11 Summers of Reflection

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In a friendly conversation I was asked if I reflect on my life.  I had to resist saying, “Duh!” because it would have been childish, but it turned into a fruitful conversation and a serious train of thought for me.  Since coming into the new year, I promised myself that I wouldn’t dwell in the past, but some things are worth remembering.  Today I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude and knew that I had to sit down for this blog post.

I separated from the Air Force in 2007, the summer of 2007 and here I am now, not working my 11th summer and still getting paid.  That is a blessing!  Not because I’m an educator, but it is a blessing that I have a career that I love and it frees up my time to pursue my passion during breaks and holidays.  My website and blog are my outlet to practice my writing skills as I crank out my inspirational nonfiction.  I never thought nonfiction would have been the genre of my first two books My Fourth Year in Middle School:  The Truth About Teaching (2016) and Brown Sugar Magic: Goal Setting and Reflections Journal (2017).

So here we go, 11 Summers of Reflection…

2007:  I was scared out of my mind to be separating from the Air Force after six years because I was concerned with finding a job.  It didn’t matter that I had earned two associates degrees, my bachelors, and was separating honorably, I was preparing in my mind for my future.  I settled into my new home back in my home state and pushed dozens of my resume and applications out.  I chose to go work for the Office of Child Support Services.  In eight months I learned that child support enforcement is not the kind of job I wanted.  Thankfully I was a forward thinker and able to move on.

2008: The summer of newness.  After working for the State of Georgia for a hot minute… I was impressive enough to secure interviews in April of 2008 to become a teacher.  So mid-way through my Master’s program leading into the summer, I was blessed enough to not work a second summer in a row, and still collect a check.  My Essentials to Teaching class was an eye-opener, but I was excited to take on a new challenge and start my new career as a teacher.  I had no idea what I was getting into.

2009:  This summer broke me just a little….  I had been with my high school crush since 2001 right before joining the Air Force, but at the end of my first year of teaching we had a MAJOR fight… the fight was the snowball to that marriage.  I celebrated my first year of teaching, the highs and lows.  I found love for the classroom and for the students I taught.  I moved forward with my career while crying my eyes out at night, but pulling it together to be SUPER mom for my boys.  We separated.  Tough Summer!

2010:  I had filed for divorce, experienced a fling with a blast from the past and when that didn’t work, I flew to Puerto Rico.  It was just the getaway that I needed.  Now there is no need for details, but being around a familiar and trustworthy face made the trip worth it.  We ate, we drank, we talked.  I loved him but we understood that our love was not to be explored beyond where we were at.  We were adults… still distant friends… Truly someone I will never forget.  I see his life now and I’m extremely happy for him.

2011:  I had completed my third year of teaching and I had some tough decisions to make.  Reconcile completely or not to reconcile at all.  Things were not adding up so I made a choice to walk away.  After someone says they don’t like the word marriage, you walk away.  I never work summer school, but one of my friends had the bright idea to start a book club and we had the most fun ever.  The book club fell to wayside because life happened but shortly after the summer, September to be exact, I was officially divorced.  After all according to that spouse, marriage was just a piece of paper.  Ain’t no way hell was I about that life.

2012:  This was my summer of sexy!  I had officially become a homeowner and hosted my housewarming party.  This was one of the most rewarding experiences I had in a lifetime.  Becoming a homeowner and decorating my home was the best feeling ever.  I could not have been more excited in this year of independence.  I loved every moment of my freedom to do as I chose.

2013: Summer of blur.  I was in a relationship.  It was fun.  It was combative.  Two summers post divorce, and second summer of home ownership.  I had tunnel vision and was completing my last required courses towards my doctorate.  I was trying to be a free spirit and finding myself all over again.

2014:  Let’s call this the summer of love.  I was smitten. I was engaged. I was a nervous wreck.  I was trying!  I think I tried and cried so hard this particular summer.  I honestly don’t know if I was coming or going.  But that is all apart of life.  The struggle to get to what is real.

2015:  The summer of laughter.  A beautiful summer of grilling, slip and slides for the kids, Tybee Island, Jekyll Island, and Summer Waves.  WE had fun…a lot of fun.  I was oblivious and living in the moment.  I was happy.  My boys were growing up and mama was having a life too.  Life could not have been more grand than what it was.

