Time for Reading

I have a confession to make. A short while back…ok, don’t let me fool you; it was on February 11th, I saw a post on Live to Write—Write to Live. This site has quite a few women authors and this particular post posed the following question:

QUESTION: It’s the biggest complaint I hear from writers. I don’t have time to read any books, they’ll say as they gaze at the novel in my hands. Okay, so fess up. Do you read on a daily basis? Do you find it important enough to schedule it into your day? (should you?)

Each of the authors then responded with how much they read and why and one of them said that in order to be a good writer, it is imperative that you spend at least 30 minutes a day reading. The more you read, the better you will write. Well, how could I argue with that? As a matter of fact, here is the comment I posted:

I do read more often than I even realize. Of course, I can get lost reading the blogs I follow, but I am also a Penn State University student studying psychology, so I spend at least 4 to 6 hours a day reading for my classes. I have hundreds of books on shelves, in bags, and stacked around my room just begging to be read. Unfortunately, I was not required in high school to read most the classics that are usually assigned reading. So, though I am now 40 years old, I figured it was about time to start. But I have so many, I do not know where to start. Willa Cather, Charlotte Bronte, Henry James, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Jonathan Swift, William Faulkner, Tennessee Williams, Thomas Hardy, John Steinbeck, H.G. Wells, John Keats, Carson McCullers, Rita Mae Brown…and those are just the ones right here on my desk. I like the idea of allowing myself 30 minutes a day to read for the pure pleasure of reading, and so, starting today, I will pick one of these amazing authors and begin. Thanks for the question and the suggestion! Happy Reading!

The first thing I will reveal is that when I went back to copy this response to include in this post and pasted it onto a Word document, I was mortified to see that I had five typing, yes, spelling, errors. No wonder none of them commented on what I had written! I did not realize how much I had come to rely on spell-check until I learned of the mistakes made in a situation where it is not utilized.  Because of this reliance, I did not go back and read over what I had written. That is a serious slacking of discipline on my part. No more. Not proof reading is foolish anyway and I will be sure to do it every time, all the time, from now on.

Unfortunately, that is not the confession. In my comment, I said I would start that night, but I didn’t. I got busy with this or that and was just too cross-eyed exhausted to even try. The next day, I had some other excuse, and the day after that and the one after that. By then I just figured I would get around to it when I got around to it.

Well, today is the day. It is presently 4:20 AM and I have read the first chapters in three different books; My Ántonia by Willa Cather, Beyond the Tears: A True Survivor’s Story by Lynn C. Tolson, and Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown. My original intention was to see which one I wanted to read first, but I should have known better. I am incapable of starting a book and not finishing it, which means I will be reading all three. I will keep one in the car for the long trips into Manhattan, one in the bathroom closet for when I soak in a bubble bath, and the third will be on my nightstand. If I have not read all day before it is time for bed, I will be sure to pick up the bedside one and read for at least the 30 minutes I had set out to do, and will do so on a daily basis.

Yes, I do a lot of reading for school, but I never reward myself by taking time to read for pure joy of reading. It has been a really long time since I have read anything for that purpose, and I have always used being in school as an excuse. How ridiculous is that? Thirty minutes is not a huge amount of time that I cannot set aside for myself. And why not? I love to read, have an extensive list of books I am most eager to read, and have about a third of the books on that list right here in my room.

Before I leave you, I want to ask—do you read on a daily basis and is reading important enough to schedule into your daily routine?

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February 15, 2012

February 15, 2012 was my 41st birthday. I was unable to celebrate it on that day because I had an enormous amount or homework due that evening. However, I received some truly remarkable surprises from the most unexpected places. The first came to me as an email for Penn State University. At the end of last semester, I had noted, based on my overall GPA of 3.75, that I would be named on the Dean’s List—and then I had forgotten all about it. Until this email:

Cindy,

It is with absolute pleasure that we congratulate you for being named to the Fall 2011 Dean’s List for Penn State’s College of the Liberal Arts! We know the sacrifices you and those close to you have endured to attain such an exceptional accomplishment.

