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Success, Failure...some of my greatest failures have been a springboard to my greatest successes...the terms are truly fluid.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

So Much That Is New....

Here I am fully engulfed in a new life.

My biggest concerns center around being immersed in my Arabic language exercises.
It is strange since I am now thinking in Arabic. As I say things aloud I  also am remembering words and pronouncing them in my head in the Aeabic language.

I also am enjoying an almost empty house with my son. I don't think I realized how much of the time I appreciated my dishes, or mugs or pictures until I found myself in a house without any of them. Even so we are having alot of fun in our bare essene style home.

We go to the beach and walk along it with the dogs now everyday.

Each day we have been exploring our neighborhood from a  new direction.

To the left of our house is a dazzling resort that has been around for a long time. It's stretch of beach is always chilly and it held up to its reputation when visiting the day before yesterday, even as my friends from the rest of the state were complaining about the extreme heat....over 100 degrees. We threw on our coats to walk the dogs on the windswept beach that was foggy and cold.

The next day we went up the hill where the road seemed smaller. We weren't expecting much, just more rural seeming neighborhood.  To our surprise we found ourselves a few minutes from a nice grocery store. And in the woods. Nice.

Straight down from here is a world class destination within an easy  walk that we haven't had time to try yet.

And my older dog, Samara is getting the shine back in her eyes from the joy she gets from running wildly with Archie, our other dog, at the wave's edge.

My studies are difficult at best and filled with pressure and falling on my face in front of classmates but it seems a highly effective tool at bringing in my Arabic language capacities. I guess the competition and pressure us good for me, because  I am enjoying the amazing amount of Arabic i have in my head.

We are still getting used to being so close to so much, but what an adventure we are on at every moment. I go to bed at night sleeping like a rock. It is as if my senses are heightened in their awareness and that has only added to being more tired at bedtime.

I oddly feel younger the. I did when I started this class two weeks ago....strange.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

A House That Is New To Me....,

This morning I awoke in my new place, a 2 bedroom bungalow with a slice view of the ocean from its front room window. The sound of foghorns, sea lions barking and salty, wet ocean air were my first sensations upon awakening.

I have been very busy with my intensive program in Arabic language studies...running to keep up.

Last night was fun though since I also had time to do the other cultural things my program included, I took my son dancing with me. He and I learned with a small group of students how to Debka. It is one of those folk dances where you link hands and dance in circles.

Going to sleep with my two dogs, my son nearby and tons of new language in my head made me feel so joyful.

I am a lucky person.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Group Success Starts With Attitude!

It is one of my natural abilities in life to attract nice intelligent people in my life. I consider myself to be very lucky in that respect.

This intensive program has been so much fun for me precisely because I am surrounded by uber intelligent people.

They are way above and beyond. I mean they are intensely clever!  I can see the improvement constantly as everyone learns new concepts perpetually in class. It is a heady, exhilarating experience to absorb as I learn while watching individuals amongst us get something new. It almost seems to be contagious like a positive illness spreading through the room.

Not only that but it takes a certain level of bravery to dive in again and again with a language you are trying to get acquainted with....yet this class of 11 seems to do it perpetually. I had a weird moment yesterday when I realized that I was holding back more than most. It dawned on me that in this world, I have been far less brave then the others around me! I think I am daunted by having such a group of achievers around me in all directions. Usually I am the first to raise my hand...here I have often been the last!

At a mixer yesterday I heard someone from another class complaining about his classmates. The person I listened in on groaned about every little thing. "There were too many questions from one guy and the one person is constantly muttering as they repeat everything that is said in our study language."

It occurred to me that there are other people around here who WOULD be annoying to have in class...that complainer for one! I love the fact that everyone in our class asks questions and repeats everything being said. When studying language, it is important to train your mouth and ear with real usage, not intellectual study with your mouth and mind closed!

It helped me to realize what a unique and classy group I found myself in. The class I am in happens to be a group of mixed ages of very positive people. I have noticed that any criticism is aimed at ourselves and never at each other. On top of that their high intelligence makes them pleasant to be around. Smart people never mind being challenged...they thrive on it. And they usually understand each other's perspective so they have compassion. It makes them fun to be around.

