OK Mom, I Did It. What Next?

Last couple of days have not been easy for me. (Life has been a bit of a whirlwind… thus no post recently here. Too much going on & no time to write.)

The 5 year anniversary of being attacked hit me harder than I ever would have thought it would. Can’t believe it has already been so long. Hard to think that my hand has been wonky all that time. I still am not used to the scars. Grateful for the help my Mom & sister were in helping me get through healing & dealing with all that entailed. Don’t know what I would do if it happened today.

Started a book that details struggling with a mother who is dying from cancer in the first chapter & that brought back a lot of memories. Tough to get through & I admit I ended up crying myself to sleep that night & spent most of the next day upset. Just missing Mom pretty big right now.

For one thing, she would be so happy.

My last class is DONE.

My last semester is DONE.

Not only done, but with a 4.0 GPA which I am pretty stinking proud of since there were definitely a few times I was struggling.

So am I officially a graduate? Not sure.  Technically I think so, but the community college doesn’t do December graduation ceremonies so I have to wait until May if I wanted to do all the pomp & circumstances formalities.  Having gone all out for my bachelor degree graduation, I have had my moment. Truth be told, I was done with all that after High School but Mom pushed me to do it & I guess I am glad I did.

I promised her before she died that I wouldn’t quit. No matter what I would finish this program. She didn’t want her death to stop my life.

So Mom. I did it. Finished & I know you would be proud.

But now what?

Sort of bitter-sweet. Another step further away from her & the part of life that we shared. Had to happen and I’m glad to be finished, but in a way it connected me to something I was doing for her…. and for me.

Instead of wild parties & living it up celebrating, feel more like just snuggling up with a cozy blanket in a quiet room. (Doesn’t help my cold has turned into a sinus infection.) So that is what I am doing. Relaxing. Savoring the emotions whatever they are.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some great moments that have happened lately.

Got to get away to the mountains with a great guy who I trust and who understands what I have been through. In fact he was supposed to meet up with me that night but ended up celebrating his birthday with friends in another part of town. Comforting having someone who knew you before and knows you now. I know I have changed but then again doesn’t everyone over time?

So now instead of student, I am recently graduated & unemployed for the moment. First of the year I hope to change that. Til then I am going to spend as much time enjoying life with people I love as I can knowing that this moment is all I have. Tomorrow isn’t promised but hopefully we can keep the promises we make and go on to make more. Always something to work toward and look ahead to.

Just need to figure out what.

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Out of Thin Air

As much as a 3 day week sounds blissful, I’m starting to see the downsides.  Four days off are nothing to complain about, but reality is the 3 days I am in school and trying to get everything done are intense.  Add in trying to date and have a life and its the perfect storm for needing those 4 recovery days.  At least when they are weeks like this one.

Working? um… why would I? to pay bills? Ha!  That implies there are actually jobs available that will be flexible enough to work with school schedules! Right. Not in this area lately.

Sure I could go for the Do You Want Fries With That option I guess, but I am trying to avoid the Freshman Fifteen this go around (does a 2 year associates even have a Freshman year?) and in all reality the minimum wage for busting my ass route is just going to leave me with no energy to study anything.  So what’s the point? I’d flunk out anyway.

Thought that Grants & Scholarships would be extremely helpful this go around since the first time I did college I didn’t go for any at all.  I was extremely lucky in that my grandparents & parents did some serious sacrificing and planning to put me through starting the day I was born.  So since I haven’t even used assistance before, why not now right? WRONG.  No longer eligible.

here have some cash… just kidding!

The grant I got – turns out someone in Financial Aid is a moron.  They gave me money yet some how are now saying I didn’t qualify for it.  So they took it back.  Why don’t I qualify? bad grades? shady past? criminal records? blue eye shadow?  Nope.  Simply because I have a degree.  A degree I was honest about from the get go in applying to school.

So now I owe several hundred dollars which they let me use at the bookstore for this now imaginary grant.  Which has to be repaid before I can register for classes next week.  Not sure how many people who aren’t working actually have that money just laying around without any purpose, but its not this girl.

