The Matter Of Discernment

The matter of discernment puzzles me.

I was 20 before I even heard the word discernment, and then I heard quite regularly at that. It didn’t take long before “discernment” sound like the magic word for some secret society. It annoyed me to no end for a long time.

I’m not much closer to discovering what discernment really means ten years later. Although I have been told on numerous occasions that it’s not a “get out of jail free card,” so I should really stop treating it like one.

Yeah, I’ll get right on that.

It’s one of those necessary evils of life, especially if you’re Catholic, if you ask me.

There seems to be an implication that one cannot possibly find their vocation without some sort of discernment.

While this is more or less true I don’t think it can be expressed in such a cut and dry fashion if people are really going to understand discernment.

I understand that there’s no definite “right” or “wrong” way to discern.

However I’m not sure I’ve ever done it “right,” or at least the best way for me.

I have, however, done what everyone else has done.

I’ve gotten up for the sunrise masses and before class rosaries (mostly).

Gone to prayer groups and Bible studies.

Rarely ever, and I mean ever, missed fellowship or adoration.

Made every retreat possible, even a yearlong SEEL retreat that included spiritual direction.

I even joined a discernment group (albeit for other reasons, at least initially).

And they’ve had great success, although a different definition of success than the secular.

I have the dubious distinction of being a religious sister’s prayer partner for a few months during our junior year (during her final pre-nun years). Just to give you an example. I like to tell people that I helped facilitate her discernment process, because that’s how things happened in my head.

It took me a while to really get that discernment has no timetable. Although it eats on my nerves when people say they’re discerning something and you know for a fact that they’ve been doing it for years. Talk about using discernment as a “get out of jail free” card.

Let’s not even talk about the people who are so certain of their plan because they’ve discerned it within an inch of their lives and then after a day (or what feels like a day) they do a complete change of direction.

Because the mysteries of discernment go both ways, and every which way.

Discernment’s never been my thing, at least not in the same way swimming or encountering unpleasant people seem to be my things.

It would be awesome if God would just speak very loudly and very clearly after a period of prayer and self-reflection.

Unfortunately, discernment doesn’t work like that either, at least not for most people.

Discernment is important. It’s also becoming a lost art in some aspects. Just don’t ask me for advice on it, because I have no idea what I’m doing.

*A similar version of this post was written on August 6, 2014

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Life In Boxes

Life likes to put people in boxes, sometimes multiple boxes at the same time. I tend to not fit in very many boxes easily and find it easier to live outside the box most often.

In my technical theatre course during college the professors (we had 4) constantly encouraged us to “think outside the box,” so much so that it became a running joke, to the point that during a group project we backed a presentation with a deconstructed pizza box (we weren’t planning that, but it went with the box motif).

I moved so often during college that I turned it into a game, how many boxes does it take to contain all my belongings, trying to use the least number of boxes possible. I pride myself on the fact that my friends who worked of the campus moving service called one of my moves, “the easiest ever.”

My course work is kept in boxes, which remain open or unopened depending on the circumstances of the semester, week, or day.

The majority of my swimming gear is kept in a box, made up of meet related essentials and back up equipment; old goggles and caps, extra suits, and racing gear. It’s kept in the closet, just in case I need to grab something quickly (caps rip at weird times). And it’s more convenient in terms of packing for a meet, because even a 4-hour meet involves more than you’d think.

I asked for a new tech suit for Christmas, hoping that I’d at least get one for my birthday. I wore a tech suit for all of my meets last year and learned all too well of the love/hate relationship swimmers have with them. Basically, they’re meant to be tight, too tight even, expensive, and tend to not last very long.

Knowing what I know now I set out to find a suitable option for my wish list, because my now old tech suit has been discontinued, I knew I couldn’t just go down a size or two and feel like I had done due diligence.

I decided to try and be as exact about this as possible, meaning this time look at actual size charts. It sounded easy enough, except it involved number conversions I wasn’t too familiar with (ahem, the metric system) which needed dealing with before I could continue.

Turns out I was wearing a tech suit that wasn’t just too big, it was almost 10 sizes too big, at least according to the sizing charts. I wasn’t going to go that small right off the bat, although I haven’t completely ruled it out eventually.

