The Familial Glue

There are many reasons that could explain why I have not written since September. Many of them have to do with grad school, many have to do with family, and many, many more have to do with lack of commitment 😉

The simplest one is that I have been writing, just not here.

In December, I turned in a 10,000 manuscript that detailed the relationships and narratives that have shaped my life. “Leaving Lauren: A Scholarly Personal Narrative on Finding my True North” is about autism, love, family, and connecting with people. It is about not being afraid to feel. Not being afraid to ask questions. And most importantly, not being afraid of the answers.

While the writing is about those things, it’s also about how I was, and am still, afraid to feel, afraid to ask questions, and afraid of hearing the answers. But I’m doing those things. I’m living, and loving, and learning and not looking back (for too long, at least).

Recently, SPN writing has become a way for me to be me, even if it’s just in my writing. My upbringing, my family, and my experiences are all parts of stories that come together to form my way of seeing the world. SPN writing proves to me that I am not alone. My story belongs to me, but also to anyone else who will listen. Reading others’ SPNs makes me feel a sense of connection that I value in all arenas of my life. After all, as Brené Brown says, “Connection is why we’re here, it gives purpose and meaning to our lives.”

These are the words that sum up what that 10,000 word experience was for me. My mom and I share a lot in common, but one of the newest ones is our love for Brené Brown. Mom took an online art class (yeah, technology, man) on “The Gift of Imperfection” and shared with me a lot of the little lessons she learned there. On top of that, my whole family learned to cherish another gift first-hand.

We learned to cherish the ones we love every second of every day.

My brother and his wife’s baby, Daniela, did not live to take her first breath, cry her first tears, or smile her first smile at her parents. But I think Daniela gave them their first breath, their first tears, and their first reason to really smile. My family was able to be there for them at a time that no parent, no sibling, and no friend ever wants their loved one to go through. The timing was perfect though the situation was tragic. The emotions were hard though the love came easy. I have never seen anyone love something so hard as my brother did that week; and despite the heartache and heartbreak of loss, he and his wife will continue to have that love for the rest of their lives.

Being away from them this year has been easier in some ways, but harder in others. I think the easy part comes with the knowledge that I am beginning my job search for my first professional position and am looking primarily in the Pacific Northwest. This means that in a matter of months, I could be as close as down the street and as far as a weekend getaway. My brother and his wife have been the catalyst for me returning to the west coast and my parents deciding to look at housing in the Tacoma/Gig Harbor area. I have always considered myself the glue (or social lubricant) that keeps my family together, but that’s just the ego talking. The real glue is embedded in our upbringing and our values that mom and dad instilled in us. Family. Uncertainty. Love. It’s all there. And we’ll be in it together… even if we’re apart. Because that familial glue of support will never waiver.

Promising to write more soon,
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The Puzzle Pieces of My Life: More on Narrative Therapy

My family has always told stories. In my mom’s struggle to get a voice for her fellow nurses, she orated her story of being a nurse for 35 years; she told of the babies she has delivered, the parents she has congratulated, and the couples she has consoled. In my dad’s role as a father, reiterating tales of his youth are few and far between because of the maltreatment he received as a child and young adult. However, he has re-narrated his childhood; he has re-membered it. He turned it from one of abuse and neglect to one of choices to be different from what he knew; choices that he himself will not make and roads that he will not go down.

I stole my theory of life from my sister Lauren. She has Asperger’s, an autism spectrum disorder, and happens to be especially adept at doing puzzles. Lauren can flip the puzzle to its reverse side and complete it only looking at the blank cardboard shapes without the picture to guide her. She is able to see at a glance how each little piece fits into the larger puzzle. Sometimes she does edges first. Sometimes she starts from a random point and works her way out. Sometimes, still, she starts many different areas and in the blink of an eye has found the links that fit them together perfectly. Lauren’s gift with puzzles led me to my life’s theory.

I was about thirteen when I realized that my life was made up of a sequence of events; my life was an unfinished puzzle. All of my stories that I have told are pieces of it that don’t always seem to fit together in the right ways, but, I have reasoned that this is because I still have more pieces to be found, shaped, and created. In this puzzle of life, there are many different ways to look at an event. I could take the single event as an isolated occurrence, or I can, as I so often do, fit the piece into a larger narrative.

