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Random Song Pick Saturday: Freddie Mercury – Living On My Own (Official Video)

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School Angst

I mentioned that I’m going back to school. The decision itself is a hard one, especially for an older adult going back. There are so many factors that affect the decision that you begin to second guess yourself even though you know it is the right decision.

Time.

Cost.

Benefits from the end result.

All things that worry the returning adult.

But you never think about the actual process.

When you go to college right out of high school, the process is streamlined. There is a school counselor that helps or should help the student get organized and situated. There are certain deadlines and lots of reminders for high school students.  For adults…not so much.

You’re on your own, Baby!

All the research for schools, the deadlines, the scholarships, the assessment tests, registration, and financial aide, that’s all up to you to figure out. Don’t get me wrong, there are entrance counselors at college that specialize in getting you organized, but up until that point is all self-motivated. So much of it has to be done simultaneously or in the right order. For an adult with a full life, it can make a person begin to question their decision.

I’m one of those people who think long and hard about a decision before committing to a course of action, but once I’ve decided, I want to get a move on. College isn’t like that. There is a lot of waiting. Waiting for the government to get back to you on the FAFSA. Waiting for transcripts. Waiting for advisers and books and registers. The list goes on and on. Then if you hit a snag…oh man! Some extra info that is needed or something that has to be resubmitted can halt the whole process.  It makes a person antsy.

Another thing that I’ve come to realize is that as an adult, I’m going to have to learn how to learn.  I’m doing online school and I’m starting to realize how convoluted websites can be. You can find info from a thousand different ways except for the info you need. Just because it is an institution of higher learning does not mean that they have an efficient website. I’ve spent hours searching for info that I need only to find out that you have to call for that info. I can be really frustrating.

There is also the online forums and clubs. I’m going to have to learn a whole new world of online society. Some of it is voluntary, but some of it is for class. I’ve never been a really social person. Meeting new people face to face is hard, but to randomly pick someone online and start up a conversation is daunting. I’m feeling archaic.

I plan to stick with this and keep going, but just wanted to give out a cautionary note. College isn’t easy especially for returning adults. If you are going back to school or have been thinking about it, just keep in mind that it will be frustrating learning how to go about learning. Keep your chin up and keep going, it will eventually make sense….I hope.

Going Old School

I don’t mean doing it the old way. I mean I’m old and going to school.

I took a break from college a million years ago, and by that I mean 23 years ago. I could tell you a lot of excuses about why I didn’t go on to get my Bachelor’s degree, but the honest truth was that I was scared. I have never been good at moving and grooving in crowds of people far from home. At the time I was barely at the point where I could find my way through a party that involved people I knew much less strangers. I lived at home during my college years because of cost. I only lived 30 miles from the college and it made more financial sense to just commute.  At the time I thought it was the perfect answer, but now that I’m older I think I made a mistake.

Most kids leave home and live in the dorm. It’s sink or swim. Learn to adapt or learn to adapt. I had the luxury of  playing it safe and staying home. It allowed me to stay comfortable while navigating the gateway that college represents to the scary adult world. When it came time to move on to a larger college for my Bachelor’s, I panicked. I thought about living with all those strangers and trying to handle living in a huge city after growing up in a small town and I couldn’t face it. So I made excuses…

Too expensive, tired of school, needed a break, wasn’t sure about my choices blah blah blah.

For years I have paid for my fear and never admitted it. Well, here I am admitting it. I have had nothing but ground pounder kind of jobs. Motels, restaurants, retail, phone work- I’ve done it all, but where did I get to?

No where.

So here I am, 42 years old. Lots of bills and no retirement. Nothing but fear ahead of me and the consequences of fear behind me. The only thing to do is change it. The only way I can see to change it is to go back to school. I’m going to get my Bachelor’s degree. Maybe it’ll help me as a writer, maybe I’ll go into teaching. Hard to say exactly. The world is a funny place. Whatever it is, step one is going back to school.  Online school.

I have no idea what I’m doing with online schooling. I’m not the best when it comes to computers. I love pencils and paper and classrooms, but I live in the middle of rural Montana. It’s a little hard to get to school with travel time and still needed to pick up my kiddo from school, so online is my best option. I guess I’ll be leaning more than just the subject matter.

My family is supporting my crazy idea. My daughter told me she is proud of me for actually doing it. She says I’ve been talking about it for as long as she can remember.

I’m just scared.

Again.

