There is an artist coming to town soon, one that I have been wanting to see in person for over two decades. He is a well-known womanizer, immortalized in more than one song by a popular female artist. His presence in another female artist’s memoir was telling as well. He appeared manipulative and unkind. Every time his songs come on my husband reminds me of this person’s unsavory character. “He’s a jerk,” says my husband, “How can you listen to this guy when he treats women this way?”
The simple answer is I love his music. I love it in a way that I can’t quit it. This artist is a brilliant lyricist and I’m someone that loves cleverly put together words with catchy melodies. His music is the soundtrack to my young adult life.
Over the years of my musical fandom, I have learned that Michael Jackson is a child molester, R. Kelly kept a harem, and artists like Maren Morris bully people with different opinions in the name of social justice. With the age of the internet we have this phenomenon called “cancel culture.” Popularized in 2010 and acted out by boycotting or shunning those who are deemed unacceptable. So how do we decide who has demonstrated this unacceptable behavior? Does it feel like these call-outs have become more like witch hunts?
I like how Kevin Hart responded to the masses when asked about the rash of recent comedians being canceled. “When did we get to the point where life is supposed to be perfect? Where people supposed to operate perfectly all the time?”
Artists of all types are human, just like us. I have made some idiotic comments in my lifetime and count my blessings that social media was not around to document my stupidity. However, I also think it is necessary for us to draw a line. When referring to the artist with the soundtrack to my young adult life I don’t feel like he has crossed that line yet.
TickPick polled 1,001 music fans in the United States and asked them this question: “Should fans stop supporting musicians who say or do problematic things?” 51% responded with “it depends on the circumstances.” I think that’s an important distinction to make and appreciate that this was the majority answer. 42% responded “yes, absolutely.” And 7% said “no.”
This is where context comes in. If an adult is having an adult relationship and it goes poorly, or that adult is bad at relationships in general, the outcome is that adult will probably end up alone. It’s a natural consequence of being a jerk. I can still enjoy an artist that fits into this category since I believe that his behavior will lead to his loneliness. He may even write some really good music based on the pain he caused himself.
Here’s my line, if an artist is preying on a child, this has a lifetime of emotional scars for that child. That child doesn’t have a voice. That child has to find a responsible adult to believe them and stand up to the artist that usually has a lot of power and money. For years children would be brave enough to speak out against Michael Jackson and he would pay them off, leaving his adoring fans with questions in their minds…wanting to believe that this Pop Star was innocent and these families clearly wanted money. I can’t ignore this pattern, and I can’t listen to his music even though he doesn’t benefit from my patronage anymore.
Also: my mystery artist’s name rhymes with Ron Player.
Gloria Louise was a private woman, one that I struggled to know throughout my childhood, teen, and young adult years. She lived through most of them, dying recently at age 95.
One gift Gloria liked to give in her later years was spiral bound books of her life.
These are gifts that I treasure and feel close to my grandmother in a way that I didn’t while she was alive.
Gloria writes “I don’t propose to write of great trials though I have been through the refiner’s fire…Therefore, let it suffice to say…I have had my trials but through them all, life has been beautiful. I am grateful for the many happy, wonderful experiences I have had.”
Perhaps Gloria learned how to suffer trials gladly by this story she relates of seeing her own mother, Nida, go through a difficult time…
When Gloria had just started school her mother’s youngest sister died of Tuberculosis. For many weeks before this aunt (Shirley) died, Gloria remembers riding to the Sanitorium with her younger sister, her Mother, and Father. The children would sit in the car while the grown-ups would visit. Gloria remembered Shirley fondly, she said she had beautiful red hair, and would share her pictures of movie stars and lacey Valentine hearts with Gloria and her sister.
Losing her was Gloria’s first memory of loss. Shortly after Shirley died, Gloria’s own father became very ill, because he was a veteran of the first World War, he was sent away to the nearest VA hospital on the other side of Washington State. For three months he would write letters home to his little family. Gloria was so young she could not read so her dad sent his daughters cartoons of himself, leaning out of his hospital window and crying buckets over being away, he missed them so.