The teacher's environment has managed to cultivate a group that is fun to learn alongside.  They seem to also feel supportive rather than needing to be superior to one another. Don't get me wrong, this is a group with a competitive-side but it is a "healthy competitive" in every way. It seems to bring out the best in each of us rather than the worst.

It made me wonder about the wild differences in the group mood of class. My last "in person" class at the college nearby me had that feeling of being mutually supportive but also just plain fun....maybe that is a key to helping build up a positive learning environment.

All I know is that I am soooo lucky to be learning something I love with such a great group environment!!

  

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Lots of Driving.....

I was grateful when they canceled movie night in a foreign language. It was going to be shown too late for me to stay.

I knew I would be driving for at least 2 1/2 hours home tonight and back down again for the same amount of time early tomorrow in order to be back at school bright eyed and bushy tailed, (as my mom used to say) by 8:30 am. This morning I drove into town for school over an hour so this has been the week of a lot of driving for me....and everyday I have logged in at least 2 hours or more in order to be at the school.

Tonight is wonderful though since I got to come home to my dogs and my younger son.

I found myself doing so well at thinking in Arabic today that when I ordered lunch I had already ordered in my head in Arabic. I could say everything but "tacos" in Arabic. In addition to being able to actually really speak a language enough to think in it, I was also thrilled with my fellow students who are also into languages and politics. Not bad considering this is my fourth day of class.

The community I was from was not always so oriented towards International Politics. I did not always have anyone around who gave a fig about what was going on in the world. Here at this Institute though, I am surrounded by like minded people. It is a strange feeling to have people around me who are not only versed in world issues but here they are well-versed. Much of the time they are more conversant than I am.

It leaves me feeling thrilled inside. I told my friend about how nice it felt. He said I had found my tribe.

For over a year I have been getting a newsletter in my email box from the Brookings Institute's Doha Center. It is in Arabic script.

I could not piece out more than 1 word in 10 to be honest. I only read the English version if I had time.

But today our professors told us about how to be schooled in real "news" words.

I wasn't the only person in the room grinning.

I might be able to read an Arabic newsletter soon!!

I have to say...this is well worth the driving while I lock down housing.

In My Element....

I thought I would be in way over my head at grad school...especially an intensive program that pushes us into a language through saturation, but I have to admit I am not overwhelmed today. I am impressed. This program is well set up. I am right where I should be with people who are where I am much of the time.

Sure I have plenty of moments during the day when I don't have a clue but I continue to write, to listen and to try to piece out what is going on and what is said.

It is easy to do thanks to what I learned in Italy and Wales. I understood very little of the English around me while in Wales even though everyone had the same vague accent hints as my own older relatives from my childhood. But in Italy I hit my stride by being with patient people who regularly walked me through their language and showed me the joy of trying....and falling on my face...but getting up and trying again.

Because of the lessons of being abroad in foreign language saturation, I have been trying to put down my fastidious note cards and just get up and wing it. I volunteer early and listen while the others stumble through their tries. I bravely plunge in since this is what I have always wanted.

I had one moment where I was embarrassed and did not want to walk over and prove that I had not finished writing all the details on professions in Vocabulary. But what motivated me to just "do it" was the fact that the class is costing me over $4000 in loans. I better get my keister anywhere I could be to learn a drop more....damn the embarrassment!

I had an Uncle Tom, who used to say subtle, witty things that motivated me in times if stress....for some reason I think he is laughing at me now since he passed away last November. This is the sort of thing he liked to poke fun at me for...and he always helped me to see the irony in all that I obsessed over.

I think the thing that I am amused most by though at "living the dream" is that I am not hopelessly lost as of today. My internet connection was scrubbed last night for most of my prime study hours and I wound up being incapable of doing the work until after 10:00 pm.

It was not that bad. I was studying Arabic and loving every moment of it so I managed to stay up way past my bedtime. Close to 1:00 am I fell asleep writing out a conversation for my fluency class after lunch.

I don't have my housing set up, or my cell bill paid, but Gosh, I feel so happy and satisfied, I can't even help but smile in spite of myself.