I don’t know if I’ll be able to concentrate on the classes during the summer when my son is home all day. I’ll probably have to do some pretty late nights. Later than usually, so that means maybe until 3 am sometimes. I’m scared that I won’t be able to pay for it after I actually have my degree. Student loan debt is no joke. We are already drowning in it from my husband going to school. What if I can’t work because of my son? Autism waits for no one. What if I’ve gotten dumb over the years and can’t pass the classes? What if I’m wasting my time and money because my life is half over and there isn’t time to accomplish anything?

I know some of these are ridiculous fears, but they are in my head. I don’t know what is going to happen. I am right back where I was when I stopped school all those years ago. I just hope that life experience will give me the courage this time to move forward in spite of the fears.

Wish me luck!

Scare Tactics

For thousands of years parents and teachers have been trying to get kids to learn, behave, and understand. There have been many schools of thought on the “correct” method of accomplishing that. They have ranged from using logical explanations to beatings and threats to using drugs and counselling. However one of the longest enduring methods is scare tactics.

I’m not just talking about saying, “If you keep making that face, it will freeze that way.” I’m talking about horror stories. I’m talking about traumatizing our children to keep them safe. I’m not saying that this is the best way to accomplish the goal, but it is effective.

Every country in the world has cautionary tales. Some are folk tales. Some are fairy tales. They used stories to #1 get their kids’ attention and #2 get their point across in a way that stuck in their heads.

Not long ago our High School here in Conrad MT staged one such event. It was called the Ghost Out. Click here for the blog and pictures.  This event showed the results up close and personal results of drunk driving. Telling them not to drink and drive did nothing, but seeing their friends lying dead in pools of blood made an impression. There hasn’t been a decrease in the partying, but there has been an increase in calls for rides and checking in to let their friends know they are okay and have made it home. I know that some of the kids wanted nothing to do with anything involving blood, no movies no video games, for quite some time after the Ghost Out.

So now I find myself thinking perhaps it’s time to scare some more kids to save some lives.

I know that most of you will gasp and rant at what I’m about to suggest, but desperate times call for desperate measures. I believe it is time to scare kids about guns, about school shootings.

Desensitization to violence in all forms has made it hard for kids to understand the results of a moment of action. Whether it be horror movies, video games, social media, or even the news, kids in this day and ages have seen it all before. But until they have lived it, violence doesn’t make an impression.  How many kids who were running for cover and trying to survive a school shooting have a new perspective on how precious life is? How many are rethinking how they treat their fellow students? How many are asking if they could have changed things just by acting a little different?

This idea came about after I saw a news clip about the emergency teams that were going through training on how to use battlefield medicine in case of a school shooting. The EMTs were talking about how much this training was driving home the reality of how devastating a school shooting is.  So this got me thinking, maybe it would have the same effect on students. Maybe students wouldn’t be so keen to bring a gun in and shoot their fellow students if they had some up close experience with seeing their friends bleeding on the gym floor.

I know that this idea seems severe and maybe a little over-reactive, but so far what else had worked? People preach and rant about gun control. People blame the government. People blame the police, the administration, the parents, social media, video games, medications… There is no end to the “blame game” of reasons this type or tragedy should never happen. Unfortunately that hasn’t been working. It is time for scare tactics.

How much would it change a kid’s perspective of school shootings if they got to experience it without the actual tragedy? What if they were in class and heard the gun shots? What if they were to go through the drills for a school shooting? What if they were then taken to the gym or the cafeteria to see a scene of massacre where some of their friends were lying dead or dying? What if they saw how hard the EMTs were working to save those injured? What if they then had the opportunity to talk about it and share their fears? What if they were given a crash course in how to save a life?

How many of those kids would go home and rethink their perceptions of the world? How many would reach out to others who they knew were hurting? How many would reconnect with what’s important and do their best to keep each other safe?

I know that this idea is not a perfect solution. I know that in some kid’s cases it might make things worse and give them ideas. There is always a danger of things like that. I know that a lot of parents wouldn’t want their children to go through something like that even if it is fake. However, I keep thinking how effective the Ghost Out was and I just think that maybe scare tactics might just save their lives.

What do you think? Scare them to save them?

Lack of Responsibility

I find it aggravating that in this day and age no one knows what responsibility is.  I don’t know if is it because of the “blame game” culture we live in or if it is just going extinct because responsibility isn’t taught to kids these days.

The thing that has sparked my outrage is this….

Someone hit my Jeep! Hit and run!

They ran into it.

Cracked my headlight.

Dented my fender.

Then just drove off.

Never said a word!

I suspect it was someone dropping their kid off at the Head Start school that is two doors down from us.

You know, I understand. It is really freaking icy out. Sometimes accidents happen. You hit an ice rut under the snow and you slide sideways unexpectedly. It happens. That’s why it’s called an accident.

But seriously, why not tell me?

