“Hitting Refresh” on the Birthday…

During school days, a summer birthday could have made one feel a little left out. You wouldn’t get the kind of attention as your classmates with birthdays during the school year…Though that one high school summer 2001 trip to Spain, while taking Spanish courses at the University of Salamanca, being serenaded by a Spanish band was pretty sweet and memorable. 😊 

Another wonderful thing about having a birthday at this time of the year is that you can hit the “refresh button” and start anew halfway through… something you can do any day perhaps, but it’s an extra push and reminder on your birthday. For me, this has been another reason to appreciate birthdays, besides enjoying a little extra love and attention from friends and family! 🙂

And given everything that has happened since the start of 2020, we do wish it could be possible to “hit refresh” at a collective and personal level. I have yearned for it at a personal level, with much of what I aspired to accomplish the past 6 months still hanging on my shoulders….

I had been in a “rough place”, figuratively and literally. For that reason, I believe I made a good decision to move back to my hometown in Oshkosh, WI, from Washington, DC, after struggling in a difficult “quarantine life” starting before the pandemic… It was hard, but two weeks since I made that exhilarating road trip, I learned it was much needed at a deeper, spiritual level… and I have nothing but gratitude now…

At times we must decide to make critical “interventions” in our lives when things are “not working.” In many cases “moving back” can help you “move forward”…

… And with this recent move…it is indeed a big “refresh”…as I continue to work towards “the prize in mind”…and reflect on the goals and accomplishments thus far…   The rush of nostalgia of being here, where “the dreams” first began has actually helped remove me from “a paralysis” and I have been able to think about my research in a way I hadn’t since returning from my dissertation fieldwork: http://www.warrioretkqueen.com/im-back-and-with-another-milestone-completed/…  

… Having a global pandemic, alongside the political and civil unrest around the country, and as a student of public policy, has added an extra challenge to the already existing challenge of crossing the finish line for the PhD… I don’t think too many people would disagree with me on this…

Although the effect of the Pandemic on our daily life has varied from person to person in a revealing way, surely there isn’t one person who hasn’t been deeply affected by it in one way or another…regardless of socio-economic status, race, class, or geography.

The key is that we keep moving…in every possible way… keep making progress in every aspect of our well-being and life, in whatever small or big way we can and don’t look back at what we weren’t able to get done, especially since the beginning of this year… It can be distasteful to make excuses…but in this case and in many other crisis situations, we can cut ourselves some slack for our own sanity, well-being, and mental health, as long as we find ways to keep moving forward… 

I have a tendency to beat myself up a lot…I think other PhD students and candidates to can relate to this kind of “perfectionism.” … It only makes things worse…

I’ve referred to my hometown, Oshkosh, WI as “my rehab from DC” in the past…lol… and there is certainly much truth to that. It has been really nice to refuel and regain my health and strength necessary to build back momentum and stamina…….additionally… I did sustainably lose 7 pounds in the 3 weeks of moving and settling in… and I hope to keep it up!

Image may contain: Elsa Talat Khwaja, closeup

…I started this painting on my birthday (July 9th) and finished it tonight… it was inspired by a photo I took on July 4th, at Menominee Park, in Oshkosh, WI, (photo below the painting) a park we often went to during my childhood, and where the fireworks show normally happens. It was sad to see it completely empty on July 4th, but the moon was perhaps at it’s full-state and it looked very peaceful and stunning… I knew I wanted to attempt to paint a version of it…

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… it brought some emotions of hope at the same time…

Image may contain: night, sky, tree, outdoor and nature

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And that night on the birthday of this country, it also had the feel of the “light at the end of the tunnel”…for me personally… with respect to my current mission … it is something we all so desperately seek and yearn for in the final stages of the dissertation…some don’t even see it ’til the very end… and though I haven’t been able to see it yet, the determination and perseverance remains … and it has been ‘revived’ especially at this moment with the much needed “refresh.”

Before my birthday, I decided to take a moment to write out the reasons why I pursued a PhD in the first place. It was helpful. I will share that in a more polished form here in the near future.

….A friend of mine mentioned to me recently, that some of us just take a little longer, and that’s okay. There is nothing wrong with that. We all have a unique trajectory depending on multiple factors. And I have always stated that I was in it for “the journey.” I would never have predicted the many setbacks that would emerge, back to back…. It just isn’t possible for the world around you to stop, or pause for a second, so you can finish your PhD. Lol …and it is something you have to accept and work with the best way you can… 

It is quite profound though. The “PhD Quarantine.” Sometimes it feels like everything and everyone around you is evolving …while everything with you remains stagnant. Even though you too are evolving but can’t see it …all of it…just yet…

The past two years I noted that in some way that it might be the year I finally become Dr. Warrior Queen ETK… It wasn’t. And it still is in the workings, but amid the feelings of uncertainty and the pain of what’s happening in the world, I have a feeling this is my time… It must happen now, and I must make it happen…

Before I leave you…I wanted to share a little Facebook fundraiser that I decided to do this year for my birthday…this will continue throughout the month of July. As shared in previous blog posts, I have participated in the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention “Out of the Darkness” Community Walks Annually in Washington, DC for the past 5 years. And this would have been the 6th year if the pandemic doesn’t prevent it (whether in WI or DC). I thought to just make a birthday fundraiser instead. I am so very grateful for friends and family who have contributed to this over the years, and help me make it past my modest goal for my birthday too!

You can check it out here: https://www.facebook.com/donate/730074704474512/?fundraiser_source=external_url 

And if you cannot donate at the moment, it would be great if you could just read the story behind it! Thank you!

Here are some links to my previous blog posts of this event I’ve attended in the past:

Why I “Walk to Fight Suicide”…

“Out of the Darkness”

“Out of the Darkness”: Take Three ….

The 2017 AFSP “Out of the Darkness” DC Community Walk

……….

I have had some pretty memorable birthdays, and the best ones have been with family. This was the first during an unprecedented moment in history….And I sincerely appreciate the amazing birthday wishes this year especially from my friends and family, and especially after the difficult past few months.

I am so grateful to have been with loved ones this year on the birthday, who made it very special for me…

   

 

       

I have never felt as much gratitude about “everything” as much as I have now. And I am placing my bet on this positive “refresh”…

The global pandemic has changed us in many ways… And each day, we live in gratitude for having a roof over our head and enough food to eat on our plate, in a way we never have before. Each day we remain grateful for another moment to be sharing with our loved ones in a way we never have before.  I continue to pray that we all survive this moment, and that we come out of this with the best/right lessons learned at a personal and collective level.

Thank you for reading and cheers to another year blessed upon me…another year that I sincerely appreciate, from the core of my heart, you being here with me, as part of my journey! Thank you so much!

Peace, love, warmth, and blessings,

Your sister, always,

Elsa

Warrior KQueen

“She wasn’t looking for a knight. She was looking for a sword.” –Atticus

 

Image may contain: Elsa Talat Khwaja, hat, selfie and closeup

 

Thank you for reading! If you find this post resourceful, please feel free to follow or subscribe. At the moment I am writing less often, but I hope to return to my original goal of writing a post once a week upon completing my dissertation. 🙂 Thank you again for your valuable time!

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