photographer. artist. author. singer. songwriter. musician. teacher. student. humanitarian. visionary.

Posts tagged “college graduation

One Semester to Go

I’m pretty excited that I only have one semester remaining before obtaining my bachelor’s degree in psychology. I’m almost there!

Here are just a few of the obstacles I’ve overcome since my academic journey began 5 years ago:

  • Dropped out due to chest pains and stress- 2010
  • Asked for $1,200 school debt to be forgiven so I could return (It was.)
  • Had a breakdown and had to temporarily withdraw 2011
  • House’s foundation crumbled/flooded due to freak thunderstorm/flood- causing my children and I to be homeless- 2012
  • Car accident which caused me to have to drop 1/2 my classes- 2013
  • Filed appeal to have balance deferred so I could complete AA degree
  • Filed (full) refund appeal for math course-2014 (won the appeal)
  • Filed another appeal to have 6 classes (erroneously added) removed from remaining course load (won the appeal)

It’s definitely been an uphill battle, and what should have taken me many more years to complete, I was able to complete in just 3 years. (Associates degree in Behavioral Sciences and a CPC/Certification in Substance Abuse.)

I’ve worked so hard and have fought through hell and back to be able to get to this point- relentlessly– and can finally see the finish line just ahead. My final semester begins in two weeks; and my last 5 courses are:

  • Marine Biology (Bio. elective)
  • Psychology of Personality (Psych)
  • Sensation and Perception (Psych)
  • Senior Seminar/Capstone Project
  • And that damn Statistics class

After I graduate in May (2016), I’ll have the summer off before beginning my Master’s in Forensic Psychology. Things are looking pretty good. 🙂 I received all A’s last semester so this next semester, it will be extremely important to make mostly A’s as well so that I can get into my Master’s program.

The years are flying by! Another year is gone. This year was the hardest year of my life. I have no doubt that 2016 will be a much better year on many levels.

I’m coming for you Bipolar Barbie-Q!

Early edit from 2009, from my Photoshopping days (friend’s daughter)

TheDayTheEarthDiedforNoe_zsyz7n2xrx


I N S P I R E D

It’s 5:34 a.m. and I’ve been thinking about school for hours. I have one remaining assignment, which is a book report/critical analysis/personal reflection paper (3-5 pages, Times New Roman, naturally- MLA, my favourite) in Social Psychology. It’s supposed to be 3 to 5 pages and while part of me wants to chince out and celebrate (which means a 3 page paper), the academic in me tells me to throw every ounce I have into it (5 pages) to show my professor that I care. So, 5 pages it is! My final grades are:

Intro to Criminology- A
Spanish II- A
Therapeutic Intervention with Substance Abusers II- A
Lifetime Fitness and Wellness- A
Social Psychology- B

There’s no way I’m going be able to get the A in Social Psychology, but I still want to show my professor that I care enough to do my best. I have a great relationship with 99% of all of the professors that I’ve ever had and we usually email back and forth and get to know each other. I think personalizing the relationship makes students want to try harder and that’s proven true in my case again and again.

School has helped me so (so ho ho) much. When I first started, 4 years ago, I was a bit hyper-spiritual. Thought everybody needed saving (yada yada) and I pretty much lived on that plane. [insert groan here] Studying psychology and sociology over the years has been the best form of therapy for me, personally, and a very necessary anchor. I think like an analyst or statistician now. I’ve learned through my studies to problem solve using the scientific method, which means, taking your emotions out of the situation and gather hard facts. It’s still hypothetical at that stage, so it needs to be confirmed by others in your area of study or field. Once confirmed, the hypothesis becomes a theory. I’ve learned to take this approach when dealing with others who are judgmental and/or spiritually hyper-manic (such as several of my siblings) so that their hatred won’t rub off on me.