During this time, Gloria’s mother Nida was pregnant with their third child and they had no income while Dad was away. On one occasion Gloria saw her mother on her knees scrubbing their floor, they were out of wood, but while Nida scrubbed she sang a hymn and wondered aloud “How will all of this turn out?” As the question formed in her mind, she looked out of the window to see her brother, Morris, coming with a truck load of wood. He told Nida that one of his friends wasn’t using the truck that day…and the thought came to him that he should borrow it and get a load of wood for her. Gloria said her mother was always a great example of faith.
I learn many things when I read about Gloria, she was and will always be an example to me of how to endure with grace and see beauty through trials.
Remember this post about Margaret? I had only begun to have my eyes open to what it means to be going to an International school. It is so humbling and continues to be.
While last semester I had group work for all four of my classes, this semester I was not expecting any. Let me tell you my classes and you try to guess which class would have group work:
Intro to Technology: Excel
English and Writing
Math for the Real World
Did the title for this post give it away? If you guessed Math (or Maths as I like to call it for my English ancestors) you would be correct. I was a bit shocked and worried when I saw our group list. There was no one with a United States prefix in front of their number, which meant juggling time zones and more language barriers.
Then my old group-mate Nycollas WhatsApped me. (WhatsApp is a free way to text internationally.)
“Looks like we are together again!” he sent, along with a screen shot of our names together in a group.
I smiled. I sent him back a message saying “Hurray! Are you good at Math? Don’t you think it’s weird we have groups for this class?”
“I don’t know why we have groups,” he answered. “I am no good at Math.”
Nycollas is a great kid. He is Brazilian, he lives with his family still. He is engaged to the love of his life and she is off serving a mission for a time. He is keeping busy by going to school. I am like a proud mom with him. We struggled through our Advertising class together and complained about our Analytics class. He is a great, hard-working young man. I want to call him a kid, because my kid is his age, but I have to acknowledge that he is a young man. Anyway, I knew no matter what, Nycollas and I could weather Math group together.
Weeks went by and out of seven potential group members they all dropped the class except Mario. Mario seemed to be on top of things, making sure our group had a meeting time, which happened to be 10:30pm his time.
“OH no,” I messaged him, “that is really late. Should we try for another day?”
“It’s OK,” he assured me, “in Italy we stay up late.”
Mario is a father of three, his children’s ages line up with mine. We have lamented together on the price of Taylor Swift and Harry Styles tickets, and talk about late night walks with our dogs.
So our surviving members are myself, an Italian, and a Brazilian. We have met twice to work on assignments and each time I am so impressed with their English. I am so impressed they are taking University level classes in English! Honestly, there are concepts that are really tricky in our math class, even for an English speaker, and I think of them navigating. Yesterday we were coming up with a menu for a college student and I was telling Nycollas that we eat canned beans here.
“Canned? Like, sweet?!” he grimaced.
“No, not candy, cans…like a jar but out of metal.”
“OH, that is better.” He laughed.
Mario and Nycollas are a joy. They are hard working, they love their families. They are both working and going to school. It just makes my heart swell to see this drive and “can-do” spirit, and when something is hard I have even more motivation to push through.
A word about my Math class, it has been manageable, although I am stuck on conversion units right now. I have a tutoring session slotted for Friday afternoon. Exciting times, my friends.
If you’ve made it this far you’ve earned this pic of my dog, who’s face is demonstrating my confusion when asked what conversion methods to use in a word problem.
This isn’t a running blog, I promise, but part of content creation is writing a good product review and I intend to do it. In all honesty writing running equipment product reviews would be a dream come true.
There is so much to love about running and the biggest draw for me as a young, full-time mom was that it’s free, (no gym fees) and I could fit it into my day by leaving my front door and running for as long as I had the time.
There is one non-negotiable piece of equipment every running needs, and that would be a good pair of shoes. What I have found over the years on my running journey is that every foot is different, and while one type of shoe works for one person, and trends in shoes come and go, you have to find what works for you.
I have had my running gait observed by professionals and the Brooks Glycerin was one of the first shoes that I tried on and loved almost immediately. It is considered to be a neutral support shoe which means it doesn’t inhibit your body’s natural movement from the foot up through the knees and hips. Your body is free to wobble however it does naturally.
