Colorado, Wyoming, Yoga

an unintentional shift

Today is the day I met the students who I will support for the next academic year.  I’m so stinkin excited to be in this new role in higher education because I feel my true calling, values, dharma, that sort of thing—have been put on the cheese grater of life to sort themselves into little shreds of knowledge about the world, about myself.  What I know now is that some roles help me play out the most authentic version of myself.  A person who is seasonal in the bliss of summer sunshine and the reigns of the blue winter of discontent.

I had lived in Wyoming for 32 years and what I find about Colorado is that things are just so big.  The mountains more ominous requiring more meticulous planning, the folks around me just a little more intense.  Things here begin to intimidate where the river-blood beats fast in the jugular of the Rockies, the main vein of the American arm of the west.  So many have come to seek something and to put their ear to the chest of mama mountain, some hoping for solace and some knowing its already there.

And here I am, in all of it, drumming through my own intensity and spiritual seeking in the mountains.  I keep getting speeding tickets in Colorado and watch as heads shake around me mouthing the words—get Colorado plates.  And I know, and still I hold onto a few things Wyoming secretly wondering about these big mountains, these big people, this diverse place.  This is how I felt coming to college and so I bow to the parallel process of students as they, too, wonder of the seasons of their heart, of the rivers and synapses in their minds.

I sit trying to wrap up whatever poetic stuff I am aiming for and find that within the narrow lies the vast aww of detail.  The paradox of my country bumpkin life becomes so small like the detail professed from a single cork-lined room written about so beautifully by Proust who took the same walk around his estate in such ecstasy and humility that it became volumes of work.   And other writers of the time captured the magnificence of the wide, wide, world documenting expeditions up mountains and travels to places where folks can only visit and leave understanding it is not their home, humans can’t live here.

And now I live in between homes, undulating in two Rocky Mountain West states eyeballing New Mexico and dreaming of building tiny homes in Alaska and Canada knowing that I’ve got a long way to go, such a long way, why not put on some sunglasses and turn up the music taking turns to drive being careful to not get too complacent on the switchback.  Start paying attention a little more to the trees and sky around me that I have finally created the space to explore.

“Colorado and Wyoming are America’s highest states, averaging 6,800 feet and 6,700 feet above sea level. Utah comes in third at 6,100 feet, New Mexico, Nevada, and Idaho each break 5,000 feet, and the rest of the field is hardly worth mentioning. At 3,400 feet, Montana is only half as high as Colorado, and Alaska, despite having the highest peaks, is even further down the list at 1,900 feet. Colorado has more fourteeners than all the other U.S. states combined, and more than all of Canada too. Colorado’s lowest point (3,315 feet along the Kansas border) is higher than the highest  point in twenty other states. Rivers begin here and flow away to all the points of the compass. Colorado receives no rivers from another state (unless you count the Green River’s’ brief in and out from Utah).Wyoming’s Wind River Range is the only mountain in North America that supplies water to all three master streams of the American West: Missouri, Colorado, and Columbia rivers.”

 ― Keith Meldahl, Rough-Hewn Land: A Geologic Journey from California to the Rocky Mountains

 

 

 

Business, Church, Death, Dichotomies, Existentialism, Higher Education, Micro Non-Fiction, Non-Fiction, Nostalgia, object, poverty, privilage, Self Growth, Self Love, Self Reflection, Yoga

an authoritive prohibition

I remember being a young girl and learning at church that I ought testify to others about my faith—ask them about their beliefs after we die. I learned in scorned looks and rolled eyes I might want to shut up. What you do after you die is none of my business. I learned in German class that the German culture does not engage in small talk and I became even more endeared the language that sounds so harsh yet can be so forward.

I gathered and collected norms about being polite through mistakes. Always the kid to be embarrassingly shuffled off for asking questions regarding subjects that were taboo. And now, it seems we are a bit more open as a society. I constantly overshare in my blog, spurred on by pictures of dogs and engagements on Facebook, opting to friend folks on social media instead of gathering the courage to talk to someone in person.

