perspective

Doctor Doctor

A not-so-well-known fact about me: I’m a doctor. No, not the kind of doctor that prescribes medications or carries a stethoscope. I’m a doctor of the mind – a PhD. Earned in 2012 in Language and Literacy Education from the University of Georgia (Go Dawgs!)

Why do I bring this up? Recently I read an op-ed and surrounding arguments about our incoming First Lady, Dr. Jill Biden, and whether or not she should own her “Dr.” title. The author raised all kinds of small-minded reasons why she should drop the Dr. title, even calling her “kiddo” at one point, as if her using the title she earned was childish and deserved a patronizing pat on the head. The arguments he made only showed his own shallow thinking and aren’t even worth reviewing here. Still all this made me mad, and also made me reflect on my own title.

I’m not going to bother to defend the work it took to earn my title. Six years, countless courses, teaching, publications, awards, etc. I have an obnoxiously long academic vita that does that. In some ways the PhD is a measure of stubbornness and I earned that through and through. I also won’t argue that all Dr. titles are worth the same. Especially now, when we see even more brightly how health care is heroism, I can’t even begin to equate what I have with what they can do.

What my PhD shows is that I have learned how to think. I have learned how to collect data, analyze it, theorize it, and write about it at length. When I earned that title, I knew that it was one of the few things no one could take away from me. I am one of the two “Drs.” in my building. Maybe it won’t surprise you that a school actually makes a big deal about a doctorate. Yes, my kindergarteners call me Dr. Friese. (Sometimes, with a wink at Southern custom, they call me “Miss Dr. Friese.”) For a while I wondered if the students should use my title or if it really mattered, but now I think it’s good for students to see that thinking is valuable in all areas of life. If they love that kind of advanced-level thinking and intellectual work / play, it can be pursued in countless contexts. Doctoring isn’t just in an office or hospital. We don’t all wear scrubs (and special props to those who do!) The more people see different possibilities, especially kids, the better.

On the flip side, Dr. has its downsides. I can be a total snob about things. I can’t unsee typos on a professional document. I ask too many questions at times, which can lead to the “analysis paralysis,” or being so stuck in overthinking I don’t get anything done. (I’m trying to remedy this with my OLW this year: DO!)

I also know that titles aren’t everything. Several people I know are much smarter than me learning from the school of hard knocks or lessons from in the trenches. I’ll be the first to argue that my classroom smarts doesn’t always help me “in the streets.” I embody the absentminded professor stereotype in many areas of life. Many will make a better living and a happier life taking paths that don’t necessarily lead to titles, certifications, or initials. So a Dr. isn’t everything, but it is something and it was the right challenge for me. Whether it’s initials or just more digits in your bank account, I’ll honor what you have earned.

What bothers me most about how this writer treated Dr. Biden is the tone and the underlying sexism of it all. As if being First Lady should make anything else she does or has done take a back seat. As if prioritizing her work as a highly educated educator is sort of laughable. As if the title conferred by marriage is the one she should favor over the one she earned for thinking, writing, and persisting. How many times have I gotten mail directed to Dr. and Mrs. instead of Mr. and Dr. or even Dr. and Mr.? Why does doctoring default to men? Why should women minimize what they earned when it takes nothing from anyone else? Sometimes I even minimize what I have earned myself, if I let the opinions of others invade my mind and erode my confidence.

When I taught at UGA, my students called me Beth. It was a personal choice and I had my reasons. These days, if someone calls me Mrs. Friese at work, I don’t correct them but my bosses often will if they hear it. Although my interests have taken me elsewhere, all this has revived my thinking about that title, what it means, and what it’s worth. Some might say I don’t use my doctorate, but in many ways I use it daily. I think. I write. I argue. I reason. I plan. I observe. I analyze. Every. Single. Day.

So yes, you may call me doctor. If you don’t, it doesn’t change who I am or what I’ve earned. In the mean time, I won’t waste energy worrying about what you think of me or my title. I’ve got too much to plan and DO to fret over small-minded guys.

dare to be different

Change

Change impacts people in many different ways. Many don’t like change. Some fear change. Others crave change. Where do you fall in the mix?

For me, I crave change. I like variables. I dislike the hamster wheel feeling. Running in circles with no end in sight. I enjoy challenges that come with change. The unknown. What’s around the corner. How will I react?

Amidst a change in ownership at my gym, I learned my daughter doesn’t like change. What an irony since we have been living in constant change almost the entire year thanks to the pandemic. She said she likes things just the way they are. She doesn’t like to change the paint on the walls. She doesn’t like to move things from one side to another. To test this theory, I asked her to change bedrooms with me. She thought about it. She seriously contemplated. Can I have your bathroom too? Yes. She debated. The final answer is no that’s too much change! I will be missing this. I would need to do this different. The list went on. It was all the negatives and no positives.

I learned a lot during this process about her and how I can help her adapt to the change she faces in school due to the pandemic and other unexpected scenarios. I also learned that I again love change and thrive at even thought of changing rooms. The excitement was in the air. Would I like the new environment? How would I change the layout. What fuels me, panics her. 

