Where have I been?
I have been asking myself the very same thing these few weeks.
But really, I’m not sure.
This shit is getting real.
2013 is a huge year for me. I am a college graduate. Like I’ve said before, I never thought I would actually finish college. I always dreamed of it, and made a few attempts, but this time it is real. It is real because of the amazing support I have had from family and friends through each step of the way.
From my husband who is a rock, supportive to the core, although he is worried/cautious about the loans we have taken to finance this adventure, more important to him is my happiness, and how this will benefit both of us in the near future.
My parents who just kept telling me “I knew you could do it.” “You are NOT too old” “We are so proud of you. My dad talking me off the ledge when I felt like I was in over my head, had I made the right decision, was I going to be accepted into the program; all of the could I? should I? and would I?’s of my brain. My mom who kept me focused on the prize, even when I was sure I had failed my first class, or even gotten below a B in anything, she was right…I got a B+.
My husband’s family who helped keet me motivated, donated to my textbook fund, and were there just for a hug when I needed one.
My three younger sisters who constantly supported my decision, encouraged, and were some of my biggest cheerleaders throughout this journey.
Countless friends. Oh man, my friends. I am lucky to have the people in my life that I do. I don’t have hundreds of friends, but the ones I do have are really more like family. I’m Aunt Jenn to their kids, we go on vacations together, they visit from far and wide, we talk, sometimes we don’t talk often enough… we drink coffee, we laugh out loud, we cry, but the support and encouragement from each of them has been a huge motivator for me.
I’ve never heard so many people tell me they are proud of me, and that I have inspired them to do something big, something different. WOW. You guys inspire ME!
To say I am humbled beyond belief from the support and kind words would be a huge understatement.
P.S. I promise to stop the graduation talk...for a bit, before you know it I won't be able to shut up about grad school!!!
School is finally out, and I think I have recovered from the craziest semester ever. My final semester of undergraduate school.
I am a college graduate.
Let that sink in a bit more.
I realize a ton of people have done that in the past, and many more will graduate in the future, but guess what now I am one of them.
What exactly does that mean? Well loans and now More. School. I am finally at the point where I will begin to be able give something more back & hopefully help someone become whole again.
Like someone helped me a few years ago.
So after a fun summer of volunteering, art making, work, and misc. fun my adventure back into school resumes. I will be attending Eastern Virginia Medical School in August.
I will be studying Art Therapy and Counseling. This is what all this work has lead up to...me being a grown-up.
Ha. Me a grown-up? Never.
When I started school I was excited to go back, but never REALLY imaginied I would come to the point of actually fininshing my bachelors. I had tried 2 times before without success.
This time was different. With the support of a great family, awesome friends, and the most loving, gentle, fun, kind, supportive, and patient husband ----> I did it.
On another note... I've been working a little watercolor painting recently.
Time...I guess it just flies by doesn't it? How did this thirty-something happen? I mean really, just the other day I was nineteen. NINE-TEEN. I knew everything, I could do anything, I could be anything.
I guess the only thing that has changed is I finally realize I don't know everything, BUT I can do, and be anything. The thing I want to be most is ME.
The exciting thing is, I am constantly a work in progress, constantly building a better me, constantly winning the battle.
My birthday was 5 days ago, and I am 31. (Well, I'll be 31 until I'm 41 at least. Just a minor detail really. We won't get into actual numbers..I hate math.)
NOTE: If you are over 15 don't let your doctor talk you into having a tonsillectomy (if you still have them). That's what I did just before my birthday. It left me with amazing pain, not so amazing pain killers, and what feels like swallowing barbed wire anytime I swallow. Not pretty. It has taken me out of work for three weeks, and I only feel about 60% back to normal. Hopefully one day soon I will be able to eat more than mashed potatoes, overcooked nooodles, and pudding.
I will be a college graduate in MAY!
My classes this semester are pretty interesting, a web design class, psychology-theories of personality (the last pre-req I need before I apply for the graduate program I want to enter!!), a combination art history and ceramics making course, and an art history class.
Two more classes and I am done! Last night it really hit me. I am going to graduate COLLEGE. I know, I know, a day late and a dollar short, but at least I'm FINALLY making it happen!!