A moment opened up yesterday when our professor brought up political changes in Qatar. My eyes must have lit up as my whole body was suddenly engaged in a conversation where we all contributed to trying to piece out a perspective from a native of the Arab World. The part that haunts me as I write this is how wonderful it felt to look around the room after being involved in this intelligent and thoughtful discussion, and realize that I was with a roomful of people who were also interested in International Politics....many of them are International Policy Studies majors like myself.

It hit home right in my eyes....I could feel them stinging. Of course I didn't let my emotions control the moment, I stayed engaged in the conversation as a fellow Political Science aficionado threw in his two cent's worth....but I knew in my heart that I was in my element.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Impressions....



Two days ago I was driving down Highway 5 with my oldest and youngest sporting Oregon State University jackets purchased from an award that my school\ provided in gratitude for endorsing them with our pictures.....we might show up in ads for the school which I am frankly very proud of...

It was funny that as I mentioned OSU in CA...no one seemed to register much except a football team. I was drawn in by its reputation as the best college on the coast...or the oldest college on the coast. As a Californian, I think of Stanford as the best, usually or University of the Pacific as the oldest....but I was raised here with a decidedly California point of view. OSU had a high quality and supposedly fairly hard program to attain a BA....I did not want easy in an online school...I wanted high quality.

None of that registered with my CA friends and family. When I was in OR my friends looked happy for me and sometimes impressed with the OSU reputation. For a few days I got to soak up the awesome school...its amazing size...class and reputation were everywhere in Oregon that we drove. I was proud as can be. My daughter....a bit of a college aficionado being a BA grad way ahead of me, was impressed with her first sight of my school of 3 years.

As we headed further south we peeled off jackets to wear our OSU T-shirts as the clouds and wet air switched to hot and dry California signature weather.

Now two days later I am fervently seeking housing...in this expensive and beautiful town...waiting for my financial aid check...eating a light breakfast...not out of cheapness but feeling nervous and happy.

I have just had my first morning of official language class in Arabic. I am so happy and exhilliarated I am almost speechless. After a morning of mangling Arabic, I need to sit here silently breathing and thinking.

I have been speaking in Arabic all morning. It has been fun and thrilling! I have met several of my peers who will attend the International Policy Studies program for the Fall...I love trying to say as much as possible...getting it wrong...and generally hanging around with others who are as passionate about language as I am....

I can now talk about others again in Arabic...I think I am not nearly where I was when I stopped my Arabic classes...but I am gaining it back fast....I have only been in class 3 hours....but it has been a world at improving my speech patterns in Arabic....with my now fearless ability to try and go ahead and fail I am not afraid of looking silly when I get it wrong....

Time to go back for another round of fluency training....just talking this afternoon...wooohooo....illa liqua....Bye....



 

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Earning My Way....

Today I graduated from a world class university and I have to admit that I am beaming with pride!

I had always spent so much time wallowing in how great my kids are as my accomplishments or how much I loved being a wife....I have now invested in myself!

I am not at all upset with prioritizing my family all these years at all...it was not only the fun choice...it was always the right choice....but it is nice to revel in my accomplishment this time around since it is about me....

I mean...you can't take credit for your kid's successes since they could easily have been bound for success without me. My Ex is a brilliant man...my kids are stunningly intelligent if you ask me...but this gives me a chance to feel like I have achieved a task that I am the only one who can take credit for its completion....

But even that rings false to a great degree!! I only got here through the help of my children, parents, sisters, friends and my Exes, (boyfriend and husband)....the truth...no meaningful accomplishment is truly done completely without help....

Anyway, regardless of what I should be feeling it is definitely true I am feeling good about myself and grateful for my support group....this is far from how I felt when I attended my home's auction and foreclosure in 2008!!

Also it is a great distraction from the fact that I am starting my dream curriculum on Monday at my dream institution, in my dream town....this place has a spot in my heart that goes back to 1980 or 1981!

And even though I have not procured housing yet...I have a place to stay the night before. I am driving down from OR tomorrow...and going to be in class on Monday at 8:30 am....I am so excited and scared it is not funny...but the secure truth is that the funding is there and I will be housed soon in a coastal town that I adore...it reminds me of a time ages ago...hanging out with my parents....and messing about in tide pools with my dad carrying his camera around his neck....