This important achievement reflects your hard work, dedication, and motivation to succeed at Penn State, and you should have the utmost pride for all of your hard work. The rigor of online course work requires self-motivation and commitment while juggling other life events, which is not an easy feat. We share your pride in you earning this honor and encourage you to keep up the exceptional work!

Again, we extend our congratulations for being named to the Dean’s List and look forward to working with you as you continue to pursue your academic goals.

With best wishes always,

Academic Advising

Penn State World Campus

Now, I realize that for those who have been to college and those currently attending college who regularly receive this kind of notice, this may not be all that impressive. I, too, have received this email many, many times during the four years I spent at Portland Community College. To be more accurate, I received these notifications for 15 out of 17 terms. So, why is this one so special and notable? There are actually several reasons. One is that I did not start my education with the intention of earning anything beyond an Associate Degree (which I have earned two of), and I certainly did not expect to be accepted to this particular University, so having made the Dean’s List in my first semester, to me, and for me, is a great accomplishment.

The second, and more important reason, is that I do not look at this as how well I did or how smart I am, but rather a sense that I am more strongly and better prepared to achieve my ultimate goal. Graduating college is only one step of goal. From there, I intend to do a lot of research in regards to the LGBT community, focusing more on the internal aspects (self-acceptance, dealing with rejection/bullying) rather than the external aspects (rights of the community as a whole). I will also work on acquiring “hands-on” experience in a therapeutic setting. During this phase is where my true goal begins—helping others find self-worth, self-love, self-confidence, and to draw upon a deeper level of untapped inner strength. My dream is to open my own private practice. Accomplishing the level of achievement worthy of the Dean’s List, says to me, “Education is the foundation and yours is taking form with solidity and stability.” And that, my friends, is why this email is very notable.

Another surprise came to me in the mail in the form of a personal letter. I received this letter on the 15th, just a few short hours after receiving the email. My point is that this letter was mailed two days before I, myself, had been officially notified of this achievement. I have no idea how common something like this is or is not, but it means a great deal to me. So mush so , that now I want to share it with you:

Dear Cindy:

Congratulations! Earning a place on the Dean’s List is indeed a substantial achievement and you undoubtedly worked very hard in the fall semester of 2011. you and your family have every reason to be proud.

I wish you continued success in your scholastic endeavors at Pennsylvania Sate University and look forward to noting your future achievements.

If there is ever anyway I can be of assistance to you on state related matters, please do not hesitate to call me at my district office.

Very truly yours,

 

 

Mario Scavello

State Representative

176th Legislative District

I do not think this needs further elaboration as it clearly speaks for itself.

I was more than motivated to work hard on my studies and to complete my required assignments that day. The following day, my roommates prepared a wonderful broccoli-cheddar soup from scratch, made homemade biscuits, and baked my favorite cake for me—carrot cake with cream cheese frosting! So delicious and well worth the wait!

Time for Success

I have many goals. They are essential to how I function through my life. Everything I do, plan for, go after, and accomplish is, in one way or another, set in the form of a goal. For some reason, it helps keep my thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and actions all in sync and making sense. I am a list writer. I write my “must do” goals down for the day and I list them in order of importance. From there, I list smaller goals down and work them around the things I have to do according to the time I need to accomplish them, the location of where the goal is to be met, and also their importance.

As I go through my day, I reevaluate what I have achieved and what is yet to be done. I make adjustments when time is getting away from me as well as when I am ahead of schedule. My focus is on the few things that cannot wait. I allow myself the flexibility and acceptance that things happen or I may have miscalculated how long certain tasks take, and some of the less significant goals must be put off until tomorrow or even the following week. Knowing that at the beginning of the day makes it a lot easier to adjust accordingly and I find my days go by rather smoothly—most of the time!

Currently, my main goal is to complete all necessary classes to earn my degree in Psychology from Penn State. I started my educational journey in the summer of 2007, intending to be finished two years, and never having imagined that I would, or that I could go on to achieve not just one, but two Associate degrees and beyond that, begin working on a Bachelor of Arts! The excitement I feel every morning as I begin writing my lists is palpable and my eagerness to achieve my goal grows more intense. I have waited nearly 20 years to come back to school and I am having the time of my life. Learning and the personal growth that results is something I will never grow tired of.

