Confessions of an ACC Poster Child

22 Mar

Occasionally, a friend or classmate of mine comes up to me and says, “Hey, I saw your picture on the ACC website recently.” This line is always a no-fail conversation starter for a generally reserved person like me.

“Yes, I’m an ACC poster child,” I proudly reply before enthusiastically regaling my unsuspecting listener with story after story about all of the wonderful experiences I’ve had during my four and a half years at Arapahoe Community College.

When I started out as a part-time student pursuing an associates degree, the end goal of graduation seemed like a speck on the distant horizon. I was so intensely focused on each step of my educational journey and the pleasurable pursuit of immersing myself in so many interesting classes and activities that it didn’t really hit me until last week that my graduation is just around the corner.

Instead of feeling euphoric though and ready to move on to the next stage of my life, I’m surprisingly feeling a bit down, reluctant and confused. I’m not so sure I’m ready to give up the comforting intellectual environment of what has become my academic “home” or the attendant connections I’ve made with the amazing faculty members and friends I’ve met along the way.

George Santayana said, “We must welcome the future, remembering that soon it will be the past; and we must respect the past, remembering that it was once all that was humanly possible.” My mind knows it’s time to let go and embrace what the future has to offer, but my heart wants to delay my leaving and enjoy every last moment I have left.

Going back to school at Arapahoe Community College has been the best thing I’ve ever done. The warmth and personal attention of excellent instructors, the small class sizes and the intimacy of such a small campus has provided the nurturing environment I needed to rebuild my scholastic confidence, develop leadership abilities and hone my writing skills.

I’m proud to own ACC as my school and will always be excited to tell people about my experiences there. I will always be proud to be an ACC poster child and graduate. Just don’t be surprised, if like the irrepressible Bob Wiley, I never completely leave. I may be back there this summer or fall, lingering in the hallways and taking a class or two–just for fun.


Sigma Phi Rocks!

11 Mar

This past weekend, I had so much fun with my Phi Theta Kappa friends! My chapter, Sigma Phi, hosted the Colorado Regional Convention at Arapahoe Community College and we had a blast. On Friday night, the officers of Sigma Phi and Alpha Gamma Alpha staged an 80s Highschool Reunion Murder Mystery. I chose the role of Sally Sax, the band dewey/nerd since that was exactly what I was in highschool. I even dug up my old Thornton Highschool band jacket for my costume and borrowed my sister’s saxophone. It was a little harder to dig up 80s clothing than I thought it would be, though I did find some leg warmers and boots in my 14-year-old daughter’s closet. The upturned collar of a pink polo shirt, tacky earrings and the Sheena Easton up-do completed my fairly authentic look. My husband played the role of Danny Drums and my advisor and good friend Erica played a pom-pom girl. In this photo, we’re doing our “interpretive dance” routine (an inside joke from our trip to Virginia last summer…LOL!) I have WAY too much fun at these events…I’ll be SO lost without Phi Theta Kappa and my Sigma Phi friends when I have to transfer to a 4-year school next fall…WAH!

Sigma Phi swept the Regional awards again this year, too. We won the Colorado Distinguished Chapter award, first place in the Scholarship and Service Hallmark categories (I wrote the Scholarship Hallmark Essay for this award), Distinguished Chapter President award, Distinguished Chapter Officer award (that would be ME!!! 🙂 ), and the Horizon Award for our AMAZING advisor.  One of our members is also campaigning for International President this spring.   I am surrounded by a truly wonderful group of people–many of whom have become my dear friends.

Here we are with all our awards…aren’t we a good-looking group? Go SIGMA PHI!

And here I am receiving my Distinguished Chapter Officer Award from my good friend Adam, the now former Colorado Region President.

See? Nerds really DO know how to have fun…:-)

Writing Women Back Into History

8 Mar

This past Friday, I had the opportunity to attend the 14th Annual Women’s Leadership Conference on the Auraria campus in Denver with two of my good friends. Before attending this conference, I had no idea that March is National Women’s History Month or that the Auraria campus has hosted these Women’s Leadership Conferences for the past 13 years.

Where have I been?

In the mothering trenches I guess…

I was particulary intrigued with the 2010 theme for National Women’s History Month–“Writing Women Back into History”–since I am a writer (artist, poet, musician, leader, etc….) In one of my workshops, this lovely empowering quote was shared with us:

Women have always innovated our own strategies for being part of history. We have taken it into our own hands to be an agent in our own story. Not simply as subject or object, but as writer, artist or creator. Women are writing ourselves back into history.

