Reflection on my first year of the 2014 Bush Foundation fellowship is exciting! As I prepared to write this report, I experienced a great sense of pride in all that I accomplished externally, but more so, internally. I quickly realized that practicing my place in the world, being grateful and walking in humility, did not mean thinking less of myself, but instead, thinking of myself less. The “shift” of focus required me to put myself first so practicing my health and wellness became a habit versus a project. It took almost a full year of practice, with many hick-up’s along the way, to finally feel strong enough in self to confidently share more of myself while honoring the sacredness of my needs and the needs of others.
I brought to my fellowship experience, a real desire to help others, and to share my experience with the community. Like many, I find purpose and connection in relationship with others and helping achieve their hopes and dreams. Unlike many, I take my commitment to serve to the next level, which is often not healthy or good for “me.” I had to learn the hard way (cancer) that taking on the stress of others, while not taking care of “self,” will have an impact. In my life, the impact has often been in ways I thought I could manage better, work harder, or give more. Huh? There is a contemporary twist on a classic Einstein quote regarding insanity that goes something like “if you always do what you always done, you will always get what you always got!” The fellowship provided time and resources to try something different and guess what…the outcome no longer seems insane!
A year into my fellowship, I feel well-rested while eating healthy foods from the earth that give me energy, and in a sensible relationship with my yoga practice while running for harmony in my wellness needs. Practicing a commitment to my health and wellness opened my heart that allowed space for love in my life. Bush staff suggested that I take time for personal retreats and even more so, take time-outs to “be” in my failures and disappointments along the journey (those hick-up’s). In the first year, I learned that making connections with others was not as important as reconnecting with me. “We” sure brought the joy back! As I think about the solid foundation developed in the past year, I am even more excited to learn what might be created in the next year!
Externally, I made significant progress in my academic program to obtain a doctorate in psychology. I passed my qualifying exam and currently in the final two courses required for graduation. I will complete my dissertation, mentorship, second qualifying exam, and apply for internship/ residency next year. I experienced professional loneliness not working, and quickly realized that taking on some coaching clients and doing small consulting projects helped me stay connected to the value of obtaining the degree. I have not enjoyed being in a doctorate program. I found a deeper connection in my clinical training at both Abbott Northwestern Hospital and the Clinic for Attention Learning and Memory. I may be too much of a reformer or rebel at heart to fit into academia. I need for my work to have a purpose beyond me and in collaboration with the community. I am full of gratitude to my clinical training supervisors Dr. Gottlieb, Dr. Muhammad, Dr. Bedford, and Dr. Johnson for accepting my strengths and weaknesses, and guiding, challenging, and supporting me. In this past year, I learned that my experience outside of the classroom allowed me a freedom to practice skills and talents. The experience that Bush resources helped deliver ensures the academic path is part of the journey to create a dream of a multicultural health and wellness center.
I am most excited to share confidence in the progression of my leadership skills. Toward the fourth quarter of the first year of my fellowship, I experienced increased consultation requests. When I started making a list, I wondered what might have promoted to outreach? It later became apparent that a shift in my “being” created more space and energy that invited the requests. I am most proud that people in my inner circle asked for support around challenging personnel and issues of conflict. I also responded to several inquiries about healing women’s conflicts within “multicultural” community issues. In the past, I might have been too afraid of “over-stepping” or simply “too busy.” Practicing health and wellness as my own self-care contributes to my ability to think more of myself, to walk with more humility, and think less about myself in response to others.
Specifically, I took the time to develop more intentional partnerships with like-minded health and wellness professionals. We started exploring a multicultural women’s experience with shame and achievement. This work was inspired by my experience pursuing a doctorate. My intuition, knowledge, and experience kept at me like a little “voice.” I was reminded, “there is something to this feeling of shame while trying to achieve…I wonder what other women’s experiences have been like and what they think?” Women are more alike than different, and I feel inspired, and schooled, when in sisterhood. I demonstrated the most confidence in my leadership when facilitating gatherings that promote discussion of women as experts on our own lives. The work has just started. I am excited to gather more formally within the Bush Foundation family and the multicultural sisterhood. The work continues to explore what might be helpful as we move forward to encourage women to speak their truth and celebrate achievement while honoring the stories that produce our shame.