oxford, a b&b, and how i danced


yesterday i was browsing through some photos on my phone,
and i stumbled upon these images that i snapped on our way
out of this bed & breakfast where we stayed in oxford...

it reminded me of the second greatest moment in my entire life
{second, of course, and predictably, to my wedding day}.
the best moment in my life happened this summer.
it came after years of self-doubt, and across a deep ocean of fear that i was drowning in.

all summer long i worked as hard as i could at oxford.
i researched, wrote, researched, wrote, researched...and wrote.
i was terrified that i would fail; that i would be "exposed" as
a "wanna-be" and a "fake"; that i would be kicked out of academia for ever and ever.

half-way through my time there i finally realized that even if i did fail
what would it matter any way? i could either try again, 
or find something else just as wonderful and beautiful.
so i gave in and let go a little more of fear,
and kept on spending hours in the library and with my laptop.

as my summer at oxford was coming to an end
i was becoming anxious to see ceej after six long weeks apart...
but i was absolutely terrified of my final tutorial with my professor.
i was sure he was going to be disappointed with all of my work,
and tell me that i was a disgrace to the institution and blah, blah, blah.

ceej arrived on the same day that i was to have my final tutorial.
i waited at the bus station in the cold for over an hour for ceej to make is way to oxford from london, 
not being able to communicate via cell or internet.
i thought i had my eyes peeled the entire time, but he still managed to sneak up on me...
best surprise of the entire summer!

i had to keep ceej awake so he could deal with i took him to the ashmolean museum
where i dropped him off, hoping he'd find his way back to lincoln college when he was finished.

i hurried back to meet with my professor for the final tutorial.
my stomach was a mess. nervous. nervous. nervous.
i was prepared to hang my head in shame.

as our meeting started i was instantly relieved.
my professor had so much praise for my research and writing.
we laughed and ooh'd and ah'd at the great poems i had dissected, analyzed, and interpreted.
i think it would be safe to say that we were both giddy as we talked.
of course, my research wasn't perfect, but he gave me priceless advice and encouragement.

i will never, ever forget this moment.

i ran straight back to my flat, hoping that cj was there and not lost in the city.
he was there, waiting for me...i immediately started dancing right then and there,
and told ceej my good news:
i was not a "fake" and i had done incredibly well, despite every fear and insecurity i have ever had.

i needed that day, that moment, that professor. 
watershed moment indeed.
i no longer worry about failing--if i fail i know i can try again and again and again until i get it just right.

i haven't always devoted myself to what i want because fear stood broadly within my heart,
but i think i have given fear a good punch in the gut, and he's still lying on the floor to this day.

after my dance and explanation to ceej we headed to our b&b: the old parsonage hotel.
it was magical. i was in oxford with my love, with news of my success, and a place to rest
my head after such an incredibly hard, but beautiful summer studying at oxford.

i'm going back. next time to pursue my doctorate. just watch me. even if i have to punch fear in the gut twenty more times.

{p.s. you should check out the photos of the old parsonage hotel's website...they're incredible}


Anita said...

Good for you dear girl! We have to learn to let go of fear and not let it control us. It's a lesson I am learning quite well too.

tinyparticlesoflight said...

Beautiful story of a beautiful journey...thank you for encouraging me.


Colleen said...

what a beautiful memory. I am truly enjoying your blog.

crispin korschen said...

As we say in New Zealand Kia Kaha - be strong.
Be strong and you'll be able to do anything.
I feel proud of you even though i don't know you but I think we all know what it feels like to climb our own mountain.

jmw said...

so happy for you :)

Anonymous said...

I just discovered your blog. Gorgeous, beautiful, lovely!

nicole said...

So inspiring. I recently discovered myself that fear and insecurity has disabled me and prevented me from accomplishing my own dreams and other pursuits of happiness for perhaps my whole life. It was quite depressing to realize this but I am now motivated to kick myself into gear and just DO something, anything, without fear.

I LOVE your blog. Thank you for the inspiration. I subscribe to over 500 blogs and yours stands out amongst all of them. I read all of your posts because of your marvelous writing skills, the selection of fantastic quotes, the wonderful images you create, and the lovely glimpses into your life. Thank you! The life you lead and share with your equally awesome husband is something I yearn to cultivate for myself.

Ann Marie said...

thank you everyone for such lovely comments! loves to you all.

nacherluver said...

Wow! You really stuck it to that old fear character. Congrats and good for you! A doctorate. Wow. Dreamy. A very inspirational post.

Anonymous said...

Lovely post! I'm so glad I discoverd your blog. Because of it I just revisited the website of Oxford University. I discovered that the Departement of Continguing Education now offers very interesting certificates. I'm over the moon! Studying part-time History of Art in Oxford with no previous qualification, opens up a whole new perspective for me. It's as close to the real thing/study as I can get. :) I hope I will be brave enough to put this dream into reality one day. Relocating to England, finding a job, brushing up my English... I hope that fear won't stop me. Best wishes from Switzerland. Alexandra
PS: Excuse me, for my outburst here.