Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Post #200 - The Spring 2011 Semester Wrap-Up

Here we are, bringing to a close another semester and another chapter in the life of the Eternal Sophomore. I guess this is an auspicious moment because according to my blog dashboard not only is this my 200th post (some posts I've not published, but it all totals up to 200), but it also coincides with the Spring Semester Wrap-Up. Sometimes I guess cosmic forces do line up in my favor because I've got a lot to share with you.

Remember back in January when I said, "Wake me when it's summer?" Well, it's not only summer, but I feel really awake.

First off, I want to publicly apologize to Doc Cat. I was completely wrong about my personal growth class. On the first day with the way she down-played the class (I found out later it was because some people wouldn't have been able to handle the full nature of what they had gotten themselves into), I thought she was going to just brush through the material. I honest to the gods thought I had bought a lemon. Oh, how wrong was I. Not only did I learn about myself and how to interact with other people, but I can honestly say that Doc Cat changed my life for the better in so many ways, bringing me to a point in my life that is not only enriching, but has helped me view everyone around me with new eyes and a new kind of respect. She helped me fix so many things that were broken in my life and made me aware of everything I was missing out on by needlessly carrying around the shoulder yoke and heavy buckets that is my past. When she taught me how to put them down, she opened up a whole new world for me. She literally thawed the ground and poured sunlight on my personal growth so I could start growing again. For that alone, I can never thank her enough.

Let's go back to Eat Pray Love for a minute. Remember when Liz is sitting with Richard and he tells her, "If you could just clear out all that space in your mind, you'd have a doorway. And do you know what the universe would do? Rush in." Doc Cat opened the door for me. She taught me how to be mindful, she taught me that the first step to learning how to change is realizing that change is possible. It was the moment where Richard tells Liz, "If you want to get to the castle, you're gonna have to swim the moat." And did I swim. Doc Cat showed me where the wall was, and just like when I was six and my mother threw me at the swimming pool wall, I had the choice to either sink or swim, so I swam for my life. There were days I swam in my own tears, there were days I laughed, but most importantly, I was faced with days where I sat back and said, "I can do this, I can change."

I just spent the last five months beginning my journey of self-discovery. All throughout the semester, I've learned that for most of my life there have always been outside forces telling me "who I had to be," "what was expected of me," and "what I had to act like" amongst all of the other screwed up messages that were often painfully forced upon me. All of those factors combined never gave me a chance to know myself for who I really am and never gave me a moments chance to discover and know my own self-worth. How can you have self-worth if you're always being torn down? The answer is that you can't, no one can expect to overcome those odds alone. Because of all of that external rah-rah that I was lead to believe was important about who I was, my coping mechanisms and brain became broken.  I ended up being exactly who I didn't want to be. I was a nightmare wife, in which there is nothing I can do now to take back the horrible things I said and did, but I now know how to actively avoid all of those pitfalls in the future. I can sit back and say that what has happened to me thus far in my life isn't completely my fault, but there are parts I have no choice but to own and make sure for the rest of my life I'm careful with the folks around me and mindful about how my reactions affect the people around me.

But in all of that, I've also learned that I'm far too lenient on all of the folks who have made it their life's mission to drop their drawers and dump on me because they weren't mindful about how their actions affected me and the other people around them. Here's the message: Pull up your pants or you'll be missing body parts. Nobody tells me I don't have value or worth and gets away with it. I'm worth just as much as everyone else. I'm a human being and I have value. Anyone who says differently is not only full of shit, but needs to sit their butt through a semester with Doc Cat and learn how to drop their shoulder yokes and heavy buckets along with taking in a healthy dose of mindfulness. I don't mean to be rude, but other people's inadequacy issues are not mine to own, it's theirs and I'm not about to carry it for them. I've carried other people's crap around for far too long and I'm. not. doing. it. any. more. Like it or not, it's just not healthy for me and the people around me have to learn how to respect that.  Most importantly, I have to ask, why am I being asked to carry it in the first place?

For the last five months, I've literally gone through my life with a fine-toothed comb. I've seen what I have to do to succeed in life and really make a conscious effort to be self-authored, which means I set the goals and make the rules in my life, then I have to execute the plan that will get me to the aforementioned goals. What other people think, I can't control or do anything about, but I can make sure that I'm being honest with every emotion I have and trust myself enough to go through the emotions that I need to use to cope in a way that is healthy for me. When I don't know how to handle things and my broken brain tries to take hold, I have to remember what Marcus Aurelius said,
"Don't be ashamed to ask for help. Take on life's tasks with the resolve of a soldier storming the breach. So what if you are lame and cannot scale the wall alone. Does your lameness prevent you from finding someone to help you?"
There will be days that I'll have to ask for help, because let's state the hard truth out loud, my personal growth was broken, stunted and forced into retreat at an early age because people were so busy telling me who to be and what to do that they didn't realize they were dealing with a human being who was going to be whatever they were meant to be whether they liked it or not. Like a wild rosebush, you can try to tame it, you can cut it back and stunt it, even disfigure it by removing its thorns or cutting off its blossoms, but when it comes to the end of the day, it's still a rosebush that is going to produce roses, you can't tell it to sprout daisies or petunias or any other type of flower, it can only be what it is, nothing more, nothing less. At this point, I'm realizing who I am and what I was meant to be and do. Thanks to Doc Cat, I now have a clear path ahead of me that I've defined that contains my strengths, deals head-on with my weaknesses and I can now talk about who I am and my experiences with a new-found clarity.

For those of you who over the last five months have seen the changes I've gone through first hand, I'm sure you sound like my friend Holly who said, "You're not even the same person I met five years ago." And that is a good thing and the whole goal behind taking the class. Thanks to Doc Cat, I'm self-authored and getting to the point I can take on anything that comes my way. I'm not there yet, but I'm on the way. If I could stay in her class for the rest of my life, I'd be so much better off. If I ever make a pile of money, I'm going to see her as my personal therapist for as long as she'll have me as a client.

