celebrations

Let’s Talk Music 2021

On January 25, 2020, I wrote a random blog post on music. This was not long after I laid out my 2020 goals which included an anthem or song for the year. Some choose words each year, for me I chose music last year. I’m pretty sure it was the first time I ever acknowledged music in this way but it was a symbol in the crazy world of 2020.

So here we are in January 2021. I reviewed my most played songs of 2020 and there were a few consistent as I spent many hours driving in solitude. Of course my anthem was the #1 played song but it had me thinking about what my anthem would be for 2021.

Not much thought after that until today. Boom a text was received and it all changed in a moment. A moment like this, as Kelly Clarkson would belt out.

Some lyrics that fuel me:

I am healthy,

I am wealthy

I am not going to take your shit

I am protected, well respected

I’m a queen, I’m a dream

I do what I wanna do

I’m who I wanna be

‘Cause I’m me

I’m fly as bees

I drive

I’m independent

Everything on me

I’m a queen

Not every word applies but the ones above ring true to my strength, my confidence, my gait, and so on. I am me. No carbon copies. A queen in my own world. Which all seems appropriate since my song of 2020 was Queens Don’t by Rae Lynn.

A queen’s gonna rule just the way she was made…
Queens don’t hate, queens don’t fight….
Every jewel on my crown, you better believe I earned..

Thank you ladies for putting out some amazing lyrics to keep me focused on 2020 and 2021. I just add. No need to confuse me my confidence with arrogance. I work for what I deserve. I work hard. I play just as hard. I treat others the way I would want to be treated.
This year’s song is a symbol of my attitude as I attack 2021 with vim and vigor.  ‘Cause I’m me and this is my style.

Hope you find your theme song for the year if it strikes your fancy like it did mine. I am truly lucky to have many in my life who see me as having the shining light of a queen. The commanding personality of a leader. The attitude of an independent thinker and so much more.

Off to live my best queen life. Today, tomorrow and the next day. 

face blowing a kiss
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.

challenges

A New Wall

I hit a new wall today. A mentally exhausting wall. One I didn’t initially bounce off and spring ahead like normal.

This wall was different. It started out as me being tired. Then it shifted to me being irritable. Then technology flipped a few switches that set me off kilter.

Moving on to mid-day a teenager rattled my cage. Then the rain hit. All the while work was super busy. It’s the end of the month. The end of the fiscal year. Emergencies by phone and mail.

I wanted to dish out numbers like they do at the meat counter but that’s not reality. It all needs to get done. You need to be four places at one time. It doesn’t matter if it’s pouring rain let alone if you are tired. 

When you are in the hot seat. The driver’s seat. The most relied upon seat, nothing matters. You are just expected to balance it all. But what happens when you hit the wall and don’t bounce back?

For some it may take one into a dark place in mind and body. Luckily for me I have some friends who can crack me up during the day with a funny text to lighten the load. I have some go-to gals who can be a listening ear when I want to punch everyone.

And then I can always change my scenery. For me, today I took a car ride. Got a coffee. Drank it away from people. Talked to a friend by phone. Took some deep breaths. Ordered dinner to-go. Planned an early bedtime to mentally let my brain rest.

I took to writing. This blog of course. Writing is a therapeutic outlet for me for many reasons but sharing stories of walls is important for people to read. It’s life. It’s real. It’s not filtered. There are no amazing pictures.

My wall is the beginning of what may be a long road of walls. It’s midlife womanly adjustments. The yucky m word. The one you want to be over so your cycle is history but the one you dread because of its uncertainty.

Let me just type the damn word. Menopause. Menopausal. Resident psycho to some. Bitch to others. I’m sure I’m missing a few descriptions but owning the word and its side effects is step one. One of God only knows how many steps.

Pray for me. Think of me. Lift me up in spirits if you see me against the wall. Plastered to the wall. Mentioning the wall. Or anything resembled the wall symptoms. Baggy eyes. Disheveled look. Short fuse.

The worst thing you can do is ignore my hot mess as that will make me want to isolate you. As a giver and doer I help many. Unfortunately many won’t see that need for help. That struggle at that damn wall. 

