What I Did On My Summer Vacation

I had lunch with a friend a couple of weeks ago who asked what I’ve been doing with my time since I haven’t been working.

A fat lot of nothing. 

Riiiiiiight. (You didn’t really believe that did you? Not even for a second.)

What I’ve been doing with my summer vacation. Which basically started with Memorial Day weekend…

Went to ATL for the 2013 new baby tour. It was a road-trip that started at 9:00 PM on a Friday with decaffeinated me behind the wheel. It was touch and go until Suit and Tie came on the radio–and then it was a three hour dance party in the driver’s seat from Gaffney, SC to Suwanee, GA. We rolled in at 2:30 AM. Hey. Whatever works. (Also, WHY ARE ALL THESE PEOPLE ON THE ROAD, TOO?) But those babies are super sweet. And their parents are managing well–all things considered.

Worked on putting documents together and obtaining a passport for my Ukrainian born child to deal with citizenship stuff and learned that bureaucracy is bureaucracy regardless of the nation’s government. When Boy #1 says “This is like being in Ukraine” as you run all over the county in which you live to obtain the right forms and this one government agency only works 8:00-3:00 and you show up at 4:30 and realize you’ll have to make the trek back downtown the next day, you realize that (a) perhaps you picked the wrong line of work (I mean with hours like 8-3, come on) and (b) this mess really is crazy

Took a random, spontaneous trip to the beach with my best friend and her family while the hubs drove my new car home from Ohio and in and around Raleigh until I got home two days later. He hasn’t sat behind that steering wheel much since.

Hubs and I took the East Bloc Boys (our collective reference to the teenage boys living under our roof) to DC to deal with the Ukrainian’s citizenship and–when we realized that wasn’t going to happen without a US passport–proceeded to spend a few days playing in DC instead. Museums, metro stops, and food trucks, oh my!

Attended the graduation of my Hungarian born child (Boy #2 who moved in in April) and sent him off to his first day at a new job

Received the report card for Boy #1 and was more than a little frustrated with the results

Learned that Boy #1 was going to be fired–primarily due to complications with some faulty brain wiring that is beyond his control but increasingly becoming a hindrance–and started planning for the possibility of meds and more testing to see if there’s something more or better that we can do. Also became a little afraid of his options for the future. Meanwhile, he didn’t seem to be too concerned about anything in his world. And then frustration set in.

Interviewed for a job. Was offered the job. Didn’t know at that point where exactly the job would be. But I’ll have a job.

Left the kids at home while hubs and I went to the beach for a few days. Alone. With no agenda. Glorious.

Opened our home for weekly game nights with the youth. Their means of world domination via board game was pretty entertaining. Also, the secret is out about the awesomeness of my cookie dough dip.

I got more creative in the kitchen, making up recipes as I went–often inspired by road-trip snacks and/or food truck experiences. And those culinary experiments generally were successful.

Temporarily found some really good body confidence–long enough to sport a bikini on the beach. For the first time. Ever.

Helped a friend pack up his office to move to a new job after 13 years.

Celebrated a friend’s 30th birthday and another friend’s family adopting a child they’ve tried to bring home for far too long

Opened my home and my dinner table to countless people (we finally had to break out the leaves for the dining room table and USE ALL THE CHAIRS)

Had lunch and/or coffee with people–for more than 15 minutes. Those conversations often stretched over two hours.

Brought a third teenager home to live with us–this time a girl.

Realized once again that my life is a circus and I’m the ringmaster. Until the inmates run the asylum. And then I just leave.

Had beautiful conversations with family and friends

Was truly honored to be invited into some of the most important moments and conversations in others’ lives

Got a job assignment that was totally unexpected but has made me incredibly excited the more I sit with it.

Got thoroughly pissed off with the state government and was ready to junk punch some politicians–or a wall. Supported Moral Monday from afar–lest my anger push me to do something stupid before this job thing really came through.

Started scheming ways to take over the world–in a good way.

