Thinking out loud while "changing my thinking"

in Him


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The Blog World (revised)

Somehow my edited version of this blog did not get published. So sorry for the redundancy, but I will take a stab at recalling what I actually hoped to communicate.

The blogging community is pretty amazing. Though I was up at an ungodly hour (alarm went off at 3:30 am Denver time), I finally realized there is a method to the madness!

It began with a notification that Opinionated Man (http://aopinionatedman.com/about-opinionated-man/) is now following my blog. Then by seeing a response, Morning Story and Dilbert (http://morningstoryanddilbert.wordpress.com/author/morningstoryanddilbert/) had written to me…WHO KNOWS HOW LONG AGO!!! SMH!

(utter shock)

You have to realize, each of these bloggers have THOUSANDS of followers… one in particular over 20000…so for them to take the time to respond to commentary is like WOW.

It was at this moment, a light bulb went off!

Though blogging is very much a way of communicating and sharing your deepest thoughts with whoever may be interested… it is also about humbly, valuing the readers…respecting them…showing an interest in them… and in some way acknowledging the time they take to read an expression of yourself.

Afterall, who am I that anyone should take an interest in my rantings?

So today, I say THANK YOU to all those who have chosen to follow this blog and/or read posts. It is definitely not a polished art for me yet, but my hope is that as I continue to read and get inspired through Him and other written expressions…it will get there!

 

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What they don’t tell you about graduate school

So this has been a long time coming. As I sit here, slowly getting drowsy and maybe a little high from my good ol’ perky (yes, an unexpected root canal has led me to more scripts … smh). I am reflecting on what is an almost 9 year journey and counting. 9 years!!!

If the people who knew me now, knew me back then… they would have never guessed that I, of all people, would still be lingering in graduate school. I could never have guessed it myself. I had a plan… and I knew where I was going.

My freshman year in undergrad, I discovered I was not as dumb as I thought. Unlike high school where I made the full spectrum of grades, I found myself “excelling” in my classes… well, in all but the ones I hated… For example: Dr Prigg’s english class – where you got locked out if you arrived when class started, also known as the hardest english course, though introductory. Linear algebra – which back then, seemed to have no purpose, but now I regret not paying attention. And essentially all the other elective courses that did not stimulate my critical thinking skills in any way.

With time, teachers were giving me extra assignments to keep me engaged, were allowing me to skip final exams because they knew I would ace them, especially my math courses. By the time I graduated, I was off to Finland, for my second international research internship and had a 3.8_ GPA. Not perfect, but pretty decent considering my background.

The whole time, I was convinced by multiple professors that grad school was the route for me, because I was able to think… and would succeed at it.

I was excited. It seemed like a match made in heaven… spending years, receiving a modest stipend to be a student, getting to work on/solve real life problems. To be able to learn and apply that knowledge to something tangible… yes, It sounded like a dream. I would never be bored, after all I loved chemistry for that very reason… it challenged me.

However, the challenges I have experienced through my graduate career… were not what I anticipated…nor was I warned about them.

1) I’ll start by saying, graduate school is NOT academically hard… it is mentally hard.

When people are selling it to you, they do not tell you that you can no longer rely on having rewarding milestones to make you feel like your accomplishing something. There are a limited number of courses you will take…so you quickly realize, no one is really that concerned with grades. That mentality might as well go out the window. There is no pat on the back…

2) Your research advisor, principal investigator (PI), boss, aka head honcho mentor… can make or break your career in a single sweep or the slow and steady decline….or even the prolonged “long and winding” road journey to the finish line.

My 9 years… has been a combination of ALL of … LOL. I have no clue what category to fit it in.

2.5 yrs was spent with one boss who trapped me into a project he loved and i did not…another 2.5 was spent with a boss who got fed up with my lack of motivation, due to working on a project that was a dead-end… and now the past 3 years (well technically 2 of actual productive work), has been spent with the best mentors I have encountered so far…and I am finally closer to the finish line.. but also pretty burnt out.

3) Though your co-workers can not truly determine your career… they can make that journey dreadfully painful.. or the most enriching tale of friendships and support you will encounter!

I have experienced both…between a group that was united in friendship, laughter, potlucks, tears, tragedies…etc… and a group where within the first 1.5 years of my joining, the tension was so thick that when you walked into a meeting, you gasped as you entered the room.

But in each case, you come to realize the significance of collaborating… learning to be flexible and adjusting… coming to appreciate the good that exists in even the most conniving of characters. You also learn to respect people regardless of how you feel or how they act… basically to make the most of the experience because you will be with these people for at least 3 to 6 (or so) years of your life.

If you find yourself in a “the world is coming to an end mentality” aka severely struggling to cope, you will probably realize some maturing has to occur on your part…

4) Research takes PATIENCE and truly changing your thinking.

