Epiphany: a moment in which you suddenly see or understand something in a new or very clear way. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/epiphany
So this epiphanic event occurs, if you recall, one day in November, as I’m counting down the days to graduation from Penn State. Remember, I’m 44 years old. Turning 45 on November 13. Finally graduating with the college degree I’ve idealized throughout my entire life . At almost 45, I’m feeling this major shift within me. A big one.
The youngest-of-three-kids-in-me becomes the grown woman who asks her father, “Now do you see me?” The baby sister of two other siblings now says, “Check it out. Looky what I just did. I done growed up and finished somethin’. AND, I freakin’ ROCKED the GPA too (patting self on back, cuz I was a C/B, only very occasional A- student in high school when I had nothing but school life to manage and damn proud of my 3.53 GPA as an adult student in my 40’s!).
I was really starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel; really starting to feel the pressure lifting… of deadlines, papers, exams and endless hours at the computer. Oh Hallah-freakin-JULIA, I could feel it and damn, it felt good!
NOTE: “HallahJULia!”… That’s what my kid use to say when he was like 3 or 4. “Oh, HallaJULia” Mom! I’m so glad you didn’t hit that dog with your car, or something like that… He was constantly mispronouncing things like most kids do at that age, but that was one of my favs. That and the time he waltzed in to my office singing, “My Hairy Mountain” to the tune of “Climb Every Mountain”. Always scrambling things up in that crazy head of his, that one.
Going back a few years – around about the time my son was turning 11 – I woke up one weekend morning, rolled over and started a conversation with my husband about how much I reeeeeally didn’t feel like 6 hours at the computer, to get the rest of a paper done that was due by midnight that day. My rule was usually to try to be done all my school work by the weekend, so we could at least have Sunday as a family day, if possible. That rarely happened, but it was a nice idea. Anyway, Kevin and I were lying in bed talking about my feeling depressed. Depressed about not having more time for the fun things we wanted to be doing. More time for things like lying in bed doing things other than talking about being depressed about school overwhelming my life.
I was feeling like we had no time to connect as Meg and Kev. I was stressing because at the part-time pace I was going, I knew I’d still have a couple years to go to finish, long after my kid turned into a pimply –faced, ball of hormones. I wanted to be fully present in my son’s life when he turned into a teenager. He may not want me to be, but I knew he’d need me to be, whether he realized it or not. It was during this conversation with Kev that I talked about taking some time off from school, for the first time since starting back in 2008.
Kev wasn’t having it. He spent the next 20 minutes reminding me of all the reasons why I wanted to finish in the first place and why it was important to me. And besides he basically told me he’d kill me if I quit now. I’d come this far. The end was in sight. No giving up now! My cheerleader. What the Hell would I have done without him through all this? Man…
What resulted from the conversation was a decision to go full-time instead of part-time.
Sure. Throw more on my plate. That makes sense.
Meg: “I’m depressed, stressed and tired. I’m worried I’m neglecting my family. Also, I don’t have enough time to take care of our house or my body. I look like a homeless blob, always walking around in fat pants because the sedentary lifestyle I have as a
student hostage to my books and computer leaves no extra time to exercise. When I get home from my work day and back from soccer practice then finish whatever school work I have at oh say…. 11 p.m. or so… I have just enough energy to sit my fat ass on the couch for a half hour with you so we can catch up on DVR’d shows. I haven’t played ping pong with Nathan in like 3 months. This is nuts.”
Kevin: “You should go to school full-time. This will solve all that”.
Problem solved. Why didn’t I think of that?!?
(Do I need a citation for this pic, since The Crafty Blog Stalker stamp is ON the picture? Whoopsy, if I did! Sorrrrry…)
Seriously though – we talked this through and speeding up the process did seem to make sense. My priority was getting done sooner, so I could be fully present in my son’s life as he entered probably the most important phase of his young adolescent life. I didn’t want to miss a thing. Certainly not the chance to show him all the pictures I could of rotting penises and genital warts to accompany the chats in school about abstinence during Health class. It’s my duty as a parent to keep him virginal until he’s 30, right?
Thanks for staying with me. I work in digression like Picasso worked in oils. I stole that from A Christmas Story. Crap. Another citation blunder? Hmmm…
Anyway, I wanted to be fully present in my son’s life, so I decided to go from part-time to full-time school. What’s the word I need here? Drive? Sticktoitiveness? NoDoze? No…Gumption maybe…I needed that. To manage it all and not lose my mind. And focus. I needed to focus on the end result, which was something I’d always wanted: To own a piece of paper that proved I was capable of finishing something. Also, that I had learned how to predict what color eyes a cat would have, born from a mom cat with two tails and green eyes and a dad cat with one blue eye, one brown eye and three tails. Punnett Squares. Like they’ll ever come in handy for the rest of my life. Except for when I need to help my kid study Punnett Squares in school, which loops me back around to the whole point here again. I just needed to finish. Also, that I scored big by marrying a Science geek like Kevin, cuz he totally “got me through” genetics classes in college. Freakin’ Punnett Squares.