Realized that this whole youth ministry thing I started on the summer before college has come full circle. I learned along the way that there are many ways to do youth ministry–and often outside of church. I also made the statement at one point that once I became a youth minister, I’d have a psychologist in my back pocket as a resource. Then I became that psychologist.

Pulled together a stack of books classified as thematic professional reading that I’m slowly making my way through

Seriously considered getting the “Mom’s Taxi” for my car because it’s true. Especially the week of youth camp when I’m the only licensed driver in the house and have two teens to care for.

Tried to let it sink in that I have finished school and have a PhD. Definitely became increasingly thankful for the training, experiences, and opportunities I have had along the way.

Stalked one of my favorite people from a parking lot into a bookstore to make sure it really was her–and then had an hour and a half long conversation standing around another store in the same shopping area.

Became a stand-in on-call fake doula for a baby who was born about two weeks later (and the daddy was home for the whole thing…which meant I could celebrate with the announcement text). 

Consulted on emerging adult male/female relationships

Provided unofficial parenting consultation

Fell madly in love with US Marshall Raylan Givens as I became addicted to the show Justified.

Worked out in the sweatbox that is my garage–sometimes twice a day. Just because I could.

Met neighbors I hadn’t met before because I started walking the dog more after a redistribution of household responsibilities

Seriously considered a new blog about DIY furniture and house projects–to be called pigtails and power tools. This after having to supply my dad with a drill or two after the battery in his cordless died as he was trying to put together a new bed. (Note: one of those drills was the same electric drill he handed down to me years ago when I moved out; also, that old faithful Black and Decker has helped us finish projects the battery packs on the cordless just couldn’t. Moral of the story: well, I think you know.)

Filled up a social calendar like never before

Received beautiful and powerful words of affirmation and hugs from people who’ve watched me grow as a person and professional over the past X number of years

Went back to yoga (kinda) and ate more fresh veggies. (Olives dipped in hummus, y’all)

Loved bigger because hubs does.

Realized that children stuck in rough family situations are my kryptonite

Struggled against having so many people in the house and this basically became my mantra about half the time. 

Saw some movies. In the theater. Even when I kinda didn’t want to. (Side note: Pacific Rim = Godzilla + Iron Man(steroids) + Independence Day speech + Armageddon)

Worked on my licensure application and found that I still had some brain matter that could ooze out of my ears. It’s just about finished though. The application, that is.

Survived monsoon season in NC this year–WITHOUT an Ark of my own

Drank the Candy Crush Kool-Aid (Note to Kool-Aid: new flavor idea!)

Finally was invited to new employee orientation and can for really real get this job thing going.

Ran outside. On some big hills. Early in the morning. And usually thought I was swimming instead. #NChumidsummers

Doled out resources in the form of book titles, notes from books I’d read, links to really great articles, and just putting some thoughts on paper

Read a few really good novels.

Squeezed some babies

Baked. A lot. And apparently even my cookies are therapeutic.

Survived #singleparentweek2013 while Al and Ryan were at camp.

Celebrated some more birthdays. Ran with my girls. Enjoyed some group therapy on a screened in porch. Celebrated new jobs with my people.

Scheduled at least half a dozen meetings/appointments to take me through my last full week of no paid work. What vacation?

And then I went to that orientation, got my shiny new ID badge, signed a bunch of forms and forked over a voided check. This job thing is official. I start Thursday.



The Cowardly Lion

I know I’ve been saying it for a long time, but it’s true.

I need to graduate and get a big girl job.

And I’m working towards that.* But then comes the question: WHAT job?

Whatever I can find?

Whatever presents itself and says, “Here I am,” while wildly waving its arms?

Something I’m good at?

Something I like?

I dunno.

But I’m scared that with whatever job I choose I’ll get “stuck” there. Not in an “I hate my job but I just can’t leave it” kinda way but in an “I’m so comfortable here and it’s known and easy and where in the hell did the time go?” kinda way.

I mean, I don’t have any grand schemes to change the world. I’d like to. I just don’t know what that looks like for me yet–if changing the world was ever meant to go on my CV. I think I’m just scared that I’ll lack the courage to move beyond what is known and familiar and…well…easy…ish.