It really does not matter how smart you are…how driven and self-motivated you are… RARELY will you stumble on miracle results that earn you that instant gratification of publication worthy stories. Which means, you have to set you mind up for the training ground of ENDURANCE. There will be failures, hits and misses, subtle or abrasive condescension, competition, bitter battles with that sense of defeat, spurts of basking in your productivity…secretly hoping it won’t go unrecognized aka pat on the back moment lol. All of these lead to pretty intense emotional responses…which brings me to

5) Let’s be real… no matter how independent you consider yourself…you NEED support.

There is no going solo on this journey… there are days you may find yourself crippled… in need of just a little human interaction… love… something that brings life to the dry, dead bones caused by constant staying afloat in quick sand.

For me….God, the numerous people he has placed in my life whether for short periods or long-term, family (with all the imperfections), activities I take part in which I love (ex singing, hanging, travelling, etc), and those times of spontaneity where I chose to go against fulfilling the daily demands of this worker bee society, and just rest/live…have been key in coming this far.

IF someone were to ask me to do this journey all over again… I would say “Hecks naw!”
But I would not oppose re-doing it with a more realistic view of what grad school really entails…and making wiser choices a lot faster.

So to those who are considering it… talk to people who will be honest with you about the journey. People who will be deliberate in sharing the success and failure stories over trying to seem so intellectually superior and/or act like they have everything together…to preserve the facade of how perfect their lives are.

Be ready for an experience like none other… a true challenge and test of character. And make the decision, right from the start… and every single day… that you will not let the system or anyone else define you and what you can accomplish… that you will be honest with yourself as you learn or re-discover what your passionate about or not so passionate about… that you are the person, people can trust. Make someone elses journey just a little brighter along the way…recognizing that though research may have a global impact in the direction of science and/or products created for the masses or maybe more small-scale… the impact of what you do to another living soul, counts on an eternal level.

As I write this blog, I realize these are things I would have liked to know and/or tell myself before I began. Either way, today I can say I am grateful to be a little more aware and closer to the end.

(If only I could be inspired to write my dissertation so fluidly)


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Don’t quench the fire

Just as I was finally calming the scatterbrain, beginning to read my bible in the midst of talking to Him…I started thinking about the camping trip I will be missing out on…because I am attending the Rocky Mountain Magnetic Resonance Conference in Denver.

I thought of the missed opportunities to connect with people and to observe them in a different setting… Boy do I LOVE seeing people in a variety of experiences… so much to learn! Then somehow, my brain went into how I would want to be known as well, in a different setting…

I started thinking about, how the only way to share who you are, is by letting people see who you are in a variety of environments… the only way for someone to truly, find some level of attraction to you…that is beyond the physical… is by them experiencing your fire burn…the warmth that they enjoy being around, the radiance of personality, the pain that comes from being scorched by your anger (maybe a little reach with word choices here LOL)… etc…

I thought of the this guy, who is going on this camping trip, and how I consider him decent physically, but have found his personality attractive for a while… and some of his challenges in pursuing women…I thought of how he is successful career wise and financially… etc… yet single. And in the maze of thoughts, fast pictures  of a number of my single female friends… especially the ones who have never even dated…and how they see themselves because they have gone “unnoticed” for so many years of their lives. I thought of the convo I shared with another friend where she emphasized the importance of preparing yourself for marriage etc.. Again a topic most married couples seem to elude to, saying they didn’t realize how different marriage actually is.

Entangled in my web of thoughts, was the article I just read about Tina Turner (73) getting married to german music producer, Erwin Bach, in switzerland yesterday… after 27 years of dating. 27!!! I can only imagine  what caused that delay…between her past experiences and maybe wondering if there was any real reason to get married… who knows…

But what I noticed from one of the photos of her and the new hubbie, is that she was just radiant…absolutely gorgeous. And He looked enamored with the sight of her. After 27 years, of which they probably lived in their house for at least a decade, if not more… he simply looked like the doting husband.. who was happy to finally put a ring on it.

And I could not help but think about how we should NOT let our fire die out! More than learning to keep house… to cook… to dress for various occasions… and manage money (PLEASE DO… very important considering its one of the leading causes of problems in marriages… I pray I get better at this myself)…and getting physically healthy for yourself and your family (Extremely important, hence I started slowly working out a few days a week, 2 weeks ago)…

Besides these practical preparation steps… I think during these times, rather than become disheartened…losing hope… or even having such a low self-image… for example, thinking you must not have anything to offer.. or are unattractive… BURN EVEN BRIGHTER

Become more confident in being yourself in every circumstance…

I saw an ad on Facebook, which used an old George Elliot quote “It’s never too late to become what you might have been” …showing the legs of a runner.. I believe it was for Zephyrhills… and I was like YEA! (mainly because my goal is to one day be a runner! lol)

Bottom line, be who YOU are created to be… FULLY… and let the God given relational experiences teach you how to be even better!

Dive into those friendships, no matter the risk of judgement, hurt, loss, etc… and be the best friend you can be… and let those experiences reveal your selfishness, childishness, wrong thoughts… and allow yourself to experience the grace of being sharpened!

You can only become more radiant.. more attractive…and more secure!