According to Brooks they have upgraded the soles by infusing them with nitrogen, creating an extra light-weight, responsive and durable experience. They run around $90 to $150 depending on if you buy last year’s model or the newest prototype.
If you buy Brooks from a good running store, you usually have a month to return them, even if you’ve run through a muddy mountain-top. If you buy straight from the site you have up to 90 days to return if they don’t work for you. (Remember when I mentioned that every runner is different?)
What do I like most the Brooks Glycerin? Consistency, for one. I have been a consumer of this product on and off for 12 years. It is consistently the shoe I come back to. I have followed shoe trends before, the “zero drop” trend that encouraged us runners to go “back to our roots” we were clearly “born to run” and didn’t need any adjustment to our natural feet. Love the concept but also had the only foot injuries of my running career in these types of shoes. The Glycerin is also durable. Unlike another popular brand one pair of these usually last me a running season, which is about a year. I also use a set of trail shoes about once a week and give these a spin about 20 miles a week give or take. That is good longevity. They feel good on my joints. The neutral claim that comes with them always feels legitimate. My hips stay happy, my knees stay happy and my ankles are happy with these shoes on my feet.
What I don’t like…they aren’t cute. Okay, I said it. I’m a girl, I like cute shoes. Glycerins are not and never have been the ones you buy for fashion. Brooks as a company does have other styles that are very stylish. They have seasonal shoes and special addition shoes. They might offer this model in special options but you will pay more than a normal price point. Mostly they come in gray, or black which is fine, but in this day and age I expect a little more pizzazz. Also, they don’t always fit the same every year. I’ve had years where I need to get a bigger size than usual, or one year the heel seemed to jab me if I wore the wrong socks. These were conundrums but not enough for me to give up these shoes.
Other neutral shoe models include Brooks Ghost, which I have tried and felt knee niggles every time I took them for a spin. I ended up returning them. Nike Air Zoom Pegasus (long name!) I have tried Nikes. I haven’t tried this particular model, but other types of Nikes and I tend to love them, but they break down quickly for people that put in a lot of weekly miles. To be fair, maybe these have better staying power? Hoka Cliftons are also another suggestion from the Fleet Feet running store when you are looking for a neutral shoe. I have run in Hokas. They are one of the “lower drop” shoes meaning the height from front to back is close to neutral. I got a foot injury while running in Hokas but it might not have been the shoe and maybe it was my terrible running form? I tend to need a higher drop shoe to force me to run properly.
Finding the shoe that is right for you can take time. My suggestion is to find your local running store, have a professional watch you run and bring out a gaggle of shoes to try on till you find one that feels good. If that doesn’t seem to work, try again. Glycerins are a good bet and tend to make my feet and body feel pretty great after a long run.
“Run Happy,” is Brooks Motto and so far, using their shoes, I have.
From someone that is still learning after 46 years.
Whereas last semester’s classes were draining, and pushing me to new levels of discomfort in ways I never imagined, this semester has me in a few courses that are nourishing for my soul. I have mentioned a few of the tests that I have been taking in my Interpersonal Communications class, and how it rocked me to realize that I struggle with “self-esteem.” I put self-esteem in quotations because I am also learning that my concept of this needs to change.
Do you have a word of the year? Instead of a resolution I love picking out a word that I want to motivate my decisions for the year. This year, because it is so apparent to me that I have been lacking it, “confidence” is my word.
How does one build confidence? It is something we wish for our children, it is something we look for in partners and friendships. No one wants to have to constantly reassure the person that they’re with that they are smart, beautiful inside and out, talented. It can be exhausting, and really is something that starts from within.
We were a large family and funds were tight, but my parents felt paying for activities was worthy of their hard-earned money. This kept both of them very busy, my mom as the taxi-driver and my dad as the bread-winner, and sometimes coach of our basketball teams.
I remember as clearly as yesterday my mom asking me at age 8 if I wanted to take dance classes. My good friends were starting at the dance school in the next town over and we could carpool. It was a “yes,” from me. I was always an active child and had dreams of becoming a future rock star. Dance was a sure fire way to help me on that trajectory.
“I have one rule.” my mom said.
I waited, breath held. What would she require of me?