Ultimately, I want to attend Cornell University to earn a PhD in Psychology and prepare to work as a Psychologist in the LGBT community, but that is what I see as the top of the mountain. I had to start at the bottom, like in most cases when trying to accomplish anything in life. My first accomplishment was making the decision to go to school in the first place. Once I did that, I started contacting family and friends who had already completed the goal I was looking to achieve and asked lots of questions, such as: How did you do it? Can I do it too? How do I get started? And as I got answers, I started making lists and setting goals and setting deadlines. I took a friend with me to the school for support and got into a line for admissions and registration and asked more questions.

I have learned that the more information that you have, the easier it is to get things done. I completed my financial aid application, paid my admissions fee, took the placement tests, and registered for my first class. I took only one class that summer, but when fall term came, I knew more of what to do, and made adjustments for moments I was over zealous. Each term gets easier and more routine. I have applied goal setting and time management in all aspects of my education. I am committed to attending every class, have developed study habits that have been successful, so far, and have specific time, late at night when I am at my best, that I spend on homework, including allowing myself to put it away if it becomes so overwhelming that I am no longer retaining the information, and that has proven to save wasted time.

I also take time to speak to my instructors to get additional suggestions and information of things I might consider doing in addition to classes to prepare for my next goal; finding a job in my chosen career. I am constantly thinking ahead and try to keep myself aware of both the here and now as well as preparation for the eventually.  Transition time is when my mind is the busiest. Do I need to call someone and if so are they there now? Have I eaten today? Is there someone I promised a return email to that I could take care of right now? Is it ok if I just sit and breathe and just be grateful for a moment of silence? I want to try to get everything done and deal with all persons that need my attention before I get home, so I can take some time for myself as well as be mentally and emotionally available to my family.

I have been working diligently on managing my time, my choices, my stress, and myself overall, and though I am quite comfortable and confident in my abilities and the execution thereof, I recognize the fact that there is room for improvement in anything. The reality is that there are 24 hours in a day and I may sleep during 8 of them; am I really utilizing the remaining 16 hours? Granted, it’s not necessary to use all of the time I have, but how much am I truly using to reaching my goal and could I do just a little bit more tomorrow than I did today?

One of the things I could learn to do is stop being a perfectionist. I spend so much time fine tuning and trying to make it the very best and if I’m not careful, I find myself thinking “I don’t have time for this! I just need to get it done and worry about the details if there is time.” I have also recognized a few time wasters that are definitely a part of my daily routine. One of which is my cell phone. I don’t talk on my phone much, but stop again and again to reply to texts. I need to find the discipline to turn my phone off when I am doing things that are important and/or I am pressed for time. Also, I am an over-organizer. Though it is helpful to me to reevaluate and adjust my to-do-lists, I have a tendency to overdo it and on occasion, obsess on making everything fit into the time I no longer have.

All in all, managing self and time are learning processes. As we gain more knowledge of what works and what doesn’t, we grow and improve and succeed. And then we become the ones that others come to when they want to know: How did you do it? Can I do it too? How do I get started?

Country Living Vs. City Life

Do you live in the city or do you live in the country? Are you happy where you live? Is one better than the other? Maybe it’s a matter of opinion to the eye of the beholder, the ear of the listener, or the contentedness of the feeler. In other words, where one chooses or prefers to live is simply a matter of taste. Or is it? Of course, it should be considered that not everyone is living where they are by choice or where they prefer. Is the grass really greener on the other side? Or do we want what we do not or cannot have, fitting the stereotype of our society today? Perhaps comparing the two different lifestyles and considering the good, the bad, the ordinary and the extraordinary of each, for there are a variety of advantages and disadvantages to living in either place, may provide some insight (and possibly some hindsight) so that we may answer these questions independently as individuals.