Good thing my word for the year IS “courage.” Because it’s hard work to find it to be able to engage in the not so easy stuff of life.

*Note: I wrote this post while trying to motivate myself to write the Method section…which is the ONE section of a dissertation that kinda sorta actually writes itself. Oy.

Jobs for a Few Lifetimes

I have no idea what got me thinking about all the kinds of jobs I’d like to do or have. Maybe it’s because I haven’t been in the real working world (read: not a student) for much of my life. Maybe it’s because of that employee at Whole Foods who finished bagging my groceries and said to me, as he was putting everything in the cart, “Have fun today.”

I DO like the job that pays me. I like the people I work with. But we all know what we do is temporary and some other grad student will get that job some day. Assuming, as always, that the budget holds.

I AM tired of being a perpetual student. And so…thinking about my interests and how the work I do right now really doesn’t get me toward ANY of those ends…here’s the list of jobs I think I might like to choose from…were that calling, if you will, mine to choose (and in no particular order).

 Travel agent. Better still…that person that goes and vets  all those places for travel companies.

I’m the kind of person that wants exceedingly more stamps in my passport. Or at least start crossing off places on my travel list. Of course, I’d need some new luggage.



Writer of some sort. Screenwriter for Leverage or NCIS. Screenwriter who adapts books to film. Novelist. Nonfiction writer. Travel writer. Something. Other than a dissertation writer, which is what I should be right now.

And, truth be told, this just might still be in the cards for me. Maybe. If I can carve out the time. And if I can ever get out of school long enough to let the creativity and energy return to be able to write. Because I’ve always enjoyed doing it. Ever since I was a child. I applied to one college in particular because of the ad for their creative writing program in a writer’s magazine I would pick up from time to time.

And if I can’t make it as a writer, perhaps an editor for a major publishing company. Get paid to read and live in a big city? Sign me up. What’s more likely is to be a book reviewer. Who will likely not get paid for the privilege.


A crew member for REI. Or a guide for some of the REI Adventures.

I blame my husband for this one. He got me sucked into the world of REI and hiking. And encouraged my interest in paddling. And generally playing outdoors.

And the Adventures go back to my love of travel. But to see some incredibly cool places AND get paid? Sign me up.




Nutritionist. Or personal trainer. Or really really get it together to be a Beach Body Coach (because I already am one).

Another one of those can’t I somehow get paid for something I already love and do? And if not one of those things, how ’bout teaching Anusara Yoga? (You can thank my seester-in-love for that last one. She got me hooked.) Of course, the yoga teaching could happen. Some day. After I’ve gone through the crazy long certification process. {must. finish. school. first.]

 Believe it or not…costume designer. But not for plays or period pieces. For fun shows like Leverage or Burn Notice or Covert Affairs or…

I really started thinking about that this week after a mini-lecture on the subject at a teaching instituted I attended.

And my mom was a seamstress. And seriously could have done that job were she not such an incredibly gifted reading teacher.


You knew it had to come up sooner or later. Own and/or work at a bookstore. It’s kinda my idea of retirement. And there’d be a cafe area and I’d do the baking. Coffee would be local and fair trade. And there would constantly be social book gatherings.

If not that, then librarian.

Perhaps this can be my retirement plan?



Interior designer. I think know this one comes from watching too much HGTV. Which my gym is all too happy to air during the day. And which I am all too happy to pay attention to one those rare occasions when I get to sleep in or have to postpone the workout for later in the day. I’ll say this, it keeps me on the cardio machines for a lot longer than anything else.

I look around–especially my house–and see a canvas. I just have no idea what to do with it.


And last, but certainly not least, a buyer or some sort of employee for Title 9  or Athleta. Because every time their catalog comes out, I want one of each.








I guess the good news is that I have some marketable hobbies. Or careers I can give characters in books.

And I like the path I’m on as far as a job is concerned. It’s a vocation that is meaningful, stimulating and makes a difference. It’s the way I can offer healing to a bent and broken world.

But sometimes, just sometimes, I wish I’d had more of an opportunity to pursue one (or some) of the above.