“You need to stay in dance all the way through high-school,” she presented. “You can’t quit.”
I felt the resolve in me, even at that young age.
“Okay,” was probably my reply. I don’t remember exactly what my answer was but I remember that firm feeling of resolution. High-school seemed so very far away and I couldn’t quite picture all that was before me. But why would anyone want to stop dancing?
My friends that started dancing with me did quit. I think they both quit after one year. I didn’t. I broke a lot of things with my parents, including their hearts, but I didn’t quit dance school.
I asked my mom years later why she asked me for that promise of full commitment.
“To keep you out of trouble.” She replied.
Dance meant so much to me. As a skinny girl with acne who was taller by three inches than all of my girl-friends, dance was my refuge. At my studio, it didn’t matter who my friends were at school. It didn’t matter what grades I got or if I was on the right sports team. There I found structure, there I made effort, there I was given strictness along with kindness. Hard work was rewarded with compliments and overall feeling of creating something beautiful and entertaining. Performances were the icing on the cake and I did so love being onstage. Having that special something that I felt good at was that magical place in my heart when everything else in my life felt chaotic. I found something I was good at that set me apart. It gave me confidence. (Not to mention excellent posture on my tall frame.)
I didn’t become a rock star, I didn’t dance on Broadway. I fulfilled my promise to Mom and stayed with it all through school and then life and the choices I made had me give it up.
I noticed though, that my confidence was greater than that of siblings that were allowed to quit activities that they were very talented at. I wondered if that feeling of accomplishment in the follow through aided in my confidence.
As a busy mom I did not return to dance. Motherhood brings on all kinds of insecurities. The body and its constant changes as well as hormones that make everything feel extreme, throw expectations and comparison in to that pot and mix it all together.
Motherhood was fulfilling in many ways, I felt like I was doing something I was meant to do. I was pretty good at being “Mom” to my kids. I could anticipate their needs and interpret their secret languages like nobody else. I was confident in my love for them and my love of being their Mama. I just needed more…
Enter a dare from a friend who was building a relay team and I wanted to be with these ladies on this team.
“But you’re not a runner.” She told me.
My brain said “watch me.”
The first few years of running brought many tears and frustrations but many wins as well. It started adding to my life that knowledge that I could do something sort of well. While I wasn’t the fastest and I realized fairly quickly I never would be, I could run far. I started competing in ultra-marathons, which just means I ran farther than marathon length. It felt great. It gave me a sense of self, an accomplishment, a goal well met, a secret smile that I could feel constantly.
So what do I do now? Right now it’s not about dancing or running. I don’t have a skill that is marketable, and can add to the family income, but I’m working on that. Even still, I want that inner confidence that I have sought out for most of my adult life.
In our English class we are writing manifestos. Learning Manifestos. Every week we focus on a life skill and this week that skill is confidence. It is, as I mentioned above, my word of the year.
So I want to tell you those things I have noticed have brought me the most satisfaction, the most inner confidence, but these things have to be nourished and worked on constantly to grow that confidence.
Find something you are good at. It doesn’t have to be physical. An area that I admire but have no talent or patience in is crafting. Crafting of all types. I have a friend that makes beautiful earrings. Another makes quilts that will surely be passed down from generation to generation. I have family that are artists and can create amazing works with the flick of their hands different mediums. I love that we are all unique with different gifts and talents.
Set small, attainable goals. Attainable is the key word. We all know that New Year’s Resolutions often fail. I believe we start too big. I wasn’t running 30 plus miles right away. I started with a six mile race. I didn’t run more than that for a year. My second year running I signed up for a half marathon and truly thought I would die from it. The fear of dying or coming in dead last had me working towards that goal every week. I found a free training program online that seemed workable as a busy mom and I ticked the boxes off one by one. Now, I am not a list person…but it’s necessary sometimes. I make allowances for races. But don’t quit this small goal. Following through is key.
Faith in your purpose. Now this one, for me, comes with believing in a higher power. I call him my Heavenly Father. I believe you could get there without believing in Him and I’m sure there is plenty of material on that, but for me it’s God all the way. My work this year, particularly, is to remember that I must be here for a reason and I need to trust that reason. I am my kids’ mom because I was the right person for the job. I am going to school because I felt that was my purpose at this time. I am not in it alone, I have a partner in all things that are good.
