Tuesday, May 22, 2012

On Sunday, I had the pleasure of attending graduation ceremonies at Trinity Washington University.  Trinity College as it was known until 2004, was a Catholic women's college that for many years was known as a school for wealthy and powerful families who desired a small liberal arts education for its girls.  Senator Nancy Pelosi, this year's graduation speaker, is an alumnus.  When enrollment fell and after much dissent from former students who threatened to pull their financial support, it was remade into three separate schools - the College of Arts and Sciences which continues the traditional all female liberal arts curriculum; the College of Education which is co-ed and offers graduate degrees; and the School of Professional Studies offering women both undergraduate and graduate degrees serving working women in the Washington, DC area.  Its academic standards remain high even as it reaches out to academically under-served areas of Washington.

A woman that I worked with, actually who was my secretary, was graduating.  She completed college against enormous odds - drug abuse problems in her early adulthood, family issues that defy comprehension, a son and granddaughter with mental illness, lack of financial or family support.  She had to do this alone and by any measure she was destined to fail.  But she didn't.

She came to me a number of years ago and said that she wanted to do something more, she needed to be challenged to make the day go by faster.  I told her to come to me with a plan of what she wanted to do, where she ultimately wanted to be in the organization and that I would look at it.  She came back with a plan of classes and activities that would ultimately make her eligible as an economist.  It was a real long shot.  But we started with some in-house training and classes and she was dedicated and did well.  Then she tried a college class and with some encouragement and tutoring finished with an A.  Now she felt ready to tackle more and more.  We could usually, not always, find a way that we could declare her classes to be work related - English, Economics, Math, Accounting - but she did have to pay for many of the core classes on her own which was a financial risk for her.  And she just kept taking classes, sometimes two and three at a time while she worked full-time, dealt with myriad issues of her son and granddaughter, and took on new work responsibilities.  And yesterday was the payoff!

It was a beautiful day on the lawn of the university and she had friends, but no family, there to cheer for her.  Following the beautiful ceremony and lots and lots of pictures we went out as a group for lunch, the same as so many families on graduation day because we were her family when she thought she had none.

Monday, May 14, 2012

The beach is sad that I am preparing to leave.  It is cloudy and overcast today for the first time in over five weeks. I'm cleaning and doing last minute chores, like returning my books to the library. Then I'll have a quick stop to see the beach a last time, and finally pack the car for the trip home.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

getting to fine

Marianne of bushafullofgrace.typepad.com commented that she loved my life and I realized I do too. How lucky I am!  Right now I am in a "life is good" place.  I've sometimes been in the dark places where I see no solutions, no hope, great despair, terror, embarrassment.......   but the mantra is "it will all be fine" until you come out at the other side.   And "fine" is not necessarily "wonderful".  It is fine.  It is acceptable. It is 'I can live with this.'  It is fine.  I think that accepting 'fine' has brought me hope and happiness because I rarely am envious, I don't often covet, and I know that everyone's life is not nearly as wonderful as I probably think it is. So, I'm very happy when things are 'fine'.

So I have had a very 'fine' beach vacation.  Initially Charlie stayed for two very busy weeks and then I was to have my private vacation where I had plans for long sits on the beach, lunch with friends, visits from a girlfriend.  It all disappeared in a whirlwind, including an unscheduled visit by Charlie for a week in the midst of my "girl" plans.  But it turned out to be very fine.

Things I have loved during this trip:
  • My visit with B. She really needed her time here to vent and decompress and be reminded that she has options in her life, and friends that date back to the baby pool.  Friends that know that she deserves better and are perfectly willing to say so and to point options.  My listening skills were well utilized during this visit because I could sense what she needed to hear and what she needed permission to say.  Having two totally uninterrupted days, chats in the darkness of the moonlit porch helped her to unburden herself and know that she was not in a box, but only a corner from which she can fight her way out, because we will help her.
  • My time at the beach and lunches and dinners with Lin. She is so much fun and so upbeat and if I was in her financial position I'd be terrified but she is the ultimate "it will all be fine" person.  Having lived her life as a barely making it actress she was used to living on the edge and so she thinks her situation is pretty good.  It's all in your perspective and she gives me a whole new perspective.  I'm so glad we met on the shuttle bus that day. It's a real testament that you have to be open to people. We chatted on the airport shuttle, exchanged email addresses, and then she left for NYC and I left for DC.  Who knew she would end up being one of my best friends in Florida!
  • The refrigerator repair man that fixed by refrigerator with a twisty-tie because the part would have cost $40 and he didn't want me to have to spend that much.  I love the beach!
  • The manatee that followed me around in the kayak. He followed me around while I gently paddled around the river.  He would come right up to the side of the kayak and want to play.  A huge gentle giant.
  • All the dolphins in the river and at the beach.  Lots of them at different times, cavorting and playing and feeding and putting on a great show.  And I get to enjoy this free of charge.  No swimming with dolphin tours for me.  They give me a great show each night as I enjoy my glass of wine.
  • The pelicans that look like something pre-historic.  Most of them have moved on from their wintering on the island in the river, but a few seem to stay behind to save their favorite spot for next year.
 Now I'm preparing to leave for my other life.  With a quick visit to a girlfriend to break up my drive home I'll start a whole new kind of life. Equally good, just different.  But I realize that the common factor is a list of activities and events and friends.  Making friends doesn't come easily to me but I have learned that if you don't accept the risk of rejection you won't have the people around you to help you fight your way out of the corner so that you can get to "fine".

Monday, May 07, 2012

I must go see the movie "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel".   On TV they have been running the trailer and I just love this quote:
"Everything will be alright in the end. So if it is not alright, it is not yet the end."