I am sitting here today, alone, working on homework on this Thanksgiving, and aside from being only slightly lonely, I am feeling incredibly blessed beyond measure.

No, I was not forgotten or overlooked by my family. I chose to use this day of Thankfulness to put in my last sprint towards the finish line of grad school and my sincerest hope is that I will wrap up all of my major projects by Sunday evening and be able to close this chapter. Right now I am thankful for the fluffy pups keeping me company today, and snuggle breaks when I need them.

For my final capstone project I am forced to be reflective and write five separate personal statements about my experience over the past two years in the program. While yes, I have a lot to say about the materials, classes, and coursework, I come back to being grateful that I even had this chance and was encouraged to take the risk of graduate school. I feel incredibly enriched by the whole experience.

I am also reflective on all of the support I've been given to do this. My husband has not faltered in supporting my goals and dreams to go through this program and I feel like we understand one another better than before this experience.

I am thankful to my entire family who are gracefully accepting and supporting my absence in today's gatherings, as well as everything else I have missed in the past 2+ years. Thank you for allowing me to be selfish with my time and for allowing and supporting me to grow.

 I am thankful for a job that allowed me flexibility to both work and complete an internship at the same time and for a boss who sees the benefits of higher education.

I am thankful for dear, dear friends who continue to encourage me, even today and who, like my family, have forgiven me all that I have missed in the past 2+ years to put in this work.

I am also thankful for growing up in a family that valued both education and older adults and instilled a love of both within me. In working on this capstone project, it is so clear to me that I would not be who I am without my amazing grandparents who have unwaveringly supported me and encouraged me and never let me quit.

It would be remiss to note that I am also incredibly thankful that I am at the end. I have nearly made it, can see the finish line, and am so, so grateful that I won't have to miss any more Thanksgivings for school work… at least for the next couple years, because you know, there is no harm in having more than one advanced degree…

Happy Thanksgiving All - I hope you had a blessed day.


And then what?

And then what?

I keep getting asked this question in regards to what I am planning once I get my Masters degree next month (holy crap, next month!), so I wanted to take the opportunity to answer it:


I have no major, grand scheme plan lined up and do not foresee my life changing all that much after December 13th, aside from a great reduction in stress.

I recently had a family member of one of the residents on my unit ask me "And then what?" and after I gave him a schpeal about how there were a lot of different directions I could go and various things I would be interested in doing, but I will definitely be staying put in my current position for the time being, he gave me a challenge. He challenged me to set 5 and 10 year professional goals because without goals I am like a "ship without a rudder, blowing wherever the wind may take me" and that I need to have direction, so I can always be working towards something.

Since this conversation a month or so ago, I have seriously been fretting over these lists he wants from me by Christmas. Fundamentally, I don't disagree with him. It is great to have goals and something to work for - absolutely. But, all of the best things that have happened to me have been because I was open to them. I found my undergrad minor in Gerontology by happenstance and it has shaped the trajectory of my career. I sent out my resume cold to multiple facilities in the area and the one I am at is one of the few that called me in for an interview. Then, I took my current position when something opened at my facility and found my passion for working with older adults with dementia. These were not goals I had laid out or a specific career road map I was following.

I decided to get my Masters in Gerontology to be more effective in my current job, learn more about the vast field of gero, and add more skills and qualifications to my resume. I feel infinitely more enriched and knowledgeable in my field and more competent as a supervisor because of all I have learned in the last two years. I would go back and do it all again because it has been an enormously valuable experience.

Moving forward though, I am going to continue doing as I have done. I am going to remain open to various opportunities that may come  my way. If I find something I really want to do, I will pursue it. Right now, I don't know what the next few years of my life are going to look like, and perhaps for the first time, I am OK with that. So, to really answer "and then what?"

And then, I might get around to learning how to cook
And then, I might set a goal to train and actually run a 10K
And then, I might want to take an art class
And then, I might read for fun and review more books on my blog - maybe even join a book club
And then, I will get organized and clean out all of the stuff that has been accumulating for the past two years
And then, I am going to enjoy being out of school and just live my life, open to whatever opportunities and chances come my way professionally