Back to school

Back to school

All the “back to school” buzz this time of year reminds me of the many times I returned to school each fall. A friend of mine has a boy starting middle school, 6th grade.

I remember my first day of 6th grade. I was starting at a brand new school, going to public school for the first time, riding a bus, switching classrooms and using a locker–all for the first time. It was a bit nerve-wracking, but exciting.

My big high-school brother helped me find our bus in the confusing lineup after school, and even saved me a seat, I’ve never forgotten that.

My favorite memory though? Social studies. My least favorite teacher, ever. But that first day? She told us to get the name and number of the person next to us, homework buddies or something like that. All around me, kids began chatting with their friends and I remember feeling pretty alone. But I turned to the girl behind me and said something like, “Well, I guess we need to trade phone numbers.” She told me her name was Laura. She even offered to help me find our gym class the next period.

That day was the beginning of a wonderful friendship that lasted all seven years we were in school together. Laura and I were inseparable. We did everything together for seven years. It’s a friendship I cherish with hundreds of memories.

I have struggled at times, knowing that our lives have headed in separate directions since then. We kept up fairly well during college, visiting at least once every summer. But since then, we’ve hardly spoken. In my mind, I immediately begin to wonder if our friendship really meant as much as I believed. But then I remind myself that relationships are living things–they change and evolve and grow, wax and wane, come and go. And none of that determines the worth of those moments spent fully present with each other.

Even though Laura and I haven’t spoken much in the past five or six years, I know that she reflects as fondly on our years together as I do. I know that we shaped each other, molded each other, reflected each other. I know that she was part of my becoming who I am, and I believe I was for her as well. In that way, I carry her friendship with me. And that is a truth I will always cherish.

Back to school…

Back to school?

Back to school?

School bus

The first year that I could ever remember not going back to school in the fall was a tough one. I had graduated from college the December before, was working as a reporter in a small town in Ohio, and it hit me surprisingly hard that I didn’t need to purchase school supplies and books or travel half way across the country to return to college…

For a few weeks, I was desperately missing school.

As I look back, I think that I was actually missing the fresh start that fall always brought. I missed the new adventure, the change of pace. As an adult, so much of the year runs together in a muddled mess. There aren’t the time markers that you have as a child–new school year, Christmas break, summer vacation. Instead, it’s just one day of work after another.

It isn’t bad, but I had to learn to adjust, to create a rhythm of my own.

By the next fall, I was returning to school–graduate school. Three years later I graduated, and now I’m experiencing my second fall of not returning to school.

It’s different this time.

I’m married, I have a home, a family (as small as we are). I have more responsibilities. Honestly, I’m glad that I don’t have to add the stress of school back into my life.

But I do miss the freshness. The starting-over-ness. The change. The rhythm.

Perhaps it’s time to start some different early fall traditions. Ones that can mark the start of a new season and give my life a new rhythm.

{Moments of Inspiration}

{Moments of Inspiration}

“Our moments of inspiration are not lost though we have no particular poem to show for them; for those experiences have left an indelible impression, and we are ever and anon reminded of them.”
~ Henry David Thoreau

Graduation

Master of Arts in Journalism (and I was honored with the Outstanding Graduate award for the Journalism program!)

And a bonus moment:

With Husband at graduation.

Big adventures

Big adventures

Sometimes the magic and adventure of life is found in the smallest moments. The ones where families picnic on the beach or couples snuggle by a fire.

But sometimes, just sometimes, the adventures come in the big stuff–like finishing a graduate degree.

On Friday I received my hood… It was a hard fought battle–blood, sweat, and tears went into earning that hood. But I will say, it felt great when they slipped it on. The cap and gown seem like a palate, and it’s the hood, cords, sashes, tassels etc. that make it wonderful. During the hooding ceremony I found out that I had been chosen for the “Outstanding Graduate” award for the Journalism program, thanks at least in part to my thesis project that benefited a local nonprofit. It was a surprise and an honor to have all those hours of hard work recognized.

Saturday was especially sweet for me, in part, I think, because Husband was there. Most of my higher learning has been done on my own. Certainly, my parents’ encouraging support has been wonderful, but I attended school so far from home that I often felt very much on my own.

