15 down, 1 to go

It’s hard to believe, but it’s true. There is just ONE little semester standing between me and graduation.

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Earning my Bachelor’s degree is a personal goal that I have been pursuing for six years. The good news is that it’s almost complete. Sure, I’ve taken on some important classes, but much of what I have learned had little to do with the actual curriculum. Here are the top six (I could have done just five, but you know I’m an overachiever).

1. It’s one semester at a time. I can tolerate terrible professors (can you speak English please?), difficult courses (my buddies Al and Cal), and a rough schedule (commuting 45 min each way, 4 nights a week). And I can do it because it’s only for 16 weeks. (Or fewer when it’s a summer class.) Breaking big goals into smaller pieces really works.

2. There’s a lot to learn if -and when – I’m ready to listen. Not every subject is interesting, but there is always a hidden nugget when I look for one. When the student is ready, the teacher will appear. This frequently happens outside the classroom, btw.

3. No one cares about my grades. After this long, I can include myself in this category. My job is to do my best. Sometimes this means my name is on the Dean’s list, and sometimes I am satisfied with a C.

Confession: it feels pretty damn good to make the Dean’s list. It feels equally good to not repeat a miserable class. In case you hadn’t heard, C’s get degrees.

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4. It’s not a race or a competition. Some 30 year olds are getting their PhD’s. That’s amazing, and also, it has nothing to do with me. It doesn’t matter that I’m 50 and still working toward my undergrad. I am improving each day and that is a reward in itself. It’s never too late to pursue a goal.

5. Failure is actually valuable. When I flunked online Algebra one summer, I learned an expensive lesson. Ever since, I am more realistic about how and what I can master.

6. Remember the big picture. There are people in my life who are important – even when I have homework. I need to make time for those I love. Achieving goals is great, but not at any cost.

As I look at the next four glorious weeks of zero assignments, I am breathing a sigh of relief. I will not overpack my calendar. I will take naps and socialize and read for fun and get back into my studio to paint. All at my own pace. It feels good to take a break.

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Seasons. Times of working hard and times of rest. The book of Ecclesiastes has a whole chapter about this and it’s as true today as it was thousands of years ago. Honor the season in which you find yourself.

You just may find yourself.

Thanks for reading, until next time,
Sherri

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Mission accomplished!

This simple 2 word phrase is among my favorite 2 word phrases. A few others are “Thank you”, “Package delivered” and “Let’s eat”. I am an achiever – at times an over achiever – but I’m working on that too.

What was the mission? To run an entire 5k without stopping. Now I totally get that some of you might be marathon runners and you’re chuckling right now. Aw, how cute – a little baby 5k? Only 3.1 miles? Some of you do 5 times that distance at a much faster pace. And good for you if you do!

The point I’m making is that this was MY goal, one that had haunted me for a long time. Ten years ago I had attempted this but always fell short and ended up walking.

But as you may have read previously, I started training in July, and continued with the goal scheduled for early November.

The event was Wanderlust, which is a Mindful Triathlon. I would never consider a real triathlon. Don’t you even know me? This event was right up my alley. It began with a 5k, then 75 minutes of yoga, and finishing with 25 minutes of meditation.

During the one hour drive to the event, I was focusing on the fact that I could – and would – run the whole thing. At check-in, this intention was confirmed so clearly. See, the 5k was not hard core with numbers and microchips and such. It was casual. Each participant received their word for the day to stick onto their clothing instead of pinning a number. Some were affixed with “Peace” and “Joy” and other lovely words.

As I arrived at the front of the check-in line, the word on top was this one.

When the volunteer saw the look of surprise on my face, she asked if I wanted a different word. After a moment of hesitation, I replied, “No, this is the word I am supposed to have.”

With this word plastered on my shirt, I knew for certain I would not be stopping to walk. No way! It had been declared that I was a runner. And I was. I ran the whole entire thing.

The rest of the event was amazing! Practicing yoga outside with 1000 people was an incredible experience. Holding a chair pose after running was another challenge for sure. I found people who shared their face paint, met a cool lady selling bracelets, and enjoyed this view during the meditation.

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The really great part is that I am continuing to run. At least once a week I am getting in 2 to 3 miles and plan to do a few more 5k’s. Of course I’m still practicing yoga, and have even wandered into a studio a couple of times this month. Faithfully engaging in an at home practice for several years, I had forgotten about the energy shared with others in a group practice. The meditation is still a work in progress, but isn’t that the idea?