I found something close to what I was going for, within reason of course, and crossed my fingers.

I opened the box a few weeks later to try it on before my first meet of the calendar year.

The good news is it gets easier to put on a tech suit with practice, but it can still be a pain to do. The not so good news is it wasn’t as snug as I thought it would be, and for a while I thought maybe I had gotten used to wearing suits that are too tight.

I looked at the box (and rechecked my measurements).

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As it turns out that my actual size according to my measurements, as opposed to the size I wear, isn’t even on the box, which I had to laugh at.

It’s just another example of how some people aren’t meant to live within a box.

To Successfully Succeed

Confession: I can’t believe I haven’t written about this before. If I have and someone knows where the post is, would you be kind enough to post the link in the comments section. I’m not that great at virtual organizing so even if I did write something I can’t find it.

 Katy asked,
“How do you define success?”

 My answer to this question has very little to do with the fact that I have Cerebral Palsy, but I’m sure it colors my answer to some extent. I hope my answer gives you more insight into the fact that people with Cerebral Palsy are more like those without Cerebral Palsy than they are different.

This is question that’s like, “Describe your ideal summer vacation,” the answer changes depending on where you are in life. At 5 your ideal summer vacation is going to D!sney World. At 25 you’re just hoping you’ll be able to afford a summer vacation (we won’t go into how I feel about summer vacations these days).

If you asked the pre-college me & new college student me I would define success as being famous and having everything that goes along with it, or at least all the good parts you can think of (not the bad parts).

If you asked my recent college graduate self what my goals were she’d tell you she just wanted to finish the final projects and graduate. I never wanted college to end but I wanted to workload to end. I guess I’ve been a sucker for community longer than I thought.

These days my definition of success has changed a lot. I don’t want to be rich or famous. Nor will I feel unsuccessful if neither of those things happens, especially since that’s not how I chose to define myself anymore.

These days success comes in a variety of different packages.

A work day that involves minimal paperwork and I’ve reached daily goals I’ve set for myself as well as reaching the staff wide goals? Success. Making positive strides to live my word for 2013? Success. Networking to further my business? Success. Being able to pay my bills and have my insurance pay what they’ve promised? Success.

Things seem simpler now, not to mention more depressing now that I’ve written it, but it’s not really. My priorities have changed. It happens with most people, I’m guessing. It would be awesome to be able to travel more or take more “time off” but it’s not in the cards, at least in the recent future.

In terms of concrete things that I would like to be successful at, I would love for my business to do well enough that I’d be able to quit my day job and still be able to support myself. It would be nice to be able to be in a healthy relationship and maybe have a family, but right now I’m not planning anything other than being able to take care of myself. I’d really like to be one of the few small business success stories out there (Inquire if you dare!)

On the first day of classes every semester at least one of my friends would write, “I will do my best to successfully succeed,” it’s been something of a manta ever since. There are days when success is smaller than others, but it’s still success. What I really want is to succeed successfully throughout my life, meaning I want to do well without causing harm to anyone else, self-included.

*A similar version of this post was written on March 20, 2013

Get A Job!

At the beginning of my last year of formal education I faced a similar predicament as most of my peers. I had determined pretty quickly that graduate school was not for me; the only post-graduation conclusion I came to faster was religious life was most certainly not for me. I had one choice left.

I needed a job.

A task I failed in such spectacular fashion that it’s only by the Grace of God that I can tell you that there’s hope (and a happy ending) for everybody.

I made the decision to put off applying for jobs until my final semester, something I don’t recommend as a general rule. I knew I was heading into a world of low paying jobs regardless, so why not live in ignorance for a little longer?

I had every intention of going into the entertainment industry, or arts ministry. Neither of which are areas in which your average college career services office can help you with. I think I set foot in career services twice.

Most arts related departments know that they have to fill in the gap. That’s why they have this thing called “lab” or “practicum.” a time when most of the department gets together and discusses work, what you’ve done, what you’re doing, how to do what you want to do. You also spend a lot of time doing seemingly self-centered things, like discussing head-shots and monologue choices (these things do have an actual purpose).