Everything I have goes to getting by.  Sure I’m not eating ramen every night, but I have cut back on a lot of expenses since starting school.  So much so that I’m frustrated in a lot of ways.  But that is adulthood.  Not very many people do have tons of extra money to just toss.  Its a trade off I am willing to make.  Every purchase matters more now.  If I decide to go get a cup of coffee out, that means I have to cut corners elsewhere.  Its life.

Still I’m at the point where, its starting not to work.

Added unexpected expenses, like the grant I now have to repay along with the tuition for next year, are just not working out.

So stressed? You betcha.

What’s a girl to do?  There are several places hiring for full time.  One side of me says to take a step back and start working again.  School will be there when I can get to it.  Maybe take one night class for the next decade.   Still going full time would mean I am done and working in a job I am going to want to be in, in roughly another year and a half.  IF I can get there.

Student loans? As much as my parents really don’t want me to take on more debt… they are starting to seem like a very real option.  Scary as it may be, the money has to come from somewhere.

Between trying to figure all this out and finalizing a will & end of life paperwork (for class, but still hit me hard emotionally), study for exams, stay up on readings, prepare for a speech (um… got an A even with um… saying um… way more than um… I wanted to!) and doing photowalks, honoring soldiers and staying connected with friends, I AM BEAT.  My brain feels fried.  Deep fried.

Still no stopping now.  It may be my “weekend” but there is laundry to do, bags to pack, roads to travel with family waiting at the end to see.  Oh yeah… & homework. Lots and lots of homework.  With another exam waiting for me at 11 am on Monday.

this is my favorite mug. tends to always be dirty.

Thank goddess for the Keurig & pug snuggles.

What am I waiting on?

Flipping channels today I stumbled across a discussion about abandoning the life you think you need for the one you truly want.  The question was asked how do you know what it is that you really would be happy doing?  The speaker gave the scenario of walking by a group of strangers who are having a conversation.  What would the topic be that would actually make you stop & introduce yourself to be able to join in the conversation?  Whatever it is that you care enough about to join in a group of total strangers’ conversation, is what brings you joy.

So what is it?

What is that one thing that makes your heart sing?

It stuck with me and struck a chord.  What would be my one thing?  More importantly – how can anyone focus on just ONE thing?  Is it normal to have one thing? Maybe I have life ADD.

Ask me in high school what I wanted.  Ask again in college, after college, after September 11, 2001, after the end of my past relationships, last summer…. all different answers.  Still judging by other successful lives, there has to be a common thread some where in there.

I know what makes me light up & brings me joy.  But making it into a career?  It changes…. a lot depending on the situation.  Spending time with the parrots, pugs & other animals in my life certainly is a highlight, but would it be so great if it were more? not sure.  Enjoy writing & reading, but how does that really pay? I’m not an english major or connected to those to publish a book & what would it be about.  I have more life to live.  Human Resources was great & in many ways I miss it, but something was missing there.  Hard to keep so positive in the land of negative.  Law is certainly exciting & has my attention right now & I sincerely hope that a door will open for me there when its time.  Hopefully I can find a way to uniquely make it my dream come true.

Still… why the wait?  Why does life make us wait on our dreams?

Even when we think we are nearly there, things change & our devotion gets tested.  Find a great connection, but realize you need to go thru a couple years of training… expensive time consuming training.  Yes tested.  People doubt your ablity and question your desires.  Someone will always try to define you to their standards.  Truth is they may be right in their perception, but that doesn’t make it your reality.  Just means that is what they believe.  Have to stay strong and maintain what is truth to you.  If its meant to be, it will be.  No matter who thinks differently.

So part time job?  that doesn’t suck my soul dry in the meantime?  that would be ideal.  Til then I just am going to hang on & keep focusing on what on earth this dream may be.  Right at the moment it feels a lot like less of a reality than I was hoping it would be.  Still.. hoping it is a test. just a test.