This degree started out much the same. But somewhere in the middle of it, I got married. “I” became “we.” And it turned into “us” getting me through school. Having Husband there in the audience when I walked across the stage was beautiful.

With Husband at graduation.

Graduating

With family spread out across the nation, and in fact across the world, it was nice to have my parents come into town to help celebrate the occasion. Phone calls from siblings and in-laws were great as well. Somehow celebrations like these become a catalyst to renewing relationships and catching up. And that I love.

With my father.

With my mother.

And, of course, we celebrated. We had delicious food and drinks galore (a benefit of being married to a chef). And we had conversation. Community. Well wishes. Congratulations. And so much more.

Conversation with friends.

Friends

Gathering of friends.

Graduation Party

We had eggs to gather from the neighbors and puppies to play with.

Gathering eggs from the neighbor's house.

Ginger's "cousin" Gracie came for a visit.

And of course, we had ice cream to eat.

Husband serving ice cream.

Eating ice cream.

It was a good day.

Thanks Husband!

But now I need to figure out just what I’m going to do with that hood. Far too much work went into achieving it to just pack it into a box…

Dear Monday…

Dear Monday…

Dear Monday,
Why does anticipation always, inevitably, at some point lead to disappointment?

Husband and I had the BEST time camping over the weekend. But eventually, we had to pack up and return home. We had to get back to laundry and cleaning and garden maintenance. We had to go back to real life. Of course, Sunday afternoon was beautiful and the windows were open and the breeze was fluttering the curtains and we happily set about settling back in. But eventually, Monday morning arrived and it became painfully obvious that all the anticipation I was feeling last week was gone.

Camping at Northwest River Park with Husband.

I know I can’t go on vacation every weekend. I don’t expect to. But I want my anticipation back…

Dear school,
We are so closed to finished I can taste it! Three more weeks until graduation… Meanwhile, just a few more tweaks on my thesis and it’s off to the school for signatures and finally on to the copy center and the library for binding. It will feel so good to have the finished product in hand. This process has been a bit longer than anticipate, with many more tangents than expected (um, I ended up married??). But in all, I am proud to have accomplished so much. Thank you.

Dear Ginger,
Please, please, please learn to use the doggy door. You will love it like nothing else once you figure it out. I promise. Really.

Ginger learning to use a doggy door.

Dear taxes,
I’m sorry to be rude, but I’m glad I won’t see you again for another year.

Dear weather,
88* today, but only 64* and raining on Wednesday? Can you please keep track of the days I get to go to the barn and see my little girl? I’d like to ride her, and I need warm, dry weather for that, thank you very much.

Dear life,
You do keep me on my toes!

Sincerely,
Holly


Linking up with Happy Day.

TC 11: Education

TC 11: Education

Okay, this is a hard one, so let me just say it: I am thankful for my education.

Why is that so hard to say? Usually it’s not. But tonight? Well, I have a paper due tomorrow by midnight and I completely forgot about it so I just started it this evening. Not very grad-school-prepared of me is it?

Oh, I was uber-prepared in undergrad, and my first year of grad school, and even my second…but this is semester 5 of grad school, and I’m ready for it to be over.

I still love learning. Really. And I really do love education. I’m in graduate school for a reason. I love to learn. I love what I have learned. I value education. I value learning.

But right now I am in the middle of my VERY LAST CLASS of graduate school, and, among other things, it is a substitute for the class I was supposed to take and isn’t even in my specific field. Soooo, it’s hard to really want to put my all into it.

Plus, there is the little thing where I GOT MARRIED half way through graduate school, and my life changed drastically. And then there’s the other little thing where I am now working full time instead of part time and still trying to finish school in my “spare time” (whatever that is).

So I’m hardly motivated to spend hours and hours working on a paper analyzing the design and content of a news website when I really would rather be spending my Monday date night on an actual date, instead of having Husband cooking in the kitchen and me sitting on my new couch in the living room…

Wait, did I just complain about the lovely smell of apple turnovers and the cushy feel of new leather?

I hate it when I complain.

So deep breaths. This paper is not going to write itself, and I have a full day of work tomorrow, and cleaning the barn after that. So it must be done tonight. And my bedtime is in exactly 43 minutes.

Guess that means I’d better get to work.

I am thankful for my education, I am thankful for my education, I am thankful….