Fall semester of my senior year I had a full load of drama classes. I was also helping put together my classes answer to the Oscars. I was up to my ears in drama, with a capital D. It’s a drama major’s dream, until you’re actually living it.

Living your life at an eleven isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. (Spinal Tap, anyone?)

I decided to put off any auditions or arts related jobs for a while, so I focused on long term service applications, until I printed out a couple. I was finishing my passion project and putting together a production. This “job thing” could wait until after graduation.

Right?

Yes and no.

I think you should know your limits. If you can’t devote adequate time to something you need to let something go. I like having a full plate but I’m not a fan of getting a bigger plate when the one I have is full.

However, my putting things off until I had more time turned into an unintentional gap year; there’s nothing wrong with a gap year, but when you do nothing productive with it you’ve gone from having a full plate to being stuck in a big hole.

I should have taken the advice given to me. I should’ve taken the help that was offered as well. I should’ve taken advantage of the resources around me while I had them.

I should’ve (at the very least) made a resume!

That disability support services office I had a love/hate relationship with? I shouldn’t have had such an “I can do it myself” attitude (emphasis on attitude) when they inquired about my plans for the future.

I went into the job search process assuming everything would all work out, and eventually it did. But people should learn from my missteps.

I should probably also tell you that I’m not that great at interviewing (I’m even worse with auditions) so I could’ve used the extra practice. Yes, I’m saying I should’ve applied for job I didn’t want/didn’t think I’d get just for the interview experience.

Getting a job (& keeping a job) with a disability should be no different than the non-disabled population. Now that I’ve said that, that doesn’t mean that the process is the same.

There are “extras” to consider during the search & application process:
Can I get there?

-If you don’t drive don’t assume that there are transportation options, even if there are they may not be reliable.
Can I perform the duties asked of me with no (or minimal) accommodations? This Includes “other duties as assigned.”

-The ADA outlines reasonable accommodations but I’m leaning “reasonable is up to interpretation. Therefore, look for jobs that keep accommodations to a minimum, as close to none as possible.

Is the workplace accessible for me?

-My current workplace is not accessible for most people with disabilities. When I used a wheelchair full time post-op I had to rely on my coworkers for a lot. We had to set up a mini office downstairs for me to get any work done some days. There are still days when things aren’t accessible for me, but I make do.

Can I handle the workload?

-If you’re prone to fatigue this is something you have to consider. Can you still do your job after a bad night’s sleep? And all that goes along with it?

Is this a job you see yourself in for the long term or the short term?

-If this is a position you see yourself in for the short term don’t stop looking for the long term. That short term may end up being a long one.

Should I disclose my disability?

That’s up to you. There are situations where you should or shouldn’t (as in don’t need to). Don’t lie. Most importantly whatever decision you make don’t let it be motivated by fear.

The ADA has done a lot for people with disabilities but there’s still a long way to go. You may feel like you have to work twice as hard to get half as far as a coworker. That may be true but you’ll be making it easier for the next person who comes in the door.

A similar version of this post first appeared on an old blog on March 5, 2013

 

When Liturgical & Secular Collide

Last year (in particular) I had to juggle multiple schedules. The concept isn’t a foreign one, everyone does it every day, at least in the majority.

Although I doubt a liturgical calendar is one people rarely consult, unless they’re Catholic.

However, it’s one I had to basically live by, not counting the fact that the Church also lives by it.

There’s a certain amount of freedom that comes with not having to worry about commitments tied to a calendar (and then having them be graded) and I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was enjoying it, especially when the following post started appearing on social media:

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For those of you not familiar with Lent things can get complicated when the liturgical period overlaps with secular holidays, and even birthdays.

My birthday fell during Lent during college, my 21st birthday no less, my roommates planned a party for me (due in part because I was the only 1 of the 4 of us who had a birthday during the school year). It seemed like it was going to be a huge party, at least in terms of what I can handle for a big event, but it was during Lent.

Lent is a time when people tend to give something up (or do something enriching) for 40 days. My friends gave up drinking or sugar and/or took up a stricter practice of personal prayer, so the party ended up being more like an open house for all our friends. Whoever wanted to stop by did, and I took calls from friends apologizing for not coming by, but it was Lent, and they made a commitment.

