I felt like a little kid yesterday. You remember the excitement when you know the summer is over and tomorrow is the first day of a new year of school. New school clothes, new school supplies, new teachers and most of all: new friends! Getting an education was a side effect of attending school as a child.
I pulled out my laptop case and the shoulder strap was missing. Oh my! Where is that strap? Wait, I think my 16 year old son borrowed it for his airsoft gun. Quick run to his room and a query: “Have you seen my laptop strap? It has metal clasps.” He shakes his head and we look around to make sure it isn’t in his closet. I check out his Yamaha keyboard case strap and it is similar but that isn’t mine. Okay, not finding it in there. I look in my closet (which is a scary place) and do not find it. Finally I just grab the strap from my son’s keyboard case to borrow until I find mine since he won’t need his this week.
I hook the strap to my case and get a little excited as I envision putting my school books inside with my laptop. One zipper to the left, the other to the right and it opens like a clam to reveal: the shoulder strap. Someone had taken it off and put it inside the case. I just had to laugh. So this was the beginning of my college career. So typical of my life.
I have been chronically ill for over six years after being infected with Lyme disease and bartonella. Those two infections (and probably other unidentified ones) destroyed my health until I was a blob on the couch most of the day. I would get up to pick kids up from school, drive myself to the doctor, take kids to the dentist and occasionally do a load of laundry, but my life pretty much came to a stop and stayed stopped for years.
After a year of long-term antibiotics I had a high-functioning chronic Lyme life. I was not confined to bed, though I had virtually no stamina to do much of anything. I could no longer design web sites, but I could make sandwiches and even cook the occasional meal as long as it wasn’t complicated because my brain just didn’t work well anymore. Then after a couple more years of exercising and changing my diet I have recovered even more to a point of some functionality. I can manage a household but cannot do the housework other than little bits here and there. I still can’t design a web site from scratch but I am relearning some code and graphic design. I have two blogs that I contribute to almost daily. So I got really brave and decided that I wanted to pursue my biggest dream: a college education. My goal is a doctorate. Yep, I am in my first year and I plan to pursue my doctorate. Why not?
Here I am, the day before I start classes, the day before my life changes forever, and I am giddy like a school kid, organizing my school supplies, making my schedule for the week, figuring when I need to leave home so I have plenty of time before my first class. What is very different is that I am going over my new schedule with my boys, over and over. I am explaining that I will not be home when they get off the bus. I won’t be able to pick up my 16 year old from school on Friday until 12:20 p.m. He will need to wait for me. I will try to have dinner made in the morning so we can pop it into the oven when I get home around 5 p.m.
This is way better than being in elementary school. Seriously. I was so excited about English Composition that I spent two hours reading the textbook yesterday afternoon. I like to look ahead so that I have an overview before class whenever possible. It gives my cognitively-challenged brain more to hook information onto. Then I got scared. This was going to be very challenging for me. I have spoiled myself: for 25 years I have read information and digested it any way I liked without anyone requiring me to do anything different. Don’t get me wrong: I am a thinker. But like most people I have my mind made up on most issues. I do love seeing other positions, reading and evaluating why they have that belief or hold that position. I do force myself to see issues from the perspective of others. But I still read most essays and immediately judge them based on my own value system and immediately justify my position before reading the conclusion of that essay. In English Composition someone will require that I do something different with that essay. And I will be forced to support my positions. Yep, this will be a challenge for me.
After reviewing what I needed to take and what I could leave at home –I won’t need that folder full of papers but I will need a copy of my schedule — I then realized that I really do need school supplies such as a calculator, a digital recorder, pencils and pens. I will get to shop for my own school supplies after decades of buying them for my children. Such a shift of focus: from my children to myself.
This journey is all about me. I am not the least bit ashamed to write those words. I have been a parent for 35 years. I am a grandparent now. I took care of my kids when I was really too sick to take care of myself. It is time for my dreams. And I am going for it. I am still giddy as a school kid this morning hours before I head out the door to my first class. I am excited and terrified. The journey begins: it is the first day of school.