We’re Back!

Hi GW Readers,

We hope you’ve had a fantastic summer. We think it’s safe to say that it’s been transitory for us, but we are now officially settled and ready to start this new season of our lives!

Over the past 4 months, we’ve heard from many of you who wished to help continue this blog. We were overwhelmed with the responses, and grateful to know how much this virtual community has impacted your own graduate journey. It affirmed for us that even though we are now former graduate wives, it’s important that it keep going.

We have a team who’ll be assisting us in running the blog (seriously, go check them out here), doing a myriad of things from writing, editing, idea mapping, etc. We’ve all worked very hard this summer to make this a reality, which is no small feat considering we are scattered all over the world!

We are still looking for people to write for us, so if that’s you, please do get in touch with us at: thegraduatewife@gmail.com.

As a new school year kicks in, we hope your journey is filled with love and life.

In admiration to all of you with the daily support you lend to your other halves!

-Mandy and M.C.

REPOST: A Name for Pain

neu.Draw

I once had a nice chat with an acquaintance about her opinion of The Graduate Wife.  ‘Wonderful’, ‘helpful’, and ‘necessary’ were words that she threw around. She then paused for a moment and started to scuff her feet on the ground. “Sometimes it just seems a bit heavy, actually.” “Heavy?” I slowly questioned, feeling a bit defensive.

 On the way home I reviewed the conversation in my head, ultimately deciding that some of it is heavy. People are writing and sharing from their hearts about some of the hardest things they’ve ever experienced in their lives—so of course it’s going to be heavy. Even so, I found myself wishing for a do-over of our conversation so that I could ask, “Hey, what about our categories like ‘Celebrate’, ‘Food for Thought’, ‘Shuga’ Mommas’, or ‘Beauty and the Budget’? That’s not all heavy stuff, is it?”

And then it hit me.

This blog works because it is a place where heavy things are shared. Freely and safely shared. And even more, we find ourselves being invited into the heaviness of others (many we don’t even know) as we share in their beautiful journeys. Their stories are much like our own. We cry because we feel the stings ourselves; we laugh because it’s just as ridiculous and hilarious in our own lives. (We all know we dream of Keeley’s cat ranch idea every now and again.)

I started thinking about this concept of ‘heaviness’ again last week after a friend who lost her baby during childbirth sent me a beautiful picture of her son’s gravestone, adorned with flowers. They were celebrating their son on what would have been his first birthday. I have only known this amazing woman after she experienced this great loss in her life; I have only known her with great suffering in her personal story.  Still, I find her to be one of the most beautiful people I have met. Her faith has had a huge impact on where she is now, and her story of trust, pain, heartache, grace, and love all mixed together has given me great courage.  Being able to witness her journey through this suffering has been profound. She willingly let me share in her story and welcomed me into her heaviness. Talking about stillborn babies cannot be easy, yet she did; she let me ask questions, and she let me love on her in the process. I’m thankful not to have known suffering as she has, but that doesn’t mean the same pain won’t knock on my door.  I know without a doubt that if I find myself having to experience something as painful as what she has gone through, I will have courage, hope, and ultimately a stronger faith, because she did.

 She gave me a name to put with pain: her name and her story. And this, in turn, gives me courage to face the unknown ahead of me.

I feel the same about Mandy sharing about her miscarriage, or about Katherine sharing about her stroke, or about Sarah sharing about the pain and reality of sacrificing dreams for the sake of another.  I have a name to connect to pain, and I have found strength and courage in simply knowing these names, and in knowing these stories.  It’s been a gift to be able to read the stories of those a few steps ahead of me—to know that there are awesome and awful times ahead, but that I will make it through those seasons.

I hope The Graduate Wife is a place where you are able to put names and stories to pain and suffering. And perhaps such intimacy will grant you courage for the future ahead. And if you haven’t stepped out with a story of your own, whether sorrowful or joyful, please feel free share some of your story with us. Share the heavy and the light. It’s a real gift to have this space to do so.

-M.C.

