Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Transformation: Metamorphosis of Thought Process and Self-Communication

“You’re wasting time when you should be looking for work.  You’re not smart enough with math to get a degree.”  Looking back at a blog entry from July 19, 2013, it dawned on me how much change there has been since I pushed myself to take the assessment test for college.  I was recently asked to complete an assignment that included one happy childhood memory. All the tasks were completed except the happy childhood memory because I could not think of one.  Instead, I remembered being physically punished because I could not memorize math, losing my adored step-father the year I was scheduled to graduate, and losing my mentor in choir to another school district the same year. I lost any motivation and remaining belief in myself and failed to graduate high school by one credit.  In early 2003 I was diagnosed with aggressive, recurring malignant myxofibrosarcoma with dismal 50% survivability statistics.  In 2004 I lost my mother to a scuba diving incident.  Any hope of a higher education became insignificant and unattainable as I battled one day at a time.

My metamorphosis began early June 2013.  Unemployed for two years with only a GED, I was a frustrated telecommunications network engineer and angry about so many things.  Depressed more than I was happy, I knew something had to change.  Wanting to take a class, any class, while waving my unemployment paperwork at the poor lady in registration, she suggested that the first class should be in the PierceWorks! program.  The first day of class I was resentful and doubtful that it would have much efficacy except to help me shine my resume, but I sat through it wanting the “easy” 20 credits.  It was anything but easy, and my journey began.

My first Goliath on this journey was walking on campus to take the Compass test. I sat in the Fort Steilacoom parking lot hyperventilating and wanted to run away and never return.  My next obstacle Algebra; as a result of my challenges with memorization--I cried my first week, trembling in fear.  I conquered them both.   Then I was required to take English 101, a perceived easy ‘A’ class. It was shocking to receive a below average grade on my first thesis paper.  I asked myself, “What is the purpose of this and why was I never taught this in grade school?” I mastered that as well.

While pondering these emotions, it has dawned on me that Pierce College has been my homecoming with a changed attitude and a different self-communication.  My college experience has transformed me through a journey of conquering many fears and finding my dependable strengths.  I now challenge my old beliefs. I’ve encountered an amazing group of staff members that encourage me to ask questions with critical thought and to focus on success in my endeavors. I have learned to spread my new wings and soar.  I am home.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Coat of Arms

In August 2013 my class was assigned a project to make a coat of arms.  There were several examples shown so we could see that it should created in the way that best portrays who we are.  A mailbox made the most sense to me and as you open the door of the mailbox it exclaims, "You've got mail!"

Unfortunately, I am not savvy enough yet to understand why the sound skips after being converted to a video from PowerPoint.  My apologies for that glitch.

Thank you PierceWorks! and Pierce College for what you do.

Note: Several of the pictures were pulled from various internet sources prior to the understanding of referencing and sourcing.  Most of the photos with the University of Washington Medical center were found on their site.  The real flower pictures were found in various other sites.  Since my college experience, there is clearer understanding of proper accreditation.  

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Letter To Self: My Journey to Transformation Begins

In early July 2013, a task was assigned to write a letter to myself.  It was time for a change--any change.  Today, several have asked for an essay to nominate me for an award.  It was challenging to break out of the mode of my studies to write this essay about me.  The first draft was very clinical and quite impersonal as I wrote about communication.  Several responded with request for a re-write as they insisted I write about me.  Returning to my very first assignments I realize how things have changed.  Before the award results are announced, as difficult and as challenging as it has been to write this essay at the request of so many (another shock)--it is necessary for me to share the beginning.

Because this award nomination was unexpected and while I considered non-participation, it seems many have been moved by my journey.  The recognition is not a driving factor for me as passionate as those who desire for me to receive this recognition.  What is important to me is to share the experience of how tremendous this change has been.  It has been challenging, not in curriculum or grades--that was the easy part.  What has been challenging is pushing the boundaries of how I feel and exploring the emotions behind my anxieties, my physical reactions to test, the self-talk that happens in my head.  This is the beginning of a story that has created a crucial milestone of self-exploration and determination for a change that is challenging for most as they dwell in denial of self-perception as well as the perception of others.  In understanding my own challenges, the challenges of others has less fog of illusion with better acceptance of myself and others.

Letter to Self: July 14, 2013

Dear Chris:

It has been a long road filled with stumbling blocks, challenges, heartache, frustrations, and aggravations. The last 10 years you have spent a lot of time battling cancer, struggling with grief, struggling with financial challenges because you were trying to make everyone happy, and taking care of others.

In the last 4 years you have neglected your inner child, your inner strength, and concerned yourself too much with how others perceive you to be. Tina Turner said, “If you are unhappy with something in your life, then change it”. You did well in the past keeping this in mind which has served you well. However, your actions and reactions were revolved around others.

Once again, you find yourself at a crossroad where the only person you can blame, the only person who you can change is you. That was what you discovered years ago; only this time you are not getting divorced, eliminating toxic family members and friends. This time, it will be a challenge because this has nothing to do with external influences although you have perceived it to be. This challenge has everything to do with you and your fears.  

Fear of math, fear of failure, fear of vulnerability, fear of disappointing yourself and others. 

When the possibility of death seemed looming, you tackled your fears head on. The fear of water, the fear of commitment, etc. It was easy to disregard the long term goals with the idea that it would not make any difference and you focused on the fears that had more to do with your adrenaline rush desires over your internal growth. The internal growth for success and knowledge gave up when you gave in to the battle against cancer. 

Since the passing of your Mother, it made it easier to put any thought of an education to the way side using her absence as the reasoning behind your lack of motivation, your lack of drive to self improve. Furthermore, in taking an IQ test result of less than 100 and believing those results, you were quick to say, “See? I am not capable.”

You spend so much time and effort in working on communication or not communicating in a negative manner that you have stopped communicating with yourself in a positive manner.  When you do communicate with yourself, you berate yourself, call yourself stupid, and spend a lot of time hating yourself again.

It is time now to remember to speak well to yourself. Be yourself and grow for yourself. To thy own self be true. Be accountable for your own thoughts and actions and do what you know you need to do and overcome those fears.

Love, Yourself.