A couple months ago,
I decided to add a year to my time in the program.
This lets me take a lighter class load,
do research in areas I love,
and live overall at a much slower pace.
The way things flowed last year was just not good for me.
I like breathing, and sleeping, and friendship, and prayer...
and it felt like a constant fight to find time for them.
And fighting itself is tiring.
I want to like grad school.
I want to live it well and not just view this entire thing I am devoting hours and hours and years to as "something to get through".
But that's what was happening.
I felt crabby and miserable when in class or trying frantically to get my work done.
And I felt like I had no margin to reflect on what I was learning,
or to put as much heart as I wanted to
into the actual work-
the reason, you know,
that I came here at all.
I am full-time two days a week at a practicum as the school counselor in an elementary school a few miles away, a small school in a rural community.
I love it madly.
I am in meetings and class a few hours each of the remaining work days.
At the moment,
while my cohort is in hour two of their nine or ten hour day,
with homework to do when they finally get home,
I am at Chapters drinking pumpkin coffee,
finishing up notes and taking a quiz.
My heart is not racing.
I slept eight hours last night.
Finding time for a group meeting does not make me feel like I want to hide or bang my head against the wall.
I spent all morning at school yesterday,
and then spent the afternoon picking out pumpkins and non-hurriedly cooking a soup for friends coming for dinner.
I turned in a paper and led a presentation in class this week without feeling like I was flying by the seat of my pants.
I am putting more effort than is required for my practicum,
because I want to,
because it is a privilege to work with these kids,
and because now I have the space and energy to do more than just get by.
I'm going to a conference in February to learn about how to help at-risk families form strong attachments,
something that moves my heart more than practically anything else,
the passion that led me to higher education.
Though it requires some juggling,
I don't feel like I am doomed to fail my classes or play catch-up for months and months to make that trip work.
Did I mention that my heart is not racing?
The other day Breanna asked me,
"What are you doing with the extra time you have now?"
I felt a moment of panic...
what am I doing??
I just added a year of school
(and extra thousands of dollars)-
I answered the first thing that came to mind...
"I'm not really doing that much more...
I'm just doing everything slower."
And it feels right.
I am thankful for the freedom and encouragement to make this decision,
and I am hopeful I will be a more thoughtful psychologist
and a more peaceful friend
with these extra hours in my days.