Ahh, there is nothing like flipping the page from one calendar year to the next to stimulate a little reflection and planning. As I reflect on 2018, one thing I notice is that I have not written in this blog for quite a while – most of the year, in fact. I could claim that the blog suffered simply because I was busy, which is true enough, but I also have to acknowledge that 2018 was a year in which I just needed to retreat a bit, have some quiet, and focus inward.
An eventful year in so many ways (not all of which I can even recount here), 2018 called on all my capacities to respond and adapt with grace. My mother suffered through several grueling surgeries. Her death in November put an end to her pain, but left much pain behind for her family. I lost my dog to the effects of syringomyelia, a particular scourge for Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. I continued to work on adjusting to life with Pompe disease, a rare neuromuscular condition with which I was diagnosed in 2016.
Among other accommodations to my condition and the events of 2018, I reached the decision to stop teaching altogether and, instead, focus my energy on this coaching and editing service and on my own writing. I have been, and continue to be, fortunate to work with engaging clients on their many interesting projects. The work is intellectually stimulating. At the same time, one of the things I value most about this work is the personal relationships I forge with my clients. It is a joy to receive texts and emails from past and present clients with holiday wishes, pictures of newborn babies, and such varied professional updates as news of comprehensive exams passed, doctorates awarded, articles published, book contracts signed, and new positions secured.
For 2019, I plan to spend more time keeping this blog fresh. After all, writing is one of the many joys in my life. It is important to make time for what brings joy. I also plan to work on my writing beyond the academic domain. My love of qualitative research springs from my lifelong interest in understanding the particulars of human interaction. In the last two years, I have been stretching my writing muscles by taking classes in essay, narrative nonfiction, flash nonfiction, and memoir. I find these genres offer me new ways to explore the particulars of human interaction, and especially the questions that drew me to my doctoral studies in communication science in the first place:
- How do we connect with each other in positive ways across our various differences?
- How do we promote social and personal transformation by working through conflict?
- How do we balance the need for personal agency with the need for human connection?
- How do we move beyond dehumanizing transactional strategies, assumptions, and values as we relate to each other?
And maybe the most meaningful question of all, at the root of all the others:
- How can we be good humans?
My hope for 2019 is to continue to work on being a good human, to be curious, to be inspired, and to be of service to my fellow writers.
Happy New Year!