{p.s. I totally just scribbled out the names at the top of this post.  I apologize to my friends (virtual ones too!) if I listed your name and wrote it out a bit sloppy.}

REPOST: Seeking BFF

Written by Keeley, a current graduate wife        

 I recently read an interesting book about making friends which I thought I’d introduce to our readers at The Graduate Wife. The premise of the book, entitled “MWF Seeking BFF”, is that the author has moved to a new town with her husband and is attempting to find people who might blossom into life-long friends. Instead of waiting for this to happen organically (because that hasn’t worked so well over the first few years in their town), she goes all out. Over the span of a year, she goes on 52 “friend-dates” with people she meets through various venues, including an improvisation class, cooking clubs, book clubs, and of course, other friends. The book chronicles her experiences as well as how she processes the new relationships in her life, and she fills out her narrative with a healthy chunk of statistics and research on the art/science of making and keeping friends. While I certainly admire her motivation, willpower, and discipline in accomplishing this mammoth goal, I fully concede that as an introvert, my head would simply explode from all that social interaction.

See, the thing is that I’m not all that great at making friends. Meeting people, sure, I enjoy learning new faces and names and even have somewhat of a knack for remembering them. And once I’m friends with someone, she can definitely count on me to be there for a conversation, for a listening ear, for a walk in the neighborhood, for a cup of tea or an ice-cream cone. Especially an ice cream cone. As I read this book, however, I realized how much of an ordeal it normally is for me to make a new friend. Thinking back through my life, my best middle school buddy and my best friend through high school basically had to “hunt me down” (in their words) to become friends. I think the reason, partly, is because I have always been close to my family, and, having one larger than normal, there were always plenty of us around to hang out with. However, it wasn’t until college that I realized another reason I am hesitant to begin new friendships: vulnerability. It’s much easier for me to be friendly to everyone and to offer my friendship to those who express interest in it–getting to where I have a mutual trust and need for that relationship is what trips me up and must, in some way, scare me. I know this because one of my best friends in college and I, when we became friends, explicitly stated to one another that we weren’t interested in being half-way friends. If we were going to get-to-know one another, we were going to be the type of friends who never worried about intruding or being a drain on the other; we were going to be honest with one another and give one another our best attempts at friendship.

Since then, I’ve learned that this isn’t always possible when making new friends. While a heart-to-heart conversation like that is immediately within reach in the social greenhouse which is college, people in the real world like for things to just happen. When Jason and I first married and moved to his master’s program, I didn’t spend much time at all thinking about friendships. Between our new marriage and my work schedule, it honestly didn’t cross my mind. But when we moved to pursue his PhD program, I was pleased to find that the community here facilitates making friends like hardly any other place I’ve been.

That’s not to say that it has all been a dream–the first year we lived here I had about five friends that I regularly spent time with, and the next year they had all moved away. In the graduate life, I have found this to be one of the most challenging aspects of making friends. But from those five friends, I learned a great many things, not the least of which were how to knit, and the fact that I have a massive writer’s crush on Barbara Kingsolver. Since then, I’ve had many a walking buddy and reading cohort, and each of these friends I have learned to appreciate for what we bring to one another’s lives, however long our overlap may last.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention, however, that I have also found a “BFF” in the process–a friend with whom I spent so much time and we shared so much of our lives, that I know wherever we live, we will remain friends and remember how much more fulfilling and rewarding this stage of life has been because of one another. She has already moved away, which we knew would happen eventually with our both being graduate wives, but we stay in touch regularly, and I think of her frequently as I drive or walk past our old meeting places in my town. Like another one of my college friends, I think of her as more of a sister than a friend. It’s through friendships like this that I understand the bittersweetness of making, losing, and keeping companions through our lives. My childhood friends, my college friends, and my adult friends–they have all helped me to become more of who I am and challenged me to grow in ways I never thought possible. I may never go on 52 dates to discover another BFF, but I can certainly understand why someone would go to the trouble.

Have you found it easy or difficult to make new friends during this unique stage of life? How do you balance making new friendships with maintaining your marriage and/or work?

REPOST: My Patchwork Heart

I hear the warm whispers of the North Carolina summers calling me.  I feel wooed by the fast-paced life I once lived in Washington, D.C.  and I hear echoes of the intimate and truly precious conversations that I shared with friends on our small street in Arlington.  I smell hushpuppies and my Dad’s BBQ and all the warm flavors of the deep south tempting me home.  I hear the ancient bells here in Oxford and I savor the fun times shared with dear fellow graduate wives.  I remember the glorious sunsets on the Chesapeake Bay and the unforgettable and sometimes painful community that was forged while living there on the Eastern Shore.  I feel the Big Apple charming me with the adventures & life lessons that unfolded there, and countless meals at my favorite café near Harlem.