In the city there is lots of traffic, and depending on the time of day, that can make getting where you need to go in a timely manner rather difficult. Traffic can also cause a lot of noise, but is only a fraction of the noises heard in the city. The sirens of emergency vehicles, car alarms, cats fighting, children playing, and people arguing are just a few of the many constant and repetitive sounds you cannot escape in the city. Cities generally have larger populations than in the country so running into crowds and a range of moods and attitudes is not uncommon. It is also in the city where you will find large factories for manufacturing, producing, and recycling which, in addition to a vast amount of operating motorized vehicles, contribute to the poisoning of our air. Traffic, noise, over-population and pollution are just some of the disadvantages of living in the city.

However, living in the city has its good points too. Shopping, restaurants, and many services are just minutes away in the city. There are gas stations on every corner. If you decide you want a burger, fries, and a milkshake at two o’clock in the morning, just hop in your car or walk down to the corner and within minutes you can be indulging in your cravings. You can go shopping at the mall, pick up your dry-cleaning, go to the gym, the post office, the bank, and then grab some lunch and a cup of coffee all in one trip within a few miles of your home in the city.

There is also no shortage of fun and entertainment available in the city: libraries, art galleries, professional sports games, concerts, comedy clubs, dance clubs, operas, ballets, movie theaters, zoos, parks, and family fun centers are everywhere. The variety of specialty shows going on throughout the year is another perk. The circus, rodeos, antique exhibitions, classic car shows, boat shows, home and garden shows, gun shows and dog shows are all things that can be experienced.

Another benefit of living in the city is the many modes of public transportation such as buses, trams, trains, and taxis that can get you where you need to go. The plus side of that is you don’t have to deal with traffic; let someone else do it for you. In addition to convenience, entertainment, and public transportation, another important feature found mostly in the city is jobs. Even if one lives in the country, it is likely that their place of employment is located in the city.

Living in the country takes a lot of sacrifice. Again, there are few jobs clear out in the country, so in most cases, one must commute to get to work. There is also the lack of convenience in shopping and receiving the services of many businesses as they too require a lengthy trip into town. The few stores that may be located in closer proximity of one’s home often charge much higher prices for their merchandise. They may be more convenient when you just need a loaf of bread or a bottle of aspirin but that convenience comes at a price.

Country homes usually have septic tanks, so if and when they get clogged or backed up, it is at the home owner’s expense and that can also be costly. Country homes also get their water supply from wells on their land and Mother Nature controls how much or how little water is available. During certain times of the year, when rain fall is scarce it may very well be necessary to keep daily tasks such as laundry, dishes, and the bathing of pets to a minimum. There is no public transportation available out in the country and if one’s car breaks down or runs out of gas, it is a long way to the auto repair shop or gas station and the options are limited; either wait and hope someone comes along and will give you a ride, or start walking, both of which can make for a long day. And overall, living in the country can be a lot of work which is time-consuming. Whether plowing, planting, fertilizing, watering, and caring for large crops or small gardens, feeding and caring for livestock, chopping wood for the fire, or canning fresh vegetables and fruits for the winter, there is always plenty that needs to be done in the country.

The perks of living in the country are numerous. The scenery is incredibly beautiful at any time of the year and without all the traffic, city lights, large buildings and asphalt, sun sets and sun rises are nothing short of breathtaking! Whether in the mountains or the flat, open plains, the many varieties of trees on the back drop of a sky with billowing white clouds and the brilliance of the sun, the ominous mystery of darkness illuminated by blinding streaks of lightning, a midnight blue splattered with sparkling stars and the comforting glow of the moon, whatever the view from any window in the house, it is never short of spectacular.

In the country you can find peace and privacy and very little noise compared to the city. There you can hear things like the whisper of the breeze, birds singing their melodious tunes, brooks babbling and rushing along, and the soft rustling of leaves. These sounds are so comforting and soothing that they have been taken from nature and placed on relaxation soundtracks. You won’t find the same with the harsh sounds of the city.

