Oh the Places You’ll Go…

Oh,_the_Places_You'll_GoTonight, I find myself well over a month into my new job, and if I’ve never said it before, I can now say without hesitation that we never know the places we’ll go!  There is no doubt in my mind that the past 7 weeks have been some of the best weeks of my life.  Yes, there have been long days, no telework days, and definitely some moments of utter exhaustion, but for the first time in a long time I’m certain that every morning when I head out the door to start my day, I never feel like I’m going to work, I’m just going our for some daily fun.  I love what I’m doing and never could have imagined what this life had in store for me!

I now can better appreciate the amount of time it took for me to transition into this job.  In the waiting days, I was far from happy, but now, I have absolutely no regrets.  Why, you may ask?  Well, today I had the opportunity to meet with the deputy director of my current institute.  As she led our meeting, I sat in awe of this remarkable African-American woman…not because of her credentials, but because of her undeniable passion for mentoring younger African-American women in the fields of science and public health, and her commitment to improving the health of women and children by any means necessary.  This woman has an incredibly busy schedule, yet she found 15 minutes to spend talking with me and my rotational supervisor, and she ended our conversation by thanking me for rotating in their institute and assuring me that I would have a worthwhile experience.  Talk about being stunned…I was beyond thankful for the opportunity to sit in her office, that was enough for me, and yet this woman found it in her heart to thank me for coming to spend a few months working in their office.  Oh, the places we’ll go!

On top of this, I had an opportunity to meet with the President of a Southern college that is primarily attended by young African-American women.  This is a college that I dreamed of attending when I was younger (but I was afraid to be that far away from home at the time).  Never in a million years did I think I would get to sit in on a meeting with this college president.  And to make things even better, I will get to meet her in-person next week.  That was completely unexpected, but such a blessing!  Oh, the places we’ll go!

I’m no Dr. Seuss when it comes to putting words together, but I like the words of his book, Oh, the Places You’ll Go!  Although a children’s book it highlights the peaks and valleys that we all certainly experience in life.  He also talks about continuing to move forward when things are a bit unclear.  He ends this book with these words:

Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!

The more I live, the more I learn to be open to all that life has to offer.  The guest preacher at my church a few Sundays ago preached from the theme, You Have No Idea.  That statement is so true in my life right now.  God is doing the absolutely amazing!  He is doing the unimaginable, and He is showing me that I don’t really know the places I’ll go.

A Spending Fast…

Have you ever reached that place in life where you’ve decided enough is enough?

As I sit here mentally preparing for the week and month ahead, I’ve reached that place.  As I began to work on my monthly budget this aternoon (again!), I came to the conclusion that I really need to stop wasting money!  I’m blessed to have an amazing job that pays me well enough to meet all of my monthly expenses; however, I’ve noticed that I spend haphazardly…I’m not good at following a budget plan.  Given the person that I am, I’m certain I could find 101 excuses to justify my spending, but I’m opting to not go down that path at this particular moment.  Rather, I’m electing to acknowledge my self-centered behavior and move forward with a more disciplined approach.  I call my behavior self-centered because I choose to do certain things purely out of want.  For example, I’ve been a member of the same gym, which I love, for the past 4 years.  Four years ago, this particular gym was conveniently located across the street from my apartment.  Now, however, it’s located 15-20 minutes away.  I continue to remain a member because I really like the gym and the people, yet I only go there 1-2 times per week (on a good week).  Clearly, this is not the best way to use my money, especially considering I can work out at my job’s gym for one-quarter of the price…ONE QUARTER…but I’m stubborn and don’t want to go through the challenge of change!  Selfish and a bit immature I know, but I’m working on it.

The thought of going on a spending fast for a significant period of time lacks all initial appeal.  I enjoy going to Pier 1 Imports or Target and buying things that are on clearance.  I can honestly say that there are few weeks when I don’t buy something that I don’t necessarily need to possess.  I’m going to have to work hard on this because I like to buy stuff…even things that I don’t really need, but in the end I know it will be well worth it!  One of my ultimate life goals is to truly be the lender and not the borrower.  But in order to work the plan, I have to make sure I have a plan in place starting with the development of my wants vs. needs list in an effort to propel me closer to this goal.  This is not going to be a season of enjoying most of my wants, rather, it will be a season where I will have to enjoy free museum visits, free concerts, all homecooked meals, and the comforts of my home.

So, I suppose a visit to the work gym is tomorrow’s to-do list!

Until next time…

A Heart to Serve…

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“Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve…You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” -Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

A couple of weekends ago, the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington was celebrated.  I, along with my mother and one of my friends from church, decided to go to DC for the day to participate in the festivities.  I’ll admit, there was minimal participation from me because I couldn’t seem to figure out the timeline of events, but I did have an opportunity to go see the Martin Luther King, Jr. monument for the first time.  It is quite an amazing piece of work…I managed to capture the above image with a simple point and shoot camera.  Seeing the sculpture reminded me of the importance of having a heart to serve.

As I’ve surely mentioned to everyone I know, I recently embarked on a new chapter in my life at the NIH.  As a part of the management program, there are a number of exciting opportunities to give back.  Last week, I had the privilege to help prepare and serve dinner to guests at the NIH Children’s Inn.  The Children’s Inn is an amazing lodge on the NIH main campus where extremely sick children undergoing treatment at the NIH Clinical Center and their families can stay at no cost.  All of the family’s needs are taken care of while they remain at the inn.  To help, many groups, like the management interns and fellows, prepare a home cooked meal every night for the families.

As my evening at the Children’s Inn unfolded, I was reminded of just how blessed my life is.  There were children of all ages and families from a variety of racial and ethnic groups who joined us for dinner.  And, despite all that these families are going through, they were so grateful for the small meal that we prepared for them.  While my colleagues were dishing up food, I found myself standing in the background and praying for the families whom we were serving.  I was praying for the healing of the children and mental strength and endurance for the parents and family members.  Children with typical illnesses don’t come to the NIH Clinical Center for treatment.  People who are truly sick and have no other options available to them are the ones who seek treatment at the NIH.  In many cases, this is the last option, and the slightest improvement in one’s condition offers far more than a glimmer of hope.  My prayer for these families is that they will not only see a slight improvement, but complete healing for the children.

One of the things that I’ve been struggling with a lot lately is my tendency to give of myself to others, at the expense of my own self.  I find myself physically exhausted and mentally weary, yet I can’t stop working even when I’ve made a conscious decision to focus on my own life.  There are times that I wish it wasn’t my character to put others first and constantly give of myself, but it is who I was created to be.  So…despite being tired, I press on and seek to do what I can to give back to others.

Until next time…