never-ending to-do list

Wonderful things happened in 2014: I finished my first semester of graduate school, and I learned so many new things.  I went to Washington, D.C. and Costa Rica for the first time, which satisfied my wanderlust for the time being.  I planned a wedding with Cason, whom I love dearly.  Our precious nephew was born.  Our time away in Texas made our visits with family even sweeter.  2014 was by no means a “bad year,” but it was difficult at times.

Despite all the wonderful things that happened this past year, the overwhelming theme of 2014 was “the never-ending to-do list.”  No, it wasn’t all bad, but there was certainly a constant feeling of taking two steps forward and one step back.  I felt it with my school work, my graduate assistantship, my practicum work, my relationships, and within myself.  I constantly has something I needed to get done, wanted to do better, or wish I had time to do.  Yet, it never seemed like things were finished, even for a moment, an evening, a weekend.  To say that 2014 was a busy year would be an understatement.  Perhaps I let little things get to me more than they should have.  Perhaps there were just a lot of changes to adjust to.  Regardless, the hope is that 2015 will be an improvement upon 2014.

One thing I learned this year is that expectation is everything.  When expectations are too high or fail to match reality, stress builds.  In the next year, my ultimate goal is to manage my time better and carve out specific time to be intentional with personal growth and with Cason.  During the latter part of this year, I spent loads of time stressing over things (mostly school) and not actually doing anything (studying, anyone?).  I stressed out about things so much that I was no longer productive.  The goal this year is to stress less over school and manage my time so that I will maximize productivity.  Better time management and increased productivity in school allows more time to devote to Cason, to family, to friends, and to myself.

Wow, talk about a new year’s resolution.  Time management is a huge task to take on, but I have lots of plans in the works to manage my time wisely and prioritize the things that need more of my attention.  Realistically, there are many more things on the to-do list for the upcoming year, but I want to find joy in all of those things.  I want to learn to set realistic expectations and helpful timelines for myself.  My goal is to grow personally in this area this year, and I hope you’ll stick with me as I walk down this path in 2015!

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Don’t forget about my 101 in 1001 list as well!  It runs through 2017, but there are plenty of exciting things that I will be updating about in the upcoming months!

Happy 2015, y’all!

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why am i running

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For those of you who don’t know, I’m preparing to go to Beijing, China in February and stay through July.  It’s becoming more real to me, as I had a ton of paperwork to gather and email today.  It’s kinda funny how reality sets in only once the stress rears its ugly head.  Yes, paperwork is kinda stressful for me, especially when I don’t have the forms to fill out in the first place.

Anyway, what I really wanted to address about China is that, on more than one occasion people have asked me what I’m running from or why I’m running away.  Usually it’s people who know what my struggle with depression has been like.  I’ve heard things like, “You can run, but you can’t run from yourself,” or “Don’t you think the depression will follow you to China?”  And yes, I have heard statements like this from adults, professionals, doctors.  Maybe you’re reading this now and you totally agree with them.  You’re thinking, “Yeah Jess, why are you running?”  Thanks for your concern, and here’s why…

Here’s the truth: I’m not running.  Yes, I am leaving school, my family, and  my friends.  I am taking a small hiatus from my life here.  But why does that mean that I’m running?  Just because I’ve been suffering with depression doesn’t mean that I make all of my life choices based on that.  While depression may affect aspects of my life, it doesn’t control my life, and it’s not who I am; it does not define  me as a person.  I know that people care, and I really do appreciate that; please don’t think that I’m just complaining.

But the truth of the matter is that I’m going to China because I believe it will help with the depression.  I believe that it will provide me with the opportunity to be the person that I really want to be.  For the past three and a half years that I’ve spent at Mercer, I have made some wonderful memories and I have enjoyed learning new things.  However, my  heart wasn’t always in it.  I had to constantly remind myself to be present and minister where I was in this time of my life.  Yet, I’ve always looked forward to things like travel, service, having a family, etc.  I MADE IT!  I’m here on the precipice of something big, and NO I’m not running away.  I’m finally running towards something that I will hopefully be doing for the rest of my life: travel & service.  I’m not running away from myself, rather I am embarking on a journey to find myself.  Yes, I get nervous at times, and I do realize that I will still have to manage the depression, but for the most part I am excited and eager.  Those are feelings that I haven’t felt this intensely in a while.  I mean this is CHINA.

So, why am I running?  I’m running to explore China, to discover new things about myself, to meet new people, to serve others, and to go on the journey of a lifetime!  How can you not be on board with something like that?  It’s all about the journey and running down a new path, and I can’t wait.  Stay tuned, because I think it’s going to be tremendous!

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