I understood, some of them I envied in fact.

Why envy? Because some were making and keeping commitments I knew (and know) I wouldn’t be able to keep (even all these years later).

There’s often talk, and concern of what Catholics should consider a higher priority, the Catholic world or the secular world. I understand it and don’t at the same time. It’s an issue of balance, and that looks different for each person, not to mention personal values and priorities.

I, personally, like to see what happens when Liturgical and Secular collide. I like to see what others do, or not. It’s fun for me, albeit in a weird way, and it helps me figure out my own feelings, priorities, and whatnot.

12 Days Of Christmas, Kinda

There are so many reasons why I hate the start of the Christmas season, at least the commercial version of it. I’m not sure when it started but I was ecstatic in college when I was given an Advent calendar that included the Christmas Octave.

My cousin says it’s because I know too much, that may be the case now, but back then I think it was just an annoyance.

I hate having to buy Halloween decorations in early September, that Christmas movies run 24/7 on some TV stations from October 1st through New Year’s, and the supposed “war on Christmas, among other things.

I look for anything for an escape, at least until Gaudete Sunday, so imagine how I felt when my coach told the group about the “12 sets of Christmas” challenge.

I’ve heard stories about swim practices during holiday breaks, “Grinch week” or “hell week” are common terms, although mostly in younger groups. Usually time around the holidays is devoted to fun games that happen to double as technique work or some sort of cross training, so I thought the sets would be like that.

No.

It was going to be unpleasant, to the point where I would probably hate it.

I tried making the argument that it was Advent and not Christmas, at least at the time. I threw out the “Catholic card,” knowing it wouldn’t get very far but it was worth a try. It wasn’t totally bailing on the challenge, just putting it off. Anything that would buy me a few more days without time trials makes for a better practice.

However, the “12 Sets of Christmas” was to be completed in December. Thus, covering both the Advent and Christmas seasons, more or less. So even if my argument had held up it wouldn’t have been for long.

It did get me to focus less on Christmas and more on what I was actually doing, which is a good thing, and an essential for a 400-yard Individual Medley, for time, among other things associated with swimming well, or at least well-ish.

I survived Advent and Christmas, and the associated swim sets, actually, I think the swim sets helped take the edge off the intensity of the holiday season.

Although I think it’s weird that the Valentines paraphernalia made an appearance during Advent.

Why I: Joined A Discernment Group

Ten years ago I was looking to make a fresh start after a near crash and burn of my academic career & a list of personal issues. (Side note: The fact that I started college more than a decade ago makes me feel kind of old.)

Here’s what’s awesome about going to a university with an active campus ministry:

There’s always something going on.

It’s almost kind of ridiculous how much stuff you can be involved in (or not).

At the time I wasn’t a practicing Catholic, in fact I was still in the recovery from Atheism phase of things, because that kind of journey practically requires a recovery period. I called myself a Christian but I wasn’t ready to “drink the Catholic k00l aid” just yet.

I steered clear of any organized group outside of the theatre department my freshman year and I was reconsidering that plan for sophomore year. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results, so I didn’t want to do the same thing.

There are always plenty of things to do in a theatre/drama department as well. There are always “other duties as assigned” (to put it one way) or a friend is working on some sort of project at all hours so if you want to see them it’s best to go to them (and then you end up helping on the same project, somehow). But I didn’t want to be a “drama kid,” at least not exclusively.

At some point during orientation, sometime after neighborhood orientation, I huddled into the campus ministry office with other new students to hear their “sales pitch”. This was some place I wanted to be involved. I knew that from visiting a friend earlier in the year. The how was the part that needed to be determined.

I’m not a try everything once type of girl but that’s pretty much what ended up happening. The first few weeks the only thing I had second thoughts on was solemn adoration; anything labeled solemn or somber means I’ll laugh uncontrollably. I needed to be better versed at adoration before the sound was turned off.

The first group I showed up for (I think) was women’s group. I loved that group. In fact many of the ladies I met thanks to that group I’m still friends with today (maybe I’ll tell you about that someday).

