College…and the places you will go!

A good friend of mine, who also happens to be my neighbor, publishes a magazine called I-AM (www.i-ammagazine.com). She recently provided me with the opportunity to write an article focused on getting kids prepped and ready for college. I reached out to several universities here in my home state of Texas as well my alma mater, Miami of Ohio. (Go Redskins …*ahem*… Redhawks) Upon speaking to several Deans of Admission, I must admit, my mind began headed down memory lane to my tour of duty in college. I was a non-traditional student. Which, in hindsight, seems to be my MO as nothing I do ever  falls in the norms of tradition and instead falls within the boundaries of  non-traditional, outlier, path-less-traveled…or just plain weird.

I digress…

As mentioned, I was a non-traditional student. I started out in community college as it was all I could afford. I also maintained a part-time job and did so throughout college. I didn’t know what I wanted to be; I just thought this was the next step in my journey into becoming an independent, responsible adult. I lived at home and took classes like Comp 1 and Comp 2. I took a physical education class…admittedly, it remains the highest grade of my collegiate career. All you had to do was show up X amount of times, sign in and work out for 45 minutes on various resistance machines in the gym. 

I met my husband the first year of community college…Modern European History. The professor was a real fruitcake. He would play pieces by Mozart and, during class, would stand at the front of the class room, close his eyes and begin swaying to the music. College professors are nothing like highschool teachers. Sometimes that’s a good thing…sometimes not.

I left community college and was in the process of getting admitted to the University of Kansas (KU). My husband, then fiancée, had gone on to Kansas State. Upon learning of my going to KU, he effectively and quickly showed me the error of my ways. Wildcats are cool; Jayhawks aren’t. 

My husband graduated from K-State, we got married and  moved to Cincinnati. I applied to the University of Cincinnatti and got accepted. However, as is the case with  most transfer students, not all classes transfer. It was a nightmare. I left the college advisors office in tears, drove out to Oxford Ohio and filled out paperwork to be admitted. A few months later, I was in.

Oxford is a beautiful town; all red brick buildings, trees, very stately. I took classes like Econ 1 and 2. We counted widgets and gidgets. Wally Szczerbiak was in my Econ 2 class. He was tall. I took finance and business calculus…which was a five day class at 7-freaking-am. I’d commute every day the one-hour drive to Oxford from where I lived in Cincy. That bus-calc class nearly killed me.

Then one summer I graduated…five years after I started: Bachelor of Science in Business Administration.

My diploma says that the president of the university along with the trustees and approval of the faculty conferred upon me.  Upon their “conferring” they decided to give me a degree. It also says this degree comes with rights, privileges  and  honors.  They signed their names and put the seal of the University on my diploma. My husband had it framed and it hangs in my study.

I went a lot of places to achieve my degree and met lots of people; most importantly the love of my life.  The experience of college is just as important as the degree itself. You meet crazy people. Go to crazy parties. Learn what doesn’t work and learn what does. You learn how to stand up for yourself…find your voice.

As I mentioned earlier, I was not the traditional student…that’s OK…I think traditional is boring anyways. (Always choose the path less travelled.) My degree has opened up professional doors and is an accomplishment no one can take away. I love seeing my diploma hanging up. It reminds me that God gave me a brain for something more than to hang a hat on. It makes me feel smart and helps me to remember that when I set my mind to it, I can start and finish something big.  And I think that’s a big deal.

“Congratulations! Today is your day, You’re off to Great Places! You’re off and away!” ~Dr. Seuss

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Rhythm

I love the word ‘rhythm’. It’s got that awkward letter ‘y’ right in the middle and preceded by a silent ‘h’…it’s a phonetic pronunciation nightmare. All the same…it’s a great word. Good rhythm is what we all hope to have when our favorite beat drops in the grocery store, or the car, shopping at Costco and most especially when we ‘re dancing in front of our family at our cousin’s wedding. Some of us don’t have very good rhythm. I tease my husband all the time that he has terrible rhythm. He taught me how to dance the ‘water-sprinkler’ when we were in college. That’s the sum total of his rhythm. Likewise…i’m not sure that my rhythm is very good either. I firmly believe I know how to drop my beat when my favorite tune comes on…but the looks on everyone’s faces is not one of being impressed at my moves …more like they’re embarrassed for me. My son, on the other hand, he’s got it….and thank goodness for that. That kid can drop his groove anywhere, anytime; no matter what song. He even dances to Neil Diamond! It is truly impressive.

Rhythm is a wonderful thing. It’s the steady drumbeat to not only our favorite music but also to life. Our lives move and sway to a rhythm. Sometimes the movement is fast…frenetic almost. Other times, the rhythm is slow, methodical. Our life can go through a rhythm of positive and negative. Of ups and downs….side-to-side. The rhythm can abruptly change or it can go on seemingly forever. When my son was a toddler my husband traveled extensively and I found myself alone in a town where I didn’t know many people. (We had moved shortly after my son was born) That was a tough rhythm; seemed like it would never end. Countless hours of diapers, picking up, wiping tears, making meals, etc. When life’s rhythm is difficult it’s easy to be lost in the frustration and not see the joys because in addition to the diapers, meals, cleaning up, etc…there was also story time, laughter, singing together, cuddle time, etc.

It’s important not to fight the life-rhythm in which we find ourselves. If we are in a rhythm of mourning…we have to mourn. In high school my best friend was killed in a bicycle accident just before starting senior year. I continued to tell myself that we weren’t very close and that her death shouldn’t affect me. I would dream about her. In my dreams I was so angry with her. It took years to bring myself to go to her grave…i couldn’t accept the finality of the situation. It’s scary to show yourself grace when you are heartbroken. Ignoring the rhythm of mourning meant ignoring my heart-break. Instead of showing myself grace, I withheld it. Not cool.

Rhythm is very much a God-thing and He has woven it all over the place.The heart He made you with beats in a rhythm. The lives He has given us moves from the rhythm of childhood to adult to senior. Parenting is a rhythm that changes as our children get older and become more independent. There is a rhythm to learning…it’s called a learning curve. Students begin in kindergarten barely knowing their ABC’s. By 12th grade they read, write and can, hopefully, reason. This earth moves in the rhythm of spring, summer, fall and winter. There is a steady drum-beat everywhere not only in what we do but in what is going on around us.

Most importantly rhythm cannot be rushed. We can’t “push” through life rhythms. We need to walk, move. sway to the beat. Sometimes my life’s rhythm is somber and discouraging. In those moments,  the presence of my Lord gently reminds me that it won’t always be this way…it’ll change. Other times, my rhythm is exciting…pure joy. I soak it up and relish every moment.

The rhythms of our life are a gift. They are periods of time that form our character and shape our opinions. They are journeys that reveal God’s grace; moments where we have to be carried or pulled through life followed by moments where we dance to the beat.

Through it all, good or bad, rhythms bring us into a deeper, more intimate relationship with God. We experience rhythms of sadness and find His comfort, rhythms of hunger and He fills us, rhythms of anger and we are given His wisdom, rhythms of joy … and we are reminded of His grace.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (NIV)