Let the next Adventure Begin!!

 

Graduating from Oregon....

I am up and at 'em early this morning as I get ready for receptions and the actual grueling ceremony to gain my Bachelors.

The drive up here took 12 hours but we did stop to walk the dog and eat on the way.

It is so much fun to pile into the car and have at least two thirds of my children with me. The dog was unusually clingy. Let's face it. She has been hit hardest by our family's foreclosure and divorce. She hates change and every time I start packing my toiletries, (which is almost always this last year!) she starts panting heavy and whining slightly.

We stayed at my sister's and used her home as a place for embarking on our excursion. We got a chance to celebrate her birthday a few days early and watch fun shows that had me crying I laughed so hard. I now am a huge fan of the IT Crowd!! Chris Dowd and Richard Ayoade were hysterical and then for the rest of the drive we were blabbing lines from the shows we saw.

It is interesting to me the way the terrain switches from excruciating heat in the Northern environs of California to a wetter, breezier nature when you cross the Oregon-California border.

As we winded through the mid section of the state, I love to watch the barns switch from angular like they are in cowboy country to rounder like they are in Tillamook. It sure feels as exotic as another country to me.

All the next day the kids and I explored the campus and town where my college is....and we took pictures for an advertising campaign. If they like what they see, our faces might smile from magazines and billboards.

The campus is carefully thought out and quite unified in its beauty since the architects of the buildings followed a general plan put together since its inception that gives it cohesiveness. Two of Frederick Law Olmsted's sons worked on its design.

I enjoyed exploring the acres of brick buildings and huge sprawling lawns mired in tons of brick and stone "halls" and "lodges"....it really made me wish to pursue a PhD here but I already have a lot on my plate and I am not sure a PhD would even make sense later.

I did find myself longing to be able to study on this huge campus.

We were told that there were over 26,000 students with over 4,000 graduating with me tomorrow.

All I know is that I am proud to be a graduate of Oregon State University.

Oregon has two big colleges and I was accepted at both of them but I chose to stick with the one that seemed to cater to its far flung Oregon population with an online program that was high quality.

This was not a slap together degree but instead a hard earned accomplishment.

And I am glad I get to feel the experience by walking with class mates I have never seen!!

Off to attend receptions and the longest graduation ceremony I have ever witnessed....
The photographer was amazing. The campus is stunning to say the least. Olmstead 

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Reading my post from June 6, shows me how it is all about mindset.

I have had some pretty positive days since and have procured a start date, and funding. I have some housing possibilities and a game plan. I will be in school for 8 weeks of the summer at least if not ten.

But a visit back in my new old city had my son and I so excited, it was clear we were pulling it all together well. The biggest part is just committing if you ask me.

I am committed. I was an intern before for a California Senator located in this town before. I have possibilities of nice places to look for work and if I need to when I do my grad work in the fall I can push down the credits to make ends meet.

Everything looks very do-able today!

Cap and Gown....

I am approaching my tasks with an easy feeling today. It is Sunday...a day of rest.

During this week I have an awful lot on my plate for the week. Any one of these things would have been enough to send me into a dither of expectation, planning and follow through back in my old housewife days.

I have a final on Wednesday. I have a long drive and apparent photo shoot on Thursday...about 15 hours of driving on the first leg and probably only 10 hours without stopping on the way down to my next destination on Saturday and Sunday.

On Monday, if I am lucky, I can get to my class with an hour and 10 minute commute by 8:30 am for testing and orientation.

I would love to have a house there then but I am running out of time to arrange one.

The odd thing is that any one of these things would have sent the Housewife version of me into a fit of energy expenditure as I fretted over details. I see that old me as a carpet person laying out large swathes of carpet. I thought that if I planned hard enough, I could nail down any recalcitrant edges trying to lift up in little rolls.

Now I don't see it that way.

I have flopped on my face so many times I am not afraid of public humiliation anymore. It happens.

And if I plan too much I make myself crazy and let's face it, things still go wrong. Now I have this approach that let's me just utter what I want. I nail down what I can and then I expectantly wait and see what unfolds.

