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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, December 29, 2013

Patterns and Paybacks....



I am realizing some patterns. The more fretful and worrisome I get the worse my health and the slower my accomplishments...but the more I sit back, and trust...the better everything flows....

So I am amazed at how things unfold....it is like that story from the movie The Secret...you only need to see 200 feet ahead of you as your headlights illuminate the road at night...no need to see every detail of the drive you are embarking upon, right?

Too much of the time I get myself into trouble desperately trying to plan out every detail...without realizing I am never going to be able to do that...

Today I fell back into my school mode...though a case could easily be made for never having fallen out of it for the Christmas holiday. I read articles aloud in Spanish learning all the news of the day...I meditated on success and ease...then I did something I never do...I usually leave all fashion stuff to my sisters and Ex Hubby...but today I researched out what I would want to wear if I were in my dream jobs that I am studying for in my future...

I looked at Brooks Brothers suits...the top of the line, never-owned-one-because-they-are-too-expensive styles...the Ann Taylors that haunt my dreams...I found out what sort of heels are fashionable now-a-days even though I always favor flats since cheap suit or not, I am prone to run...and heels slow me down.

I went this route instead of hunting down housing that is less cold and more suitable because I felt strongly that my obsession with action was slowing me down.

Yesterday I found a lovely 3 bedroom place that is bigger, warmer, more cozy and sooooo much closer to my school that I would probably walk it every day...perfect for a roommate or two and vastly more affordable than the place I have now that had a leaky and expensive bath...terrible washer and dryer and the coldest interior I have experienced since staying a few days in Strawberry, high in the Sierras....

But I cannot constantly force stuff to happen...when I take my eyes off the ball it seems to fall into my glove...so this morning I am engaging in frivolities...I am not out of bed...it is before 7 am and yet I have played and relaxed and dreamed and enjoyed...instead of fretting and worrying.

I have been having side adventures in school realms with a few buddies that I can't divulge anything about but I can say it is much more fun to take a hands on approach to trade and economics than by studying them from afar...I have found that I have acquired useful skills while delving into my colleges...I can pour through government documents with ease...assess global finances effortlessly through my foreign policy lens and generally really walk into things that used to be way over my head...and still have a clear eyed view!

I can't wait until I start earning money and paying back my school loans...I lived a long time before college and didn't acquire these polished skills so I owe it to my professors of the past and future to be delighted as I pay all this back someday soon!

I am still baking cookies, (yesterday it was pecan shortbread snowballs in honor of Aunt Winnie!) but I can also stretch out in other directions too....

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Big Deal


The Big Deal

 

I have been doing mediocre work in many respects. I can’t wait to see what will happen when I start running. I am still getting my sea legs. I was thrown off by the speed at which my grad school plans unfolded while I was still negotiating the end of my undergrad experience in my hometown.

We often use the term “undergrad” here at grad school and I am not the only one who savors it as it spills off my tongue.

I got to use it the other day and it was so delicious and sweet that it felt like a candy cane. In fact I was surprised at how nicely it glided out of my mouth!

I have a capacity to really focus on foreign affairs and foreign languages…it is just what I do…for fun. I also have a fluent ability to express myself. I am made for speeches and public speaking and moving my idea to expression with ease. Here it means that I make a pretty decent tour guide. I love the campus. I studied the facts about all the programs that I could cram into my head…and then they flow like butter.

My hope is that somehow these two capacities are going to land me a job someday that makes all this worthwhile.

In the meantime my son and I hang out with everyone we can, enjoying the experience and soaking up everything we can like sponges.

I am studying many things that are not in my classes and one of them involves progressing business concepts with a student who is far more of a globetrotter and internationally savvy than I profess to be at this point. I had a connection though that brought us a mentor. A business mentor who has kindly taken us on and provided possible connections to the broader more fascinating world of trade.

Now I cannot discuss what is so young and malleable at this juncture but suffice it to say, I realized that my business partner and I are actually global professionals. I was startled with the ease with which I could exercise our studies to make sense out of matters that required the international “eyes” I have been developing over a lifetime of watching things unfold.

I have been knocking out professional assessments and researching trade sanctions and laws on an international level. Of course there are lawyers on staff eventually who will really weigh out the details, but knowing how to research the government documents now….and read them and interpret them, all of the skills being applied felt priceless to my insides. I practically glowed with delight as I put my lifelong love of reading textbooks and legal-eze on to Treasury department documents. I could swear I was humming as I cut and pasted the relevant parts for our deal.