Take for example, the email I received from my oldest sibling (name withheld) only yesterday who offered to exorcise me. Uhuh…you read that correctly. Said he was getting into exorcising people these days and if I ever wanted prayer…da da da. (He was doing this to “help me” because he knows my past is “riddled with demonic forces”. Right. And, for this reason, he took his daughter away from her favourite Aunt, because Aunt Birgy isn’t in Church on Sunday morning, so Aunt Birgy must be “bad”. It’s just enough to make your mouth drop and it’s been a perpetual witchhunt.) I’ll tell you, that tested my boundaries on a whole new level. That’s a bit out of touch with reality- it’s pretty freaking scary. I had sent an invitation to my graduation and er, that was the reply.

In the past, I would have been have been utterly wounded. I would have internalized, thinking of lots to say in return. I’m not like that any more. I realize that we cannot change others, not when it gets right down to it. We can only try to improve ourselves for ourselves and ultimately, the benefits of others. The classes in Behavioral Sciences, however, have helped me to understand that I had been seeking my older siblings approval my entire life. (Love me! Love me! Please accept me!) As human beings, we all do it, but this has almost destroyed me in the past. It’s liberating to be able to assess the situation (again, like a social scientist) and comprehend that my two oldest siblings are exhibiting signs of paranoia, conspiracy theories, fear, terror, mania, and in a nutshell, the just-world phenomena, which is something I learned in Social Psychology, which is, believing that if something “bad” happens to a person, they brought in on him or herself. That is so dangerous to think along those lines. It means that you’re always justified in your own eyes while others “get what they deserve”. Social Psychology is fascinating and it’s helped me quite a bit. I used the word bad in quotation marks because I believe “bad things” is just a matter of perception. What is bad to one person is a blessing to another. I apply this in my life, everywhere, and know that there is good to be had in every situation. We don’t always see it, but it’s always there.

I’ve had to clinically remove some of the people from my life who expected me to be their tragedy. As long as they tell themselves I’m “sick”, or pitiful in some way- they can love or “accept” me. They cannot accept me as a peer, though, or an “equal”. My siblings and I were raised to believe that college isn’t really a good thing. (Yes, shocking, I know.) There’s a lot of sickness in this family. We were raised with a good bit of patriarchy and misogyny going on, even still. That really didn’t fly with me- at all. I’ve chosen to stop these generational perpetuating cycles of diseased thinking. I decided years ago that thinking along those lines (college not being a “good thing”) is just a little bit wacky. Needless to say, of my 4 siblings, I’m the only one who chose to go to college and say, “What the hell is wrong with everybody?” So yes, thank God for college.

I’ve had to cut 1/3 of my family clean out of my life! But it was only after doing so, that I actually got “well”: emotionally, psychologically, spiritually. So many of my friends are what others think of as “mentally ill”. It breaks my heart to see the chains that swallow them up because somebody thinks he or she is “sick”. I’ve had my battles in life, sure. But when you think I need an exorcism, and you’re going to perform it? I’m probably going to block your email (in record speed) because you need your head examined. That’s just waaaay too crazy for me even, and that’s saying something. Ha. Let’s recap: Your sister invites you to her graduation and you offer to exorcise her. You’re out of touch with reality, dude!

If it wasn’t so sad it would actually be funny. Like, ha ha funny! I can’t wrap my head around it. I just have no room in my life for people who cannot love. And that’s all this is:

“I cannot love you, sister; I’m not capable of it, so I’m going to judge you so that I can validate my hatred. You are a bad person because you do not fit my mold of who I want you to be. You are not in church like me so you must be evil. I will tell my child that you are evil and have “bad spirits that need exorcising” so she will not love you either.”

This is sooooo wrong on every level, and to teach your child that? Just unspeakably wrong.

I have a lot of friends in the art world (a lot) – hundreds, and I’ve never met anybody who is actually “cruel”. Only good people! My friends are the sweetest, kindest, and most considerate people I know, truly. (BB, Y, Wendy S., Marion, etc. the very long list goes on.)

For those of you who I’ve gotten to know through this blog also (Amy, Jen, Sean, Jenn, Al- and many others) you have no idea what your love and support has meant (and does mean) to me. I’m inspired by all of you and am encouraged in my life. I can’t thank you enough for that. :0) Thanks most of all, to my children, for being strong, independent, free-thinking beautiful people. I’m most inspired by you guys.