The air is certainly much fresher in the country and without the levels of pollution found in the city, the many smells of nature, including but not limited to flowers, pines, berries and fruit native to the area, are much sharper. The water from natural wells and springs is generally fresher and more pure than water supplied in the city. The environment in the country is also ideal for planting and growing fresh fruits and vegetables. One is more likely to have cows and pigs and chickens for fresh milk, fresh eggs, and even, with the right knowledge, skills, and equipment, fresh meat.

In living in the country, the large, open spaces of land are essential to having livestock. Try keeping a cow on the balcony of your fifth floor apartment in the city.  Even pets are happier and healthier in the country as they have more room to run around in, whereas in an apartment in the city, or the tiny yards often found attached to city houses, pets can feel cooped up and restless. If you are renting in the city, most property management companies require hundreds of dollars per pet for deposit. Another great thing about living in the country is that you can have a picnic or go camping right in your own front yard. You can go hiking and fishing without a lot of planning and exploring nature is right at your fingertips.

I recently lived in the city of Portland, Oregon, because a small apartment was all I could afford and I had to depend on public transportation to get to school, do my shopping, and make frequent trips to the doctor and dentist. However, for a very short time in the midst of the 22 years I lived in the city, I lived in the country up on the outskirts of the mountains, in the little town of Carson, Washington. I had bought a triple-wide, manufactured house that was 2000 square feet, placed on three acres. Getting up at dawn was easy to do when I lived there because I was eager to sit out on my deck with a cup of coffee and see what colors the sun rise had to offer to start my day. Unfortunately the ugliness of divorce devastated my dream life and forced me back into the city as a struggling, single mother, confined by a lack of finances to a tiny apartment in the center of the hell that is the city.

Currently, I live in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania, in a beautiful, cozy home with my nearest and dearest friends. I have been here now longer than I spent in Washington, and the things I have seen out in the yard have, for me, been mind-blowing. Did you know that without the light pollution of the city, the brightness of the stars and the moon is much more intense? In the fall, when the leaves change, the colors are so vivid it looks as if the trees are on fire. When it snows here, the moonlight hits the fresh blankets and if you didn’t know better, you would swear the yard was covered in diamonds.

I have seen many a doe with her fawns walking curiously through the trees not 20 feet from my deck. I have also watched as two bucks came within two feet of my friend as she tossed bread out to them to eat. I have watched as dozens of squirrels ran to and fro, across the yard and up and down trees, playing with each other. Most of the squirrels I have seen are solid black in color, which I have never seen until I moved here. I have watched many varieties of birds land on the deck and feed on the seed that was put out just for them. I have seen robins hopping around on the ground, very early in the morning; so many, I could not get an accurate count. And just recently, I witnessed the most magnificent thing I have seen in a long time; a huge flock of birds, thousands of them, gathering, communicating, and moving methodically as a group from one stand of trees to another. The sound was almost deafening, and after watching for about 15 minutes, suddenly they all at once became silent and flew off out of sight.

For those of you who like living in the fast lane, enjoy the super expediency of every service being right around the corner, and thrive on the flashy lights, big stages, and extravagant performers—more power to you. I greatly prefer living in the country, gladly giving up all the conveniences of living in the city for the fresh air and quiet of living far out, away from mobs of people and the chaos and congestion of the fast paced city life. For myself, living in the country awards me with a feeling of nostalgia and I feel more in my element; more at home. This is the life for me!

Reading, Writing, and Imagination

I love to read. I have been reading for as long as I can remember. Reading lets me open my mind, expand my imagination, escape my current thoughts of reality, and most importantly, it allows me to learn. It is not uncommon for me to look up words in the dictionary which leads me to look up more words used in the definition of the original word in question. Or I will grab my cell phone and text one of two, and occasionally both, of friends who are word geniuses and ask for their more complicated, in-depth definition.

I have an extremely vivid imagination and highly acute senses, so much so, that when I read, I feel I am actually living the story. My senses are easily stimulated by the magic of words either juggled randomly or well-balanced on the ongoing pages of a story; ongoing because long after the back cover closes, my mind, having become closely acquainted with the characters and circumstances, keeps the story alive and continues until the next book comes along, catches my attention, and allows for a new saga to begin.