(Seriously????? Everybody knows Minnie cheated on Mickey and slept with a mouse with small “ears”. It doesn’t take a Punnett Square to figure this out).
So, bringing it back to 2013 again, I started my countdown toward graduation around October. Things were really starting to wrap up at this point. I was ordering my cap and gown, registering paperwork for my name in the commencement ceremony program, booking a room at State College the night before commencement ceremonies, so the three of us could attend a graduation reception the night before and do some celebrating. Things were getting exciting. It was at this time, I started to really feel like I could start to focus more on what my life might feel like or actually be like post-graduation. The first thing I ‘saw’ was a healthier me. I set a goal to lose some weight by graduation date. This was a massive agenda: Education and weight loss/healthy lifestyle. These were major challenges throughout my life as an adult woman.
My goal for weight loss was 30 pounds but I knew that was unreasonable given the October 1 to December 25 time frame. I just told myself I wanted to feel better and be a fitter version of me. I wanted to wear a new, little black dress while walking across that stage on graduation day. And I did. And now, here goes the epiphanic account…
It’s November and I’m a month and a week and a half or so into a Couch-To-5K running program. I can’t even believe I’m able to run more than a minute. I could barely run the day I started training but at this point, I was running a few minutes, in spurts. Holy hell that was hard. And I know I sound like a total girl, saying I couldn’t run more than a minute without dying, but I sware to you – I couldn’t. Plus, I am a girl, so…
At any rate, my lungs were heaving in riotous gasps for air and my legs felt like telephone poles. I was a slug. The first three weeks were the hardest.
Each day, as I ran through and pushed the last few minutes of the workout, I thought I’d die. I focused on a spot on the wall and meditated on a personal thought that gave me strength and drive to finish. I won’t say what that thing was, but it made me do it. I can say that as I focused on that one thing, I also prayed. I prayed to God. I prayed to the Universe. I prayed to the powerful and strong being inside myself I knew was clawing her way out, after years of believing she couldn’t achieve these things; these things that were all just within reach (the education and the determination to be healthier/fitter!). I could literally feel myself getting stronger each day, physically and mentally. And people – this just in… I felt myself growing stronger spiritually, too. Swear to Buddah 😉 My mother always told me not to take the Lord’s name in vein – so there ya have it ma. Damn Catholic guilt.
It got to the point, during the last 3 minutes of a run, where I’d literally be praying thanks to God, The Universe and all that is holy, energetic and moving through me, giving me energy, will and determination to go and push. I’d just fall in a heaping pile of sweat and cry tears of joy and pride that I’d finished yet another step of training and another phase of the new and improved ME.
“Fuckin’ A!”, I’d say.
“Where the HELL is this strength coming from!?” I could only imagine it was coming from “within” but what was allowing me to “tap into” it?
In whatever form or name It/He comes – I believe it was God. I was asking. I was showing up. And God was seeing me. Hearing me. Watching me. Pulling me through one of the most challenging times of my life as I neared the end of school and that really stressful time as well as an immensely physically challenging undertaking. Affirmations were flying out of my mouth that I’d never be caught dead saying out loud. Things like, “You ROCK girl!” “You freakin’ GOT this.” I started believing in me and in the spirituality I always knew lived inside me but I didn’t know how to tap into because I’d always gotten it confused with religion.
Graduation day has come and gone. I walked across that stage in my new black dress and got my diploma.
I had my family and my girls with me on the second most proud day of my life (I’ve had three I guess: Graduation from Massage School at age 28 #3, Graduating College at age 45 #2, and giving birth to my son at age 31 #1).
I have my Bachelor’s degree. I have new found recognition of the spirituality in me that can move me to do great things and as of the time of this writing, I am 27 pounds lighter than I was when I started out in October.
Moral of the story? Find your inner Athena people. Seek her/him/shim (remember – Athena is androgynous?). It’s in there somewhere. Aspire to be greater and believe in yourself. Seek and ye shall find!
Now say me a HallahJULia! 😉
This is my crazy “HallaJulia” kid whose genetic predisposition for coo-cooishness, makes him try on “Hamden Hon” glasses at the ophthalmologist while Kevin and I have eye exams.
NOTE: Reference for “Hamden Hon” for the non-Baltimorons… http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hampden,_Baltimore
(Pic of actual “Hon”)