My hope for you, my friends, is that this is your year for confidence as well. When we are happy in our works, we are healthier, we are kinder to each other. We all know we need to see good, and kindness in this world, whether we believe in a higher power or not.
this is how I expected classes would be; challenging, inspiring, thoughtful, all those romantic notions that someone might have when they spend years pining for higher education.
It hasn’t been easy this week, I have 3 children at home and the husband is out of the country and one child decided to break their driving foot and so balance to the universe is off quite a bit, but the classes were here waiting for me, after half a day spent in Urgent Care.
It is not a surprise to me that I am loving my writing class. I know it’s just English 101 but the novel we’re reading is O Pioneer! by Willa Cather. It’s marvelous. I learned this week about something called Lectio Divina…have you ever heard of it? “Sacred Reading” is the rough translation. There are four parts to it and I won’t bore you naysayers with the details but let’s just say that it is a very powerful way to look at a text, any text.
Also in this class I have to do a “community service project.” They really wanted us to apply our critical thinking skills to a problem we see in our community and come up with a project to help that problem. As a young thing I may have rolled my eyes and stomped my foot at this. As an old thing, or, er…”middle-aged,” I have already been pondering a problem I see in my neighborhood and have wanted to do something about. I will keep you posted as I start this journey, and it will definitely push me out of my comfort zone.
A class I thought I’d like but have been absolutely delighted by is Interpersonal Communications…so far I have taken a self-esteem test, Rokeach’s Terminal and Instrumental Values, and this week Gallup’s Strengths test. It’s a lot of introspection.
I think the biggest A-HA for me through deep diving into my psyche is that I need to work on my confidence, it can be destroyed too easily by my harshest critics, my teenagers.
I won’t go into much family detail on this blog, but I have 3 children of the young adult age at home. All the learning in all the universities cannot teach you more about your own faults than your teenagers can. They will gladly point any foibles out if given the opportunity, and though a parent might diligently work to be the type of parent that their blessed children can turn to for help in times of despair and trouble, the fact is, sometimes they really don’t want to talk to the parent. Sometimes they want to wallow in their pain. It’s a very teenage thing to do.
It’s why I loved Wuthering Heights. Yes I realize no one else in the free world loves or loved Wuthering Heights but I did so love fictional torment at one point in my life. The point where I had never experienced true pain because I lived in a nice comfortable house with my many siblings and parents who loved each other. I haven’t revisited Wuthering Heights recently but I have a feeling it would not hold up.
The long and short of parenting teens is you feel like all the foundational elements you placed so carefully when they were very small and loved you are dashed and torn asunder, like nothing was there to begin with. I was just as guilty with my own parents. I remember clearly thinking when I was 15; “I’m 15. I’m going to remember that at 15 my future children will tune out everything I say, because I don’t care what my parents say anymore. I’m a fully formed adult now.”
Clearly I had no idea how much I had to learn.
Here is another favorite quote from a dear friend’s husband to his then 15 year old son…”You’re 15. You are as stupid as you’re ever going to get, because right now, you think you know everything.”
And while I don’t have an actual 15 year old at the moment, the principle applies…my kids are their own people, and they currently find me annoying and even when I know they are struggling with complex teenage feelings and issues I am met with brick walls around their feelings.
Anyway, back to my Interpersonal Communications and that A-ha moment. It’s very important to me that I whether this storm of young emotions with my confidence intact. While I envisioned being the mom they could come to about anything, the reality is that maybe I’m not who they need right now. That is okay. (I say this to myself to convince myself.) I have done the best I can and will continue to leave my door open if and when they feel the need.
If parenting was easy the rewards and payoffs would not feel as amazing. And I do have glimpses of those times.
I come away from this week grateful for this time in my life. I am grateful for this never boring family that keeps me on my toes. My brain feels alive. I worked into the night on Friday so I could have Saturday and Sunday off, my mind didn’t know what to do with itself. This is what I was hoping for, that maybe the long-dead, hardened gray-matter would start forming little neuro-pathways again and it would all lead to my lifelong dream fulfilled of being able to write and create like I once did.
