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

Breathe in, breathe out, smile

That was the Sunday morning message today. Which I watched from home in my PJ’s. Breathe in, breathe out, and smile. (If you haven’t had enough inspiration today, and you’d like to watch, click here.)

How is it that I got to stay home on a Sunday morning and leisurely watch church? Because our Pastor said it’s “Take a Break” weekend, and gave everyone the weekend off. No services. It’s been glorious and weird and exactly what I needed. Extra time to reflect and rest and relax. After the most challenging semester, AND moving, I needed it!

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Why chi-square? Why not a chai latte?

Why questions have got to be the worst. Little ones are such pros at this. And if you have a toddler, you’re probably too dang exhausted to play the never ending game of why. Think of all the fun that Aunties and Grandparents get to have with this question.

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I’m asking myself “Why?” these days. And it’s not productive at all.

Please know that I am not complaining here. I signed up for this. I want my degree, and I am willing to sacrifice some lazy days and Netflix nights to see it through. I love almost all of my classes. Three out of four to be exact. Interesting, useful topics presented by knowledgeable and interesting professors, 75% of the time. Things like the four P’s of marketing, the Theory of Planned Behavior, and how others in China greet one another. All great stuff.

Until it comes to the dreaded fourth course. QMB3200. Economic and Business Statistics II. The QMB is literally Quantitative Methods in Business, and if that gives you a headache, same. You can now be in my support group.

The professor is from India, and he is an engineer by trade. He’s actually brilliant and tries to bring this not-exciting methodology to a place where we understand what in the *#@!  he is actually talking about. But I can’t am having a hard time understanding the concepts and an equally hard time listening to him explain it.

Is it me? Is it him? Is it just the subject? It’s a required class and he’s the only one that teaches it. What can I change? Not much. Okay, maybe how much time I spend on it. Which for this weekend is somewhere around 8 hours already for this ONE STUPID class. Maybe I can try changing my attitude? That’s a bit trickier…

Don’t get me wrong, I am not lazy or apathetic (okay, a tad bit apathetic). All of this can literally be done in Excel or other programs. By other people who perhaps will work in the office next to me. And they can “crunch the numbers” and yes, I will want to know what they mean. But right now it’s kind of like WHY AM I BEING TORTURED THIS WAY?

Remember in grade school when we had to learn long division? And we couldn’t use calculators?

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Yeah, it’s a little bit like that.

Do you know what the entire basis of Statistics even is? It’s all about sample data. The reason you spend a bajillion hours calculating sample data and proportions and all that nonsense is because, according to my professor, we can never know the data of the entire population. Hello? Has anyone at the college level heard of Big Data? It’s going to replace this entire field and future generations will never have to suffer such a terrible fate.

So why do I have to take this class? It’s the same as little kids asking their parents basically any why question. Because they said so, that’s why. Guess I’m still a rebel at heart.

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At the beginning of the semester, I took this screen shot just for fun. Let’s pause and enjoy this moment, shall we? (this is not my current grade at all, btw). This was my grade after basically turning in ONE homework assignment. It wasn’t like the answers were correct or anything. It’s so much fun to pretend I can freeze this score (insert mad woman maniacal laughter).

For the moment, we need to call down all the powers from above that I miraculously pass this course. Because the exam grades are a whole ‘nother story altogether, and I’ve got one coming up fast. If, oops, I mean, when I pass, I plan to celebrate heavily, with champagne and maybe even fireworks.

I’m not sure what the big takeaway is here. You get to be grateful this is not your life right now? Maybe you’ve got an encouraging story to share about a class you conquered against all odds? If you can toss up a little prayer that I’ll make it through, I’d be so grateful.

Thanks for reading, until next time…
Sherri

 

 

 

Not looking down

Below are statements that could be contributing to my feeling of overwhelm. Choose the one that is the MOST true:
A) I am a student at an actual University now (not a Community College).
B) It’s my Junior year, meaning upper level classes.
C) I’m taking more classes this semester (four, not the usual two).
D) My brain is older than it used to be.
E) There was a hurricane, traveling, and a major project at work.
F) All of the above

Yep, you guessed it. F is for _____. Congrats! You score 100% on the quiz for today.

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A very fun six weeks…

For the past few weeks, I’ve been loading up my canvas, brushes, and paints and driving around the corner. There’s a cute little Italian restaurant that has live artists working, and I had the honor of being one of them.

It’s not that I’m all that talented. I mean, I think my work is okay, but it’s not like I studied art or even really have that much experience. I took one class and totally loved it (and okay, I got an A). Largely I believe I was there painting because I pestered followed up with the manager a few times. Moxie for the win! Also, it was summer, I was available, and they had room on their schedule for me.

And then last week, it came to an end. Summer is about over. School is about to resume, and it was time for me to exit stage right.

Which is sad, because I enjoyed it so much.

But it’s also good. And here is why.

I am in a constant state of learning and growing. I now have paintings that are for sale, and I am searching out new avenues in which to sell them. I am launching even further outside of my comfort zone to do this. Oh, have I mentioned that there are a bazillion other artists in Sarasota? And there are packed galleries everywhere? A girl like me could get really insecure, really fast with those kinds of stats.

I could wallow. I could feel sad. I could believe selling art is too hard. I could decide that I am not a good enough artist and that my work is not worthy. But according to Brene Brown, the antidote to scarcity is gratitude.

Fortunately, I happen to be well versed in the practice of gratitude.