It really is all about the practice, and the process. But also, there is something transforming about reaching a goal! My good friend Kris was the photographer for the event. I think this photo she took captures the joy I was feeling in doing just that.

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What goal are you working on? How can you state your intentions so that you have the best chance of success? A little goes a long way. Keep after it and you’ll get there my friends!

Thanks for reading, until next time,
Sherri

See Sherri run…

Actually, just read about it. There are no photos to post just yet, but it’s happening. Over the last ten years, I have made the occasional attempt at running.

I chose a helpful app called Couch To 5k, which takes people from the couch to running a 5k in 9 weeks. I am definitely more fond of the couch.

Each week has 3 sessions that are each 30 minutes. Incrementally, the walking time becomes less and the running time becomes more. The “coach” tells you when to start and stop, so it’s super easy to follow. That is, once you have your shoes on and decide to actually listen.

Here was the general sequence of events around my running escapades:

1- Realize I need to lose weight.
2- Decide it’s time to begin running.
3- Convince my friend Julie to join me.
—Note, this was often Julie convincing me to join her.
4- Load Couch to 5K (C25K) and buy a cute running outfit.
5- Begin training for a few weeks.
6- Hit scheduling difficulties.
7- Hit physical difficulties.
8- Hit (substantial) mental difficulties.
9- Quit training before completing all 9 weeks and/or 30 minutes of running.
10- Participate in a couple of races, but fail to run an entire 5k.

This pattern continued for several years. There were occasions when we killed it and did so great! Other nights we skipped it altogether and drank wine in the hot tub. We both believed having a running buddy was our best strategy. It was absolutely more fun, but we never actually hit our goal.

I decided I would try it again, but as a solo mission. While it was easier to plan and schedule, it was more challenging to force myself to get up and go.

With much pride, I can now report that I did not miss a single run! Every Monday, Thursday and Saturday for 9 weeks, this girl put on her shoes and hit the ground running, literally.

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Bonus – early morning sunrise on my running path

While I’ve successfully increased my run time to a full 30 minutes, I’m a bit short of the 3.1 mile mark. I’m going to keep with it though – we’re almost hitting acceptable weather for being outdoors in Florida. This is also the beginning of racing season. Sane people do not run outdoors in the Florida summers.

As my friend Susan put it, “You just have to throw your hat over the fence.” With that, I have committed to a 5k in just 3 more weeks, so it’s over the fence alright. I get to prove to myself that I can run this entire thing without stopping.

This is amazing! Not only am I seeing the positive physical results from running, I am noticing the increased self discipline. It’s for me, my health, and my sense of integrity. It feels fabulous to know that I will reach this goal by remaining focused and committed.

Once you get some momentum going, it’s easy to keep moving in a positive direction.

What goals are you reaching for? It doesn’t have to be a Marathon or an 8 minute mile. Maybe it’s just to work towards something that you didn’t quite accomplish before. You don’t have to wait for New Year’s to set a goal and give it your best shot!

Thanks for reading, until next time,
Sherri

I love Wednesday mornings

For over twenty years, I have gone to the beach like it was my job. I would drag my children there every weekend. Prince Charming knows my favorite date night is to watch the sunset from our beach chairs. I have written of this and I can envision living the rest of my years within reach of such glory.

One sight that has piqued my interest is the staked-off sea turtle nests. My consistent comment was, “I want to do that.” Which was immediately followed with, “How can I do that?” Between children and work, the morning routine barely allowed time for red lights. The sea turtle nests became, “One day I will do that.”

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Water, sunshine and love

Plants are the most amazing things ever. They give us oxygen and take in carbon dioxide. They produce flowers and fruit and their own seeds. Getting them to grow is not all that complicated.

Until recently however, I really did have a black thumb.

I killed nearly every single plant that came into my possession. Now and then there would be a survivor of the heartiest variety, but most fell victim to my neglectful ways. On a few occasions, one of my friends would give me a plant and I would cringe. The pressure to keep it alive was crippling.

Don’t get me wrong. I love plants. I love wandering around nurseries admiring all the beauty. I can barely remember the names or what they need, but I love to look. I stopped buying them years ago, knowing their fate was doomed given my pitiful plant parenting.