The next night discernment group would be meeting. I had no idea what “discernment” was but I figured it would be similar to women’s group so I showed up.

I probably should’ve looked up what discernment was before I decided to go to the group. But if I did I probably wouldn’t have gone.

Instead of sitting in the lounge area we met in the prayer room. And instead of one of the campus ministers facilitating there were two nuns, from The Little Sisters of the Poor (an order I knew nothing about, but have come to love dearly).

At some point during the hour I realized I was in a room full of ladies who were considering becoming nuns. I was in the wrong place, but I didn’t want to get up and leave (for fear of embarrassment only).

I may have countless sisters these days, but back then I had only known two, and the impression they left wasn’t one of full warm & fuzzy memories.

I left that night thinking I probably wouldn’t go back (because I wasn’t even in the same hemisphere of that life path) but when Thursday rolled around again I did. I’m still not sure why. The funny thing is I kept going. I think I only missed a few meetings during the year, when being a drama kid had to take a front seat.

I even went the night when we’d be saying the Rosary most of the time. When I grasped even less of it than I do now & I had to borrow a Rosary from the spares that someone always seemed to have on hand.

For me it wasn’t about discernment, at least not at first, it was about meeting people who just might be like minded. When that didn’t work out so well it was about having concrete examples of what I might aspire to. Not to mention meeting some religious sisters who were not only nice, but they went out of their way to invest in others.

I will never ever forget that Sister Mary David told me it was perfectly fine to fall asleep during adoration “because the Lord knows you need your rest.”

Never mind that I had agreed to sit up with the blessed sacrament only to fall asleep face down on a futon that was in our makeshift retreat chapel.

My original intent couldn’t have been any more off. However I think I got a lot more out of it than I realize (yes, even now). I made a mistake in judgment but it was one of the best mistakes I could’ve ever made (especially given my history with mistakes).

Even if I have come to have a love/hate relationship with the discernment process.

*A similar version of this post was written on September 4, 2013

The Letters

Now that I’ve told you about Dr. Bowtie & his magic office I should probably give you a better experience to remember, because experiences like that are in the minority (or at least they should be).

When all was said & done I decided the best way to turn around my situation was to change it altogether. I had done much better in the spring semester, but starting fresh made the most sense. I think part of the reason why I did so well in the spring was I had a clear goal, get out as successfully as possible.

While preparing to turn my educational ship around I read something about the Disability Support Services (DSS) office. It was good they actually had information included in the welcome material. You didn’t have to request the basics, because it was already there for you. I also liked that they called themselves Disability Support. Here I would not be “special”. I would be normal. The “support” I hoped meant I would have some sort of say there.

I was still recovering from my face off with Dr. Bowtie but I picked up the phone and called DSS. If I was really starting fresh, I had to at least look into this. Over the summer I communicated occasionally with the head of DSS. She seemed understand & more than willing to work with me.

At some point she suggested that I have letters of accommodation to give to each of my professors; the idea being that even though CP only affects the majority of my lower body something as simple as note taking fatigue shouldn’t be the thing that tanks my GPA. Having narrowly missed academic probation by failing a few classes & now that I would be receiving a scholarship contingent on my GPA the idea appealed to me.

My first week on campus I had a meeting with the assistant director of DSS, who I got along with from the go in spite of my previous experiences, about how my accommodations would work; I still wasn’t too sure about the whole thing but the fact that they were clear on the fact that I would come to them for help if I needed it helped.

Naturally I was most hesitant about the letters of accommodation. I was given 6 sets of letters, one for each professor & one for my records. I read over my copy & I couldn’t hold in my one question any longer. Did I have to give my professors these letters? The answer was no. It was up to my own judgment. But I was still skeptical.

“Look, just take them. That way you don’t have to come back if you change your mind.”

I should also tell you that it was though my good relationship with the DSS office that I agreed to psycho-educational testing. As a result, I was officially diagnosed with a learning disability, mild ADD & test anxiety, something I’d suspected for years & was relieved to make it official.