For the past six weeks, I spent time next to amazing artists (like Tom, Dante, Karen,  LaShawn, and others). I made friends with the adorable bartender (as one does). I learned a lot about painting and pricing. I even learned how to graciously handle inappropriate suggestions of what I should add to a beach scene I was working on one night. I enjoyed delicious food, a cool atmosphere, and basked in the glow of the whole experience while it was happening.

I didn’t take one moment of it for granted.

I can appreciate the season for what it was, who I met, what I learned, and how it allowed me to grow. Both as an artist and as a person.

With that, I will be keeping my Art page here up to date on works that are for sale. And if you’re not in a big rush, I can take work on commission too. And if you have any great suggestions for me, send them along.

It is my joy to paint, and I will not worry or fret about whether any of it sells. I have found a creative outlet that delights my heart, and that is a valuable thing.

Thanks so much for reading, until next time!
Sherri

 

School’s out for summer…

Please tell me that you sang the title just as I did when I typed it. Here’s a link – complete with bubbles – in case it’s been a while since you’ve seen Alice Cooper on stage.

I just realized how much I can relate to Punxsutawney Phil. Peeking up from the depths of the homework hole, peering around to see if there are assignments due – or classes to attend. Is it really safe to go out and play?

Why yes, yes it is.

I am used to being in school four nights in a row, and doing homework and studying the other nights. I haven’t had to do any of that in TWO WHOLE WEEKS. What??

What in the blazes have I been doing with all of my extra time (besides not writing blog posts, obviously)?

Friends. Beach. Home projects. Netflix. Painting. Books. Did I mention friends?

I have been making up for lost time in the social arena – as in – I’ve been having a good ol’ time since classes ended. Having fun is just as I remembered it, you know, it’s FUN!

I also reached a goal this week in the Toastmaster’s Club. I delivered my 10th speech and earned the Competent Communicator award. For those who have no clue what I’m talking about, let me ‘splain, Lucy.

Toastmaster’s is an international organization that helps people conquer their fear of public speaking. Members take turns giving prepared speeches and talking extemporaneously and then giving and receiving helpful feedback from one another. It’s actually pretty cool and there are some amazing people in my club. I’m growing and improving my ability to speak (and you thought I had that down solid).

Oh, and I hung this up in my office.

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Lido Beach, Sarasota, Florida. Acrylic on canvas, 24″ x 24″

So every day I’m seeing the beach one way or another! This was my final project for my painting class, but I just can’t seem to put away my brushes. There’s another painting nearly finished on my easel and several more lined up behind it. It’s becoming almost as much fun as writing.

With summer, and this recovery of time and energy, I’m going to revisit the whole dating thing. I’ll be sure to keep you in the loop if / when it gets interesting. I am honestly not sure where I left off with my alphabet dating drama, so I may just have to start over. We’ll see…

Summer, I’m so glad you’re here. Please stay awhile – I have lots of plans for us 🙂

Thanks for reading, until next time,
Sherri

 

Selfie on canvas

In 2013, the word selfie was added to the Oxford Dictionary and was proclaimed “word of the year”. You would think by now that I would be good at taking one, but alas, you’re wrong.

It’s a generational thing to be sure. I know my millennial children have zero issues with taking and posting selfies all day long. Of course they are both wrinkle free and have that amazing metabolism I fondly recall having at that age. Those were the days…

That was never me. I am completely, totally, 100% NOT photogenic. I’m the reason the photographer has to take 72 group shots so that someone’s eyes aren’t closed. I don’t have a side or a smile or a pose. I scrambled to find pics to post on the dating profile.

The struggle is real.

So of course our next painting assignment is a self portrait.

I tried to negotiate my way out of it by offering to exchange the proposed self portrait for a three canvas series as my final project rather than a single piece. That’s a net gain of one entire painting. My professor declined with this inarguable comment. He challenged me with, “Every great artist does a self portrait.”

He knows me, and that I have enough ego to absorb this compliment and calling in one fell swoop. The good news is that I can use a photo – past or present. Oh good, we’ll leave off the neck wrinkles and crow’s feet and leave a young clean face to capture on the canvas.

One evening after a full week of work and school, I grabbed the box of photos and began my quest. Anything stored electronically was too recent. There were a billion pictures of my adorable children, you know, the photogenic ones? But a decent picture of yours truly in her younger days? Not so much.

Sure, there were a few, but I could not use a single one. Between the quality, the background, the lighting, the expression, and of course the closed eyes, they just weren’t quite right.

Rabbit trail: I actually shed a few tears as I reminisced over photos of my grandparents that have long been gone. And those memories of once-small children that no longer sit on my lap for bedtime stories.

Disclaimer: I may have been hormonal.

Warning: Looking at old pictures while hormonal is likely to cause uncontrollable cravings for Breyer’s Original Vanilla Bean topped with Ghirardelli Chocolate Chips and could additionally result in varying amounts of weight gain.

When my search came up empty, I surrendered to using a current selfie. After getting a friend to do some pics, and a ridiculous amount of time playing around with my camera phone, a few decent shots were captured.

The realization I had about myself, and how I feel about my image, was monumental.

In the majority of the old pictures, I did not love myself. I did not even like myself. No wonder none of those other pictures would work! I am glad I have grown and changed and embraced who I am. It’s a tough job, but it is necessary.

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Photo credit: Rita Michelle Baucom

Self love is a critical piece of life, and I finally have it! I am proceeding with this current self portrait, wrinkles and all. It’s about capturing the moment, the season of life in which I find myself.

 

Let the painting begin!

Thanks for reading, until next time…
Sherri