Hope Glows Like a Chandelier

Remember how I dreamed of redoing my bedroom & then put all that on hold after changing & then leaving my job?

study session

I wanted so badly to just change it all from top to bottom.  I really did mean start at the top!

Even tried to make a faux capiz chandelier that basically would fit over the existing unit & replace the cover!  That stupid thing is STILL waiting around for me to finish.  It may end up chunked in the trash very soon. I tried to make lemonade out of the lemon of a bedroom light I had, but without the sugar it just ended up sour & unfinished.

 This weekend I got offered some free handy services from the Crab.  He had noticed a few things that to me would mean expensive outside professional help, but having previously built a few houses himself, he had the knowledge & ability to fix.  Some seemed simple,  but annoying – like the bathroom door that seems to enjoy trapping people inside with its required random number of turns to open.  Some seemed monumental to me – like the dripping faucet IN THE BATH TUB! No clue how to even begin to tackle that one.  I seriously had visions of needing to rip thru a wall to get to the pipes.  Deal was I bought the supplies and he would give free labor, I tossed in dinner for good measure & we were off to the home improvement big box.  Several trips & hours later, I was beaming at all that had been accomplished.

thankfully it wasn’t THAT drastic!

Then he mentioned the fact that the two bulbs in the ceiling light in my bedroom were driving him crazy being two different wattages or shades or whatever it was.  Honestly I didn’t think it mattered as much as I hated that light.  Course I agreed that installing new matching bulbs would be a good thing & off we were…. almost.  Then I brought up the chandelier & how I had dreamed of popping it up one day.   I’m sure he probably regreted the next statement, but there it was “I can put that up if you want. Its not hard.”  HA!  Not hard my ass.  It is when you have no clue what’s what.

Out came my crystal laden beauty!  After some adjusting for height, there it was – up and on!  The dream was one little step closer to being reality.  We talked of moving stuff around & replacing this or that.  But mostly all I could do was stare in wonder at the light, finally where it should be lighting up my room.  It already felt/feels cozier & more me.

Maybe the dreams aren’t totally dead just yet.  Sometimes I guess it takes a few steps back & letting go to move forward.  Then again a great side kick certainly helps too.

Tomorrow I attempt to tackle the summer clothes purge – 100 things gone (yes I have more than enough clothes to wear! Sadly I may be a clothes hoarder).  We dropped off one bag at the Goodwill today with 26 things no longer needed.  Tomorrow going for at least another 75!  We shall see.

Also looking forward to registering for classes in the morning & figuring out what the next few months are going to look like.  Hopefully I can get into the classes I need & maybe even have some time left over to get a part time job & bring in money to assist in taking a few more steps to home improvement.  We shall see.  But tonight I am going to be snoozing under my very own chandelier – feeling pretty proud, pretty loved & just plain pretty.

Tides Rolling In

Life is so funny.

One moment you are in your life & see it as all that it is.  You believe you know the path you are on & where you will go.  Then you get a spark. The choice to take the risk or stay where you are defines the rest of the way.

I am proud to say, I took the leap of faith and am LOVING IT!

Classes started yesterday – Family Law followed by Administrative Law today.

Spent a few days in with the family & the jokes were made about going back to school.  I was given spiral notebooks (which may have been  leftover from high school!), new pens, index cards & even taken to get a couple of new clothes.  We had fun teasing about my “FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL”.  Felt great being supported & feeling like I was making my parents proud.

When it came down to the time to go to class last night, my nerves were on edge.  Would I be able to keep up?  Was I thinking it was going to be one thing and really would be totally different & then I would hate it?  Would I be the oldest one there?  Would I be able to stay in a room with no windows and not really able to leave for a few hours without having a panic attack?  So many ideas raced through my head.  Thankfully with support of friends I was distracted & made it to the room.  Klonapin also may have gotten me there.  Took my seat.  Watched others enter…. including the attorney who looked around my age teaching the course!  Then it began.