What are you making happen these days?
Sorry, tomorrow (yesterday) became TODAY!
I am thankful for failing.
2011 was a tumultuous year. I started volunteering at the local Rape Crisis center, I transferred to a four year university, I have given myself different responsibilities, I have made decisions that were hard, I have stood behind bad decisions I made, I fought physically and emotionally to be healthy and whole.
I have failed.
But I have not given up.
I have continued to take risks when I am unsure of a solution. I have apologized for wrongs I inflicted. I have begun to forgive myself for things I have done.
Failing has shown me that there is so much more out there to look forward to; so much more to explore, learn, and dive into. Failing has taught me to continue to listen to myself, believe in my instincts, trust my voice and speak OUT LOUD. Failing has taught me to walk away when something doesn’t truly make me happy or isn’t satisfying, why waste the time? Failing has helped me see what matters the most and shown me my opportunities for growth.
I am thankful for rest.
I’m talking about true and good sleep, restfulness, and comfort. For years I struggled with waking nights, the inability to relax and fall asleep completely. Waking every 35 minutes was a reality I trudged through on a daily basis.
Now I am able to embrace my old lady nightly routine, and actually sleep at night. I am finally listening to my internal clock, the circadian cycle of my life. I look forward to my crisp pillowcase each night excited about re-charging my batteries during the night hours. I wake up able to momentarily meditate on the day, take a deep breath and begin the day (most of the time on the right side of the bed).
I am thankful for the opportunities I have.
This year doors seem to be opening for me. I have been really lucky to be able to work toward my dreams, go to school, and have a nice job. I have been given the gift of opportunity.
The feeling of pride I have felt this year from setting goals, working toward them, and then seeing them come to fruition is amazingly rewarding. I know that there are people all over the place that are struggling just to survive, and I get to pursue anything I can imagine.
I am thankful for the freedom I have to be ME.
I am thankful for the believers, the stranger that smiles, the quiet angels around me, the listeners, peacemakers, and boat-rockers. I am thankful for the people that bring simple joy to my life, a kind stranger, and those people that see the good in me even at my most flawed. I am thankful for the people with broad minds that change things and stand up for others.
Okay, as you can see from number 11, there are a hundred million things I am thankful for, I tried to cheat and put a bunch in one....I slipped a few others in earlier too, but I'm sure you don't mind, right?
you can find the other 7 reasons:
What does that even mean to me? What do I want it to mean to me? How can I make change? Can I make change. ? Can one person make a difference?
These are the things I've been thinking about. Now, I'm not talking change the world stuff, I'm thinking more along the lines of making a difference in someone's day, adding to my community in a creative way, or simply surprising and delighting someone.
Maybe those things do change the world.
School has been overwhelming, challenging, and ahhh-mazing at the same time. My volunteer work is going well and I still love the agency. Yet, something is missing. I don't feel like I am well, making change.
I am going to work on this a bit and see how I can make change.
How do you make change. in your own little way?
This is card number 24 of my inspirational quote cards for my goal of leave 100 art cards that inspire, from my Stupendous Life List.
Remember** You are welcome to download and print out to leave for a stranger, friend, or anyone else you can think of.**
Invite me (okay my class) to come to your studio
Show us how you do it!
Make sure you check Dan's work out, simply beautiful.
Dan Finnegan's Website
As some of you know I went back to school in September of 2008. I have been working hard and am transferring to UMW this summer. I am studying Studio Art and plan to pursue a Master’s Degree in Art Therapy and Counseling. On that note, I joined the American Art Therapy Association and the Virginia Art Therapy Association as a student.
Drum roll please… I have been asked to be the Student blogger of the Virginia Art Therapy Association! My first post can be found at the VATA website TODAY!!
I look forward to sharing my personal experiences, being authentic, and open about my journey, struggles, joys, and even the minutia of a student’s life. OH! Also, keep an eye out for an interview or three with other Art Therapy Students from around the country, all in different stages of their education.
Isn't the summer season supposed to be relaxing, calm and...oh wait, I'm not eight anymore. Summer is just like every other season, except that it is waaaaaaay hotter. This summer has been extra hot too, but we should have guessed, after all the snow, summer would be a doozey.