Is there a magic tea for menopause? And why the hell is the word “men” embedded in the word itself. That is just crazy because they are clueless when it comes to dealing with a menopausal woman. Just sayin’.

mEn-oh-PAuse: your lady friend is about to go batshit crazy. Clear the fuck out now. Don’t pause. Run. Hide. It’s safer that way.
If the DICtionary doesn’t say that it really should. Fun fact!

adventure, working women

Look Pretty, Play Dirty

Can you look pretty and play dirty? Yes, you can. As an adult you can dress up and go to the office and turn around and play in the mud when you get home. As a teen you can go to the ball field by day and put on a prom dress by night. You can be up to your elbows in soil or manure then rinse off, quick change, lip gloss and off to a date. Lab coats and litmus strips by day can become Lush and Louboutins by night without much effort. Like “I Dream of Jeannie” in TV history, we wiggle our noses, blink, and change happens almost before your eyes. It seems pretty easy.

I have a Jeep. It has big tires and it’s meant to get dirty. It’s a recreational vehicle. Great to take to the beach and get sandy or mountains to get muddy. Perfect to take me up snowy roads and hold all my equipment too. Then of course it can also make the commute to the office or a business meeting. It can clean up nice with a good washing thus be able to look pretty after playing dirty.

My Jeep is still a dynamic piece of machinery. Built with strength in mind. Robust. Rugged. Eye catching. People can reflect the same.

I think about this vehicle and its contrast to people. Does your vehicle say something about you, your spirit, your identity? Maybe in some ways it mirrors or accents you. I like the rugged, beefy look. Others may choose something sleeker.

Even if you choose a car for efficiency, you can add some spice to make it reflect your spirit. Stickers, license plates, ornaments for the rear view mirror and more. Bike racks, kayak rigs, and all those accessories show that you’re ready for outdoor adventure. It is all in the details. Why be generic? Many of us spend a lot of our waking lives driving around. Shouldn’t it make you smile? Be an extension of who you are? Not just functional, but fun and even flashy, too.

Can a female athlete be competitive on the field, but turn around and be a beauty queen? Of course. One may have thick thighs, robust shoulders, and undeniable strength as an athlete but turn around and clean up ever so nice after a tough day on the field or In the gym. Much like my Jeep. Pretty doesn’t have to be dainty and reserved. Something nice to look at without much substance. As much as others may try to pigeonhole us to be just one way, we can resist and embrace all of who we are.

People are versatile just like my Jeep. Big tires, thick thighs they are both purposeful in their own way. In honor of my look pretty play dirty mantra, check out the new decal riding around on my Jeep these days. There may or may not be another underlying message in the decal.

Despite the rollout of the new Bronco by Ford, I am still a Jeep girl. Still waiting for the Blazer to roll out but Jeep girl it is for now. Who knows what my next evolution will be?

From off road to off work to off the field I am always embracing the look pretty play dirty mantra. What’s your mantra?

challenges

The Dark Cloud

I have written about death and loss a few times in the past few months and here we are again. Another visit to the darkness.

Another awesome soul is in the window of death. Just 61 years old. This time it’s cancer that is causing the suffering. Only hours remain. He will he missed.

I have so many strong women in my life taking their next step, their next breath, their next journey without their lifelong companion by their side. Scary for most of them but triumphant in other ways.

As I watch I try to support. Maybe a text message today or a visit next week. Maybe even a nod of some sort to honor the memory of their loved one. I’m glad it’s not me sitting in the hot seat but it definitely gives me perspective.

It allows me to value today and not wait for tomorrow on anything. Tomorrow is not guaranteed and that we all know. Today is here and many won’t seek out change or opportunities because they worry about failing or falling or whatever one calls it.

I choose daily. I choose to live life on the edge. I don’t want to wonder what I didn’t do when the day comes for my call to hospice. Until then you will find me making memories anywhere and everywhere. I will also remind as many as I can that they should do the same.

Life is precious. Cherish the moments that will last a lifetime. This is your reminder to make today amazing.

I will leave you with this photo of my mom. A milkshake date for her recent birthday. Her first alone without my dad. She is one of the special ladies I am watching take their next step.

She even tried a jalapeno on this day which is definitely out of her comfort zone. Maybe it was a test to say I’m here. I am still fighting even if I’m alone. One new experience at a time.