This has made sense for many things that have happened in my life. The small routines of playing songs on Grandpa’s jukebox and then towards the end of his life, Grandpa picking his own song on it to which he and my mother danced. Falling in a lake and having a dramatic (not) near-death experience, taking swimming lessons to prevent this from happening again, and then joining the local swim team where I started my stint as the athlete that I would soon become and forever be. Wanting to quit basketball so many times, sticking with it, then quitting in college and feeling lost. Being able to find and join the Crew team where I found my place. Sustaining a career ending back injury, losing crew, having to become just a student again, and then finding the time to be there for the people who needed me most, including myself.

My stories at first are isolated events; individual pieces in my puzzle. Then, later, I contextualize them in the narrative of life. My life. I have the power, like my father, to re-narrate those stories as many times as I would like. I choose to put on a different set of lenses than the first time around when re-looking at a certain piece in my puzzle. I reimagine that piece as the beginning of a different story ending at present day or I fit that piece into the middle of a series of seemingly unrelated, but on second glance perfectly connected, pieces to my puzzle.

We can always re-member what we need to in order to give our lives meaning. A bad day can turn into a learning experience or a laughing matter within just a few days. A car accident can be a wake-up call or a chance to get your dream car. Any way you look at an event, it can tell a different story. As for the events in our stories, we are the authors. We are in control of placing our pieces of our puzzles in the right places. The places that make the most sense for right now.

This is why I love hearing people’s stories: I can hear them placing, arranging, and making sense of all of the different pieces in their life. This is why I will always ask to hear how someone got to where they are, or how they met their partner, or spent their week, month, life. People deserve to be given the chance to place their pieces over and over until it gives them the most meaning—and I intend to give people that chance.

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Master of Education Candidate

It’s been [almost] exactly a month since my last post.

And I am going to try to update this puppy more often.

So, I definitely cried on the first day of class in my very first HESA [highereducationstudentaffairs] class. I had started off the beginning of class saying, “Hi all, my name is Lindsay, I’m a first year HESA-er, I prefer she/her pronouns, and I love hearing people’s stories.” It was no more than an hour into the 3 hour class that a classmate and friend of mine opened up to the class about what it actually means for her to be here at this program. Her honesty and bravery, and the way she spoke from the heart, reached me. If you know me, it’s not hard to make me cry, but this was different. It made me realize how amazing each and every person is and how much each and every person needs to share their story. Everyone has something to say and it’s about time they feel validated and share with somebody.

Here are some books I have read and will be reading this semester:
Helping College Students Find Purpose
Pedagogy of the Oppressed
The Craft of Research
Ishmael
and various others ranging from the history of student services to issues in higher education.

Needless to say, I’m nerding out and I’m really enthusiastic for what lies ahead.

However, I want to be completely transparent and let you know that I am shaking in my boots. I recently read Pedagogy of the Oppressed. I tried to read it with a critical lens, but I am now realizing that I need to read it with an open mind. Round two will be content based. Reading round three will be searching for “nuggets” to take away. And I’m sure I’ll re-read it many more times and be able to get the big picture, the small picture, and how everyone can benefit from reading something like this.

So what have I learned so far? That I need to read things at least twice to get at even half of what the author is getting at.

On a less daunting note =P I was recently elected to serve as one of two chairs for social and professional development for our cohorts. My co-chair and I are meeting once a week right now and drafting up what will hopefully only be successful and rewarding events for our people.

What else, what else… I AM ALL MOVED INTO MY APARTMENT!!!! Finally.

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It’s a gem.

I love it.

And I heart Burlington.Image

This Sunday I’m going BACK to this cafe called Maglianero’s to seek refuge and get studying done with some classmates/program colleagues. (It’s very Seattleite). :]!

OH AND I FINALLY GOT PAID. There was a payroll mishap that delayed my paycheck, but I finally have funds. Well in seven days when my checks clear, I will have funds. 🙂 TD Bank has a handful of ATMs on campus, so I opted for them.

Oh, and the new car is lovely. Expensive. But lovely. In 6 or so years she’ll be paid off. Won’t that be exciting? =]

Additionally.. Mint.com is my lifesaver… it is Quicken for my on-the-go-I-don’t-have-time-to-keep-track-of-my-spendings generation. CHECK IT OUT.

Anyways, I think that’s all for now. I am spending my Friday night in. After realizing last year that, while I am an extrovert by definition, I need to recharge by myself at the end of the day, or at least do something low key. So, one of my professors calls that “ambiversion,” where we are both extro-and-introverted. Nice to know it’s a common phenomenon. Or maybe it’s my mom-like station wagon that is turning me into a mom-like figure that is slightly more calm than my age group. :] (Yeah, definitely the car…) Stay tuned while I navigate Grad School: Year 1.

As a Master of Education Candidate. =D

Ambiversionally,Image