Some friends of mine had a quick weekend get-away to climb South Sister mountain in Bend, Oregon. I wasn’t able to go with them and had major FOMO about it, I love a good climb and an amazing view.
Knowing I only had a few months before they made the mountain permit only access I rented an AirBnB for my husband and I, and planned an adventure of our very own.
“They are trying to kill me.” was my friend’s brief video message about how their climb went. I laughed. She was SO dramatic. But surely if all those women made it to the top, I could too? I was fit, coming off of multiple ultra races. I could do it, no problem.
South Sister is an amazing hike. It is probably the most dramatic elevation gain I have ever done, not that I’ve done much, but I have done Mt. St. Helen’s and that one felt pretty easy. Sister has a “red mile of pain,” at the final ascent, it’s volcanic red rock and a tiny little pathway. One wrong step and you may slide into nothingness. It’s terrifying and feels so long. I had to make sure I was progressing by looking back, because looking upward at where I had to go felt so very far away.
This picture was taken from happier times. The trail up to the actual mountain is breathtaking. We had perfect weather, and I was so optimistic.
Anyway I could write a long entry about fearing for my husband’s life, he was breathing so heavy on the way up, and I could talk about the fake summit and how we had to cross a glacier field to get to the true summit and I could see water flowing underneath the ice, that was tenuous. I could talk about the time we spent on the summit with lovely adventurers like ourselves. I could talk about the way down and how I tripped multiple times on that damn “red mile of pain” and my heart stopped about 5 times that day.
I could also speak to being so excited to be off the mountain and on solid ground that I didn’t properly hydrate on the way down and had a case of vertigo in which I was left to cling to my husband’s backpack and close my eyes, making my way through that final mile with only the back of my eyelids to look at.
There were a few times I thought “this is it, this is how I die.” Yes, I’m being a tad dramatic. Yes, my friend that accused my other friends of trying to kill her, for suggesting South Sister as a “fun day hike” was probably exaggerating a bit.
I will tell you I don’t think I’m being dramatic now. Today. The first day of my second semester of school when I tell you “THEY ARE TRYING TO KILL ME!!”
I had great hopes, my friends. No marketing class as far as the eye can see this semester. Normal classes where I’m sure to at least find tutors that know what they are doing! I can find help for Math, English, Excel and my gorgeous Content Creation class is sure to be a breeze, and my creative side will be fulfilled.
Not so fast.
I have had technical difficulty up the wazoo today. I have been on a chat or phone with three different help desks. They all claim not to be able to help me.
You see, the Math I’m doing has it’s own program, and this program doesn’t like me…I don’t know what I did to it, but it won’t work.
The English text book I’m supposed to have access to is also not working, even though the Prof showed a simple video on how to access that.
I can’t see these things being resolved before due dates on Saturday. I feel absolutely helpless. They are trying to kill me. This is a new form of torture. A “we will show you how much work you have to do but not really let you do it,” type of torture that they just invented at Guantanamo Bay. I need access to a human rights lawyer.
Did I mention a program my Content Creation Prof said we needed, called Audacity, will not download to this brand new computer I bought last week because my old one died a week before last semester ended?
Is it just me or am I back on the “red mile of pain” trying to climb upward but sliding down with every step?
“But right now, they got to do what’s right for them. Because it’s their time. Their time! Up there! Down here, it’s our time. It’s our time down here.” Michael Walsh, Goonies.
Tonight something odd happened that I want to share. I went to my son’s musical, it was the final performance. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I’m so happy seeing him doing something he loves.
The director made her obligatory thank-yous to all the parents who put so much time and help into the production. I felt a sting in my gut. That used to be me, the parent helper, always so involved in my kids lives and passions. I have been involved in so many productions so they can have authentic experiences that sometimes I felt like I was drowning. There was a time not so long ago that I had a thought “this is who I am now, so involved in my children’s lives that there is no me.” I couldn’t see a light at the end of that tunnel.
Tonight the director was thanking parents and I realized I was not one of them. I gathered my son’s costumes and donated some cupcakes made by my daughter for the fundraiser. That is all I did. I didn’t even help transport any props.
