Graduation ~ 12 Years and $$,$$$ in loans

12 Years and $$,$$$ in loans.
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Now you might be thinking, “Wow, 12 years!! She must be a ___ (pick one – MD, PHD, MBA, JD)”
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Nope. Just BS. A four-year degree that took me 12 years to complete as an on-again off-again student. Why did it take so long? A combination of life situations, money and maybe a little fear. It would have been great to graduate high school and head off to a four-year university but I had to take a different route.
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My college journey actually started when I was 16. My dad enrolled me in a few college courses with him (yep I went to school with my dad…read: no college boys for me). After high school I continued at community college while working. At one time I had three jobs and full-time school. Then I enrolled at a local university. I was accepted but not yet cleared by the financial aid office. I was encouraged by the coordinator to just begin the classes and it would take a while to finish my aid package. Big mistake. I started the classes only to find out that I needed more money and subsequently could not attend the second semester. Upset with the coordinator recommending this, I wrote a complaint letter only to find out that he was now in charge of the whole program. I never received a response to the letter and the people in the office could not offer any help on how to continue my education.
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So back to community college I went. Trying to get the classes required for a degree at community college is like chasing the wind. There aren’t enough and the ones that are available have awful scheduling conflicts with the other classes and work. After a few years of working a couple jobs at once, I took a break from school to open an event design business. I love love love weddings and was blessed to be a part of a couple hundred during these years. The business was profitable for almost four years but then the economy grew rocky, I went through a relationship ending and my dad was diagnosed with his first cancer all the while my parents were raising five of my nieces and nephews. I moved home to help them out and my business took a backseat to life. After almost two years, when things were calming down for my parents, I moved out.
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During life changes of any kind we question ourselves and evaluate what’s missing and re-set goals. Finishing school was a goal of mine. I started taking night classes and working again. I decided to make a bigger move – out of the suburbs. Growing up with my dad in the Navy, we visited San Diego a lot. The sun – the beach – and overall fun spirit of the city drew me in. I fell in love with San Diego the day I moved there and really thought I would live there for the rest of my life. But then I fell in love again (with Sweets) and traveled across the states to be with him in DC. I sought schools in DC and applied for a few. I got accepted to half but ended up deciding on California based Azusa Pacific University. The organizational leadership degree was offered online and a perfect fit for me. It was accelerated and I was all set to graduate in 15 months. Sweets proposed on New Years of 2010 and I began to plan a wedding in San Diego. I also took a full-time job working many nights and weekends in addition to the 9-5. But slowly I pressed on with my class work. In August 2011, I married my Sweets.
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At times I wanted to quit but Sweets wouldn’t let me (sorry for all the whining Honey). I left my job a few months after I found out I was pregnant. I wanted to focus on finishing classes before the baby arrived. But 3 weeks after I left some new opportunities came up that were too good to turn down. I kept working while chugging along in school. At nine months pregnant I had 15 units to complete to make it to graduation. I decided to complete these all in the spring semester to walk in the May ceremony. Obviously school doesn’t teach everything because this might not have been the smartest move. I had a baby at the end of January, never taking a maternity leave from my job (working from home though) and started classes the day Evan turned 3 weeks. I didn’t want to miss out on a single moment with my baby so I would work only after he fell asleep. Many nights I would be up till 3:00am finishing work. All in all it took me 28 months to complete the 15-month program.
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People graduate everyday and for them it’s easy but for me it was something I started and failed to complete so many times, I didn’t think I would ever finish. And that thought right there is the reason it took me 12 years. Finishing was incredibly important to me not only to check the box on a long-time goal but because I believe education changes lives. It’s not always the textbooks and class work or the math and science but it’s learning how to acquire knowledge. And yes, corny but true, knowledge is power.
I was the first in my family to graduate with a bachelor’s degree and would not have made it with out my dad and husband’s support. It’s my desire that Ev (and our future kids) and all my nieces and nephews continue their education well beyond a bachelor’s degree. Maybe the most important thing I learned is how much more there is to learn. In college or out of college, I want to be a student for life.
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“In order for our lives to go forward, in order to engage fully in life, we need to be willing and able to accept what is right in front of us. Whatever it is, the good, the bad, the thrilling, the heartbreaking, every emotion, occurrence, event, person, place or thing, you will experience them all… You accept influence and then you exert influence. You can’t make a cloudy day a sunny day, but can embrace it and decide it’s going to be a good day after all. If life gives you lemons, grab it by the horns and drive — and yes, I just mixed three metaphors. I was a C-student.” ~ Jane Lync