Within minutes I was swept up in discussions and ideas raced through my head that were what ifs, but less self-centered and more hypothetical consequences and circumstances.  Before I knew it, it was over.  I wanted more… but we got out 45 minutes earlier than expected instead of staying all 3 hours.  Still with assignments to do, I was charged up.  LOVE IT!

On the way home I texted friends, family & called the parents overjoyed with it all.  Giddy might be a good word for this bliss.  …until I ran slap into a BAT!  Head on.  I saw it just before & as it rammed into the glass directly in front of my face.  Talk about buzz kill.  I felt (still do feel) awful.  But what could I have done?  Not sure how an animal with radar even hits a very slow moving car!  But it did and it shook me up.

Between the emotional highs & low, sleep was not going to come easy.

Thankfully I didn’t force myself.  A fellow insomniac & I explored a beach that I am ashamed to say I hadn’t ever gone over to even thought I think I had been to most everywhere around it.  So we set out in the dark, armed with a flashlight & loads of stories to tell.  HAD to talk to someone about how excited & was & all the new crazy laws & potential implications I had learned.

Kure Beach / Fort Fisher

Even in the pitch dark, under a sky so cloudy the moon looked like it took the night off, it was breath-taking!

Listening to the waves crash.  Watching the lightning just off shore.  Seeing all the nightlife in the sand and rocks.  Just so peaceful.  Such a step away from the chaos of the mall, highway & rush I had been in just hours before.

Even taking cover for a while in a lifeguard stand as the storm came on shore seemed surreal.  No stress just wait it out and watch.  Got a bit wet but saved the phones and didn’t get soaked.  Afterwards being damp already made the waves more inviting to play around in.  I didn’t go swimming but it was tempting.

Well mostly peaceful.  Discovered a new creature that isn’t exactly on my wish I saw more of list….. the sand flea  AKA sea cicada AKA mole crab AKA reason I popped my shoes back on….

Not really clear why they grossed me out, but they did.  It was dark & they seemed to be EVERYWHERE!  I just imagined accidentally stepping on one & it trying to burrow away confused by my skin not giving way like the sand.  yuck.  To me they seem like the cockroaches of the beach.  Still as a guest in their house, I had to deal.

Besides there was so much else it was hard to focus too much on the nasty things just under foot.  Mixed all into the chunks of shells were dainty tiny pastel clams who were exposed and just like a lady quickly hid herself away.  There were small crabs guarding there pools between the rocks from unknown light beams (from the flashlight) & so much history in the rocks from the pieces of shells from life long gone to the blackened sharks teeth no longer a threat to the flesh.  I was lucky enough to be with an experienced tooth locater who showed me the ropes.  Even found a great white one on my own!

Maybe this isn’t where I thought I would be.  Perhaps I am not getting rich or finding myself on magazine covers for success, but life should be about achieving bliss as individual as we are.  This for now works for me.  So for the time being I will savor it as if it were my last breath.

Oh what will tomorrow bring?

Sandy Butts Everywhere

Busy day today wrapping up a few things in getting ready for my return to classes.  Still feels funny to say that & makes me slightly giddy!  I know I’m a bit of a geek & will be kicking myself for doing this later when I am struggling to study or complete homework, but for now I’m just happy!  The closer it gets to the first class the more I realize needs to be done.

  • classes paid for: check
  • parking pass: check
  • ID & libray card: check
  • books: check (& saved around $70 getting them online since the store is closed til Monday, even WITH shipping)
  • get new insurance: working on that one.  I HATE figuring out which medical insurance plan to go with.
  • all the other crap “needed” to attend school:  ……yeah…. working on getting all that stuff.  So much could be helpful, but thinking old school – pens, paper.. with a dash of new school – memory stick.  Who knows.

Already I am feeling like the nontraditional student.  The faces on campus today certainly looked younger than me.  Learned that you can now rent textbooks instead of buying them and they now make erasable highlighters!  Guess things have changed a little since I was carrying around the books.

Part of me just wants to start already but another side says cherish these free moments.  Soon I will be nose deep in books and working again on the side.  Make memories while I can and live each second.