My classes are almost over and two out of three grades are in, A and A. Yay!
I have been working hard this summer on finding my voice as an artist. last week I challenged myself to make Art Every Day. I'm trying to document as many days as possible, but there aren't any hard rules, this is supposed to be fun, challenging, but fun. So far it has proved to be both.
Here is a mixed media piece I have been working on. It is a canvas with acrylics, vinyl, book pages and glass beads. The pictures (that I took in my basement under AWFUL lighting) don't do the colors justice. I will have to get a shot in some natural light tomorrow.
I am halfway done with the semester! Yay, so excited! Most of my classes are your average academic endeavor, but one is not. My communications class is like group therapy twice a week. It's called 'Interpersonal Communications', so it's all talking on a face to face level, civility, respect and learning to listen. I'm really enjoying it. We have been discussing our greatest fears and our greatest goals, and it got me thinking about my Stupendous Life List, inspired by Maggie.
Oliver Wendell Holmes said “The great thing in the world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving.” I think on some level my greatest fear and my greatest goal are related. If I did not have a fear to work through my goal would be irrelevant. My greatest fear is stagnation, or to stop developing, progressing and developing. My greatest goal is the never ending “Stupendous Life List” I have made for myself. Using the fear of being stagnant as a vehicle for constant growth and change I am able to accomplish my greatest goal.
I am constantly reminded how easy it would be to just stop. While that sounds appealing to many people, it is one of my greatest fears. The longer I eschew pushing the limits that surround me, the more I feel as if I am shrugging off my responsibility to evolve. Whether it’s the overall stagnation of humanity not fully developing its potential, accepting the status quo, or my own failure to improve my skills, abilities, and consciousness, I worry that we all might settle for something less than pure delight. While there are an abundance of daily mundane activities, I try and do something to inject LIFE! into life. Learning something new often sparks an idea, even those everyday activities can be spiced up by doing something a different way. I fear not being able to share a deeper truth, beauty, goodness and a fresh way of thinking with the people I know and love. I fear the stagnation of even one person can have a major impact on society and its evolution as well.
My greatest goal is to never finish finding things that sound like fun to do. My Stupendous Life List is an ever changing journey of ideas, places, people, and things. The list started as a ‘100 things I want to do before I die' kind of list. I soon realized that there was more I wanted to accomplish, that this list is just a jumping off point, and that the list is constantly growing. The list is the goal, not just the individual items. The only rules I have are: no item can be crossed from the list unless I have participated in the activity, and items put on the list can be anything, as long as they are things I really want to accomplish/do. In a way, the list is really a goal on how I want to live my life; to the fullest extent possible. It’s true some of these ideas may never be realized, but the journey along the way is the most important part. Some of the things on my Stupendous Life List are: go on a Safari in Africa, step foot in all 50 states, go back to school (accomplished), photograph 100 interesting doorknockers in downtown Fredericksburg, look at the Taj Mahal from the edge of its reflecting pool, use my work to improve lives, make a piece of art and place it in a public place when nobody’s looking (accomplished), get a master’s degree, see the Dali Lama in person (accomplished). The list goes on and on, as I believe it should.
The way my greatest fear and greatest goal work together is a lovely symbiosis. I’m not saying there aren’t days where I just snuggle in the warmth of my down comforter with a dog at my side and think of nothing but sugarplum fairies. I do, those days exist and are important to rejuvenate an otherwise tired body. Most of my days are working, thinking, creating, and learning. These are the days that I don’t allow stagnation to enter and take over, these are the days I am actually living, and learning from my Stupendous Life List. My greatest fear and greatest goal; one would not exist without the other, and the drive to fix the fear or meet the goal is sustained by the opposite.
So, now, here I sit. Approaching my final semester at the local CC, working to transfer to a big 4 year school. I'm taking five classes, and was lucky enough to be able step down at work and take a part time position so that I can focus completely on school.
I could have never accomplished this at 18. I know I am working hard, but it is so much more fun and rewarding now. It doesn't feel like work so much. It's really too bad I didn't feel like this years ago, I could have already done all of this and would be more established. Guess what? Oh well. At least I'm doing it now. Kinda like Carl in "UP" it was time for me to start a new adventure.