This was a Big Deal. Not only would it take me from poverty to riches overnight but the bigger deal is what I found myself saying. It sort of unearthed a bigger truth.

During the course of our business interactions my helpful mentor babied us on a specific point. After all who could blame him? He was mentoring us. It was easy to see how he presumed we needed help on even tedious little international points that were tackled years ago in undergrad work. For me, these countries were studied back in 2009 and 2010. My partner and I know our subjects well.

I communicated the exact truth as I knew it. “My partner and I are global professionals who now have years of experience in analyzing international situations such as this through our undergrad years to now…we know what we are talking about and you can trust us to have a good grasp of countries and what we are negotiating before bringing it up.”

I was speaking the truth since we both have been studying years and years of international relations and cultures, we would not have made the rookie mistake that the seasoned expert feared we had done.

As I said that statement I knew in my heart it was true with all of my being…and that slightly shocked me. I am a professional now…not in some lofty future where the riches lay out waiting, but now…and that made me feel as wealthy as Warren Buffet!

 

The Big Leagues

12/17/2013

 

I crawled out of bed on a chilly December morning at 3:00 am last week. Scratch that, it wasn’t just chilly, it was a bitter cold snap that killed plants and left frost on our houses. It marks the only time I have gone to school with my pajama pants on instead of my traditional grown up business attire. The test had been due but I was under the impression that since I wasn’t going on the research trip my need to turn in the possible 4 hour test was not mandatory yet. The test is a complicated one and requires a great internet connection as well as concentration and focus that are really hard for me to garner for such a long period of time.

Now I was chiding myself for my stupidity. I am old enough to know that when you are assigned things it is best to get them over with early rather than late. But here I was, zipping over to the school where I could count on the internet. I knew there was security there so I was not concerned about being out in the middle of my town in the middle of the night. I also hoped that there would be a building open. The security guard explained that there was not.

I did what all techies would do in my position. I found a convenient plug outside next to some seating where I had the most bars of reception from the campus internet.

The night was clear and rather beautiful. I smiled as I appreciated the silence of the city at night. I could hear an occasional sea lion bark.

After the initial difficulties, making sure the internet worked, donning a glove on the hand that did not need to be naked to swipe the screen, I was ready.

If you have ever had an espresso in Italy first thing in the morning you understand how much it enlivens the mind as well as the soul. Well, that was what this in depth study session did to my mind…in the bitter cold that had me looking like an antsy school child…I went over every detail of how a human subject should be treated in any research project. I learned about horrific research that had been conducted in the name of science. Some of the ideas I studied shocked me when I considered the little regard some researchers had shown in the past…from the Nazis to the Tuskegee Experiment the mistakes made looked like an expose into the lack of humanity towards test subjects exercised in the past.

Some of the past was not so long ago…some things happened within my lifetime.

Either way the cold had me at my most alert and I turned in my certification by 6:30 am.

I realized something about myself at that point. I realized that I really care about my classes and my experiences here at grad school. I didn’t get out of bed, drive somewhere and take a test outside in the cold to please anyone but myself that night and I knew it.

 

I take pride in my work here. I take pride in being here. And I am starting to notice that it is changing me and my self esteem for the better. I think I am taking pride in being myself and the new me carved out by being here in what I consider to be The Big Leagues.

 

The nice thing about life here in this version of the Big Leagues….is there is no real competition. Everyone here is brilliant and worthy of being here. That includes the staff…whether serving up food or educating us with practicality in mind…as well as my fellow students….I am swimming amongst such wonderful people…if you are considering dipping into life here…embrace it…it feels good to just be amongst the others here in this kind of place.

 

 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Learning My Potential....

I am finally allowed to breathe a bit and found the time to write now.

I am about to enter into finals and finish off a rather wonderful first term in my grad school of choice!

This place simply rocks!

I really enjoy the full scope of my studies and the fact that I am finally studying a round of finely tuned subject matter that seems to be pulling all of my info together and actually put me knee deep in truly interesting material.

This has not been balanced by a fair amount of work and income to follow my new found status of becoming conversant in really indepth material. To the contrary, I have been making dribble.

That uber focus on studies as well as a crazy re-occurring illness drove me to the point of being hospitalized and hungry all at once.

I want to whine about having a tough time but that would be unfair.

