“What’s up, Doc?
Happy Monday, Friends!
In August 2019, while still working in higher education, I finally made the decision to start working toward a doctorate. I had looked into a variety of programs, created an extensive spreadsheet with institutions, program options, credits required, costs, potential to receive financial aid, and how long it might take to complete each degree. I was content in my job and life and wasn’t ready to leave, so a part-time program was a requirement. I found two programs that I loved and two other programs I could afford. Ultimately, I enrolled in a program at the University of the Cumberlands and planned to take two courses a semester. If everything worked out I could plan to graduate in May 2023, but, likely many stories these days, the COVID-19 pandemic had other ideas. Rather than derail my progress, the pandemic and the time added to my schedule allowed me to double up on courses and complete the degree almost a full year early.
On Wednesday, June 1, I successfully defended my dissertation and earned the title of “doctor” and the degree of Doctor of Education. Once the initial excitement wore off, I realized that this degree which ate up the majority of my free time for over three years and the dissertation which ate up all my free time for the last year was suddenly gone. A weight was lifted, but a new and heavier weight was added: what the heck was I going to do with myself?
Even the most Type-A, high strung, caffeine-addicted humans need time to relax, recharge, and recollect. But suddenly removing a major commitment with nothing to replace it can be even more problematic (which is why many of us struggle to relax during short vacations). Yet it is still important that we prioritize time for retreat, spiritual, personal, or a combination of the two. Spiritual directors and retreat leaders have recognized the need for this recollection even in the midst of daily life. A “Retreat for Busy People” is a daily and weekly program allowing people who can’t get away to experience some of the benefits of a retreat without leaving home and work.
If a retreat for busy people isn’t your thing, what makes your heart sing? I’m trying to infuse my life with more writing, more music, more ceramics and woodworking (two crafts I want to learn more about), and more trips to the gym. While Dr. Huelskamp may not be able to prescribe anything for you, might I suggest taking five minutes right now to breathe, center your thoughts, and sit in quiet meditation? If you’re more active, go run a few blocks, do some push-ups or stare out your window with a cup of tea.
Where in our life can you make more time for yourself? What does relaxing and recollecting look like for you?