The mystical irony was in the timing that I received the no go PhD news. Relaxed from a Cascade, Idaho cabin retreat with my inspirational women friends, I immediately spotted the letter on the kitchen table. The weekend was rich with soul-searching conversations, vision boards, dream exploration, laughter, delicious food, and plenty of opportunity to snooze. I tore into the envelope ready to accept my next challenge in life.
“Dear Ms Emerson – I regret to inform you that your admission to the PhD in Public Policy and Administration, State and Local Government has been denied.”
My fall higher education plans completely derailed, and mixed emotions swirled in a recipe of bruised ego, anger, and disappointment. Then I felt embarrassed because for over a year, I talked incessantly to friends and family about my PhD plans. Next, a simple, subdued thought, “Now what do I do. Reapply next year or apply to other universities?” Finally, a curious feeling emerged – relief.
Then the big question, do I want a PhD and why? I know I can achieve that goal, but is that how I want to spend my time. Lack of a PhD does not prevent active involvement in affordable housing advocacy.
Since that March 2014 spring day when I opened the “No” letter, my life rapidly changed. Fall 2013, I had received a promotion into a new job as a Proposal Development Specialist with the Research Computing department. As a result, the rest of my spring 2014 melted into a flurry of travel to trainings and conferences that revitalized my talents and put my MPA to use.
I went on a glorious trip to the Washington Olympic peninsula, camped out, took long walks on foggy beaches, and explored the rain forest. I visited my daughter in Portland, Oregon and we shared an incredible weekend in Cannon Beach. My other daughter returned from New Zealand with loads of stories and pictures.
I decided to downsize, simplify, and sell my house, move into a smaller apartment and use precious time and money to travel, visit friends, and write. Instead of mowing the lawn or home maintenance projects, I plan to devote time playing the banjo, going to bluegrass festivals, writer workshops, and blogging conferences.
My PhD plotting plans did not leave a void for long. Other opportunities rushed in to seize the moment. As the gorgeous, cooling fall weather eases into the Treasure Valley, I am able to pause, thoroughly enjoy the transition, and not worry about getting an assignment completed, or that next paper written.
In October, I travel to Taos, New Mexico to join friends for one week to work on Habitat for Humanity build. I became involved with Boise Valley Habitat in 1994, when hired into a support staff position. After the position had ended, I remained involved with the organization locally, national and internationally. In addition to local builds, I joined Global Village teams in Northern Ireland, Romania, Guatemala, Hawaii, and a Jimmy Carter build in Valdosta, Georgia.
I look forward to additional volunteer opportunities and a chance to spend time with friends as result of my long involvement. Onward with an adventurous life!