I have been incredibly lucky....in fact I was just going over a Spanish language interview I did with my sister in Spanish and I thought my little sister looked fresh faced and sweet as she laughed and giggled through our stab at serious intellectual discourse. The effect was a choppy shift between us goofing off and then soberly digging deep into her trials and tribulations of teaching students who have a high incidence of "suddenly disappearing" since many are deported as illegal immigrants. In a moment of insecurity I thought I looked chubby.

Over all I felt guilty and happy all at once....this was the longest conversation in Spanish my little sister and I had ever had and I loved every moment of it! It was also nice to see that my studies have been incredible at pushing my abilities far and fast into the realm of actually making sense out of our conversation and also of comprehending my daily reads in Spanish news stories. I might even try to start posting in Spanish on my blog with the school. We will see if I can pull off that ambition.

I have been forced to apply for medical insurance and test out "Obamacare" since an illness that forced me to quit work last year also brought my family gynecologist to tell me a year ago that I needed to have surgery.

I was turned down for insurance and consequently I am bombed in medical bills from last year's hosptitalization still. There was no way I was going to sign up for a surgery when I did not qualify for coverage. So I hobbled along with many nights clutching a hot pad.  I avoided the regular medicines he had tried to subscribe and insisted on a super strength Tylenol equivalent prescription since I try to avoid all medications. I passed the deadline that my doctor had told me I needed to follow for surgery last January and told my family that I was allowed to push it off...they didn't need to know that lack of insurance was the deciding factor anyway. There was nothing any of us could do until the system changed somehow.

Well excruciating pain and an amazing amount of blood changed my mind a few weeks ago...well, a month ago, I had noticed the signs were worsening again...they had been creeping back heavily since the summer but it wasn't until I wandered into the hospital after a scary night where I knew I was way past what every doctor had said was the point to admit myself to an Emergency Room.

I studied in the hospital and resigned myself to follow through on the last of my paperwork no matter how busy I was with school projects.

After a battery of tests I was told to get to a doctor here in a matter of less then a week.

That was two weeks ago. But there are differences this time around. All of my paperwork is being accepted with speed at the county here. As a bonus I also qualified as having a low enough income to get food stamps...something that has greatly added to my security level. I think I can schedule that appointment tomorrow and not risk putting my credit in even more danger.

I keep telling myself this could change though really fast since I also found out I can be a substitute teacher if I take the CBEST. That would be perfect to put myself through school with that income avenue since it would mean that I could control the days I work and be able to say no if I have an important project due for classes.

I also have had some hungry times here...we had been kind of sponging off of my roommates a bit, not much but a bit. I had skipped more then a few meals and my son did not complain once.

But truth be told being here in school is worth it. I have strong priorities...home time with my son...family time with my family...which does include my kindly Ex...and school...I know it is not fashionable but I really think it is going to pay off to go to school here. I am learning so much every day...I can't believe how much I have changed since the year started!

I don't know which is better...the camaraderie or the study materials and the interesting way I am learning here.

One day I finally broke down...I thought I was going to have to give up with only a few weeks of school to go. I finally mumbled to class mates I was hungry and close to dropping out.

One of them took me out to tea the next morning. The other asked me to babysit his kids...and after a marvelous home cooked meal...he made me take home boxes of food. The fact that I was so hungry and sick made it really easy to just say thanks you and cry on the drive home.

The second school chum is the kind of guy who always has a calm smile on his face for everyone. He sort of personifies the "nice guy" image and after getting to spend a lovely evening with his wife and three girls, my son and I could see why he was always happy. They were just bubbling over with fun and humor. The girls were happy well adjusted, intelligent and boisterous. There mother was like their father, she could speak many languages and could negotiate any culture with ease.

It was just nice to hang out with them but the food made me feel a lot more secure when I got home. I just stood there and stared at the pantry which reflected his generosity. This was the first time since moving here that I had enough food.

I could feel my neck and stomach relax as I stupidly gawked at oatmeal, spaghetti, canned goods and Bisquick. It was a smorgasborg!

Today we gave a report in class. As I kiddingly imitated the professor, being a small and unimportant part of this presentation our group put together for a research project, I felt such belonging that it gave me shivers. I fit in with any group, usually. And if I don't fit in I am luckily clueless about my ineptitude.

I really am enjoying myself and I guess that explains why I would be willing to suffer through a bit more time not earning my full potential....I honestly think this is going to be worth it in the long run.

And besides, I am now only a year and a half away from my Masters degree! I just have to keep moving forward!