For those of you who would like to join me in personally writing Doc Cat and helping me thank her, please send me a note and I'll give you an e-mail address you can write her at and thank her. I owe her so much. Please help me let her know how much her work and her time spent teaching touches and changes lives. She saved me and changed my life for the better. Thanks Doc Cat.

Next up, let's talk about Doc B. and his selective snakedom through history. As I said in my last post, this is a professor I would have liked to spend more time with one on one just to discuss the stoics in further depth.

The final wasn't the world's easiest because let's face it, I'm a creative, I'm touchy-feely, I don't resonate with hard facts very well. Concepts, heavens yes, but hard facts, no. My head is still swimming with names, dates and all sorts of historical information, but the one thing I'll take away from my time studying history with Doc B. is that we have to take time to look at history as a whole. Like Doc Cat taking me through my own personal history, going through and understanding the classical world is not only good to do, but can help stop you from making mistakes, understand why you are where you are in the big picture and just remind you that we all occupy just a minor blip on the scale of human existence.

Where would we be without guys like Tiberius Gracchus who stood up for the underdogs and told the truth about the horrors and greed that exist in human nature?  If we have nothing, what is there to stand up and fight for?  Stories like that alone are a part of the base tenets of human existence.  We all strive to be happy and find worth in things we value.  That's what Tiberius was talking about, then look what happened to the guy, he was killed because the greedy bastards in the Roman senate felt threatened by a guy who stood up and wouldn't put up with people getting walked on.  That's what Doc B. gave me all semester long, reasons to make sure I look at history, learn its' stories and then make sure to apply the lessons I've learned to my own life.

From jamming to David Bowie at 10 a.m. to learning George Washington was not only a snappy dresser and excellent dancer, I spent time understanding that we are all unique and fun; our own personal histories are filled with stories that have passed through time before, we just need to stop for a moment and understand that we are all taking part in the human adventure that has spanned thousands of years. Still though, I would have loved to spend more time with Doc B., just so I could kick butt in the history section of Trivial Pursuit.  Hats off to Doc B.  I'm grateful he took the time to take me on a tour through history, I learned a lot about the human condition.

I'm only going to take a few minutes with Global Media. I will say, without a doubt, that I learned to make sure to keep my view as wide as possible when thinking about the world. I'm just a small speck on planet Earth and there are people in far worse situations than I am.

Overall, the class itself was a lot of work. It was digging to find information on my assigned country, Guatemala. Let's just say it out loud for the hundredth time, Guatemala is a perpetual black hole and judging by how much the other groups in that class struggled, I hope Doc Fish never tortures another class by focusing on Central and South America again.  Ever.  Third world countries are the pits when it comes to analyzing their media on a global scale. They have trouble communicating with each other with all of the corruption and dictatorships that happen down there, so how on Earth can we look at them as far as their impact on global media? You can't because they really don't, studying those countries is like trying to use a marshmallow to put out a bonfire. I feel like a lot of the work was pointless, but that's me, it wasn't my favorite class for the semester and parts of me wish I wouldn't have taken it, but I'll be honest, I've already used some of the concepts I've learned in the class in the outside world, so it was worth the price of tuition, but not something I'd willingly do again. Ok, a passing comment about the fact I'd rather have fingernails pulled out with hot pincers than go through it again is in order, but I'll just leave it at that.

Let's close out with my IMC class with only three words: I did it. I got an A on my semester project, an ad campaign for a ready-to-eat cereal that I named "Focus Fiber." Here, let me give you Doc S.'s final word on it:
"A fun piece of work and an outstanding intro campaign. Nice link between research and strategy, and strong continuity of theme. The creative concept is on strategy and cuts through the clutter. You three have a future in advertising."
"Cuts through the clutter," and "on strategy" are the two most important phrases he used because that's the whole point of a great campaign, it does just that, it stays on strategy and cuts through the clutter that is all of the other advertising messages out there. Ok, let's say it plainly, my two partners and I did it right and were spot-on. I saw a few B's float through the room and when I saw that Doc S. didn't just arbitrarily hand out A's, I knew we had hit the target dead-on. Not only was doing well in that class a test to see if I was attempting to do what I was meant to do, the A on the project was a sign that says I have what it takes and I'm on the right path. Now, it's on to learning as much as I can about the field to become the juggernaut I'm aching to be. It's there for the taking, all I have to do is reach.

Before I sat down to write, I started my celebration and decompression with a nap this afternoon, a steak dinner complete with baked potato and mushrooms later on in the evening, and right now I'm writing with a mug full of pink lemonade spiked with just a touch (not a lot) of the Bacardi Silver that's been waiting for me to make a rum cake out of it. Instead of baking the rum into a cake, I'm doing something I rarely, if ever do, I'm sipping a frosty beverage with just a tad of "celebration" in it and being happy with the semester.

Five long months, 13 credits added to my transcript, and more A's to add to the tote board. The semester did what I hoped it would do. It was a Tour-de-Force of the Eternal Sophomore, reminding me that I might be a wise fool, but I'm one with good grades and wonderful experiences to call my own.

As I get ready to fall into bed and get a good night's rest after a long five months, I'll wrap the semester with a nod to Doc B. and a quote by my favorite stoic, Marcus Aurelius:
"Fly with the stars in their courses, swim along the ever-changing elements in their fluid transmutations. Imaginings like these will wash away the filth and grime of this earthbound existence."
Now if you'll excuse me, there are some serious "Z's" with my name on them...I think I deserve it.

No comments:

Post a Comment