I think I’ll do it again. I’ll speak about that which is not talked about out-loud.  Money. I want to talk about the hushed subject that influences every minute of my existence. I’m at a conference right now in Indiana and end up in a per-conference session about moving from working class roots to middle class. I experienced myself chatting about my trip with the woman across from me because I had never been able to say these things outloud expect to my sister or close friends. And it’s very hard for me to get close to folks so you can imagine how that works out.

I had to ask my employer to front my per diem for meals and use the purchase card to take an Uber cab to and from my hotel. I generally run out of money by the second week of each month and freeze food to be sure I can eat. If something comes up I take the risk of bouncing a check because I doubt I will ever fix my credit. I drive a 2004 Ford Focus with a cracked windshield that breaks on the regular. I wear shoes with holes and have two bras that fit. My sister and I often joke about how we wear yoga pants because they often have built in underwear. That shit costs money. Its superfluous in our world.

Even as I talk about money I find myself in a cycle of guilt and shame because oh well this isn’t poverty. It’s this unbearable space in between where I feel I’ve lost my street cred in a professional exempt job but still live in a studio apartment with stained, ripped up, carpet and dated sinks. I’ve never lived in a space with a dishwasher in my entire adulthood. Despite my salary my student loans will continue to cripple me for decades. In gaining more education I did gain social mobility but also debt. Trade one shit sandwich for the next.

I sweat and shake with anxiety the first time I have to bring a date to my home. I’m embarrassed about what they might think about my tiny place with Rubbermaid containers as furniture and my bedspread I’ve had for over five years. How might they perceive my closet with one pair of jeans and a few dresses? The last gentleman I dated commented on our third date how little clothes I have. He had two closets of dress clothes. He owned two homes. I feel I can’t date professional men and so I end up with twenty somethings working at restaurants.  At least I feel I can be myself but find I’ve nothing to talk about with them, we are simply in different spaces developmentally yet fiscally matched.

In typing this I feel a huge relief to detail how I live each day. Its gets easier as I get older because I’m not worried about how my shoes look held together with shoe glue. I’m not afraid to ask anyone for help when my car breaks. I don’t mind riding the bus.  Some man’s insecure comments about my wardrobe are just that.  The day might not arrive anytime soon when I don’t take extra helpings of free food at events or have more than the mandatory minimum of five dollars in my savings account. Now it’s known. I’ve named my working class roots and I will continue to work just as hard as ever.

“He who is not capable of enduring poverty is not capable of being free.” -Victor Hugo

Business, Capitalism, Higher Education, Jail, Laramie, Micro Non-Fiction, Non-Fiction, privilage, Self Growth, Self Love, Self Reflection

day sixteen-thoughts on education (why I want my PhD)

Having obtained my bachelors in English as an undergraduate and my masters in Counseling as a graduate student, I would now like to concentrate on a doctorate in Higher Education Leadership.

I am especially interested in community college leadership, having been involved in leadership during all stages of my academic career.  I was a strong student both in my undergraduate and graduate program and was able to audit graduate courses in my undergraduate years in creative writing which I used as a mode of self-expression.  During my graduate years, I served on several committees and was president of Chi Sigma—the Greek honorary club along with serving as an advisor to the fraternity and sorority executive councils at the University of Wyoming.

I bring my unique understanding of groups historically under-represented in higher education as a formerly incarcerated female drug offender, and participant in Albany County Court Supervised Treatment Program.  Those with criminal backgrounds have often been excluded from higher education settings, if through nothing else other than financial aid which is jeopardized by drug related crimes.

I am fully committed to highlighting the experience of marginalized groups in higher education and am committed to creating diversity in higher education institutions which include open lines of access for all students in the spirit of community college.

My main professional and personal goals are the same—to advocate for individuals to empower her or himself to discover his or her own wealth of resilience and knowledge and to leverage these same traits for social currency and reform.  I obtained my masters in Counseling because I wanted to help people and soon thereafter realized that people don’t need my help but they need my advocacy and the enriching experience of education to realize their own worth and potential.

