(Wo)man of Constant Sorrow

“I don’t mind you having an education; as long as it doesn’t interfere with your thinking.”  Lorne “Ben Cartwright” Green in Bonanza

Being in college doesn’t automatically translate into thinking.  Rather, it doesn’t always translate into learning.  Our brains are in a perpetual motion of thinking, but are we really learning something?  Where are our minds while our bodies are in class?

Today, I am posting a virtual plea for my fellow classmates who are so anxious to leave their classes on a daily basis nearly fifteen minutes before class ends. They’re assembling papers, packing books and digging feet into the floor as if at a starter’s block of a marathon.  Then comes the intermittent stream sighs from said students, imitating a slow leak on a bike tire.  Merely showing up and gracing the class with your presence, annoying impatience and all—is hardly considerate to those who actually are there to learn.  Unless you are a genius, bored with the curriculum, you have to suck it up with the rest of us who are mere mortals.  Despite the reason you’ve chosen to attend college; whether it is out of necessity, or just considered a “rite of passage” into adulthood—face it: you’re here to learn. 

Maybe I’m just a crabby old girl with terrible writer’s block.  However, I’m not the only non-traditional student who has the same lament.  Young geniuses: embrace the fullness of your educational opportunity–down to its very last second. Your moment of learning is now.

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Redefining luck

“Luck is when preparation meets opportunity. You’ve got to prepare for the life you want”. ~ Sharon Lawrence  in the movie “The Little Black Book”

These were the words of advice from mother to daughter as she was heading out to college and out into the world for the first time.  While I don’t necessarily believe in luck, I do believe that in as many instances, one should be prepared.  One doesn’t have to be a former Boy or Girl Scout, or even heed mother’s advice of wearing clean underwear in case of an “accident”.  But, despite all a person does in their lives, nothing can be passed over without having some degree of preparedness and/or knowledge. In college, these two “virtues” cannot beget one without the other.  In turn, it’s a recipe for success. 

Opportunity hides around the corner; knowledge shoves you into the broad daylight like a big brother ousting you from your hiding place.  Knowledge says “here I am…I am ready.”  It matters little how many or how few opportunities you have to take in life; if you are not prepared, you cannot succeed.  So many students pass through the annals of academia without having the slightest understanding on how they will succeed.  While the opportunity is there, they are unable to come prepared, not only physically but mentally.  I’ve seen it in the attitudes of classmates; rather “former” classmates. 

Now is the time for preparation and knowledge.  This is not luck, this is a lifelong skill.

Superhero: aka Student

These last few weeks I have learned a valuable lesson. Perhaps upon entering college once again, I came into it with too great a cavalier attitude.  I was going to fly through it all and that after it was all said and done; I am going to save the world.  After all, isn’t that why were here; to making our own indelible stamp in the world to have the ability to make a difference no matter how great or small?    While, I don’t have the song “I’m every woman” or “Invincible” as the soundtrack to my student life at ICC, I had hoped with some sort of fervency that my being out of college for so long wouldn’t be so obvious. Reality has a nice way of candle-snuffing those ideas.

 Learning isn’t only about presenting ideas, tangibles and hypotheses only within the four walls of a classroom.  It’s discovering that you only have until “this day” to add/drop classes; finding out that those placement tests required for entry are only a guideline—not a definitive. Discovering road construction has commenced on your route to school, and that it now takes you 20 minutes longer than normal. Believing that your instructors are of individual mind that they are the only one assigning homework; or so it seems. Your potential not only in education, but in daily life will be at a constant challenge. 

 So for now my mantra remains:  Do what you can,  do what you’re supposed to, don’t be a hero.  In the end, the life you save will be your own.

My life as a hummingbird

When a person is spinning within a cyclone, all they need is to step into the eye of the storm to focus. 

For the last two weeks, I have been spinning in that tornado of academia and life.  In the beginning, I had this grandiose idea that I’d have the perfect schedule, balanced between home and school.  My idea of balance had not only been tipped, but whipped into the state of delusion on more than one occasion.  I drive a car that is older than my classmates, and my idea of “learning” is well out dated.  No more  “my dog ate my homework”, unless of course, he fancies a jump drive appetizer with his daily kibble. Often questioning my recent decision, I can only resolve to one answer:  “Keep your eye on the prize, it’s only a small price to pay for now.” 

This morning, I happened to spot a young hummingbird on the sidewalk near the front campus door.  I had spotted my “center”.  I couldn’t help but stop and focus on the poor thing.  It could barely fly, and had no immediate escape from its own cyclone of demise. I could relate to its anxiety far too well.  While it seemed content to remain perched on my finger on a couple of attempts to put it down, I needed to go.  After class, I looked for that bird. While it was gone, I pray it found its focus and ability to fly.  It helped me find mine.

How did I get here?

Morning One:  Leaping out of bed (with bells on) is more than just a grossly overstated visual for the seasoned veteran of life…ah, to be young again.  Fresh faced, naive, and ambitious.  Determination as new as the smell of freshly-opened course books.  This morning, this student has a giant yellow and black sticker across her forehead: Used. 

While non-traditional college students may have lost that “new book smell”, there is something to be said about our worth.  The pages of our lives have been worn, bent and marked; but that’s where the really good stuff is.  Those are the key elements of our lives; whether it’s twenty years of sweat and hard work in a factory, or the time management skills of a single parent.  NTS have been tempered by life, seasoned by experience. 

Walking to the front steps of the campus on my first day was nothing short of a “parting of the sea” in my life.  Envision the clouds overhead breaking and the sun beaming fiercely down as if the heavens were to say, “You are here”.  How did I get “here”?  I make no mistake about how grateful I am for now having the ability to return to my future, as exciting and nerve-wracking the process is.  So now, moving forward toward my life and my first class, reality hits like a fast freight train.  So begins the next chapter of life, titled ” College vs NTS: the battle begins”.  Students, start your engines.  Ready, set, learn!