Friday, March 16, 2012


Abrupted. Definitely not a word, but for some reason abrupt seems too abrupt and the ed gives the non-word a feeling of |

A one month unexplained hiatus for transitioning into a new trimester while balancing a well in route public health semester, shifting priorities, tying up loose ends, deciding future plans and assessing new goals went a little something like this.

Week 1 goes by. The thought: "I'll get to it next week, big neuro exam and application due dates are coming up."
Week 2 goes by: "I'm sure I haven't disappointed too many, I have a new grant to write."
Week 3: "Does anyone read it anyway? I have meetings and research this week"
Week 4: "Busy, busy, busy, big paper due plus a debate."
Today: Sit down, can't write anything.

Notice how as the excuses pile up, the self-doubt trickles in and paralyzes any progress.  On my daily things to do, I will consistently write the word blog, but consistently "something" comes up.  That something is usually anything and everything: all worthy things to do (at least by my standards), but they're excuses nonetheless.  My vigilance against such matters need to be improved, but there's no need to worry. The few dedicated readers find quite the creative ways to keep me in line, so thank you and I'm sorry.

I like change.  I've always been open to it, but progress - that's a different story.  I have met numerous encouraging professionals the last month, continued two fantastic projects that are both innovative and inspiring, yet I frequently stop in shock when the progress and encouragement come so fast at me.   It's almost like the feeling of panic one might get when they're right about to get hit by a train.

The thought: "Really, I think I can do this?"

My thought process is due for a tune-up and some re-wiring.  Rather than any step in the right direction being met with a halt and week-long thought process about how I can maybe reach my goals, it's time to write and do.

When the progress comes so fast, I become a little dizzy.  I roll it over in my mind, contemplate over it, and analyze all possible options. But often while I'm contemplating, the train comes.  While reflecting is important, maybe riding the wave and seeing what happens might be a better option to move forward.  I haven't landed in a toxic wasteland yet, so I might as well trust my own abilities and see where I end up.

Progress: the process of striving for and taking steps to reach your dreams, and doing them!

Enough self-berating though. Going on and on about it won't accomplish anything.  Time to shift gears.

I had wanted the phoenix tattoo since I was 15 years old.  To me, it symbolizes my roots, transformation and is a motivator for my future.  My older brother, Jack, took me to get it when I was 18 during Thanksgiving break my first semester at college.  I had only three months prior, left home in the Midwest to begin "young adult-hood" on the East Coast.  You know young adulthood. It's that awkward stage in life where you're figuring out your identity, you can be whoever it is you want, start over, explore new freedoms; oh, and there's a lot of beer.

Jack and I had planned it out all semester.  During my last visit, the artists came up with a sketch, and we had sent color schemes to each other back and forth until the big day.  I was hesitant, anxious, and shy.  I was a naive white girl from the suburbs of Chicago walking into a tattoo parlor outside Baltimore full of tattooed, bearded and pierced men.  I looked like a wide-eyed foreigner, curious of the artistic genius under the harsh facade.  Hidden under my timidness though, sparkled a tiny ounce of excitement and a secret bad-ass.  

The first etch shocked me.  I remembered cutting off my sister-in-law's wrist circulation as I squeezed her hand in angst.  I was still unsure, but it was too late to back-out.  The only way to endure the 3 1/2 hours of droning vibration and bleeding was to lean into the discomfort and breathe.

When I looked in the mirror, I was in shock.  I obsessed and looked for hours, nit-picked at any ill-conceived imperfection.  I was in disbelief at its permanence.  I had this mystical bird that took up 1/3 of my back on me permanently. I hated it, initially.  I didn't regret it, but I definitely hated it. It was so big, it was huge. Gradually though, the loathing dissipated, and after the initial shock wore off, I embraced it and remembered the care and detail both the artist and I put into it as well as the story.

I rolled over the tattoo in my mind and contemplated it for a few years.  While they were young years and some might criticize immature, I still weighed the pros and the cons, but they didn't really matter as the vision never changed. It was like this powerful drive that existed at my core: still yet to change.

Seven years later (wowza), I'll walk by a mirror and catch a glimpse, smile, and be reminded of the backstory, the reason, but most importantly to take the right steps forward that day, to strive for the future.

I took a good hard look at my tattoo this morning and reminisced of that moment walking into the parlor.  I had saved money from my summer Lifeguard position for it, agonized over its details and built up the moment in my head like I was about to change the course of the world.  While it didn't turn out so dramatic, the tattoo holds a dear purpose: to remind and to motivate.  Today, it also led me to want to smack myself on the head as I compared the project to my tattoo: something you can't stop once you start.

The Phoenix Fund is a project in which regardless of circumstance, exams, papers and career plans, the fulfillment is a part of my core and will only annoyingly itch at me, much like a droning, vibrating needle, until complete.

"A mythical bird that never dies, the phoenix flies far ahead to the front, always scanning the landscape and distant space.  It represents our capacity for vision, for collecting sensory information about our environment and the events unfolding within it.  The phoenix, with its great beauty, creates intense excitement and deathless inspirations." Fen shui Master Lam Kam Cheuen

- a thing of the past.  It's a new day.

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