What does it take to LISTEN?

I have said on numerous occasions that God speaks in the way that we listen. Not only that, but the universe will start at a whisper, then speak, the yell, then its a deafening echo ringing in our ears without yield. And even though I say these things, and I know these things, sometimes it still takes me getting life lessons in surround sound before I take action. I have been working at listening at 2, and for lots of things I’ve done well, but with others…

People have been suggesting I write a book or publish my posts as a book for as long as I have shared my blog and to some extent even before that. At first, I said that I didn’t have a books worth of anything to say about any “one” thing. Well…I have over 1,200 posts and if I used my tags like I should, I’d be willing to bet I’m wrong and already proved it. Then I said I didn’t have time.  Then I didn’t have help. Then I said okay! I’ll do it, but then…I didn’t. Twice.

I thought about this curious cycle as I lay in bed itching to write just as I wake, like most mornings, and I sent words of gratitude to a friend who had written to me suggesting I publish. I thought, what is it going to take for you to listen? I asked myself, “are you playing small?”

Naia text me yesterday and spoke of our lives and how they often run parallel even across great distances. She spoke, also, of how she had recently been warned about playing small and laughed when she read it had come up for me on Friday. I thought back to Brene and I wondered what it would feel like to step into my power.  I should say, step fully. Not that having one foot in is celebratory; it has you completely off balance and when you’re halfway in two spaces, you’re not really in either. 

The feeling that comes to mind is that high you get after you just ran on a crisp day. Clear mind, open lungs, a heart racing with excitement…and it occurred to me just this moment that I have never experienced that. Yet, that is what I imagine power to be…isn’t that interesting and telling? I want to be a runner, I want to be a published author…I want to experience the runners high but in order to do that–i have to run. If the high is power then I have to step into it. That was one of those moments where things make sense on a whole new level.

The Colonel always asks, “if not now, when?” And that just felt very deafening. This is me listening.

Close your eyes and leap (or stand still):The Trouble with being a Twenty Something, Single, PhD student

Yes–my title needed to be that long. The trouble is that I want to be done. The other trouble is that, I am enjoying what I’m doing.  Merely hours after I wrote the previous post, I met with my advisor who looked at my neatly organized, color coded, 4-year plan and spiked it viciously into the sand.  So maybe that didn’t happen–but that is how it felt! The thing to note about my advisor is that she is very quiet, and yet she speaks with tremendous volume…so even though its very gentle and soft-spoken, her words are about as gentle as a jab from Ali.  Or maybe that’s just my experience of her when she’s telling me truths I do not want to hear.

So she gently suggets that I slow down my pace and consider doing 4.5 years maybe even 5 years so that I can continue only taking two classes per semester (the recommended course load) and teach and research and whatever else I do.  Whereas I want to take three, and get the heck outta dodge.  This was our first disagreement. I finally just turned my program plan over and said, “Let’s move on.”

Then she asked what I wanted to do when I graduated. This made me frown…mainly because I am not so sure anymore. I keep flirting with teaching, but the idea of the publish or parish lifestyle of a tenured-track Full-time Faculty member just makes my stomach turn.  I just want to teach…and research…and work with students (yes I realize that all of this describes what a FT faculty member does) but saying it out loud? I just do not know that I’m ready for that. Naturally, my advisor gave me until November 1st to make my mind up.  Not for my whole life, just my course of study, but isn’t that the same thing?

Here’s where she got me, though. She asked in her big booming Wizard of Oz voice:


See, here is the problem with being a 20something single PhD student…technically I have no reason to rush. I do not have kids that need raising, a husband that needs attention, hell I don’t even have a plant that needs watering. I just want to be done.  I cannot even convince myself that this is a good enough reason to kill myself for the next two years, but it is not going to stop a valiant effort.  Something I just realized in texting Mass Elle (who, oddly enough has been very present for this whole sham-foolery today)…

Mass Elle: …but I think you’ll be great in it and it’ll be nice in the long run to not cram it all in.
JessJ: I know. I know. I just need to sit on it and grieve my freedom.

It struck me when I said those words that I am feeling stifled. I do this often–I feel stuck and I want out and then I get somewhere and feel stuck again.  The truth is, I am as free anywhere that I choose to be, but I’m always looking for the  next big adventure.  Oddly enough, the book I mentioned earlier honed in on this saying that North Node Geminis often crave freedom.  This also explains why I fancy myself an Air Bender (above all other benders).  I cannot tell you how frustrated it makes me when my advisor is right.

Air is the element of freedom.
— Iroh to Zuko in “Bitter Work“.