Archives: Personal Development

every year / everything / I have ever learned / in my lifetime / leads back to this

Although you wouldn’t know it from the weather, April is ending. A lot has happened, and writing has fallen by the wayside as I’ve scrambled to keep up. A few highlights of note from the last month or so:

  • Our TEDxEMU video went up! I am so proud of the work that we’ve done for this project. It was very difficult to sum it all up in fifteen minutes, but I do think that this video provides a good jumping-off point to what Dana, Katie and I have done over the last year, and to what we hope to do with it in the future. More on this later!

i dreamed i called you on the telephone to say: be kinder to yourself

Adrienne Rich died about ten days ago, which, if I can be frank: is some bullshit. It’s almost unbearably sad. The way I perceive loss has been changing over the last few years (I do a lot better with death these days than I used to, is the short story) and at first this didn’t affect me too much, but I’ve been thinking about it more and more this weekend, and as the days have worn on, the sense of loss is beginning to take shape – and it’s significant. I wasn’t entirely sure why until it hit me all in a rush this morning, in the shower of all places, but after I realized it, I wasn’t really sure how I couldn’t have known this plainly, right after I first heard: I owe so much of who I am to Adrienne Rich, and Adrienne Rich is dead.

dark was the night; cold was the ground

“So, what happened to your sense of humor?”

“Can you just loosen up a little?”

“I miss the old you.”

“Why do you have to take everything so seriously?”

“It was just a joke.”

“Do you ever leave work mode anymore?”

But I’m happy now, is the thing.


The first time I can remember feeling unsatisfied with my life as it was is actually entirely coincidental with learning to love poetry. There is a Tony Hoagland poem called Reasons to Survive November, and it wasn’t the first poem I loved but it was the first poem I felt, viscerally and as an explanation for feelings I couldn’t yet quantify. There’s a bit toward the end that’s always struck me as incredibly powerful where he talks about “shoving joy into my heart over and over” and I (still) remember reading that for the first time as a senior in high school and realizing that someday, there was going to be more to my life, more maybe than I could even have imagined.

It’s a pretty negative poem (or at least, it comes from a pretty externally negative place) and I identified pretty hard with it during the peak (trough?) of my depression. I don’t anymore. However. I do come back to those lines specifically every so often; historically I wonder when I will begin to live it, but now I think I am. Maybe this is just a long-winded way of saying “haters can hate”? But either way. Haters can hate. And I will shove joy into this tiny little heart over and over until surviving November is not even a question but a fact, unquestioned, and I will live that like a firebrand. And that’s about how this life is gonna go.

so many turkeys

People who know me know how much I love the holiday season, and specifically how much I love Thanksgiving. (I think it is criminally underrated.) It’s the perfect holiday to kick off a month of reflecting on maybe the two most important facts we can know about ourselves: what we have, and what we can give. I try to look at it as an opportunity to balance myself: count my blessings – give thanks – while gently reminding myself where I can do better. Because I always can.

In the spirit of the season, then, I thought it would be a good idea to try and write a list of the things I’m thankful for from a professional development standpoint.

First, I am thankful for the incredible support network of family and friends that allows me to do what I want to do. In many ways, this year has been painful and difficult. My schoolwork is difficult, and in a different way than I’ve ever had to deal with before. My job is wonderful as always but my new position has a learning curve associated that’s caught me off guard a bit since May. DVRT… we don’t have to linger, but it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. And all of this sums up to be what it’s like to leave behind a life I really wanted, and a degree I worked very hard for. In short: this is hard. My family and friends have been there for me so consistently and have been such a calming, soothing presence; I honestly don’t know what I would have done without them.

(I should also say that spite of all this difficulty, though, I am also thankful for all the ways that this year has been wonderful and easy: I feel like I am finally fitting into where I was always meant to be. It’s all about getting stronger, kinder, better. And the going might be slow, but it sure is going.)

I am thankful for the opportunities in my life – I am thankful that I got into a graduate program that fits who I am and what I want the first time around, and I am thankful for the graduate assistantship that’s making it possible and giving me so many skills and advantages. I am thankful for bosses and professors that truly care about my education. I am surrounded by role models every day – by people who don’t get told often enough how integral to my development they have been and continue to be. (Resolution: tell them more.)

I am thankful for working in a building with a Starbucks downstairs.

I am thankful that I live in an area with so many opportunities to volunteer and “get my activist on”.

I am thankful for a boyfriend who helps support me, and who makes it possible for me to devote my life 100% to school and volunteerism. I am thankful for intelligent, open-minded friends who listen to me, who talk to me, who learn with me and help me see new things, or see old things in new ways. I am thankful for this bullet point: thankful that my personal and professional lives can intersect so seamlessly while still remaining, at the end of the day, separate. I’m thankful for feeling like I even have a professional life. It’s good. Life’s good. Happy turkey day. <3

© 2019 Caroline Horste

I am neither a professional nor an expert, and nothing here should be taken as counsel or legal advice. Along the same vein, nothing here should be taken as representing the views of anybody but myself, including my employers or the organizations I volunteer for. -CH