Tuesday, May 25, 2010

And it's already a successful day

I seem to have a hard time learning in a non-traditional environment. One summer when I was working my way through my bachelor's degree, I took 5 summer courses. Three of them were online, and I finished one of them in a few hours. Of course, it was a magazine writing class, and all the professor gave us was a list of topics. I let my imagination fly, and my fingers follow suit, and before I knew it, I had achieved an A in one evening. I'm afraid I've had a jaded view of online learning ever since.

The more I try online courses, however, the more I realize what an anomaly that class was. Or, more appropriately, that the course suited my particular talents. Now I'm in online courses for my Texas real estate license. I'm finding it to be a huge pain in the ass. Sitting down and taking time to read legal terms is frustrating. Frustrating because I like to know exactly what I'm doing and talking about; I hate being anything except at the top of my game. Being the least knowledgeable person at a business table is very low on my priority list! So . . . how is this a successful day?

I've made my own personal list of the things I need to get done, and the things I need to learn in order to feel successful. (And to gain licensure). The thing I've learned over the past few weeks is that success is learning what I need to do in order to be successful, and looking inward to find the tools I need in order to do that.

I'm rambling, but learning how I learn has made today a success. ;)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Nickel For Your Thoughts?

All right, all right, I'm up. It's 7:45, and I've been up for a few minutes, ripping myself awake with the knowledge that some people have been awake for hours. HOURS, I think to myself, while digging down to find the motivation to keep my eyes open and my body erect.

I've got miles to go before I sleep (again) . . . you'll have to forgive me. Robert Frost is my favorite poet, and that's . . . nevermind. I'm trying to wake up my body, so I start making my bed, all the while jamming out to a little music for motivation. But while I make my bed, my mind reverts back to a time when I'm not more than a pipsqueak, trotting after my great grandpa at their smoke-filled, dated Indiana farmhouse house.

Grandpa Joe was my hero - one of those people who shimmer into and out of your life and leave a trail of stardust in your eyes. He gave me direction, gave me love, and made me feel like the light he was to me, and even gave me a pipsqueak-sized set of overalls to match his. I love him purely, and without question - something I find sort of intimidating in my adult life to accomplish. We used to go on these walks in the summertime, back across a plain stone bridge over a creek. I would sit and swing my feet over the creek while he wandered and told me stories, limericks, jokes, whatever came to mind. In general, he wasn't a big talker, so a lot of the time we would just sit side by side in silence, enjoying the day and each other's company. Even as a kiddo, I listened, and I knew this guy was something special. I didn't, of course, realize that those lapses into silence, and some of the wandering away was due to his slow descent into Alzheimer's. Eventually, silence filled his life, and stole the light out of his twinkling, faded blue eyes.

I lived with my great grandparents off and on through my childhood, and got to spend a lot of quality time learning from these two amazing people. (The word 'amazing' is often overused; I flip back through my memories, and feel amazed that I got a chance to really know these people.) Often, in the mornings, Grandpa Joe would ask me in his gruff voice, "Do you want to earn a nickel?" I was, of course, eager.

So, we would stand on opposite sides of his and Grandma's bed, and while she cooked breakfast, he and I would meticulously make up the bed. His gnarled fingers would so tenderly tuck the sheets in beneath the pillows, freshly fluffed, and I would do my best to mimic his moves. By the time we finished, there was one perfect side, and one not so perfect one, but it never mattered. We would have breakfast, and we would go on about our day. Sometimes we would walk; sometimes we would listen to eight-tracks of Elvis. It didn't really matter.

You know, I never saw a nickel of that money. That never mattered either.