Which is why I am spending as much time as possible with this view

is there anything better than can be done in life alone that makes you feel better than relaxing on the sand with the sound of waves rushing on to the shore?  Thankfully most of the time its still not crowded and the sound of the waves is all I hear other than the occasional engine of the lifeguard’s truck or today the sound of a couple of Ospreys passing by on route back to base.  (I think those guys intentionally take the coastal path to scope the beach & who could blame them!)

I honestly think without the ocean, I would be insane.  It has a therapeutic magic that is unlike anything else.  At least for me.

With today being the 10th I thought it fitting to give some love back to the beach.  To protect the piece of peace in my world.  Plus I’m inspired by someone who is locally doing great things!

Amazes me at how many cigarette butts are left behind.  Even when I did smoke, we never left the butts in the sand.  You picked it up & took it with you.  Obviously not everyone acts the same.

Thankfully there are people who are working hard to keep our beaches & ocean from being polluted with the trash left behind.  Read a tweet today that at Wrightsville Beach, It Starts With Me blogger picked up NINE butts in about a second!  Completely unacceptable.  Currently there is a push to ban smoking on our local beaches.  I understand that many would be upset by this, but when you aren’t respecting the beaches, I’m not sure you deserve to be smoking there.

Unfortunately this isn’t just a problem here.  People are trashing our beaches everywhere.  Check out a west coast view of the issue at The Daily Ocean blog.

Clearly if you see what they can do in just a few moments a day, you have to feel inspired to clean up after yourself when you visit!

There is only one type of butt that should be on our beach! – mine relaxing without seeing a piece of trash or smelling anything but salt water.

Hoping through the efforts she & her family are committed to, others gain a better understanding of the impact of such a seemingly small thing.   May her actions inspire others to join in the process.  I know it has me thinking more about what is in the sand.  Perhaps next time I go out, I will take my own bag to collect trash and those pesky cigarette butts.

Maybe even take it a step further and join the local chapter of Surfrider Foundation.  Certainly feeling like giving some love to the waters that make me feel so alive and ground me into feeling that in the middle of all that stresses me, I am there in that moment and I am as I should be.

Certain sounds just soothe.  My grandmothers giggles & yes she could get them often.  She would get tickled over the most random things and then everything would be silly.  It over took her and she would be helpless to the laughter.  Deep laughing to the point where the tears come to your eyes and you can barely speak.  Skip that days ab work out because you are going to be feeling them.  How anyone could possibly not join it was beyond me.  You wouldn’t have a clue what started it, but it felt right to join in.

The ocean is similar.  It mellows.  Takes me to a place inside that still believes in happy endings, love and connections stronger than death.  Comforts me in a way that feel esoteric.   Heavenly.  As if you have found the place where you venture into the outskirts of the after.  You feel peace and forget worries since only your soul will live on.  As long as you have a pure soul and can deal with your choices, you can find peace for a while.  As if laying on that warm sand, feeling the sun’s rays, the body just slips slightly out of line with the spirit.  Like the many kites flown on the beach, our spirits seem to feel safe enough to float & expand beyond our limits.  How many great ideas have been discovered on those sands?  How many troubles have been reevaluated only to see they really weren’t such a big deal to begin with once you remove the passion of the moment.  Its just a magic that is beyond comprehension.  Primal tie to our soul.

Even typing about it has slowed me down and made me think its time to sleep.  Baxter has been snoring away by my side for a while and the birds have long gone “night night”.  We will have to see who is going to be waking who tomorrow.  For a change it may actually end up being one of them!

One night I will sleep on the beach.

I can only imagine the peaceful night that would be.

Stuck Rambling in this Holding Pattern Waiting for the Green Light

Ever feel like you fell asleep on the bus of life and just missed your stop?  The wheels keep turning and you realize you need to exit, but just aren’t sure where.

Yesterday was one of those days.