Since enrolling in my first college classes almost five years ago, I have been writing the experiences of my mind, whether it be in connection with something I have read or getting to paint my own story from a variety of colorful words drawn from my ever-growing vocabulary. This blog is a collection of some lesson-variety, rough-edged, first-time writings, along with brand new thoughts and ideas that dance through my mind with curiosity. It’s the beginning, for me, of a brand new journey. And I am loving every minute of it!

Blog, Blog, Blog

I have only just recently started blogging, not even a week ago now, and I have, in the interim, been reading books about what blogging is, how to blog, how to get the most out of your blog, the dos and don’ts in blogging, etc. I have also read a lot of different things on the internet while surfing, as they say (who are “they” and where do I sign up?), here and there looking for information or inspiration, or sometimes as an act of revenge on my insomnia. The history of how blogging got started is pretty interesting, and it has grown by leaps and bounds. I have always wanted to write a book and have it published, and have learned that writing a blog can go a long way in helping me realize that dream.

I have read that you should be careful what you divulge in your writing and to remember that once you publish your post, it goes out to anyone and everyone on the internet, millions of people at the very least (I wish! Available, yes, read by, hardly.) I have, already, published several things that tell very personal details of my life. This, I have been told, can be a risky thing to do, as potential future employers not only are among the millions who have access, but will, in many cases, especially if you have applied for a position with their company, utilize that access to size you up. I do, and will continue to share things about me, such as my previous drug addiction, struggles with my children and what being caught in the web of “the system” was like, being homeless, being in a very abusive relationship, and having sought out professional therapy to confront and overcome the effects of these and other events that I was unsure how to do on my own.

I believe these things are important for people to know and that they are equally important for me to share. I cannot tell you how many stories, movies, music performances, or the occasional glimpse into the intensity of ballet has touched me and given me strength because seeing and hearing the experiences of others has ensured me I am not, nor will I ever be alone in this world. Granted, not all individuals in charge of making hiring decisions are educated enough to realize that these experiences are what brought me to where I am today. And not all of them can see that, in surviving, conquering, and overcoming both the mud pies that life has thrown at me and the puddles I made the mistake of jumping head first into, says a lot more about me than a compact, one-page resume can. It shows that I am a fighter and that I don’t give up. It shows that I am strong, determined, and successful and that I not only set goals, but I achieve them successfully. It shows that I have heart and I have character and that I am passionate about people and their well-being. I have said it before and I will say many times over; mistakes are my greatest asset. For without them, I would be quite a bore, because I would never change, and I always strive to change for the better.

I have also read the many ways to get your blog to be noticed, discovered, interested in, and the like. Adding tags and similar sites or stories to each of your posts is one way and linking to the many other popular venues, such as twitter, Facebook, Google, yahoo, windows live, or LinkedIn to which you have an account is another way. I have also found that texting my blog address to everyone in my phone and posting it directly to my status on Facebook and twitter has also brought my blog a bunch of attention. If you post comments on others’ blogs and/or link stories from your own blog to similar stories on theirs, you will be putting yourself in more places and increase your chances of being checked out.

Staying consistent is also key. Being sure to post something new every day eventually builds a reputation that one will always find something more to read, and if they have liked what they have read before, they will keep coming back. I know, because there are several blogs that I regularly visit and I really enjoy the smattering of new ideas posted by those with intelligent and creative minds. Some are informational, some are inspirational, some are just downright funny, while others just give you pause and really make you think about things that have never crossed your mind before. There is a sense of connection and camaraderie that fosters admiration and respect for your fellow humans.