I could be as open about them as I wanted to be. I discovered that the best way things worked for me was to give the professor the letter (or not) at the beginning of the semester, usually at the end of the first class, and told them that if there were any questions from there end we could set up some kind of communication. For some I was the first student in their teaching career to request accommodations, no matter how long they’d been teaching, so it wasn’t fair to ask for an answer 5 seconds after handing them a letter.

But everyone handled the same situation differently. I had a class with another student that had similar accommodations; the only reason why I knew was from seeing him in the DSS office. He gave the professor his letter right off the bat & seeing me in the class took it upon himself to tell the professor I was “the same as him” & point in my direction.

“You are so lucky to have people take notes for you.”

I wasn’t lucky, in that moment, I was dying of embarrassment.

Obviously some professors take things like this better than others.

My math professor took it in stride & arranged for me to take tests in the math department, where the secretary gave everybody snacks. There was really no better stop gap for my test anxiety than a snack.

My New Testament professor was confused, and I’m not sure he could be bothered, so my arrangements were turned over to the section TA, who was more than accommodating.

My directing professor requested a one on one meeting in his office later in the week, which was actually a first for me. I agreed to the meeting out of curiosity, since one of my best friends always talked so highly of him. He wasn’t my adviser, and after this meeting I wish I could’ve changed that, but he took an interest in me as an individual. Yes he had a class, but it was made up of singular & different people. He asked me what my plans were. Did I want to be a director? And so on. I think I even said I was in the class just because it was required.

“I could create different assignments for you. What would you like to do?”

EXCUSE ME?

These letters could be my easy way out.

Did I want the easy way out?!?!

It was tempting. Really. Directing was the class I really didn’t want to take. I was equally fearful of movement class, but I felt more “game” for that than directing. However, I have to laugh because I loved directing class & dropped movement after 1 session.

I thanked him & told him I’d think about it. Of course the first thing I did was talk to my friend. She’d taken the same class the year before & gone abroad on a performance trip under his direction, she’s also one of my best friends. If anyone knew if I was really cut out for this it was her.

“It’s not nearly as difficult as you’re thinking. You can do what you want, but you have it in you to take this class, and get an A. You’ll enjoy each other.”

I saw it as a challenge. I could take the easy way out. For two years all I wanted to do was find a way to get out of this requirement. Now that I had it I had to think if I really wanted it.

I took the class with no accommodations. I learned a lot, enjoyed myself, and was in fact sad when the semester was over. I’m still glad I didn’t take my easy way out. The only one that would’ve suffered from it would have been myself.

Lesson: Just because help is available doesn’t mean you have to take it. More importantly when people are willing to bend over backwards for you really consider your motives.

*A similar version of this post first appeared on an old blog on March 14, 2012

Being Special

You should’ve told us you were here. We would’ve made this experience much different for you.”

I was sitting in the Special Student Services office having an apparently overdue meeting with the head of the department. I had asked my mom to attend the meeting with me, because I had no idea how this was going to go.

I wasn’t even a month into my college experience & I was barely making it. I had dropped a class, was already failing another, and was told I had a 25% chance of graduating on time, had to walk a minimum of 20 minutes to each class, was losing weight at a rapid pace, and lied to my cousin telling him going to the same school & living in the same dorm was pretty awesome.

All I could think was; I don’t want to be this kind of special.

I was DONE.

This nerd in a bowtie was telling me how I should’ve begun my college career. He never yelled but was constantly condescending. I’m not sure how I actually ended up in that office but within 5 seconds of being there I knew I was in the wrong place. The whole situation was wrong. I had gone to SSS wanting to turn things around. Now all I wanted to do was turn around & pretend I had never been there.

What Dr. Bowtie never listened to, although he heard it because he was told repeatedly, was that I never intended to need help here. The reason why I chose this school was because I wouldn’t need help; that is until they tore up the whole campus to the point where they stopped shuttle service for the year & didn’t bother to notify anybody.

I had done what every other self-respecting prospective freshman had done the year before, right down to the student led campus tour. The only exception was that my mother was the one in the tour group with the obnoxious notepad, which I’m pretty sure she filled at least half of. This was the 1st school I was visiting out of the 6 I was applying to. It was going to be a long experience.

Only to be rewarded with this kind of treatment.