At this stage in the game… what will hiding in a corner, holding back who you are and feeling inadequate really accomplish? Absolutely nothing!

So if you are single… at least enjoy who you are and let the people you come in contact with be left with a mark from the encounter!

 


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Trayvon Martin – Zimmerman Case and the Racial Divide

Elephant in the room

The “elephant in the room” idiom is truly summoned when you attempt to ignore the overwhelming outcry of opinions, feelings, thoughts, etc that are EVERYWHERE. Literally, everywhere.

No matter how much you keep your reflections to yourself, there is a sense of urgency to vocalize which “side” you are on. And the general expectation seems to be predetermined according to race… and more subtly, according to generation.

To state my opinion, I believe a consequence was in order. I believe an innocent child died because one man, took it upon himself to NOT follow instructions…to NOT follow standard protocol. It’s just like how army movies always emphasize the seriousness of following orders/commands because people’s lives are at stake when you don’t.

At the end of the day, racial profiling or not… an innocent child is dead because of another man’s wrong choice.

– – – – – – But let’s look at the issue of race. – – – – – –

I have read a couple of blogs where a white male pleads for some level of empathy for the black community in this country. They proceed to talk about white privilege and how black people being affected by the outcome of the trial, is understandable… especially given that blacks are at a disadvantage (racial-profiling, post-slavery effects, etc).

Some of the responses to these blogs were, and are pretty intense.

One called it “disturbing” that they would make it about race … another basically said people should get over it; they did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt etc…While others are deeply touched by the acknowledgement of “their” pain as a race… and other non-blacks are passionate about being people who are mourning with the Martin’s and choosing to be sensitive to the racism issue… expressing a willingness to learn more about the struggles black people face in america.

However, the real explosion of division has come through our favourite social medium… FACEBOOK.

Going along with the paper trail… or at least based on the six degrees of separation theory, I have observed that the majority of the white people I am directly and/or indirectly connected to, have remained silent on this issue… or outwardly expressed how jurors were doing the right thing, or felt they could relate to wanting to protect your environment and family, etc… and the minority of which, would call the outcome of the trial an injustice.

On the other side of the fence, in this case being the representative of the African-Americans, I have seen the dynamic extremes in response to this trial…. some are completely absurd and shockingly malicious statements; to the point of supporting the alleged bounty for Zimmerman’s capture and hopeful arrest by the black panthers… (Scooby Doo sound effects and look, are unavoidable here). Some are emotional outcries for “equality” in the “land of the free”… like this case was the the last straw that broke the camels back. Others are of a triggered fear for their own children and the world they are to face. Some are disturbed and hurt that other white people deliberately choose to remain silent and not comment on facebook about this “atrocity”.

With this one case, it seems more uproar and division was generated and the question is.. what now? where do we go from here?

There is no doubt that racial discrimination still exists in america, i would need to write a separate blog on some of the experiences I have encountered in other countries prior to living here and the occurrences since I moved here.

But that discrimination, whether we want to admit or not, goes in multiple directions…if we were to judge the heart. Let’s push aside all the elements of power…social status…corruption… white privilege…etc. We, black people, even discriminate against ourselves…

I had a friend recently comment, as we saw an indian guy about to cross the street close to the vehicle we were in, say something about locking the door… and the response of another friend was basically that if it had been a black guy, she would have locked the door. Would this not be considered racial profiling? or would we rather call it stereotyping? or is she just responding based on her life experiences?

And to the fairer skinned community, guess what… prejudice exists unfortunately, even with the people who are meant to uphold the law we all live by. There is NO denying that. It does not mean everyone is guilty and unjust… but people are.

Even if you look at Martin Luther King Jr‘s day, he was thrown into jail multiple times for absolutely nothing… can we pretend some level of discrimination does not occur today… no, we can’t. I can’t tell you how many of my friends have been pulled over and had their cars searched for “drugs”… decent people…I can’t express even the experience I had as a juror in a case here where armed robbery occured… even the lawyers admitted their reasons for selecting specific people to serve. Why? Because BIAS exists. You hand pick and eliminate people based on whether they would be beneficial or detrimental to your case. Else, they would let anyone randomly serve…some level of categorizing people occurs.

At the end of the day, Trayvon Martin is still dead… and Zimmerman is acquitted.

So at this point, healing and moving forward does not give anyone the right to make their pain more substantial than what his mother and close family/friends are experiencing. It does not give anyone the right to make threats to Zimmerman’s life. It does not give anyone the right to further push the racial divide by expressing anger and hatred towards any race.

If we truly desire to create that “better place”… where we can be equal… and “free”… propagating more racial.. whatever you want to call it.. in the midst of emotionalism, will NOT move us in the right direction.

There is free speech, but let it be used wisely.

And if you believe in “justice”.. does that also mean you have HOPE? Does that mean you believe change is possible?

If that is the case, then focus your energy and actions in leading generations by your hope…or even faith (should you believe).

Martin Luther King Jr was found blameless because he remained, even in the face of injustice.

Can you say the same?