The one question that I have seen come up more than any other is, why do people blog? I have also seen that this is something everyone likes to answer as well. There are a lot of similar reasons, but the diversity of the rest are as unique as the blogs themselves. I have chosen to blog for three different reasons, all equally important to me. The first is that I enjoy writing and I have been doing so for quite a long time now. I write, and then I file it. So many words on so many pages and no one but me to read them. Blogging provides me with an opportunity to share, rather than hide them away in a file on my computer. Secondly, writing about things that are dear to my heart or cause me to put some deep thought into an idea, is not only therapeutic for me, but I learn so much from my own thoughts when I can get them down on paper and organize them collectively. And, as I have mentioned before, I have been told that blogging can, more than anything else, increase my chances, once I finish writing the book I have been working on, of getting it published. I once belonged to a group of women writers who met once bi-weekly and there would, on occasion, be a guest speaker, and usually they were accomplished authors. Of all the suggestions and advice we were given by these individuals, blogging is the one I most remember.

In conclusion, if you are reading my blog, please comment, as this will not only help me, but will help you as well. Ratings are always good too and easy to do, if you don’t want to comment. At least this way, I will know what it is people are most interested in reading and will be sure to provide lots of material in the categories that are most popular. So, to my friends, family, potential future employers, professors, fellow students, and anyone who likes to read, wants to learn, or is just bored or killing time, welcome and enjoy!

 

Entrance Essay

Penn State College of Engineering

Pennsylvania State University

With the exception of my very first post, all of what I have posted since has been things I have already written, dug out of this file or that, and getting them all down in one place, one in which I can share with anyone who chooses to read them. Today, I am still finding things I have written over the years and came across the essay portion of my application to Penn State. Sometimes I read over again things I have written and I think, “There is no way I wrote that,” and I am just blown away. Again, I am my own worst critic and at the time I write, I am left wondering if it is the best I could do. But then time passes and I revisit my writings and see that it was much better than I gave myself credit for. This essay is one example.

I am passionately concerned with personal growth and development. I strive to discover who I am and how I can become my best possible self — always this quest for self-knowledge and self-improvement drives me with determination and dedication to the end goal and to new goals beyond. And I want to help others make the journey. I am naturally drawn to working with people, and whether in education or counseling or personnel work, I have a desire to help others find their way in life, and to inspire them to grow as individuals and to fulfill their potentials. I feel that friendly cooperation is the best way for people to achieve their goals. Conflict and confrontation is generally upsetting because it seems to put up angry barriers between people. I strive to create harmonious, even caring personal relations, and I have a unique talent for helping people get along with each other and work together for the good of all. The real, practical world is only a starting place for me; I believe that life is filled with possibilities waiting to be realized, rich with meaning, calling out to be understood. I am highly ethical in my actions, and hold myself to a strict standard of personal integrity. Working toward a degree in Psychology at Penn State is only one leg of my journey in life. It will provide me with a very necessary tool to really be able to help people change their life and improve their quality of living. I, myself, have gone through therapy and learned how to overcome, to heal, and to forgive, and in doing so, I have become the healthy, happy, and victorious woman I am today. My desire and my goal is to give back all I have been given and more. 

 Upon leaving high school, I did not consider college as I had believed I could never afford to go. I was not asked about or encouraged to continue with college by my parents or my school and was not told, at that time, about financial aid. I moved from Florida to Oregon, got married, had two children, and finally escaped my marriage to a violent alcoholic. I continued to work and survive for many years until one day my sister suggested I apply for financial aid and go back to school. In 2007, I did just that. I started the summer of 2007 at Portland Community College with one class. I continued for two years and then sought the guidance of an Academic Advisor regarding graduation. I had been under the impression that 90 credits is what I needed to graduate, but was unaware that the specific degree I was seeking required very specific classes. I learned I was still missing 10 business classes, two economic classes, one in philosophy, among a few others. Determined not to give up, I plunged right in and I am currently in my last term and will graduate on June 10th, 2011 with an AAS in Accounting. Shortly thereafter, I will be moving to Pennsylvania permanently and continuing my education in the psychology field. 

I have since moved to Pennsylvania, been accepted to Penn State University, and made the Dean’s List my first semester of classes. I have also learned that in addition to the AAS in Accounting, I also earned a second Associate Degree in General Studies. I am well on my way. Once I earn my BA in Psychology, my goal is to go to either Cornell University or Yale University to earn a PhD in Psychology. That entrance essay will have too much more superior, but with a couple of years ahead of me, I will accomplish this, as well.