Are you the type to live in the same house for 50 years because you don’t like change? Is it the inconvenience of change or the stress of change? Since some may fear change is that the same as not liking change? I don’t think so. Some truly fear change and get anxiety over change. While others just don’t like change as it’s uncomfortable or just an inconvenience. An annoying interference in your normal life.

Are you the type to keep the same job through retirement because making new friends and adapting to new environments is too uncomfortable?

How many kids struggle with change if their parents move because of the unknown?

The sooner you test your tolerance to change the better. Knowing where you stand is important. Knowing how to adapt or help others around you see the positives of change. Especially when change can strike without notice forcing you to learn a new skill or may mean new friends. Changing environments or scenery may be just what the doctor ordered for your life.  

Can you adapt or pivot if you got laid off from work or would you fall into a dark space? This is a change many can’t predict. Happiness is a choice. Choose happy. Where you are today is sort of tomorrow’s history lesson. You can visit the history at any time but change is in front for you. A forward progression. You chart your path ahead when you embrace change. You already know what history gave you, why not see what change brings to your future?

Thought post #1121. Hope you are enjoying your new year.

challenges

Virtual Peach

Most of 2020 has been a cluster fuck including my paid races, competitions and special events. I’ve been muttering through the disappointment.

Just spinning in a new direction to get by. Earlier this year I was to run the Wonder Woman 10k in Nashville. That was a no go but I did it virtual. My time was off and I didn’t like it much. 

The lack of crowds. The lack of a defined course was just a lot of blah. I ran slower. I walked some. It was a mental struggle in many ways against the clock and me. I did it because that was the goal but I didn’t enjoy the event. 

Fast forward to today. The normal 4th of July Peachtree Road Race was postponed to Thanksgiving Day. Then it was made virtual for the week of Thanksgiving. I wasn’t sure if I was going to do it. I was on vacation. Would I even have time? Did I even want to do it and so on.

On a whim I did it today. Turkey day. In the Sunshine State. It started out okay up until mile 3. My route was like a hamster wheel of round and round and round again which I didn’t like. No crowds. No race number. No water stations. No mile markers to show progress. The list goes on and on just like this damn pandemic. The picture below even reflects the hamster wheel-like motion we have been on for close to a year. Just blah.


What I did enjoy was my alone time. My ability to drift off and think of what I’m thankful for. What I have to look forward to. What is next on my projects list. I even thought about what 2020 would have looked like without the pandemic.

My slowest 10k time in about 6 years but I finished. I added 6 flights of stairs at the end to simulate cardiac hill that is on the regular course. I kept my annual streak going but since I did the run solo I broke the tradition with my mini. It’s okay but a little disappointing nonetheless.

2021 is sure to have many things I will be excited to accomplish but many things I will say I’ll take a pass on because of the blah in 2020. The Peachtree unfortunately may be one of them. 

dare to be different

2020 Wind Down

Yup, I’m planning my wind down to the shit show year of 2020. Just taking a look at what areas I can finish strong in and what I actually chipped away at during the blah year of the pandemic.

When I look at my goals. I can say I will hit my goals of more than 2,020 burpees, 2,020 miles, 2,020 sit-ups, 2,020 pushups and so many other other fitness-related goals. This wasn’t easy because I took time off from the gym in the middle of the pandemic and it was tough getting back on board with routines. I’m still not as fit as I was prior to March 2020 but I still got on my goals.

I worked on my emotional strength this this year for sure. Supporting many during difficult times and battling hard while I lost loved ones in 2020. This year has been one for the record books in this area.

Change. Really remaining optimistic amidst change in our world. Many changes I planned and many I had no control over. It’s been a heck of a year and I’m sure there is more change lurking around the corner before 12/31. Bend. Flex. Pivot. Adapt. The words of wisdom for 2020.

Bring on 2021. It has to be better than 2020. And guess what? I have huge plans for 2021-2022. I’m approaching the big 5-0. That means lots of milestones to meet leading up to my 50th year and then the celebration of actually being 50 for that whole year. That’s 24 months of this, that and more. Can’t wait!

Approaching 50. Feeling 23. Looking 38. Celebrating being me!

This means you get a front row seat in my shit show. Not the crap year of 2020. My becoming 50 and me living it up while 50. Buckle up. The plans are in motion. 

coaching

Coaching Me

When I coach others I inadvertently coach myself. I reflect on time points. I reflect on opportunities that have come and gone. I take a look at organizing and prioritizing. I reflect on my physical and emotional wellness and so much more.

As a professional coach I help others. It’s one of the best feelings in the world to see others succeed with a little encouragement or nudging. One side bonus for me is the self-reflection and personal strides I make in each engagement as I look at myself through the coaching process.

Today was a day of coaching. Helping somebody over a hurdle. Minimizing fear while capitalizing on self worth. Sounds easy but it’s not.

I love when others shine. I’m not such a fan of negativity or low self-worth. I think everyone should see their inner and outer beauty but many don’t.

When I can help one person understand themselves and how to grow with their own grit it makes me smile for days, weeks and sometimes longer depending on the case or hurdles conquered.

As we are in November I am celebrating all month being thankful. Today I am thankful for the ability to coach, inspire and mentor others. It’s one of the most rewarding pieces of my life.