Although my graduate wife journey has only really lead me to two different locations, I feel at times like tiny pieces of my heart are scattered about a hundred different places.  Do you ever feel this way? Have you moved around a lot on this journey?  Have you watched friendships grow and then had to watch as one of you packed up and said goodbye, or fallen in love with a city and a community, only to have to let go?

At times I feel so grateful for all the pieces of my heart scattered about around the country, and even the globe.  At other times I feel the weight of heartache for never getting to have all those precious friends and memories and experiences combined into one perfect place.  It’s a blessing and a curse at times…but alas it makes up who I am. A giant patchwork quilt.

I feel that recently I am learning how to relish and treasure all the vastly unique experiences that make me who I am.  Each place I have lived and each community of which I have been a part hasn’t been perfect…but each has been incredible and beautiful in its own way.  In these places I’ve been loved and hurt and supported and broken down.  I haven’t necessarily chosen these communities…they have more or less chosen me.

I feel that as a graduate wife, as a supporter, a mover and a dreamer, I have sometimes tried to resist these changes.  I have tried to resist the sharing of my life and ultimately of my heart with new friends and new settings.  For some reason it never works though.  As a fellow graduate wife once shared, “I tried so hard not to make friends in our new graduate community.  I was in denial of the move and thought that by wishing it away and not connecting, it would go by more quickly.  And sadly after a season of depression, I realized I was very wrong.”

I know that at times it’s easy to just try and ignore our current situations.  To dream of bigger houses and steady incomes for our families and to try and deny the reality of where we are now for this season of life.  And so I just wanted to encourage each of you fellow graduate wives today.  You might be avoiding your current grad school location and counting down the days until graduation or you might be feeling heavy with heartache over a previous home and community that you once knew.  You might be anxiously dreading an upcoming move and new graduate program, or you might be so in love with your current graduate wife life that you never want to see it end.  Wherever you find yourself, I hope you are able to step back and soak up all the flavors that make up who you are.  Smell and hear and taste the unique tapestry of friends, places, jobs, and experiences that this journey has brought to you.  I hope you can open up to a new community around you if you haven’t already.  Share bits of your story with others and be open to letting them make an imprint on it as well.  I know it’s not always easy … but when you take a step back, aren’t patchwork quilts breathtaking?

On your graduate wife journey how have you dealt with moving and uprooting community, friends, jobs, etc.?

-M.C.

Out of Office

 Dear GW readers,

Summer is off to a roaring start! Between traveling, moving, family visits (both UK and USA), and insane work schedules, we’ve blinked and June is gone…..Hi, July. :)

Because of this, we are taking a break for the next 6 weeks. The good thing is, we will still be here as we are reposting some of our favorite posts from the last 2 years. We hope you enjoy it, and we look forward to catching up with you right around the time school starts back up in mid-August.

-Mandy & M.C.

A Name for Pain

neu.Draw

I once had a nice chat with an acquaintance about her opinion of The Graduate Wife.  ‘Wonderful’, ‘helpful’, and ‘necessary’ were words that she threw around. She then paused for a moment and started to scuff her feet on the ground. “Sometimes it just seems a bit heavy, actually.” “Heavy?” I slowly questioned, feeling a bit defensive.

 On the way home I reviewed the conversation in my head, ultimately deciding that some of it is heavy. People are writing and sharing from their hearts about some of the hardest things they’ve ever experienced in their lives—so of course it’s going to be heavy. Even so, I found myself wishing for a do-over of our conversation so that I could ask, “Hey, what about our categories like ‘Celebrate’, ‘Food for Thought’, ‘Shuga’ Mommas’, or ‘Beauty and the Budget’? That’s not all heavy stuff, is it?”

And then it hit me.

This blog works because it is a place where heavy things are shared. Freely and safely shared. And even more, we find ourselves being invited into the heaviness of others (many we don’t even know) as we share in their beautiful journeys. Their stories are much like our own. We cry because we feel the stings ourselves; we laugh because it’s just as ridiculous and hilarious in our own lives. (We all know we dream of Keeley’s cat ranch idea every now and again.)

