One Year & Counting

Almost a year ago, I packed up my apartment, shared bittersweet goodbyes with friends and colleagues, and moved back to North Carolina.

A four-year relationship with a city I loved quickly became part of my past. I was relieved to move forward, but I was anxious to move towards whatever those next steps would reveal.

Without a job at the time or an idea of when I’d be able to get settled on my own, I threw up my hands to the uncertainty that wrapped around me. Everything that had become familiar was swept from under me. Cary, NC, may have been my hometown, but I found myself feeling a bit lost, trying to find my footing again. Trying to rediscover a home for myself.

Life is graceful, patient, and understanding. I frequently forget all of those things. I forget how forgiving life can be and how it moves at a pace outside of us yet utterly integral to each of us. It moves us, shakes us, and wakes us up when it’s ready–not when we think we are.

When I think back to where I was then and where I am now–the difference is startling. My life has such a different pace and my lifestyle feels so, so different from the one I had in Chicago, but everything evolved in its own time, and I am happy with where I am, happy to finally feel settled. The change is good, natural; I’ve managed to create a life for myself that I couldn’t have imagined yet feel thankful for every single day.

This is my last week at Fuqua, Duke’s School of Business. Although my RA position was set to wrap up at the end of September, I got an excellent job offer and jumped on the opportunity to finally start my publishing career. As of August, I will be an Editorial Associate at Duke University Press. For so many reasons, I am very thrilled about the position and, on some days, I can’t believe I’ll finally be doing the kind of work at the kind of company I’ve wanted to work for; it seems like such a rare thing these days.

It’s hard to believe I’ve been at Duke for ten months already, but I’m ready for the change. And emotionally, I’ve been anxious about getting to this week because I know it’s the end of one big thing and the beginning of another. Anyone that knows me knows that my job has never defined who I am, nor have I wanted it to. However, over the past year, I have had a growing desire to be doing work that excites me and motivates me more. There needs to be more than just a paycheck that keeps you in the game. And I’m so ready for August.

The new job will also be a considerable change in my routine and a change for Theo and me. It’ll take a while for us to feel comfortable and set in our ways with my new schedule, but we’re ready–I’m ready.

I don’t feel like I’ve necessarily arrived, but I’m writing to say that I’m proud of how far I’ve been able to come in a year. And I’m lucky to have so many wonderful people who have supported me over the months and several other extraordinary people that I’ve also met in that time.

I haven’t been updating this blog as much as I’d like, and with the looming transition ahead of me, I’ve decided to end “Four and a Half and Counting.”

My blog had a modest run for over a year and a half; it’s time. And it’s only natural that the end of one thing marks the beginning of something else. With August right around the corner, I’m ready to wrap up loose ties and prepare for a new chapter. Ready myself to start something else, start something new.

Clean slate, open heart. Renewed perspective.

“Four and a Half and Counting” was an excellent way to chronicle my thoughts and anxieties about graduation, job hunting, and the big what-ifs that followed. Now, however, I need a new voice. And although I haven’t quite figured out what that voice will be, I know it won’t be this one.

I’m in the process of working on a new project (ASK THEO CASANOVA) as well as starting a photo blog, so those are a couple things to look forward to from this corner of the world.

For anyone who has kept up with my entries since last year–thank you so much! And to my friends and family, please know that I wouldn’t be doing so well today if it wasn’t for all the encouragement, criticism, and love that I’ve received from you. You challenge me and push me and help me grow in ways you don’t even realize. And that kind of friendship and support is incredibly priceless.

“Life is too short to be little.”  -Benjamin Disraeli

Make the most of it, my friends. Stay well. And thank you for reading :)

//christine

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One of a Kind

Cary, NC // July 2010

THERE IS SOMETHING IN EVERY ONE OF YOU that waits and listens for the sound of the genuine in yourself. It is the only true guide you will ever have. And if you cannot hear it, you will all of your life spend your days on the ends of strings that somebody else pulls.  [Howard Thurman]

Got relationship woes?

Move over Abby, there’s a new sheriff in town:
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(Small Things) To-Do List

Ever have days when you feel like a motivation sloth? What you believed was going to be a productive-go-get-’em afternoon has quickly turned into you sitting on the couch at eight o’clock with nothing on your list crossed off?