My brother became incarcerated when I was ten and since that time of fragmentation for my family I have been interested in leadership and social justice as it relates to incarcerated individuals.  Then, becoming incarcerated myself, I firmly believe that my access to higher education is what continues to give my life purpose and is what has kept me out of jails and prison since.

I know that this work is my life’s calling.  I have consistently advocated for underrepresented and marginalized groups and I still see higher education as the great equalizer helping to integrate formerly incarcerated individuals into our larger community.  I believe I will be most successful in creating access to higher education having obtained my own PhD and provide a living example of the transformative nature of education.  In addition, I can influence social currency and power that comes along with a PhD to develop and implement programs that will make access to higher education much more equitable.

With a doctoral degree, I will have both professional and academic knowledge that will enable and permit me to help create and pioneer programs in the state of Wyoming and the greater United States.  These programs will help to reform social policy, create stable funding sources, gather stories and narratives, promote collaboration and dynamic interaction between higher education and correction institutions and open up the national dialogue on access to education and help to change ideology surrounding criminal justice and education.

Archetypes, Dharma, Existentialism, Health Issues, Higher Education, Laramie, Mental Health, Micro Non-Fiction, Mindfulness

the devaluation of my graduate degree

I am guilty of devaluing my own education.  I don’t put letters behind my name.  I do get insecure and drop the word “masters” in mixed company but mostly I feel as though I spent ungodly amounts of money to defend my level of expertise in the dynamic field of intra and interpersonal relationships.  I obtained my degree in counseling but I do not practice.  That’s my own existential work.  But I find those in masters and Phd programs becoming extremely burnt out and unwell spiraling into complete unbalance only to find that their education has been marginalized by our constant need for competition.

Education is exploding.  A masters is the new bachelors and in a college town like Laramie, it’s the norm.  However, I have noticed certain ooo’s and ahh’s at degrees and post doc research in the sciences or in whatever the current paradigm deems as valuable.  Counseling has never had much social currency.  And this particular degree will not guarantee you a better salary, only the right to practice counseling.  In the unregulated state of Wyoming, you do not even need a masters degree to practice life coaching.  You have a vision, you have a business.  Don’t get me wrong I think that any type of self and other help practices are amazing, but why does my degree pack little punch?  Why are counselors and social workers relegated to social services in work that is deemed liberal or unnecessary?

I feel the value assigned to higher education and hard sciences within higher education continues to contribute to classism when many who work in human services are there because of some sort of life troubles themselves.  They messed up, they reformed, and now they help others.  Isn’t this the stuff of life?  Is this not self-actualization? However it seems the emphasis on education and hard sciences is actually contributing further to the class divide.

A masters degree whether in counseling or rocket science can set you back $40,000 to $60,000 depending on the institution.  This means that only people of means and privilege can seek the masters in the first place.  There is unreasonable pressure for students to perform, especially in academia, where good grades often have no real life transferable skills other than the ability to jump through hoops and do what is asked.  However, in a deplorable job market, folks will often sell out just to eat.  The principles they stood for and what they are passionate about falls by the wayside.

And so, I find myself in the dating world, in my professional life, constantly telling others I am an expert in what I chose to study—ways of helping people.  Please value me and set aside my personality which you may or may not like to realize I’ve researched, I’ve bled out on midnight papers, I’ve produced my own higher level work.  But because I cannot pin down the cloud of human behavior—please don’t see my work as invaluable.  The human brain can only be studied—and barely modeled, we know so little.  And I can only speak from my position of white privilege where I’ve not experienced significant hurdles in pursuit of my dreams.  What is the point of this blog post?  To understand the double edged sword of education and the workforce in America.  While I believe higher education is what saved me, I also recognize its shortcomings.  Lets work to value each other despite our degrees, despite our knowledge.

“In order for us as poor and oppressed people to become part of a society that is meaningful, the system under which we now exist has to be radically changed… It means facing a system that does not lend its self to your needs and devising means by which you change that system.” 

-Ella Baker