I remember an episode of Dead Like Me, where Georgia decides to let someone live who she should have reaped.  Ends up backfiring on her.  The person lives, but since it was past their “time” there are repercussions and it turns into something that never should have happened & bring a certain negative side and corruption.  More people die earlier than planned due to side effects of one person living longer than they should have.  As morbid as it sounds, that show gave me comfort.  In a lot of ways death is brutal to accept.  If you see it as a relief and timely, it gives it a little better chance of acceptance.

Learning that Adam Yauch, MCA of the Beastie Boys passed yesterday after an emotional day was harder than I ever could have imagined.  Like my mom’s, his cancer started in a gland in the neck area & he went through surgery & radiation.  I imagine the holding mask was similar to my mom’s that they used to pinpoint the radiation – that mask creeped me out more than any one in a costume shop ever could.   Maybe it was his time.  Maybe it was a relief to let go of the struggle.  Maybe his passing will spur a positive action that will save lives.  Maybe.  Still it’s not an easy one to accept right now.  I never met the man, but his words inspired and were the soundtrack to many moments in my life.  His ability to spotlight and raise money for Tibet, will stand as a testament to his true character.   One can only hope to be able to help others as he did.  Still I can’t help but wonder what else he could have achieved given more time.

Struggling to feel like I’m not wasting my time.

Stressed out is not somewhere I am going.  I have learned to deal with things better than that.  Reality is to be dealt with or forgotten.  Current status is I have debt, I have no insurance again & yet still have daily meds I need.  The cash flow took a nose dive in this transition which I am still waiting on confirmation on what I am transitioning too.  I am in school, but not yet able to register for classes…. which means I don’t know what schedule I can offer to a new employer.  Still waiting to hear back about the student loan, which means adding more debt and frankly although I love the idea of doing this on my own, makes me nauseous to think about any MORE debt.  And this is all in the hopes that it makes improvements in my own life and allows me to do more that I believe in?  Is it all worth it?

Certainly is a good distraction from mom being sick.  Still she is.  Felt horrible not being able to make things better.  I wasn’t even able to keep her on her medication schedule.  In my defense I don’t really know her schedule, but I lost track of time and didn’t wake her up in time to take a morophine dose and she ended up dealing with the pain of my mistake.  Which sadly she has had to do a lot in my life.  Feels helpless waiting for the pain to go away and the medication to do its magic.

Home isn’t home anymore.  Hasn’t been for years.  Still its the only place she is now and I want to treasure the time we have.  Moving back isn’t an option, especially since my Dad’s dog sees Baxter as a threat to whatever & we have to keep the two separated so as not to stress out my Dad needlessly.  The crazy mutt has a screw loose and has attacked the pug once in the past so there is grounds to worry but added anxiety doesn’t exactly discourage things from escalating.  So my trip to visit got cut short.  Easier to just exit than to cause others the stress.

Was driving back to the beach when I learned of MCA’s passing.  Was driving there when I learned of Junior Seau‘s passing.  Both chilled me and shook me more than I would have expected.  Hard to see people you admire fall down.  We are all humans, but at times its so easy to see those who are doing great things as more.  Hope that they will always continue being strong, inspiring and doing the good they do.   Reality is we all have a time line and the lines end.  Why its so hard to accept is beyond my scope of reasoning.

But on the topic of time lines… I feel like mine is both non-existant and yet still feels neverending!

On one hand I know it seems like I have all the freedom in the world to do what may & reinvent life on a whim.

In my mind the list of things that need to get done immediately is neverending.  Overwhelmingly so.

Still I have to take a deep breath & remember that each day has three main goals that HAVE to be achieved.  The rest is all in the details.

Balancing the urges to give up and to fight on.

I know its going to be hard and waiting is half the struggle for now, but I am ready to move forward.  To know how to plan the next few months at least.   Knowing we never know when our time lines will be up it so frustrating to waste hours, days waiting to see what will be.  Waiting so that when the shot is fired to start the race, you will be ready to go with all your heart.

So I wait.  Preparing scenarios and scoping ideas.  Ready for my chance to get back in the race and follow my heart.  Hoping that there is still time to make my stance and improve something before the finish line.