I did that with graduation. Well meaning family pointed out that I was too old to need a graduation ceremony. Besides I shouldn't be spending money on that when I have a grad school to get to....

But I bought my cap and gown anyway, months ago. I also signed up for it through the school months ago.

I found out the school had travel awards if I wrote an essay. I won one so I will receive my check when on the campus Saturday.

My kids sound like they can join me in the drive up so I am excited to have anyone who can attend a graduation so far away. It will be about 700 miles one way.

But I am just so excited about going. I get a photo shoot with my youngest son for having been with me through my school experience, with the school springing for it. I might be part of their billboard campaign, hence the professional shoot to allow for blowing it up nice and big.

I just hope I find my cap and gown box. I have not seen it in several weeks!



 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

In The Flow....

When you suddenly find yourself in the flow it can be startling. All that you touch seems to be honest and clear. Appointments seem to be superfluous since you suddenly meet the exact person you are supposed to see through synchronicities. The traffic seems to deposit you at your destination at exactly the right time and every want, need or desire you utter aloud seems to be fulfilled almost immediately.

After spending weeks trying to clear up possible start dates for school...and dragging my heels out of a desire to be with a cute guy, life sent me off crying and broken hearted, again.

Within hours everything seemed to flow my way in reward. That was when I knew I was on the right track all of a sudden.

My arrival at my meeting with an old high school friend seemed to signify a sudden shift for the good. Even on the way to see her I had found that a possible rental had called back. I pulled over to take the vcery positive call. When I met up with Marlena,her smiling nature and expertise were right up my alley for understanding my school studies better. I found skills reawakened in me which coincidently she valued immediately. It was splendid.

She opened up a world of positive possibilities and information which coincidently put my grad studies into sharp focus. What would have been an hour chit chat turned into an all day romp across the state. It was as if Spirit were suddenly guiding our conversation and all of my ears were open understanding meanings in every word we shared.

It was so alive feeling. I was sort of astounded all day.

It was even better the next day when I found myself dancing in the shower.

What a positive next day! I took a quiz in Geology early, got in the car late and found myself at my appointment, hours away but promptly on time..:it was a splendid home to look at....my freshly bathed dogs romped in the sizable yard located a sand dune away from the ocean.

I was as honest as could be but I also knew in my heart that it was all flowing perfectly.

I stopped by my dream school and verified all the information I have been receiving in the mail. Everyone was speedy and amazingly together as they pushed all of my paerpwork thorugh adn confirmed my enrollment and funds for the summer.

I am now in my dream program for the summer. I have always wanted to be in this program., studying a language very intensely and thoroughly. I know in 8 weeks with all the effort I am bringing to the table that I will be a champ.

I can do this. It is all working out even on paper!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Negative VS Positive

One of the perks of getting what you don't want is that it points you precisely in the direction of something more appropriate.

Spencer and I have been told over and over again by well meaning friends and family that we simply need a home of our own. It sounds like exactly what the emotional doctor ordered but it is not so easy to attain when one has no income and no hope of one while pushing forward on a scholarly career that is looking like it might be expensive.

I want to go to grad school. I have been diligent, even in the face of adversity and homelessness I have kept up on my studies, well except Soil Science, which was a poor excuse for a biology course requirement if you ask me. It is not that it was terrible but it needed me to do things that did not go well with couch-surfing like dig a 4 foot deep hole. Each week required a different analysis but my soil changed weekly since I leapfrogged all over the state.

In spite of many crazy obstacles I now find myself getting so close to a life long goal I can taste it....studying languages at an Institute I dreamed of over 30 years ago while still in high school.

I would really like 2 or 3 languages but I am not the best linguist in the world....but I simply love translating, speaking and listening to Arabic, Italian, Spanish and French...or any language for that matter.

If I could I would study a few languages, but I am in International Policy Studies which is a great subject, combining my love of politics and international cultures. I figured it would make me more hire-able in the long run and I am expecting to be able to pay back my student loans.

Trying to figure out what I want though is not as easy as it would seem.