It wasn’t a comfortable feeling, this new chapter. I am wondering if the other parents talk together while painting sets “Where is So-and-so’s mom? We never see her!”
I turned in my last assignment for the semester today. It felt amazing. If not a bit anti-climactic as I closed my laptop and did a little happy dance by myself. My husband is working a double shift this weekend and phoned me as soon as I texted him the news. “How are you going to celebrate?” He asked me.
“I want to organize the house.” I told him. “I want to go grocery shopping. I want to go running with my friends.” None of these things are glamorous, but they have been a part of my identity for so long…
It’s a very strange dynamic this mom-student thing. I had these ideals when I started this last semester, I just knew with proper planning I could get everything done, from walking the dog in the morning to running with friends and spending time with the family. I would be the first woman to find that magical concept of balance. I think I made it 3 weeks, which looking back, is amazing but also that first week of school is really just ice-breaker activities so does it even count?
Anyhow my point is, I need to be comfortable letting the other parents help, because “right now, they got to do what’s right for them. Because it’s their time. Their time! Up there! Down here, it’s my time. It’s my time down here.” Quotation changed for artistic interpretation by me.
Although my technical knowledge has grown leaps and bounds over the course of this semester, the tools I have are not a reflection of that growth.
I’m a simple person, who never felt the need to upgrade my computer. I always buy the cheapest phone my carrier offers because I am not a person that has spent a lot of time with my technology. I am even satisfied with my very low-grade camera which is so sad because I did attend photography school in the late 90s with dreams of being a photo-journalist. (Think National Geographic.)
To prepare for school I pulled a very large, dusty, slow laptop out of a drawer and asked a friend to wipe its memory clean for me. I wanted a fresh start for the both of us and was hoping this maintenance might make one or both of us faster.
This is the only computer in a household full of children’s school loaned Chromebooks that is Microsoft program compatible. It is slowly falling apart. The doo-hickey on the side that holds CDs or discs opens at random moments. The charger sometimes charges, the battery sometimes holds battery life. It lasts about 20 whole minutes unplugged. Yesterday the old gal decided she might be done. I have given her a pep talk, some CPR and a good push with those paddles that pump electric currents into hearts that have stopped beating…Still it’s on a wing and prayer that we enter our last seven days of this semester together. Whilst I was writing this she blacked out again. She’s been like this all week. Will she cross the finish line with me? (Not apologizing for another running reference. )
I don’t know if I have more words than all the words I have previously used to describe the growing pains I have felt over this three long months. I would say highs and lows but in all honesty it has been lows and lows.
Weird to type that. I am being graded and I have straight As, but if I were grading myself on perfecting the skills introduced to me this semester I would be failing myself.
I think I’ve stated this before somewhere along this line of woe-unto-me filled posts…the more I learn, the more I realize I have to learn.
I have so much to learn.
I once had a blog called “Good is Enough” and that has often been my motto in life. I remember in 7th grade Honors English class we were creating presentations for a big history fair. My partner was spending so much time on the details of our display. She would get out her ruler and make sure the angles on our construction paper cut-outs were straight and exact. She would make sure the margins on our printouts were perfectly even. We argued a lot that night as we glued and chopped, printed and cut our way through our tri-fold poster board project. I am surprised our friendship survived. I had never known that type of perfectionism existed. We won 3rd place that year, out of our whole school, crooked corners and all.
I hope my partner learned what was engrained in my mind after that experience…that “good” was “enough.” I am trying to adopt that mantra once again. Being in school now means so much more to me than it ever did. I have so many reasons I need to excel, and while I am not quite ready to go and offer myself up to the marketing world, I am pretty sure my computer isn’t coming with me.
We both need rest and an upgrade. One of us probably needs to retire to the place that old laptops go when they’ve served their special purpose…shhhh…don’t let her hear me say that. I need her with me for just a few days more…
Maybe it was too soon to call to that light at the end of the tunnel. 14 days left of “Marketing Madness” but who’s counting?
Me. I am counting every. Single. Day.
Let’s get into it.
I have already stated I will not be an analyst. There was some curiosity at the beginning, I haven’t known what I want to be when I grow up. I’ve always said “A Writer,” but as that has proved to be so much more difficult than I thought it ever could, so I need a day job. I have been open to possibilities.