2016:  Revelations and Celebrations!  A year ago I was flying back from Fort Lauderdale after walking across the grand stage to receive my Doctorate of Education.  I was starting my “business” of writing and blogging and trying to figure things out.  I published my book and was on an emotional high.  Of course some things did not feel right in my marriage, but I took things in stride and accepted some harsh realities.  The highs of cruising to the Bahamas a second time, Florida, and family kept me motivated.  I was continuing to come into my own.

2017:  The journey to here!  I am elated to be standing because I know who I am.  I know the impact I have on my LOVED ones, and the RESPECT I have earned in my career, my family, my friends, and my life.  The story is still being written as I’m WRITING!  So do I reflect on my LIFE?  Hell yes I reflect on my life and I am forever grateful for all of my experiences.  The GOOD and the BAD.  The HURTFUL and the LOVING.

In my 11 summers I have made time for myself.  I love myself and the woman that I continue to become.  Others will wonder how I do it?  I’ll just say that it’s the drive and the God in me.  I’m not perfect, I’m original.

Live~Reflect~Write~Learn

LaTilya Rashon

Check Your Credentials: Are You Qualified?

ARE YOU QUALIFIED?

I have spent the past 16 years enrolling and completing degrees at different institutions of higher learning.  The requirements and skill set for each degree program seemed attainable, and you ultimately learn as you go, what is distinguished in presentation and rudimentary.

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However along the way you become a subject matter expert to your peers when they ask, “Well, where do you go to school?”, “What classes did you take?”, “What was your major?”, and the ultimate question, “Was/Is school hard?”  You then spend hours discussing your undergraduate experiences, reliving the fun times, the trying times, and the confusing times.  You explain why you got caught up, and how you wish you knew then all of the things you know now.  You carry on with your life until the next set of questions arise.

What is your master’s in?  I reply,  “Oh, it’s in Public Administration because it caught my eye at the time while I was working for a state agency.”  Now you are advising your friends on degree choices because they are stuck between a master’s in social work or education and they are undecided.  The only thing they know is that they don’t want to be stuck behind the computer writing papers, but you feel compelled to tell them that at the graduate level that’s a big part of the degree.  You have now embarked on research expert territory.  “Should I go to a bricks and mortar school or find a degree program online?”  Again, you relay your experiences and why you chose accelerated online programs because it was conducive to your family structure. Your friends then say, “But on my God, I have to hear the professor because I’m not disciplined enough to do the work online by myself.”

You spend more time explaining how online is not that bad, and is actually better because other than scheduled live-streaming lectures, you can complete and participate in class discussion threads, and post your research papers by the suspense date asynchronously.  Before long your friends are asking you questions about different schools, why you chose your school, and once your’re done, what are you going to do next or are you done with school?

University students

You have become a consultant, adviser, and financial aid consultant by default because you are telling them how “it” works.  Then then next wave of requests become, “Can you help me with this discussion?”, “Hey can you find some articles on this?”, “Can I see your phase 1 draft?”, “Will you read this for me and tell me it how it sounds?”  Before long you’re an editor and proofreader but you’re not charging your friends, because they ask for help here and there.

Considering the amount of work that goes into attaining degrees, when you garner a Doctor of Education (Ed.D) or Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D), you become qualified to do many things and your skill set is expanded.  You are now a referral service because everyone wants to know who helped you along the journey. So then you begin to examine your skill set a little more closely and realize you have a lot to offer.

I am a

  • researcher
  • consultant
  • adviser
  • writer
  • editor

A lot of times we offer services as help then realize some of the services are provided to others at a price.  You don’t want to take on too much too soon, but when you complete your work without the paid help of others, you either encourage your friends and associates to do the same or set yourself up to be paid.  You are qualified to do whatever you are passionate about without naysayer opinions.  The only way you build your skill set portfolio, is to continue working on those skills and let your work speak for itself.  Validation comes when you become the referred rather than the referrer.  You are qualified to be your own boss in any industry that you can’t see yourself walking away from or not being a part of.  Education and writing are my industries of choice.  So am I qualified?

Check my resume!  You damn right, I’m qualified!

~LaTilya Rashon