Wednesday, August 21, 2013

I Love School

I love school. This is really good, since I work in a school, and have for the last 18 years.  I think it's the prospect of learning something new that intrigues me.  I definitely have the right job.  It's what I was created to do. I also love being a student, though.

I love the first day of a new college class, getting a syllabus and finding out what we will be doing for the next 16 weeks. I love the sight and smell of new books, the uncharted territory waiting to be explored. I love school supplies; new notebooks, all clean and unspoiled, ready to be filled with knowledge from the notes I take.  I love finding that new pen that writes really well, too. I love learning; there is so much out there to learn.

I love school!  

I went to the college bookstore this afternoon after work to buy my books. I had waited until last night's class to make the decision between buying Kindle books or real books. I opted for the real books, so there I was in the bookstore, clutching my books like a first-grader, and I realized I had a few minutes to kill. Those who really know me know that this is not a good combination; time to kill in a business dedicated to books and school supplies. I browsed for about 30 minutes, admiring all the shiny new gadgets, books, notebooks, pens, pencils, planners, and jump drives.  It was a paradise.

Then I pulled myself together and reminded myself that I already had new notebooks, pens, pencils, folders, and a jump drive that will still hold a bunch of homework. I headed to the counter and paid for my books. Let the semester begin. I'm ready.

I have been a college student for a long time. I started back in the 90s when my eldest was still in middle school. I took office administration courses, where I discovered that I not only loved school, I absolutely loved computers. For the next few years I took one or two classes at a time, ambling on toward an associate degree in office administration. Then, 2 things happened:  life got really busy, with 3 kids who had reached the magical ages that transform moms into taxi drivers, and my health took a downward spiral.  I had 2 major surgeries within 10 months. School was on hold.

Many years passed.  One by one, the children grew up and went off to college. I went through a divorce and some severe economic distress. College seemed to be an elusive dream that would never be reached.  It was still in the back of my mind, but I considered it an impossible goal. I was convinced that even though I was insistent that my children get their educations, I was too dumb to be able to finish college.

I went back when my youngest was in college when I became aware I qualified for a Pell grant.  I stayed with it until I almost had the associate and I got discouraged and quit again.  It wasn't until around early in 2006 that I decided to finish the associate degree.  However, the office administration degree was no more. I was about 12-15 hours away from it, and it didn't exist anymore.

A good friend encouraged me to go back anyway, so I went back, determined to finish what I had started. Working with a college advisor, I found that I was fairly near to completing an associate of general studies, which was the best I could do without totally starting over on a different degree. So I set off to do that.

In the spring of 2007, I was in my last 2 classes to complete the associate and scheduled to graduate.  I was really excited to be completing a goal that I had been working on --off and on-- for over 15 years. However, something happened to me during that semester:  I discovered I wanted a bachelor's degree.  I had innocently remarked to a friend that I was glad to be getting the associate, but if I had gone to college when I was young, I would have gotten an English degree, because that was my lifelong dream. At that moment, I knew I was settling.  I knew I had to go on and chase that dream until I caught it.

So here I am, 4 classes after this semester from a B.A. in English.  It hasn't been easy, but I have learned so much. I have prayed every step of the way, because without God I would not have had the courage nor the ability. Not only have broadened my horizons and learned a wealth of information about the English language and Rhetoric (my minor), I have made another interesting, surprising discovery:  I am not too dumb to graduate from college after all.  I have gained confidence in myself and my abilities. I have relished the experience of it all.  I have stayed with it since 2006 without stopping.

I am going to have that long-awaited B.A. in English. I am in the home stretch; the goal is in sight!

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13 NKJV  

Sunday, August 11, 2013


The last time I posted on here, I was struggling with perfectionism. I would love to tell you I have conquered it, but I have not. I believe I am making progress in overcoming it, but it's still hard for me to do things like sit down and watch a movie if the laundry isn't finished, or if I intended to vacuum and still haven't, or I had planned to work on the picture albums but haven't managed to. I have these goals; things I want to work on, and I am usually not happy if I fail to stay on course and check off items on my "list."

This is not to say that goals are bad. I believe in setting goals and striving to be better. It's when the "checkmark" on the "checklist" becomes an end unto itself instead of merely tracking progress toward a goal that checking things off a list becomes a negative thing. This is the behavior I am overcoming, one step at a time.

I currently have to take 6 more classes and I will be finished with my bachelor of arts. Only six classes! I've been a college student for a long time, and it's a goal I am definitely reaching! It has taken me a while because, as a single woman with a full-time job, I have only taken 2 classes a semester most of the time. Last semester was a rarity; I took 3....and survived.

So, progress has been made. I no longer think I'm a failure if I don't do everything on my list, for instance. I have learned to accept that it's ok if I don't get around to everything every day. Progress, whether a little or a lot, is good and a positive thing. As long as I'm making progress, I'm moving forward.

I had goals at the beginning of the summer, and I've made fair progress. I started painting the kitchen. I consistently had time with God every morning, even though some days it was 5 minutes. I have read the Bible almost every day. I have started the journey towards living a more "minimalist" lifestyle by going through my "stuff" and giving some of it away. These are all positive steps...progress.

I think it's ok if I haven't achieved everything on my list. After all, God hasn't finished working on me, so why should I think I have to have my goals all completed? I'm a work in progress, just like it says in Philippians:

"I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns." Philippians 1:6 NLT

So I keep on keeping on.