Needless to say, I went into this analytics class with an open mind.
Things were going okay, I mean, after the horrors of Facebook and Google Ads in my advertising class what could be worse?
Analytics was hard, it made me leak brain fluid.
It caused some intense questioning of my intelligence, however my advertising class took first place in “classes I never want to revisit.”
Advertising is still causing headaches and will until the very last assignment is turned in. Today I had to set up a fake Twitter ad. I have no idea if I’m doing it right. I feel like I’m blindly turning assignments in and hoping for the best. Also a trend in online school is to have a discussion over a topic by posting your thoughts and making comments on two other student’s thoughts. This can get tricky because we are all saying similar things… This week to mix it up we have to respond to five students and come up with some kind of rebuttal to their thoughts. I am low on conversational juices at this point in the school season.
How many different ways can I say “yeah, I like what you said there…”
Hence that assignment won’t be done till the morrow. When my brain isn’t mush.
Are you flattered that I save my blogging for the end of the day when I am sure the hamburger I had for dinner resembles what is left of my brain matter?
Back to my analysis class…
I spoke personally to a group member with whom I’ve only WhatsApped with. He was very kind. He has a grown daughter in a Masters program who gave him this advice…”Dad, this is a 100 level class, you are spending too much time, for too little points.”
I tend to agree with her. This week I had planned to explore the WONDERS of Tableau. If you aren’t familiar it’s a data visualization tool. I wanted to see if it lived up to the hype a different group member had given it.
“Try it,” he said, “I am really liking it.”
Perfect timing, I have an assignment I need to come up with. Why not make it getting familiar with this program?
I needed proof of my studenticity to get access to Tableau which was a pain. It took me three days of my precious workweek and back and forths with help desks to figure out all I needed was my unofficial transcript.
Hurray! I finally was approved and had an access key.
But no, it would not download. It kept bringing me back to the homepage that asked me to sign in and which version did I want?
How am I supposed to know which of the six versions of your program I need? How about all of them? No?
After downloading and downloading and downloading and finally restarting my computer hoping that would help, I tried to get on to my student portal to maybe work on another assignment.
The universe had other plans. I was denied access to my own portal. It did not recognize me as enrolled. La sigh.
After 30 minutes on a help desk chat it was a simple fix. But I didn’t want anything to do with Tableau. I’m no quitter and I’m also a glutton for punishment, so the next morning I sat myself down and found an email from the Tableau help desk sending me a new link that should work. This was not a link to my student year long free access, this was merely the two week access they give to anyone willing to brave this program.
Still, it was something. So on I trudged. I watched a few YouTube videos that were not helpful. Finally by late afternoon with no work to show for the last 6 hours I threw in my towel for Tableau. Tableau 1-Me 0.
Next up, DOMO. I won’t get into the nitty gritty but DOMO was so beginner friendly. I wasn’t able to upload the data I wanted to use but at least they had sample data. I would have something to turn in.
“When will she talk about running, I’m so excited for it, but what does it have to do with school and classes and learning.”
Well, I will tell you…
Between my dabbling in young adult education (that space in time where we don’t really know why we’re going, we just know we should so we sign up for classes that we don’t really care about and have more withdrawals and drops than actual credits.) and my dive into young motherhood, (yes, some personal information. I am a mom of four and have been a mom for 21 years.) During that time of motherhood where I had very little that was my own I became deeply immersed in long distance running. I loved and still love running for the satisfaction it brings of a goal well-planned. Plan out your workouts, follow your plan, watch as those long runs come and go, check, check, check…it’s incredibly fulfilling to someone whose daily tasks are undone in a matter of minutes by little hands.
What I learned in running long distance is that you do not want to be told “you’re almost there!” By anyone, unless the finish line is literally around the corner. I “almost there’d” myself last post, and the finish line isn’t around the corner until I have one or two assignments left in this semester. So I’m sorry to myself. I apologize. Take a deep breathe, focus, one foot in front of the other. It’s okay to visualize the finish line right now because it’s going to feel good, but it doesn’t mean you can stop and walk.