Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Back to School in Midlife!

Some of you may be wrestling with the idea to go back to school during midlife. Either you already have a degree, but can't find work in your area of study, or you never went to college. I totally understand this agonizing decision! In 2003 I decided that I wanted to get my degree.

I'd like to share with you how that story has unfolded since I first thought about going to college. At the time, my daughter Kelsey was attending the local community college. I mentioned to my family that I wanted to go back to school and get my degree. They all cheered me on. Kelsey was so supportive. She went to the advisor's office with me and didn't let me leave the building until I was registered for classes. I have a confession to make, I was scared to death! I don't always do well in certain social situations, and the thought of attending classes with so many people I didn't know on a pretty good sized campus was very overwhelming. Kelsey was so sweet, she took some classes with me so I'd feel comfortable on campus.

That was in 2003. At that time in my life, I was still homeschooling my two younger children and I didn't have a lot of time to devote to my studies. The important thing was, however, I made a decision! I set goals and stuck with it. I took at least two classes at a time when I could. If I had a semester where I thought I could handle more, I'd take four classes. There were even a couple semesters where I couldn't take any classes at all. But, I got right back to it when my life allowed.

Seven years later, I received my Associates Degree. In today's world, an Associates Degree is really no greater than a high school diploma, BUT in MY world that is a great accomplishment for a mother who not only had a family to care for, but also had to work full time for most of those years. Plus, it gave me the courage to go further, and the knowledge I need to succeed in any further educational endeavors.

Today, I'm a full time student at the University of Central Florida in the Social Work program. Yes, I want to be a social worker. I truly believe that everything God has brought me through in my life, up to this point, has prepared me for this calling. To some it's a job, to me it's a calling.

Are you considering going back to school? Let me give you a few tips. First of all, find someone who will encourage you every step of the way, and will make sure you follow through on your decision. Second, pick a special field. With the job market like it is today, you need to have a specialty that you know will provide a job when you graduate. The general bachelors degree isn't specific enough to help you obtain a position as it once did. Third, set bite size goals and long term goals. Write these goals on paper, and cross off each item as you complete it. The visual will help you feel like you are getting somewhere. I think this is especially important for us mid-lifers because we tend to think our time is so limited. Well, maybe it is, but let me remind you, time goes by whether you go to school or not. Why not come out on the other end of a few years with a degree, and a new career?!

I will continue to post tips and share stories as I work my way through school. My goal... don't leave campus until I have my Master's Degree!!!

If you have any questions about how to take that first step, feel free to ask! If I don't have the answer, I'll find it for you!

..Back to studying!!!


Monday, September 27, 2010

New Family Traditions

Yesterday, we were invited to our daughter and son-in-law's for dinner. Of course, family dinner on Sunday isn't something new. We've tried to eat together as a family at least once a week in the past, but driving to my daughter and her husband's home was a totally different experience.

When we arrived, the table was set beautifully, and the new couple were working away in the kitchen together. Evan LOVES to cook and takes it very seriously. I asked if I could help in any way, and they both told me to just sit and relax. Wow. Someone pinch me!

Their home is coming together so beautifully. I enjoyed seeing how they are hanging things on the walls and decorating everything.

Soon they called us to the table, and after Evan said a touching blessing, we ate the most delicious meal. An awesome salad, sauteed spinach, salmon with some type of spicy tomato topping, wild rice and delicious rolls. Personally I think Evan should become a professional chef. Lacey said he does most of the cooking, and he's very gifted at it. I have never eaten salmon in my life, and it was delicious!

We finished the night with dessert (I made Evan's favorite pineapple cake and brought it with us), watched a movie and then said our goodnights. Lacey insisted I did not have to help clean up the kitchen. I carried things to the kitchen, and put some things away, but she told me, "Mom, I've got this." :-)

On our way home, my husband and I talked about how quickly life changes. Family dinners are going to look different now, but they are still such an important part of our life! The family is growing and stretching it's wings, and traditions may be changing their look just a bit.... but the one thing that remains the same, is that God has blessed us tremendously, and for that we are so thankful!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Wall are Echoing..

I'm BACK to blogging. I was so excited to begin blogging back in July, but had to step away for two months due my daughter's wedding. They were engaged in December of last year, and after nine months of planning like crazy, it was over in a blink just two weeks ago today. Everything turned out beautifully! I will post pictures and stories as soon as I actually see some pictures myself. (still asking myself why I didn't carry a camera......) Okay, to my defense, I was afraid I'd carry it all day and not take one picture. Either way, I took no pictures. I know many people did, and of course there was a photographer, so I will patiently wait until someone shows up with something (I'd take a blurry polaroid at this point)!

These past two weeks have been quite an adjustment period for me in my life. As I've previously written, I have four children. Up until two weeks ago, three of them were still in the nest. Now, we are down to two. My daughter Kelsey who lives with us is 24 and is very independent. My baby, Mack will be 18 in three months; so he doesn't need much anymore either. Yes, I'm guilty.. I'm the kind of Mom who loves to be needed. sigh My husband told me that he'll become more needy if I want him to. (um....)

I spent the first week after the wedding walking in circles, trying to figure out what to do with my extra time. Keep in mind, I am a full time college student, but I still missed all of the chaos I have grown accustomed to living with. Lacey is a nanny, and she brought her two little ones to our house everyday, so not only is she not here everyday, neither are the two and three year old who we have become quite attached to. Once all of their toys and things have been moved out, this place literally echoes!

This past week, I've done a lot better. I got out the fall decorations, put stuff away that we used for the wedding, and got myself back on a good study schedule. (including getting caught up from missing a week of classes during wedding week.)

So I hope to use my blog to share my journey as an "almost" empty nester, and an adult college student. And anything else God decides to throw my way in this next chapter of my life.

Thanks for being there as an encouragement to me, fellow bloggers... God bless all of you!

Mamahugs for everyone!!!