I packed up my new lunchbox, tucked in a peanut butter and fluff sandwich between the carrot sticks and medium sized apple, and squeezed the insulated bag into my campus backpack. Books? Check. Binders with my assigned readings printed out? Check. Cell phone? Check. Pens and highlighters? Check. Money for parking in the student lot?  Check.


“Oh, crap!” I yelled.


“Ooooh, ca-ha-rap! Ohhh, craaaap! Ohhhh, ccrrrrap!!” yells my 2-year old son, giggling while he bounces up and down on the living room couch. If I wasn’t in such a hurry, I’d take the time to tell him to stop bouncing. Or, on a good day, I’d walk over to him, place his tiny hands in mine, and hold his fingers while he bounces on the maroon living room couch. But today, no, today I’m running late for my first day of school.


For the past three weeks, I’ve been preparing for my doctoral program to begin. In roughly 5 years from now, I will join the other members of my family — the other “Dr. Talusans” — in the realm of achievement. Of course, according to my dad, my brother is the only real doctor among us children since he is in Medicine. This goes over really, really well with my sister, the Professor with a PhD.


Trying new things scares me. I’m a creature of habit. I thrive on routines. I love the predictable. I make schedules for my schedules. One of the items on my “to do list” is to make a to do list. So it terrifies me to be on this journey of both academics and family life with so much of it out of my control.


Then again, I’ve had some good training in taking risks. For the past two years, my life has revolved around simply getting things done. Around pushing beyond my own comfort zone, enjoying the journey, and focusing on the end.


But, this one is different.


This program is five years of intense study, writing, reading, training, and thinking. Already, in just the few minutes I’ve attempted to write this post, I have been in-and-out of the kids’ room no less than 5 times responding to each request: more milk, change diaper, please pray with us, I’m too hot, I’m too cold, Evan is kicking me, it’s too dark, it’s still light out, where’s Dad?  Even after just Day 1 of class, I’m already feeling the impact this is going to have on my family.


But, the whole mastectomy and marathon piece prepared me, right? It taught me endurance, patience, pain and joy. It taught me kindness on my body and pushing beyond my own limits. It taught me to enjoy the run and savor the finish.


After getting my son to stop bouncing on the couch — and stop yelling “crap!” out of the front window — I realized I had forgotten to buy paper to write my notes during class. And, there he was. On the dining room table. Hoodie sweatshirt pulled just over his brow, and brown hair combed just over his eyelids. He was set against a pink, glittery background with the letters “J.B.” scrawled across the top. My 5-year old’s Justin Bieber notebook was the only pad of paper I could find. Yes, I packed a peanut butter and fluff sandwich and a Justin Bieber notebook. I. Am. A. Doctoral. Student.


“Liza,” said a frustrated Jorge. “I bought you an iPad. Use the iPad.”


I felt like Obi Wan was telling me to use the Force.


I grabbed the iPad , shoved it into the laptop sleeve of my backpack, and headed out the door.


Over an hour and a half later through morning commute traffic, I sat myself at the desk just to the left of the professor, spread out my binder of notes, took out a pen and highlighter, and turned on my iPad.


I quickly pulled the Justin Bieber notebook out of my bag, flipped the cover to the middle of the spiral bound notebook, and began to take notes with my pen.


I’ll guess trying something new will just have to wait.


Peace, love, and focusing on the journey,





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