October 27, 2018

Do What You Have to Do



For the past two years, I have been pursuing a second Master’s Degree from the Naval Postgraduate School Center for Homeland Defense and Security (CHDS). I pursued this degree so I could be a better chief for my department and become more educated on homeland security issues in order to keep our city safer.

When I began this program, I didn’t set out to abandon my blog (and nearly everything else in my life). It just happened. I live by the mantra, “Do what you have to do so you can do what you want to do.” Following that mindset, I have tried to prioritize my police department while using energy reserves for the grueling coursework and traveling back and forth to California and Maryland for the residency portion of the program. That has left me with little time to do what I want to do. Newton’s first law of motion observed that an object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion. By that theory, I should have been in a constant state of inertia. Newton’s law didn’t account for immovable objects in the way of things in motion because I lost count of how many times I slammed into a brick wall. I should also mention that I have neglected friends and family during this time and that’s why I think it’s ironic when I’m asked how I manage work-life balance.

I remember reading Facebook COO Sheryl Sandburg’s book, “Lean In” where she described reaching a point in her career where she felt comfortable leaving work at 5pm to have dinner with her family. She made it a rule not to allow anything to interrupt dinner and she hoped by practicing putting her family first, it would give other people at Facebook permission to do the same. I love that. But I don’t do that.

I am blatantly honest when answering the work-life balance question by confessing that I don’t manage it at all. I fail at it miserably. When I’m eating dinner with my family, I answer the phone when it’s someone from work – even if it’s not an emergency. I swear I have tried to ignore it but then I start speculating what needs my attention and I become preoccupied. My family just looks at me looking at the ringing phone and tells me to answer it.

The truth is, when I feel like I’m entirely focused on work, I know I’m not fully present for my family. When I am being a great mom and a great partner, I feel as though I’m falling short in my police department or my city. Throw in the pursuit of another master’s degree into that mix, and it’s easy to see why I repeatedly slammed into the wall. Some people say you can have it all and I absolutely believe it – just not at the same time.

I graduate in December with a Master’s Degree in Homeland Defense and Security and I loved every minute of it (except for the times I didn’t love it and wondered what the hell I was thinking). I’m proud of my accomplishment, but I’m relieved that it’s coming to an end because I will be clearing the cobwebs off my blog and getting back to reading books that aren’t assigned and writing about things that aren’t required.

I did what I had to do. Now I get to do what I want to do in between the things I still have to do. And if the phone rings during dinner, I’m probably still going to answer it because getting a degree doesn’t make one smarter.

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