I started thinking about this concept of ‘heaviness’ again last week after a friend who lost her baby during childbirth sent me a beautiful picture of her son’s gravestone, adorned with flowers. They were celebrating their son on what would have been his first birthday. I have only known this amazing woman after she experienced this great loss in her life; I have only known her with great suffering in her personal story.  Still, I find her to be one of the most beautiful people I have met. Her faith has had a huge impact on where she is now, and her story of trust, pain, heartache, grace, and love all mixed together has given me great courage.  Being able to witness her journey through this suffering has been profound. She willingly let me share in her story and welcomed me into her heaviness. Talking about stillborn babies cannot be easy, yet she did; she let me ask questions, and she let me love on her in the process. I’m thankful not to have known suffering as she has, but that doesn’t mean the same pain won’t knock on my door.  I know without a doubt that if I find myself having to experience something as painful as what she has gone through, I will have courage, hope, and ultimately a stronger faith, because she did.

 She gave me a name to put with pain: her name and her story. And this, in turn, gives me courage to face the unknown ahead of me.

I feel the same about Mandy sharing about her miscarriage, or about Katherine sharing about her stroke, or about Sarah sharing about the pain and reality of sacrificing dreams for the sake of another.  I have a name to connect to pain, and I have found strength and courage in simply knowing these names, and in knowing these stories.  It’s been a gift to be able to read the stories of those a few steps ahead of me—to know that there are awesome and awful times ahead, but that I will make it through those seasons.

I hope The Graduate Wife is a place where you are able to put names and stories to pain and suffering. And perhaps such intimacy will grant you courage for the future ahead. And if you haven’t stepped out with a story of your own, whether sorrowful or joyful, please feel free share some of your story with us. Share the heavy and the light. It’s a real gift to have this space to do so.

-M.C.

{p.s. I totally just scribbled out the names at the top of this post.  I apologize to my friends (virtual ones too!) if I listed your name and wrote it out a bit sloppy.}

Calling All Readers!

call for readers

image source  here

The application waiting game has almost come to an end, and many of you are already looking for apartments in various cities across the world as you prepare to move for another graduate degree or post doc position.  Or, you might be on the other end of the stick: slowly, but surely working through your graduate degree but having to prepare yourself seeing treasured friends from graduate life pack up and head out.  Whew…the seasons of the graduate life!

We wanted to ask you today to think back to your earliest memories of starting on this graduate partner journey.  Think back to the countless internet searches over the new city to which you were moving, the countless searches for welcome groups, any tidbits of insight or information you could gather about the experience ahead of you. Both of us remember well what that was like!

Right now, most universities are getting ready to send loads of information to incoming students concerning their moves and the things in store for them.  Wouldn’t it be amazing to have a link to The Graduate Wife sent to those students?  We think back to our beginnings on this journey and wonder what a gift it would have been to be directed to this site to receive the wealth of encouragement and support before we even began!

This is where we ask you, our readers, to help spread the word about The Graduate Wife site by sending this letter to your current university or alma mater.  You can tailor it to your specific school, and please feel free to reword the language if you’d like.  We’ve had great feedback from people who have found the site through university postings, and we can’t help but imagine the many other wives or partners out there who could benefit from it in the future.

We realize a lot of our readers prefer to stay anonymous. In that case, if you have a contact at your university, please let us know that information and we can contact them.

We have experienced a wonderful community of friends in our current city. However, there are a lot of women who don’t have that where they live, and for those who have found this blog, the virtual community has been a lifeline of hope and support to them. For those of you have shared your stories, thank you. For those of you who read this blog, thank you. Here’s a snippet of some emails we receive on a weekly basis:

“It actually helps a lot to hear other people’s experience. I only know a couple of graduate wives, most of our colleagues are single. I had been talking to friends for the past few months, but non of them in academia. But your experience has been very encouraging for both of us, just knowing there are people like us “out there”.” – reader from North America

“I cannot tell you how much this site encourages me.” – reader from the UK

“I found your blog at the right time and really have enjoyed spending a good part of my day reading all your posts. Some have made me laugh and others cry.  I have not found anyone that I can relate to who is on this journey of grad school, however, I instantly found comfort in your words. Thank you so much.” – reader from North America

Help us reach out to others!

Your journey matters and is impacting graduate wives across the globe,

-Mandy & MC