Tag Archives: Education

Exciting News: Continuing My Education

20 Mar

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I am so excited to let you guys know that I’m starting a MBA program next week!  I’ve been waiting to officially announce this until after all of the details were completely worked out, and now they are.  🙂

I think I have mentioned before that I love learning.  I would be a professional student if it paid well enough.  I wanted to start a Master’s program after I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree, but life got in the way.  Mr. Mess and I were starting to get serious.  I had a full scholarship for undergrad, but those really aren’t available for graduate programs.  Not without working 30 or so hours at an internship or as a teacher’s assistant.  That really wasn’t feasible since I had to have a full-time job to pay my mortgage.  Damn responsibility.  And damn useless boyfriends who are living with you, but not contributing half of all of the bills.

So I put it off.  Then I was laid off.  Finding a job and getting back to my previous salary became a priority.  After a couple months of unemployment and a temp job, I found my current company.  They’re a great company.  It was a great opportunity.  I threw myself into it.  I advanced.  Now 3 years later I’m getting bored again.  There’s still more to learn here – there always is.  However, I don’t feel energized and motivated the way I would like to be.

Then there was the matter of all of the drama going on in my personal life.  Mr. Mess was very demanding emotionally and financially.  I spent time and energy supporting him, encouraging him to grow and change fields, and trying to help him get his credit straight.  I was the responsible one.  I always am responsible, but I also had to be extra responsible to counteract all of the irresponsible he was throwing my way.  There was no way that I would have been able to manage his mess and the sex addiction drama and therapy and my demanding job and his lies…

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Now that he’s been gone for several months and I’m focusing on myself, that urge to go back to learning has increased.  I also have someone very close to me who has been teasing me about my lack of a Master’s for a while.  I’ve been getting more and more motivated and interested.

Then last month my job started a management training series with the corporate lawyer.  The first few sessions were aimed at knowing yourself, discovering your potential, identifying talent in yourself and others, and focusing on your strengths.  They purchased us the StrengthsFinder 2.0 books and had us take the online test.  If you aren’t familiar, it identifies your top 5 strengths out of a potential list of 34.  I got mine back, and all 5 of them relate to academics.  At least in my brain they do.

Here are my top 5 strengths in order with a description of each.  See if you agree with me that at least 3 of them basically sound like the same thing:

  1. Input – You are inquisitive. You collect things. You might collect information — words, facts, books, and quotations — or you might collect tangible objects such as butterflies, baseball cards, porcelain dolls, or sepia photographs. Whatever you collect, you collect it because it interests you. And yours is the kind of mind that finds so many things interesting. The world is exciting precisely because of its infinite variety and complexity. If you read a great deal, it is not necessarily to refine your theories but, rather, to add more information to your archives. If you like to travel, it is because each new location offers novel artifacts and facts. These can be acquired and then stored away. Why are they worth storing? At the time of storing it is often hard to say exactly when or why you might need them, but who knows when they might become useful? With all those possible uses in mind, you really don’t feel comfortable throwing anything away. So you keep acquiring and compiling and filing stuff away. It’s interesting. It keeps your mind fresh. And perhaps one day some of it will prove valuable.
  2. Context – You look back. You look back because that is where the answers lie. You look back to understand the present. From your vantage point the present is unstable, a confusing clamor of competing voices. It is only by casting your mind back to an earlier time, a time when the plans were being drawn up, that the present regains its stability. The earlier time was a simpler time. It was a time of blueprints. As you look back, you begin to see these blueprints emerge. You realize what the initial intentions were. These blueprints or intentions have since become so embellished that they are almost unrecognizable, but now this Context theme reveals them again. This understanding brings you confidence. No longer disoriented, you make better decisions because you sense the underlying structure. You become a better partner because you understand how your colleagues came to be who they are. And counterintuitively you become wiser about the future because you saw its seeds being sown in the past. Faced with new people and new situations, it will take you a little time to orient yourself, but you must give yourself this time. You must discipline yourself to ask the questions and allow the blueprints to emerge because no matter what the situation, if you haven’t seen the blueprints, you will have less confidence in your decisions.
  3. Learner – You love to learn. The subject matter that interests you most will be determined by your other themes and experiences, but whatever the subject, you will always be drawn to the process of learning. The process, more than the content or the result, is especially exciting for you. You are energized by the steady and deliberate journey from ignorance to competence. The thrill of the first few facts, the early efforts to recite or practice what you have learned, the growing confidence of a skill mastered — this is the process that entices you. Your excitement leads you to engage in adult learning experiences — yoga or piano lessons or graduate classes. It enables you to thrive in dynamic work environments where you are asked to take on short project assignments and are expected to learn a lot about the new subject matter in a short period of time and then move on to the next one. This Learner theme does not necessarily mean that you seek to become the subject matter expert, or that you are striving for the respect that accompanies a professional or academic credential. The outcome of the learning is less significant than the “getting there.”
  4. Competition – Competition is rooted in comparison. When you look at the world, you are instinctively aware of other people’s performance. Their performance is the ultimate yardstick. No matter how hard you tried, no matter how worthy your intentions, if you reached your goal but did not outperform your peers, the achievement feels hollow. Like all competitors, you need other people. You need to compare. If you can compare, you can compete, and if you can compete, you can win. And when you win, there is no feeling quite like it. You like measurement because it facilitates comparisons. You like other competitors because they invigorate you. You like contests because they must produce a winner. You particularly like contests where you know you have the inside track to be the winner. Although you are gracious to your fellow competitors and even stoic in defeat, you don’t compete for the fun of competing. You compete to win. Over time you will come to avoid contests where winning seems unlikely.
  5. Intellection – You like to think. You like mental activity. You like exercising the “muscles” of your brain, stretching them in multiple directions. This need for mental activity may be focused; for example, you may be trying to solve a problem or develop an idea or understand another person’s feelings. The exact focus will depend on your other strengths. On the other hand, this mental activity may very well lack focus. The theme of Intellection does not dictate what you are thinking about; it simply describes that you like to think. You are the kind of person who enjoys your time alone because it is your time for musing and reflection. You are introspective. In a sense you are your own best companion, as you pose yourself questions and try out answers on yourself to see how they sound. This introspection may lead you to a slight sense of discontent as you compare what you are actually doing with all the thoughts and ideas that your mind conceives. Or this introspection may tend toward more pragmatic matters such as the events of the day or a conversation that you plan to have later. Wherever it leads you, this mental hum is one of the constants of your life.

