Grace and Strength in Challenging Times
Mara Fulmer is a teacher, a mother, a wife – and a member of the second DCCL student cohort. She also has a husband, Keith, who has recently entered hospice. While she took a semester off to deal with the serious illness of her husband, she is returning this semester. Her grace and strength during these challenging times has been undaunting. When asked about success strategies, she returned the following. No one could have said it better; no one could know more how real these suggestions are.
From Mara: While I would love to just say something like don’t let your spouse (or yourself) get cancer, some things we just don’t have control over. So I think I could come up with at least one major piece of advice:
1) Pace yourself!!! It is so easy to get overwhelmed with everything. And, like our “regular” jobs, we are often juggling a lot of other commitments in life or work. So don’t try and do it all at once. Map out a weekly or daily strategy for how you’ll accomplish things. This will also give you time to reflect upon a question that might stump you at first. By stepping away and then revisiting it another day (or later in the same day), you’ll be surprised at what new insights you gain!
These others all hinge on the first one…
2) Talk it out!! Especially with a classmate. But if one isn’t available, just try explaining what you’re doing to a colleague, friend, spouse, or “adult-like” child. Hearing yourself explain a problem you’re having can often help you think it through. And the person listening may have some valuable insights into the topic – even if they’re not part of our program!
3) Forgive yourself. It is so easy to hammer yourself hard for not “getting it” right away. But constant blame or self-abuse will lead you into a deep emotional rut that is hard to get out of. Go back to advice #1 and just pace yourself a little better (good time management) and allow yourself to step away from the problem for a few hours, a day, etc. Do something COMPLETELY different and let your mind rest. Come back renewed and ready to take it on again.
4) Thank your family, always. They are your lifeline. Show them your appreciation for their support. Stop what you’re doing once in a while and spend some quality time together. Again, it goes back to advice #1. Build in the time from the start. When you look at the week ahead, map out the places where you can work on assignments, but also times when your family needs you – you know, those times when it will just not do for you to miss. Dinner is one of those really important times when you can just hang out together and catch up. Put the homework aside; don’t answer the cellphone or email. Just be together.
This last point is so important. Because – as I can attest to personally – life is just too short. And all the success in your program will lose its meaning if your family doesn’t support you, and if you’ve not given yourself time to appreciate them.