I want to be in the town where I will study, within 2 days after graduation from my OR school. I have to be up in Oregon for that graduation but ready for class, moved into the area and ready to roll on the Monday following. All of these absolutely wonderful objectives have my stomach turning. It is so much all at once and I used to be a home body who reveled in having her own space.

How am I going to calm that nervous twinge?

I already know. Today I am driving all over the place. While my son and I are driving I am going to make sure we talk about what we want in a house and a life down along the coast in easy tones, assuming all the while that we will get at least some of it in a matter of weeks.

That sounds naïve but it does always seem to be true.

We need a 2 bedroom place of our own. A place where we are free to be ourselves. Spencer wants a pool in addition to easy access to the ocean. We want a yard to let the dog out and to garden in. I would love to grow some tomatoes and squash of my own.

I want to live in a house that is filled with my own stuff.

I also want to start my International Policy Studies program in the fall....but that is conditional on a few things. I need to have my BA in hand which I won't until having squeezed into a Biology course somewhere...and I don't have funding yet...but even if I can't start IPS work  in the fall I can at least attend my school for the summer program which will help me to be ready. I can also try to do certification programs that I already wanted to incorporate into my studies anyway.

Already just running through this stuff calms my nerves.

I think I have done an awesome job in spite of all the excitement. I have endured numerous breakups that I had wrongfully blamed myself but now I see in a crystal clear way we were a nice fit at the time but my devotions are not always rewarded in a way that is befitting and I really didn't have time for any dalliances anyway. I just really feel bad about how much I had adored the kids too. But even that sort of thing can sour if children are not really on the same wave length.

My son and I focus an awful lot on the positive. We are not comfortable with lots of negativity. The problem I have when I look back on it is that we shouldn't be constantly put down for saying something nice. It happens everywhere.

It happens in this manner. When a cheerful person says something positive there are multiple ways to react. Some are affirmative. Some respond with negativity. Others seethe with hostility and put down the speaker...as if they were clearly stupid since they were not on a constant gloomy binge of judgment.

I never noticed it until I watched it played out against my son.

So now we are seeking our own home...damn the costs.

I have ideas...on how to deal with my lack of funds and know I will attend my school if not today, next term or the term after. I guess that the idea is that I can pull forward if I keep my mind clear of negative people and negative thinking. That is the only way I have been able to swim this far.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

50 in Style.....

     There are ways to feel like you have had a growth spurt or a change that you can acknowledge in life.

     I just hit one of them....I turned 50 years old. It was a bit of a pleasant shock. I feel like it has made little difference in so many ways, but there are differences none-the-less.

     I can't run as wildly and as free as before. My lower back hurts if I push myself when lifting too much, and when I wear contacts to see faraway, I can't see up close and sew a darn thing.

    I have peppers of shiny tinsel-like grey in my hair that on my Ex husband gives him a celestial appearance in the sunshine since he has so much more.

    I am rounder now an mushy in places I never really was before, no matter what my weight or my condition.

     But it sure is a nice thing to get a perfect 50th birthday party. I celebrated with my Ex hubby who turns 50 in a week. The kids put our surprise camping party between our birthdays since we are only a month apart in age.

To have your kids plan something on your behalf is just nice anyway, but it was really well done and most enjoyable to say the least.  It wasn't a big affair. It was a nice quiet family camping trip to a place we spent so much of our lives. I remember going to Pinecrest when I was in high school with my parents and rowing around embarrassing my sister by using only one row and forcing us to go around in circles. I remember getting locked out of the brand new car while my newborn baby was breastfeeding. My always calm husband took to breaking the key slot in the trunk to get us out of the deep heavy snow conditions and get the baby and I back in the car. My son had carried his little brother around this lake and realized he was growing to be a young man while hiking around this lake in the alpine country of our own Pinecrest.

Now both my oldest were graduates with Bachelor's degrees, throwing their parents a party at a place we all loved. Sure makes you think though...as we celebrated aging together. Lots of people we knew have not made it this far. There were nice people we went to high school with who have been long gone. Death is not something I really think of much though I have been to my share of funerals, but 50 is a time for gratitude if you ask me. I can't help but recognize that even though 50 is not that old, it is not so young that every day is such a given anymore. Now I think I will savor the fact that I am here a bit more.