Hurdles ahead, but somehow they seem manageable. 2 years and I will have finished my degree, 2 years and I will be starting my Master's. Seems like a long time when I look at it on paper, but, times flies.
So wish me luck, and lots of great inspiration!
On a side note, it's time for me to go to bed because even though everything in a 300 mile radius, well north and west radius will be closed tomorrow due to the fact that Virginia is in a State of Emergency , due to the hazardous weather conditions, SOMEONE decided that my store should be open. I think they should open it themselves, frankly.
p.s. for all you non-Virginia readers...yeah, you two, We never get weather like this, maybe every ten years or so, so the DOT just has a really hard time making the roads safe, we're not babies, and they aren't slackers. We aren't as cool as you in Buffalo, Salt Lake, Grand Rapids (all of them), and every other snowy city.
Starting over hasn't been easy, but it's essential. I finally realized the things in my life that needed to change, and that I had control over most of them. I asked myself what good can I be to anyone else if I'm not taking care of myself? I can only control my four walls, and how I react to things outside those walls. That's the decision I made that day. Take care of me, no matter what. Now realize, we are talking mentally, there are plenty of physical ways that I could be taking care of myself better, and those will come in time. For now, sanity. Later, buns of steel.
During my intense therapy I really started to hone in my creativity, something I had put on the back burner. This was one of the best things I could have done. Painting, sketching, taking photographs, and other endeavors have really been cathartic experiences for me.
Next thing I know, I've enrolled in 2 classes for the upcoming semester at the local community college. It's so weird, I don't remember hemming and hawing, just that I sat down, browsed the catalog and picked two classes. Drawing and Principals of Psychology. Done and Done.
I wish I could say everything was honky-dory from then on out, but come on, this is real-life. School was great, and hard, and great, and really, really hard! It took a great deal for me to make it to a 3 hour drawing class after a 14 hour day at work twice a week, it was a struggle to read hundreds of psych. articles and pages of cases, learn new lingo, and once again learn to and socialize with the other students I was in class with/am in class with.
I navigated fairly well that first semester, juggling 60+hour a week work week, classes, and home. I thank my lucky stars my husband is supportive and generous, not once has he complained that the house is a wreck, that I don't spend enough time with him or that I'm not pulling my weight in this family/house/universe.
Okay, time for some math homework and a chat with the MN side of the family. OHHHHHH MINNNNEEEESOOOOOTAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!
makes me a dull girl!
Let me take a minute and fill you in on where I've been and what I've been up to! This semester has been really full!
Just as I think I am going to fall flat on my face, another assignment comes along! So basically I am being propped up by books that need to be read, articles that need analyzing, paint that is still drying, labs that need testing and MATH, oh my word the math. For some reason I thought it would be a good idea to take 2 math classes congruently. Bad idea. Now these aren't crazy maths like real people take, these are maths for liberal arts majors, that's more than enough for me!
When I graduated high school a hundred years ago, all of my friends knew what they were going to do, where they wanted to go and who they wanted to be. Yeah, right, I know NOW, none of that matters now for most of them, but at the time it was such a big deal. I'm sure now that there were other kids like me, who had NO IDEA WHAT THE HELL they were gonna do, I guess they just kept quiet. But it felt really lonely.
So, I did what I thought I should do, enter college. All that got me was a couple of failed classes and a hangover. For me, entering college so unsure of myself made for a pretty miserable combination.
For years I thought, heck, didn't work for me, no biggie. Then I started to get an itch. No! Not that itch, we'll talk about that later. A yearning for something new, bigger than myself and challenging. I'll tell you right now, managing how someone pours milk, or cooks a steak has it's days, but no real complexity or value at the end of my day.
For years I talked myself out of going back to school, until the great breakdown of aught eight. I suddenly couldn't function properly, couldn't get out of bed, work was a disaster and I COULDN'T CONTROL THE CRYING! Oh lordy the crying! I went and checked myself in. I could go home at night, but for weeks the days belonged to a therapist and group. I felt like I only had one other option, and well, that one is the worst for everyone involved, so I chose to start over instead.
Okay, gotta run and get to class--More to come.