About 8 months ago, all of that changed. I am now a successful plant mom. Just look…

Here we have Hibiscus, Petunias, and others, then Cilantro, Basil and Parsley, and Sunflowers that I planted from seeds. At the bottom right, it’s a Miniature Rose plant from Prince Charming. This landscape is nothing short of a miracle.

Right now they all need some water, and it’s thundering but not raining, so I’m waiting to see what happens. Sunshine is a given here (um, yes, it’s the actual Sunshine State)! But the water will have to come from the hose soon if the sky doesn’t open up.

The love part is what I had to overcome. I always thought people who talked to their plants were a half a bubble off center. As it turns out, they know what’s up. Each day I greet all of my plants and check on them to see how they are. I am amazed at the difference this makes. Positive attention is really all that is required. If you’re interested, you can watch this silly video to see what I mean.

Even with all of this growth, I am still lacking in the self confidence department. When Prince Charming gave me the roses, I was terrified. I wasn’t sure I was ready for something so precious and beautiful. He assured me that I had what it takes to keep it healthy and happy. And he was right, so far, so good.

The parallel was not lost on me.

I felt a bit terrified when he and I began seeing each other. I wasn’t sure I was ready for something so precious and beautiful. He assured me that we have what it takes to keep things healthy and happy. And he was right, so far, so good.

It’s true that things don’t come to you until you are ready for them.

Learning to give of myself isn’t always easy. Having a commitment to care for another can feel like a big task, especially when my track record isn’t so great.

And then I remember, it’s just water, sunshine and love.

My past doesn’t define my future. I am learning and growing each day and letting my plants and our relationship do the same. How ridiculous would it be to tug on the leaves and stems? The key is to give freely, and not to force anything. And when everything is blooming, to relax and enjoy the beauty it brings to life.

Thanks for reading, until next time,
Sherri

Twelve credits in twelve weeks

You know what it’s like when someone is giving you advice on how to tackle a difficult thing? I mean, it’s good to have people cheering us on to higher heights. I love those kinds of people. Sometimes I am one of those people, encouraging and inspiring others who are facing challenges.

The clincher statement goes a little something like this, “The time is going to pass anyway. If doing “x” takes 5 years, well y’know, those 5 years are going to come and go whether you are working on “x” or not.” Translation: suck it up and do “x”. No one wants to waste time. It’s so much better to work toward an amazing and lofty goal, am I right?

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Y’all, I did 4 college classes this summer. And worked full time, had weekly dates with Prince Charming, kept a (fairly) clean house, had time with others who are important, celebrated my 50th birthday, and volunteered on the beach once a week.

Now that it’s over, I can actually breathe and relax. Yes, there is a massage scheduled and a vacation booked and zero assignments or tests for TWO WHOLE WEEKS.

Also, because I am not all that humble, you need to know that I got A’s in all 4 classes. The real miracle is this…

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No one died.

I don’t even think I was (that) bitchy. It was intense for sure, and at week 9, I wanted to cry. But I hung in there and now it’s done. By signing up for this time of insanity, I shaved 7 months off of my previous graduation date of December 2019. And what did I learn, you’re asking?

That every now and then, you gotta step up your pace to get to the finish line. It’s okay to take on a crazy amount of work (or whatever). Just be super realistic about what it will feel like and look like. If someone had told me it was going to be a cakewalk, I would have failed. But I succeeded because folks around me said things like, “Wow, that’s a lot,” and “That’s no picnic,” and “You’re working too?”. Those realistic comments were exactly what I needed to hear.

I think I’ll really like the next 2 normal paced semesters, which are also my final 2 semesters! In the meantime, I’m catching up on all kinds of fun things, like time in the art studio, with a book (that is not assigned), and binging on some Netflix.

So what kind of insanity are you considering? It’s okay to take on big, challenging seasons. Just be realistic with yourself, and help those near you understand your commitments. And when the season has passed, and you have succeeded, appreciate your cheerleaders!

Thanks for reading, until next time,
Sherri

Carry it well!

Three glorious weeks of non-school life was absolutely amazing. It was a brief season to catch up, rest, play, socialize, paint, relax and do all the things that I can’t do when staring down the barrel of homework and assignments.

My philosophy is that whatever you’re doing, do it full on. If you’re at work, then buckle down, focus and get sh*t done. And when you’re on vacation, relax and enjoy. Seriously. Like, have pizza and cheeseburgers and dessert. Oh, and lots of margaritas. Whatever you do, please, don’t check your emails or any of that nonsense. Continue reading