I found out today that I only need 18 credit hours to obtain a second degree- an A.S. in Social Work. Ohhh that’s so tempting…classes start in January. 18 credit hours! I’ve racked up almost 100 college credit hours, so a lot of my required classes have been knocked out already. I’ve actually knocked back 21 credit hours (7 classes) in one semester before and did exceptionally well: I’ve pretty much tapped out the Social Sciences department at my school.

Josh and I are sicker than dogs. We were both hit (hard) only yesterday. I think we got it from “hacking woman” at the homeless shelter. She was coughing and hacking all over the food, right next to us, and now we’re quarantined to the bedroom. My graduation is in 6 days! Ugh. Not sure what’s going to happen there; it’s almost 200 miles away. I need to kick this bronchial infection out fast.

Image

My son, “Bob”, natural shadows/natural window lighting. Shot in monochrome- intentional high ISO for added grain.


What does god say?

I noticed today that somebody stumbled upon my blog by searching for these keywords:

what does god say when u fallaid a test

Oh dearie me- let’s just leave that one alone. 

In other news, I’ve managed to knock out three of my five classes a month early. I still have 5 strong A’s at this point, but I’m approaching my finals- let’s hope that sticks. Things have been a big messy blur lately; it’s pretty standard stuff for rounding up another semester. High stress, deadlines, cramming 200+ pages and living as a virtual hermit for days on end, lost in my studies.To top things off, I’ve just discovered my internet may be shut off on the 20th. And wait- there’s more! Although I paid the rent this month on the 1st, as I always do, there was a notice on my door this morning. Something about having 5 days to pay the rent or having to vacate. (WTF?!) I’m going to chalk that one up to the fact that my landlord is pushing 90 or so. (I have an excellent rental history and have had for years.) [grumble]

On the bright side of things, I’ll be graduating on December 7th of this year. I really wish I didn’t have a chronic case of PMS PMDD so I could report that I’ll be graduating with lots of exclamation marks and enthusiasm, alas, that’s not the case. I’m wanting chocolate and tea and I think I need to cry or break something. I guess I’ve been semi-depressed since finding out yesterday that Micah died. He was Josh’s former roommate and a closet junkie. Josh had come home on numerous occasions to find Micah lying on the floor with his dope needle in his hand- blood and dope lying messily about. I had told Josh that he needed to get away from him before Micah took them both down. Josh was always being taken advantage of by his friends, giving them a place to stay and letting them slide on the rent, etc. One day, when Josh was hanging out at my old apartment, Micah called on the phone ten times or so and then he finally showed up at my door. I was highly annoyed. He continued exhibiting bizarre behavior over the months and finally, I told Josh that he needed to kick him to the curb. I could tell that he was going to drag Josh down into an ugly black hole eventually. Josh didn’t want to, but I kept pressuring him to throw him out. One evening, I walked down to Josh’s apartment with him and refused to leave until he literally threw him out. Josh had already had numerous items stolen- valuable jewelry that had been given to him, small sums of money- Micah was constantly stealing from Josh to support his habit. I was livid that Josh had been taking my son around Micah- sure he was a “nice guy” but a junkie is a junkie. So, Josh threw Micah out the night I was there. Josh had dropped out of school when Micah was living with him and I could see him losing direction. The changes were small at first, but more and more, I could see how Micah was influencing him negatively. We don’t know how Micah died and the obituary didn’t reveal it. I can’t help thinking it was a drug overdose. 

Josh has just finished up his semester; he did well. 
I can hardly believe I’m one week away from completing my degree in Behavioral Sciences and CPC in Substance Abuse. Finals are always so stressful! You can have a strong A in a class, consistently throughout, then fail a final, bringing your overall grade down to a C. All of that hard work for a C! That’s happened to me before so I have to avoid that like the plague. Study study study! My grades are very important to me and a C just isn’t going to cut it. 

