on! It's worth it! For those of you facing adversity, find your passion, gifts, calling, invest in those, and take heart. My illness in part affects my voice and yet I wrote my papers through voice dictation software. A blessing and joy to me. "Put your hand to the plow, make your path level, and look ahead!"  If I may challenge those of you dreamers:  What's your next move?  You go!

Steady as she goes,
Dena
Credits

  • Thank you to James for your help driving to campus four times, participating in the events and Orals, and printing/binding a copy of my thesis for yourself.
  • Thank you to my profs and colleagues for your support and guidance!
  • Thank you to colleagues and friends Monique, Brandy, Sherry, Jodi, Kash, Jorge, Scott, Anna S., Jim S., Christina P., Joe K., Jeremy S., Vicki, Steve R., and so many more for befriending me in the process.
  • Thank you to Shannon for celebrating my success over dinner and challenging me again, "The years will pass anyway, why not..." a PhD?
  • Thank you to Chevas and Danielle (and now little Levi) for praying for me, for your affection, and hospitality to host a lunch that I could eat. You invest in my success!
  • Thank you to Dena K., Juls, Hanh, April I., Matt I., Nathan M., Angie and Adam, Choon Ying and Laura for your vivacious friendship, advice, and prayers.
  • Thank you to Chevas, Anna S., and other people for contributing to my research on blogging story, passion, and healing.
  • Thank you to Sis N Barbi for saying you're proud of me.
  • Thank you to Aunt Sandy N cousins Sheryl N Zack for your Skype calls and interest in our lives!
  • Thank you to my parents for praying for me daily.
  • Thank you to Grandma for sharing your life and exemplifying your faith to me.
  • Thank you to our niece for being you and spending vacation days with me!
  • Thank you to Melissa and Susan at Vision House for collaborating with me on our communication audit for this program and your organization and for inviting me back to photograph your staff Christmas party!
  • Thank you to Sr. Celeste Crine (OSF) and Sharon Ecklund at The Franciscan Place at St. Joseph Family Center for working with me to create a community profile for your organization while in this program. 
  • Thank you to Fr. Jacobson for speaking with our production team for your community profile at the Cardinal Bea House.
  • Thank you to all the professors, past, present, and potential, who have advised and invested in me and my academic work.
  • Thank you to Diane P., Colleen Nordlund, Melissa G., Aunt Laura, Jeanette R., Beth W., Bob, Marilyn, Kim W., and Pastors Dave, Martin and Thelma, and Jim for your prayers and/or mentorship over the years.
Author's Note

1Thanks to Pastor Jim for this visual and for demonstrating active interest and compassion for my progress.

God has done great things for us
and we are filled with joy!