Graduation Time

It’s getting close to the end for many students, and I can’t help but daydream about my own impending graduation. Albeit mine is still nearly a year away, I am already so excited to be a college graduate. I never had senior portraits done for myself when I was a high school graduate. We couldn’t really afford it, and I didn’t really care anyway. I figured “everyone graduates high school; what’s the big deal?” And I just wanted out of that god-forsaken place! (Pffft…if I had only known that those were the easy years!)

This time, though, I will have my picture taken. I’m going to hand out invitations! I will celebrate this achievement with every cheesy, clichéd, cornball tradition out there, because man, I am proud of myself.

When I dropped out of college a whopping 15 years ago (ouch!), I couldn’t care less about being an educated, productive member of society. I wanted nothing more or less than a rock and roll life in the fast lane, and boy, was I headed nowhere fast. Years after dropping out and hastily abandoning almost an entire semester-worth of classes, I attempted to return to school…twice. It was really hard both times. I still wasn’t ready! As they say, “it takes what it takes”. It wasn’t until I got clean and sober, changed everything about my life, and went back to school a fourth time that something finally clicked and I really, truly wanted it.

Two babies in two years and a lot of prayers later, and I will be a senior this fall.

I stopped making excuses; not on purpose, but just as a side effect of living well. Also, I figured out what I wanted to do! And that helped tremendously. And I made a plan and stuck to it, NO MATTER WHAT. The principles I learned in my recovery program were so universal, I was able to apply them to every aspect of my life, and this also helped me meet my goals and keep moving forward. When I realized that I wanted to help people in a counseling setting, and I visualized myself doing that, everything else just kind of fell into place.

I remember being so afraid to take that first step. “What if it’s too expensive? What if I’m not smart enough? What if I drop out AGAIN? What if I can’t even get in because I’ve flunked out too many times? What if financial aid doesn’t cover it?”

One day, my counselor said to me, “Have you applied for school yet?” When I replied that I had not, she said “Well, what are you waiting for?” I gave her my 5 thousand reservations. To each protest, she said “So what? So what if that happens? Then it happens, and you take the next right step.” So the next day I did. When I wrapped my head around the fact that I didn’t have to figure it all out at once, I didn’t have to know everything to take the first step — I just had to do that one thing — it instantly became less overwhelming.

In a year, I will have a Bachelor of Science in Family and Consumer Sciences, and my plan is to start on my Masters at that point. School isn’t even a chore anymore. It’s something that I GET to do.

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And now, I also get to help others celebrate their hard work and success:

Art-ish-tic.

I spent the entire day editing photographs. While it does get tedious at times, there are few other things I would rather spend an entire day doing. Something about it puts my A.D.D. brain into hyper-focus and I nearly forget to eat. Anyone who has any experience with A.D.D. knows all about hyper-focusing. I guess that makes this kind of gig rather ideal for someone like me. I can spend hours nitpicking the fine details of my images; less shadow here, more color there, a touch of dehaze, a dash of vignette…less highlight, MORE highlight…a bit of sharpening, a bit of luminance…oops! Too much luminance! More detail here, less detail there…and ¡voila! My already-pretty-nice image is suddenly art. Ish. Eh…having known a few truly talented ARTISTS, I dare not say my images are art. But maybe they’re artishy. Art-tastic. Artsy. Hey, that last one is actually a word!

Some people say that art is whatever you say it is. I think, to a certain extent, that’s true. I think art is Art. Something skillfully, knowledgeably, purposefully created which requires talent, determination and ability. I don’t believe a doorknob, of itself, to the average man, in an everyday sense, is a work of art. However, I think in the right context, with some specific knowledge and a bit of handpicked background information, a doorknob can be Art. Certainly the person who designs doorknobs finds some creative catharsis in the act of his creating, and perhaps he considers his creation Art. Maybe that’s what makes one thing just a thing and another thing – Art. Maybe it’s the experience of it, the emotion behind it. I do believe there are countless forms of art, and that it can be created out of just about anything. I believe music is Art, for example. I also believe childrearing can be Art. ChildBEARING can be Art. Growing things from the ground can be Art. And if there’s one thing that I know for certain, it’s that a life without Art is hardly any life at all.

Art is kind of like God. It is whatever it means to you.

If that doesn’t make any sense to you, I do apologize. Rambling does my brain some good after a day full of nitpicking. If you got to this point, God bless you! And thank you for spending a minute with me.

Here’s a little something from my day.

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Courtesy of Keely Radau Alexander, a woman who knows a little something about the Art of childrearing and bearing.