I think it’s time for my Sleepytime Tea + Ambien. 

Happy trails.

Image
 Homeless man sleeps. Downtown Louisville, KY.


Changing Lanes

It’s 6:57 a.m.
I’m listening to Sonata 3 in C Major BWV1005 by Bach and crying over Sylvia Plath.
I’ve been on this Plath kick for almost a year now. I used to be so harsh and judgmental of her. (“Well that’s what she gets for sticking her head into an oven!”) I didn’t understand her, nor did I try to until I read Rough Magic- her biography by Paul Alexander. Sylvia and I share several things in common. We’re both writers (dare I make such a claim?), perfectionistic overachievers, we both lost our children, we both went mad, and we were both locked away in an institution many years ago- having suffered breakdowns halfway through our college majors (and before)- and then immediately dusted ourselves off and jumped right back into the academic ring- no small feat.

I have a new respect for her, and until I began comparing notes, I had no idea how similar our lives were/are. I think she’s one of the most courageous women I’ve ever known. It’s not easy to have a colossal breakdown (pardon the pun) then pick yourself up again and carry on in the faces of all of the inquisitive eyes and naysayers…dream shatterers…

I’ve been reading her recently published (very private) journals, all night in fact. What a privilege to be able to wile away the hours reading her personal diary! I clearly have a fascination with her, but not only that- her poetry is by far, my favourite of anyone’s- Anne Sexton weighing in at close second. For me, nobody can touch these immensely talented and troubled women, who were both personal friends of each other (In fact, they shared a poetry workshop class and Plath admired Sexton greatly) who took their own lives at their own hands.

I read this in Sylvia’s journal earlier, and this is what made me cry:

Remember about the shadow of past knowledge. Write about your own experience. By that experience someone else may be a bit richer some day. Read widely of others experiences in thought and action– stretch to others even though it hurts and strains and would be more comfortable to snuggle back in the comforting cotton-wool of blissful ignorance! Hurl yourself at goals above your head and bear the lacerations that come when you slip and make a fool of yourself. Try always, as long as you have breath in your body, to take the hard way, the Spartan way – and work, work, work to build yourself into a rich, continually evolving entity! 

I’m listening, Sylvia. :0)

I received my audit from my University several days ago: my petition to graduate has been accepted and I’m expected to graduate this December on the 7th at the Red Skelton Performing Arts Center. It’s been a long four years! I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to pull off a Behavioral Sciences major- I had to face certain doom and unspeakable tragedy (sexual abuse as a child, institutionalization, the loss of my children, insanity, years of being battered relentlessly by an unforgiving system), but it’s been worth fighting for and I had to prove to myself that I am more than a “label” that has a fancy name of this disorder or that. I will not be defined by a clinical title or even the thought of another person, for I’ve chosen to maximize what I’ve learned in school and minimize the trauma I’ve lived through.

Still, I can’t help but to be heavily influenced by the likes of Plath- she stood up in the face of terror itself and fought as long as she could. But what an incredible talent! I’m going to heed the words in her journal and I’m not going to be ashamed of my past and what I’ve lived through. It’s a miracle just to be alive.

I’ve decided that after I graduate, I’ll transfer over to Southern New Hampshire University, which is a private coed and one of the best schools in New England to work on my BA- not for Criminal Justice- but for Creative Writing with a concentration in Poetry. Plath has inspired me, completely, and has reminded that I’m an artist and a writer, and have been my whole life. I have the skeleton already- which is the passion- but I need the BA in Creative Writing so I can flesh out the bones.

I’m already a starving artist, what will it matter?

Life has been a blur lately of exams, cramming, writing essays and reports: I have 5 weeks to go!
And, I have 5 A’s in all 5 classes still. Go me. :0)

Image

Josh stands in the golden hour sunlight down at the River.
Canon Digital Rebel/Super Takumar 135/3.5 film lens

And Heidi, if you’re reading this, thank you so much for your introduction to Plath at Olive Garden years ago.  If it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t even be doing this whole school thing. xo