“It’s the deep breath before the plunge.”

Nerd alert. If you hate The Lord of the Rings references, best click out now because you will never get back the 10 minutes of your life it will take to read this blog-so choose wisely…just sayin’. 

I am a devoted fan of LOTR. From time to time I find an apt reference that helps me along my journey. Simply put, I find sentiments and truisms that fit situations.

In one of the final scenes in The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, the battle is mounting, the enemies are at the gate, and Gandalf and Pippen share a moment of dread (Pippen) and contemplation (Gandalf) before the last defense is breached. The video below is the short scene from the movie.


I liken this time of anxiety (and yes, some dread) to the last two weeks of semester. How will I make it!? Dramatic? Yes, but it is also my attempt at funmaking in an effort to laugh at myself, shrug off anxiety and forge ahead, assured of my success.

Managing my time is difficult because I can be scattered in my focus. I was warned by those who know of this tendency in me to wander off that the first semester of a graduate program is the toughest. The workload is substantial and course material becomes narrow, class participation more individualistic, as one moves from student to scholar. First semester is an initiation. I set my intention to be as calm as possible, be proactive with assignments, but play when I felt the stress building. Stress relievers for me are: having lunch with a close friend, going to a movie, and taking walks or engaging in some other form of daily exercise. I also find strength from meditation and my “Daily Dalai.” Really, it’s called the “Daily Dalai.” I laughed too…


Oh, and laughing is a necessary tool too. Do it daily as well.

Over the past months, balancing family, school, and friends proved to be daunting at times. But I noticed those times were when I needed to take a step back and ask myself: Why am I doing this anyway?

The answers varied, but the choice was always the same-KEEP GOING. I knew the prize was worth the sacrifice: a meaningful education that will serve my purposes to write and educate others on writing.

So in this “deep breath before the plunge” I prioritize my time, put friends on standby, and dive in. My family, of course, is helpful. And that is the balance I strike- firm, and optimistic. I have been here many times before, but somehow the first semester of graduate school seems more challenging and scary. Hey, I can do this.

Pardon my impassioned, self-soothing, writing here. Maybe it is helpful to others to know they are not alone during this crazy time of the semester. Hope it helps.