#reverb 12, #cultivate 12: Reframing

Reframing: How are you framing yourself, your relationships, your community, and your dreams? Could you reframe these as we enter 2013? (Meredith Shadwell for  #cultivate2012)

This prompt from #cultivate2012 resonated with me because the process of reframing is something I feel like I've been doing this entire year. During 2011's #reverb I wrote a lot about our wedding because it was a significant turning point in that year around which everything seemed to revolve. This year, I feel like I am writing often (in all 4 days so far) about my professional life, one of the things I began to focus more intently on framing and reframing in 2012. But I also had to reframe man of my relationships, most pointedly with my grandmother whose mental health decreased drastically this year, and which I have written about extensively. Our relationship has changed because she doesn't remember all of the same things I do about our relationship. However, I am grateful that she remembers me at all, that she knows I am important to her and that I love her, even if she doesn't understand why I have aged or how I've graduated college or received my Ph.D. 

When I lived with her as an undergrad and would complain about work or classes or friendships, life in general, she would say, "You have to make those challenges opportunities, Devon. Don't just cower and complain. Take the challenge presented to you and change something about your life. You have to create a path for happiness. It doesn't just come to you." 

I am struck by her advice often. And never moreso than when I reached a limit on what I was able to accept as my career path. I wanted to move it, create new avenues for myself and I wanted to be inspired again by my work. I want to try to explain this in terms of framing because I think it applies brilliantly. My very first teaching job out of my Ph.D. framed me in a certain way, because I was just out of grad school and young-ish, not established, in many ways a rookie. I struggled to see myself as an expert or authority. Though I clearly had experience and knowledge and enthusiasm and passion to share, I could not find a way to break free from the way I was constantly framed by my students, myself and others as naiive and malleable and easily taken advantage of. There was a point I gave in to this frame and allowed myself to be pushed around a bit and in doing so all of the things that made me passionate about the work in the first place dulled. I dulled. I lost my muchness, a phrase I've also written extensively about. I couldn't find a path for happiness. 

And then it was clear, more clear than anything had ever been that something had to change. 

In starting a position with a different university, in a different town, I have been able to reframe myself. I have 4 more years of experience under my belt as well as the growth that comes from that experience. This reframing is still something I continue to put effort into. I'm still framing my dreams, one small piece at a time. I'm creating goals and hopes in my birthday lists each year and I participate in reflective writing to help me understand where I have been and where I want to go. 

Part of my reason for choosing open as my word in 2013 is that I want to be more open in my relationships, more open as a teacher, as someone who learns and open to opportunities to create my own happiness. So I want to continue re-framing myself in 2013 as open.