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Mom feeding Ev ~ Sweets got lucky with lots of baby sitters around.
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My favorite cap from the gal sitting in front of me. I didn’t realize decorating caps was in…Yep, I’m old.
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As I walked up to him on stage, I said, “How are you?” ~ He laughed and said good and that I was the first person after several hundred to ask him.
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My beautiful nieces…
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My sistas…Grad13
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My brother, his beautiful wife and my cute little nephew.

Getting Stoked for the New Year!!

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YAY for 2013!! New Year’s Eve is my favorite holiday. I love celebrating new beginnings and gearing up for the start of a new year. Since I can remember, I have made a resolutions list ~ and yes, I actually accomplish most of my goals. Usually there are a few stragglers that linger to the next year’s list, but the important thing is to have goals.

“A man without a goal is like a ship without a rudder.” Thomas Carlyle

I am so excited to be blogging this year because there is so much going on. Things you can expect to see on the blog this year…

Building my business  ~ My business launched in September and so far it has been going really well. I have been working with some amazing clients and fabulous events. I will be blogging about some of the things I am working on and the business lessons I am learning along the way.

Lovely Ladies ~ As I build my business, I am inspired by gals who have taken steps to launch a new business or project. I have been chatting with some wonderful woman who are sharing their stories with me. These ladies have found their calling in life and are using their God given talents and gifts in pursuing their dreams. Exciting stuff!!

Venture 52 – Keeping with the New Year’s resolution spirit ~ and pursuit of forward positive thinking, becoming a better person, helping others, making a difference in the world, finding balance, etc. ~ there will be 52 projects featured that are inspiring me to do all the above.

Also, we are expecting a very important arrival any day now. As I type this post, I am 38 weeks pregnant and ready to be a mama.

Did you set any resolutions this year? Please share ;-)

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My Lovely Venture

The start of a lovely venture…

I have roughly two years before the big 3-0. While two years seems like a long time, I know it is going to be gone fast. What can I accomplish in the next two years?

I have always longed to have the home with the white picket fence, a wrap-around porch and a kitchen table topped with a big pitcher of lemonade next to a plate of homemade chocolate chip cookies. In reality, I am living in a small studio apartment in the city – no picket fence, no porch.

I live with my amazing husband (I call him Sweets) and my two dogs, Giada and Apple. While I never pictured my life where it has ended up, I couldn’t be happier. Being a military wife has brought me to the east coast. Far from where I grew up in California, this is our home. As I have struggled to finish my degree while working full-time, my desire to create the perfect home and wonderful home-cooked meals has haunted me for the last few years.  Normally, I have only had a few moments to heat up anything in my freezer that didn’t have freezer burn. And that is all about to change…

I left my full-time job to launch my new business and focus on finishing school before the arrival of my first baby. I will graduate right before he gets here. Yes, a boy :-) My goals before the next five months…

  • create a warm, inviting home  (get organized)
  • master the lost art of hospitality
  • make my cookbooks more than just decoration
  • read 25 books (ultimate goal is 100 a year, baby steps)
  • remember birthdays and send cards (not just a facebook message)
  • make something off Ana White’s website
  • really enjoy and celebrate the upcoming holiday season
  • make everyday a day to be celebrated and treasured

I welcome you to join me on this lovely venture as I work to accomplish my goals, build my business and have fun along the way.