I don’t remember much of the meeting these days. But I could barely remember it a week later as well. I was so angry with how things were going I think my brain just shut down & went into self-preservation mode.

I know he made a plan which involved me moving into another dorm as soon as another room became available. He didn’t even ask me if I wanted to move, he just assumed I would. My room was far from the nicest thing on campus & the location did suck, but I actually got along with my roommate so I didn’t want to mess that up. Once I was told the possibility of both of us moving wasn’t an option I wasn’t moving.

Another point to the plan was to move all of my classes, into one building if at all possible. I later found out this wasn’t because my classes would mostly be in the arts building which was already full to the gills with 3 departments (we occasionally had department meeting in the lobby spilling into the hallway) so naturally putting Freshman Composition in there too totally makes sense.

I really wasn’t the biggest fan of this idea either. I had had a doctor write a letter to the housing department with my admission paperwork asking that my classes and room be on lower floors in the event of an emergency. Everything was. Case closed. Also my classes were scheduled with at least an hour to spare but two or three between classes was more common, by sheer luck. If my classes were all in the same building was I supposed to just sit in the building all day? Can we all say dull?

Should I even bother to point out how much of a disturbance that would create for just one student? I had a feeling that they would try to keep this as quiet as possible. But I also knew word would get out, or people would just put it all together, and figure out I was the cause of all the upheaval. It wasn’t going to make my time at college better; it would blow it all to hell. I made it to October. I could make it to December and reevaluate for January.

This hardly seemed like the reasonable accommodations the Americans With Disabilities Act was aiming for. I had made it 18 years with very little help. There was no way I was going to let it all go now, and certainly not like this.

Besides who goes into something knowing they’ll need a lot of extra help. Isn’t the idea to blend in? If you need a lot of extra help isn’t that a sign that this situation may not be the best for you? I don’t get up in the morning and consider how much the world owes me just to be able to do what I want. Life doesn’t work that way, but for some reason I think Dr. Bowtie had other ideas. I just couldn’t figure out if it was coming from his head or through interacting with so many other students though his career.

Wherever all of this was rooted in wasn’t for me.
If I was going to turn this whole thing around I had to do it myself.

What I’ve learned from this experience is that just because it’s labeled as help doesn’t mean it actually is.

I never went back to that office.
Never returned a phone call from them.
I ignored they were there.

But I wasn’t done after all.

And so help me God I wasn’t going to be their kind of special.

*A similar version of this post first appeared on an old blog on March 13, 2012

Years In The Making

10 days ago 2 dear friends professed their perpetual vows.

I knew it was a big day but it took a few days before the enormity of it set in, to the tune of,

“I have friends married to God, Whoa!”

Then I cried for a long time.

I remember the phone call telling me that it would be the last phone call because day to day life in a convent doesn’t involve regular cross-country hour long phone calls about anything.

I remember the 1st letter filling me in about what it’s like to enter religious life with the hand written “PS” at the bottom that I read over and over again.

I remember my first retreat and saying “my best friend is a Sister” to anyone who asked me what brought me to the retreat, and hoping I’d get to see her. I remember how shocking (and equally amazing) it was to see her in her habit.

I remember leaving that retreat with more one friend who happens to be a Sister and nurturing those friendships.

I remember trekking to visiting day, when every obstacle you could imagine (and some you couldn’t) was telling me it wasn’t worth the effort. And it was SO worth it on so many levels.

I remember witnessing their profession of 1st vows in the sweltering heat thinking that there’s no place I’d rather be that day.

I’ll always remember the day they professed their perpetual vows, and wishing I could change things and keep things the same at the exact same time.

I’ll remember the end of the day when we all gathered for a picture. Only a small portion of our group of friends from college we able to attend but we were one of the biggest groups there, I think.

The children helped our smallish group practically double in size; there were SEVEN of them after all. I kept having flashbacks from my days in early childhood education, but then I realized I didn’t have to be “Miss Sarah” I could be “mom and dad’s cool friend.”

It’s been almost 10 years since I graduated from college (Lord, I feel old). We used to talk about what we all wanted to do after college and while I’m not sure all of us are exactly where they thought they’d be at this point in life (I know I’m not); we are all where we’re meant to be.