Well, don’t fret–we’ve all been there before. I may not have a one-time solution for how to be more productive, but I’ll share one of my strategies with you.

If you’re struggling to get motivated first thing in the morning or later in the evening (before starting a project, etc.), tackle a (small things) to-do list. Don’t weigh yourself down with that big assignment you have to finish, the work revisions you have to get to, or the book you’ve been meaning to read–start with something small.

I love to go jogging, but I know it’s important to warm up at the beginning, do some stretches. Imagine that these “small things” are just warm-up exercises for your ol’ productive self. What kind of small things do I like to tackle? Well, here’s just a sample:

– Send a card to my brother

– Update personal calendar

– Check dates for summer concert tickets

– Transfer  photos from camera to computer

– File papers on desk

– Unload dishwasher

As you may notice, nothing on my list is really time-sensitive, which allows me to get to each item in my own time. Sometimes the biggest burden of a to-do list is that it exists; it stares us down with its presumed urgency. Ideally, my small things are pretty straightforward tasks that require little forethought, effort, or time. Most things don’t take me more than 5-10 minutes, so even in a half-hour block, I can knock out several things. When I can’t get a move on things, this little push of productivity really helps set the tone for the rest of my day.

If you have any similar tips or strategies to share, feel free to leave a comment! In the meantime, I’m going to go write a note to my brother :)

What I Learn on Mondays from 8-9PM

Anyone that knows me well knows that I have an uncanny ability to move it and shake it. Or rather, I just love to dance it out. I sometimes move around my apartment first thing in the morning, the radio turned up. Or when I’m tired at night and need to wake up to get some stuff done–same thing. There’s something to be said about taking any internal frustrations, stresses, concerns, tiredness, worries, preoccupations, and insecurities–and throwing them to the wind by dancing it out. You get your blood flowing, and before you realize it, you’re more energized; you’re ready to take on your next step.

Okay, maybe I only speak for myself, but I’ll tell you what I tell my friends–you have to be comfortable with yourself if you’re ever going to let others be comfortable around you (or with you, in a more relational sense).

I started taking yoga classes the other month, which has been an amazing addition to my week. I get a good workout, and I also leave class feeling recharged and less burdened by any daily wear and tear. After an off-hand discussion with a friend of a friend, I decided to take a beginner hip-hop dance class at this small studio in Downtown Durham; they pretty much offer any kind of dance you can think of, and since they’re all adult recreational classes, there’s a nice mix of people.

I’ll say it: I’ve never taken a dance class. And on day one, I felt ridiculous. Awkward. Everything but cool and/or coordinated. Remember choreographed steps? Pssh, *totally* not happening…yet. I need time to process everything, get acquainted with something new. Despite all these things, I went into the experience with an open mind. I should emphasize that I have not-so-secretly always wanted to learn how to hip-hop dance, but there’s a fine line before thinking about doing things and actually doing them.

Anyway, I was open-minded about it all: if I was going to take a dance class, I was going to make the most of it. And I wanted to have a fun time, get out of my element, and learn something new! I am happy to report that that is exactly what’s happening, and even though part of me doesn’t always feel like driving out to class on a Monday night, I always leave in such a better mood. I watch myself in the studio mirror, and even though I don’t always get everything right in the class–I have a fun time. The character of the class forces you to get out of your shell; it pushes out negative talk and encourages you to just own up to your body and your moves. It helps you forget about being self-conscious or embarrassed; it builds confidence.

So my advice to you? If there’s something out there that you’ve always wanted to try or learn, don’t limit yourself. Don’t be the one barrier that keeps you from doing something new. Just have fun with it. Own up to what you do because you don’t have to get it right or be perfect. We don’t care about the details; it’s all about how you do what you do.

Own up to your lives and dance it out, my friends.

Simple Mantra

IF YOU WANT OTHERS TO BE HAPPY, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.  [Dalai Lama]

Finding Peace

LOOKING FOR PEACE is like looking for a turtle with a mustache: you won’t be able to find it. But when your heart is ready, peace will come looking for you.  [Ajahn Chah]