There it is.  I like words.  I like knowledge.  I love learning and challenging myself mentally.  I’m a hoarder of information.  I need to be growing and keeping my mind occupied or I become unhappy.

So, I finally bit the bullet and started seriously inquiring about graduate school.  I checked out two Master’s programs close to me, and learned quite a bit about them.  I then researched a few online programs.  Once I found the perfect one I didn’t delay.  My first class starts next Tuesday.  I’m registered, everything has been processed, and all that’s left is for me to actually start the first class next week.  It is an 18 month program to earn my Masters in Business Administration.  Then I can tack on another 5 or so classes to get a concentration.  I’m still debating between HR, Marketing, and Project Management.  There’s time to decide on that.

Right now, I have to say that three little letters have never gotten me so excited about the future.

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Music – A Soundtrack for Life

17 Apr

Music has always been a huge part of my life and who I am.  I was raised in a household full of music – singing, instruments, and hours devoted to practicing, performing, and enjoying it.  My mother is a pianist, led the church choir, and was a long-term music teacher substitute at the local middle school when the choral director was out on maternity leave (twice).  My uncle plays the guitar, my aunt led worship, my cousins play a variety of instruments (trumpet, sax, drums, guitar, bass, and more), my brother plays the drums and learned to manage a sound board, and my sister even tried violin once (it didn’t stick).

I was in chorus all the way through school, and in my senior year of high school I was part of the show choir and chamber ensemble.  I decided to skip “early release” and add an extra music class – even though I already attended choir every day.  I dropped out of the International Baccalaureate Program when the extra class requirements would mean I couldn’t focus on music the way I wanted to.  I went to county and state vocal competitions, traveled all over the country and once internationally with my show choir, and even formed a band of my own for a short while.  I never learned to play the piano the way my mother does, but I did pick up the acoustic guitar and teach myself a few things.

More than those collections of facts, though, music is a part of my soul.  I remember singing in the car to the radio as one of my earliest memories – yes, I was that young.  Music has this amazing power.  It can transform my mood, bring me back to the past or into my future in an instant, and express all of the emotions and thoughts in my head in a way I haven’t even considered yet.  Songs are intimate.  They are expressions of our deepest desires and most shallow thoughts.  They can lift you up, tear you down, make you laugh, cry, and sing along at the top of your lungs even if you don’t get a single note right (like my Dad).

I am constantly amazed by all the new ways that song writers can express age-old themes in fresh and exciting terms.  Just when I think every word has been said or every song has been sung on a particular subject I hear something else that blows me away.  The best song writers are the ones that bare everything – all of their fears, hurt, guilt, shame, joy, triumph, loss, love, and the list goes on.  There are songs and song writers that are so raw and real they touch a place inside of me that I thought only I had access to.  There are songs that speak to me and seem to speak for me.  Truly, songs are a backdrop for everything, a soundtrack for life, because they incorporate every part of life.

In this blog I have already shared some of the songs that are capturing my life, or at least some of my feelings, right now.  I think that will be a continuing theme here because sometimes words alone aren’t enough to express everything inside of me.  Here is the latest song I am really connecting to – “Let it Rain” by David Nail.  It has been rolling around in my head for hours.  I really like this version better than the official music video because it is a very clean, honest performance.

The words of this song are really powerful for me.  It helps me understand some of the emotions that my husband feels, especially the chorus.  There is guilt, shame, acceptance, pain, regret, and so much more wrapped up into the song.  It’s not just the lyrics, either.  He puts such emotion in his voice that it just shoots straight through me.  I’m going to sit here for a little while with this song on repeat just listening and feeling and enjoying another great song that is beautifully written and poignantly performed.

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