Happy Graduation Day!!

I had to write a post, because this master’s degree would most definitely be considered an adventure. Today I officially graduated with my master’s in public health from the University of Arizona! Woohoo!

 I know that everyone’s learning journey is different and there is something really beautiful about that. For me, a formal education was the journey I took, and I value every minute of it. 

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​Through my master’s program I learned what I was made of. I learned how to manage my time, I learned how to get the most out of multiple teaching styles, I learned how to connect and network, I learned principals of healthcare systems, biostatistics, policy, business management, and the list goes on. 

These lessons came with a high price, however. And no, I don’t mean financial (although the financial part was pretty brutal too). I am referring to the emotional stress that was going on at home. I was married to someone who was not supportive of working towards a degree nor building my career, and I got to hear just how much he didn’t support it when I came home most days. I was exhausted from working full time, doing school full time, training the new puppy, financially drowning from expenses, fulfilling leadership callings at church, and then living in a toxic home. 

But despite all that, I kept showing up. I went to classes, I went to work, I prayed hard, and I found ways to take care of my health. Pushing through that era made me realize there never is a perfect time to achieve my goals. If I sat around and waited for things to look up, I wouldn’t be graduating today. If I waited for the perfect support, I would still be waiting. I have always been a ‘people pleaser’ and the lesson of being ok with taking care of me first was an extremely hard one to learn. 

When the flight attendant says put your mask on before your child’s, it’s because you HAVE to take care of yourself first in order to help others. You are not much use if you are passed out from trying to help someone else out before yourself. 

The balance is fine. How do you care for yourself first, but still be selfless? How do you achieve your personal goals while supporting others? These are 4 of the lessons I learned about that balance during my master’s program:

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  1. Prioritize your Health- this means find the foods that keep your body healthy, stay hydrated, find the movement to release your happy hormones and reduce pain, go to your check-ups, go to the dentist, find the quiet moments to reconnect and refocus. Healthy moments can be done every single day without taking too much time. Of course, if you are on a road of no self-care, just start with simple steps and build up.
  2. Use a Calendar- I LOVE my calendar. As my mom says, ‘it’s my brain’. I am all about doing spontaneous adventures, but within structured time frames. By scheduling my week out, I know that I am taking care of my health, my day to day business, and I know just how available I am to spend with others without pushing myself into pure exhaustion.  
  3. Be Patient and Enjoy the Little moments- Patience is not easy. I have had many opportunities to practice…. Over and over and over….The patience I struggle with the most is with myself. I learned over the past couple years that I don’t have to reach perfection each day. I just need to take steps forward. I need to enjoy both the little moments as well as the big moments. There is so much beauty around us. Impatiently waiting for ‘life to get good’ or ‘life to get back on track’, etc. is just a trap and you miss out on the breathtaking moments that are already happening! 
  4. Stay Positive and Share your Light- We live in a media focused world that has quite a bit of negativity, but we also live in a world that has quite a bit of positivity. Our personal world becomes whatever we choose to focus it on. I’m perfectly aware of the rough situations out there, but that doesn’t mean I need to waste my own energy supporting it. There are major successes, there are heart-warming moments, there are day to day superheroes that surround us that I would much rather support. When you stay positive, life gets better, you become more productive, you release hormones that make you happier, you become healthier, and when you are positive you become a light that others are attracted to. Make your own sunshine!

By following these 4 principles, I have begun to walk that balance. I see the world in a more positive light, and I am more motivated from within. Life will never be perfect, so there is no sense in waiting for the perfect moment to follow a dream. It’s the little steps you make every day that bring you to your dream. Furthermore, it’s taking those steps against all odds and when there is little motivation that makes you the strongest. 

I am grateful for the lessons I learned in my education. Step by step, mountains can be moved when you are mentally, physically, and spiritually healthy. Your healthy beginning can start today, let’s make that happen!