If they were dropping off their kid, what kind of example were they setting? You’re thinking that kids going to Head Start are really young and wouldn’t notice any way. Wrong. Kids see everything, everything you do influences the kind of person they will be when they grow up. Do the right thing, show them how to be responsible. One day they will make a huge mistake, break a lamp, get in a fight, maybe even wreck your car. Do you want them to remember how you hit a car and didn’t tell anyone? Do you want them to hide their mistake like you did?

Maybe there was another reason, you say?

You’re thinking maybe they aren’t sure they can afford the insurance rates from an accident.

NEITHER CAN I!

I know that I will have to pay for the deductible, get a rental while it’s being fixed and deal with all the hoopla of organizing the repairs whether they told me or not, but that is not the point! If you do something wrong, OWN UP TO IT. It’s the right thing to do.

It sucks to get in trouble. I know that. No one wants to be yelled at. No one wants to admit they screwed up. No one wants to admit they were wrong. It doesn’t matter. Do the right thing. That is how the world works….or how it should work.

A majority of the world today feels that they are not responsible for their actions and look where it’s gotten us. Work ethics are dwindling, sexual harassment is rampant, families are broken, crime is up, government is failing, education is falling apart- all because no one wants to take responsibility for their actions. It’s always someone else’s fault.

It comes down to a lack of integrity.

in·teg·ri·ty

  1. the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.
    “he is known to be a man of integrity”
    synonyms: honesty, probity, rectitude, honor, good character, principle(s), ethics, morals, righteousness, morality, virtue, decency, fairness, scrupulousness, sincerity, truthfulness, trustworthiness
    “I never doubted his integrity”
  2. the state of being whole and undivided.
    “upholding territorial integrity and national sovereignty”
    synonyms: unity, unification, coherence, cohesion, togetherness, solidarity
    “the integrity of the federation”

The human race needs integrity in order to survive and thrive a species. Otherwise our culture will collapse in on itself. The world will be destroyed all because of lack of responsibility.

So man up, woman up, cowboy up, however you want to say it. Take responsibility for your action, tell the damn truth and make the world a better place. It all starts with you.

Absence and Changes

I apologize for the long absence. Life has been difficult lately.

Still can’t seem to get school under control. My senior is still struggling to get sorted with Personalized Learning. The constant changes and rearranges the school has been implementing has put her in a state of mind where she couldn’t care less if she goes to school any more. That is a terrible place to be especially for a senior, they tend to be biting at the bit to get out of school anyway. Some of her classmates are doing alright, but there have been quite a few kids who have transferred to other schools and a couple that have dropped out. It’s a sad state for education.

My son isn’t having  a much better time either. They finally found an aide, but because of things being unsettled he had a couple of dangerous meltdowns. So now he has two aides. However, things remain unsettled. The school can’t decide what they are doing and hovering around the whole mess is this sense of secrecy. No one is communicating. I keep hearing, “there are going to be changes, but no one is telling us” and “we’re not allowed to talk to you.” That is the part I really don’t get. Why can’t anyone talk to me? I’m his freaking parent! He doesn’t communicate well because of his autism, the only way I know what is going on with him is if someone tells me. Why make a hard situation harder?

It breaks my heart that my son can be in a perfectly good mood all morning, walk to school happily, then walk through the door of the school and immediately start hitting himself in the head and poking himself in they eye. Nothing happened. No trigger besides walking through the door. What does that tell you about the environment at school?

However there is a light in this dark tunnel.

Because of the big heart of one of our neighbors, my husband has been hooked up with a local job.  It’s one of those “I know a guy who knows a guy” situations. Long story short. My husband is home! He starts at his new job this coming week. It’s going to be different. He’s been working in the wind industry for nearly a decade and he’s going to miss it, but as he keeps saying “family first.” Autism, puberty, and stress at home make it necessary to change.

I am stupidly excited about him being home, but I’m also apprehensive. He’s been on the road for nearly 5 years and we’ve only seen each other 8 times a year in all that time. We’re going to have to learn to live together all over again. I almost want to put out my hand and say, “hi nice to meet you.” Routines are going to have to adjust and space with have to be shared.  I know that I’m going to have to learn to give up a lot of control. I’ve been mom and dad for quite a while now. It’s going to be quite an adjustment for all of us.

Hopefully with someone to share the stress with I’ll be able to get back to writing and maybe start feeling like a human again.

Poem: Will Power

A small poem about Will Power

 

What can I say?

My voice has been silenced.

                            You’re strong.

My soul has been injured.

                           You’re resilient.

My strength has failed.

                          You’ll get over it.

Doesn’t work that way.

Even mountains fall down.