This particular workshop addressed women’s self-agency and the opportunities to make our voices heard through social media. The point was made that in this DIY generation, women don’t have to wait for permission, for somone to say we’ll include your voice. We can use social media to get our voices out there and to be heard. This quote from a study by Stavrositu and Sundar was also cited:

The constant activity of blogging itself serves to further boost one’s competence as a creator and as a distinct voice, most likely imbuing users with a deep sense of agency. Blogs therefore become a powerful vehicle for developing and mastering one’s voice. In addition, they also enable users to relate their voice to the voices of others.

At the end of the conference, the keynote speaker, Molly Murphy MacGregor, President and Co-Founder of the National Women’s History Project, challenged us to pick one woman from history and discover who she really was. She also encouraged us to use Women’s History Month as a springboard for our own explorations, to draw information and inspiration from the past, and to continue to expand on the women’s movement.

In response to Molly’s challenge, I have several ideas fluttering around in my head of how I can do these things. I’m always hesitant to voice my ideas since I am more of a visionary than a follow-it-through-to-the-end kind of gal, but here goes nothing…

1. Blog more often to get my voice “out there.”

2. See what it would take to start a Women’s Club on my community college campus.

3. Create an art journal that incorporates the accomplishments of the women that inspire me most.

Hmmm…we’ll see how far I get with those ideas, but even if none of them come to fruition anytime soon, I DO know that I had a fantastic experience at the Women’s Leadership Conference and I will go back next year, for sure!

Rules vs Fun

31 Aug

If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun.

-Katherine Hepburn

I love this quote! My husband found it in a women’s clothing catalog that came in the mail last week and said I needed to paste it into my journal. It now resides just inside the front cover. It definitely belongs there.

Well, I’ve fallen behind a little bit on my goal to do a page in my journal each day. Not a huge surprise…”Life happens,” right?

Last week was a bit crazy with a two-day business trip to Arizona, celebrating my oldest son’s 19th birthday and preparing my first speech for my Public Speaking class.

Oh, well…Whatcha gonna do???

Start up again where I left off, right?

Here’s a couple of pages I did last week, though:

Technically, I didn’t hang this in a “public” community-type of place–I figured an open doodling invitation to myhusband and kids counted instead. They loved it, BTW!!!

Another page instructed me to color outside the lines. I took a 60s “free-love,” tye-dyed approach to it for some reason…and definitely had to use CRAYONS!

I also stapled a couple of pages together and poked holes in another page and discovered it’s a great way to work out my frustrations!

As an aside, I admit that I enjoyed a secret papier-mache sculpting session last week… just for fun. I happen to love any art that incorporates paper. There is something particularly enjoyable and soothing about the texture of slimy newspaper. (Although for some reason, the feeling of sticky bread dough in between my fingers makes my skin crawl–go figure!)

I’m too embarrassed to post a  picture of my modern art “sculpture” here, but suffice it to say that it resembles a headless, armless, legless and very pregnant Venus of Willendorf. Not sure where that image came from–deep in my psyche apparently. Art can be a bit scary at times, especially when we surprise ourselves by revealing something we didn’t know we wanted to reveal.

Papier-mache is  French for “chewed up paper”, BTW. I find that fact amusing considering my experience of chewing up a journal page and scraping off strips of sticky wallpaper backing last week. A connection me thinks…

All I know is that I feel happier even if I just take ten minutes each day to do something creative.

I think that using the typical excuse of “Life Happens” limits my creativity. It is a weak attempt to get myself off the hook. But I don’t want to make excuses for myself anymore! Creativity is a reward, a form of self-love. I’m going to try to use the phrase “Creativity Happens” more often and see what happens.

I feel some zany and bizarre outbursts coming on…:-)

The Power of a Paper Chain

24 Aug

For this page, I couldn’t cut the page into strips and make just ANY old paper chain. Perfectionist that I am, I had to give it some color and find a way to make the paper chain into something truly meaningful, something artistic, something metaphoric maybe? I noticed that there were 20 strips. Something needed to be written on the strips…maybe the months of the year–I could write the name of each month and rip off a strip to mark each month that I stuck with my creativity goals for the next year, maybe. But that would leave eight strips without any writing on them. No, that wouldn’t do. What could I write 20 of?

Eureka! In The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron lists 20 Creative Affirmations. Perfect! In tiny print, I wrote each affirmation, colored them with my Pentel markers and looped them together in ROYGBIV order. Nice!!!

 Then I attached the chain to the page and looped it around the outside of the book as a constant reminder that creativity is an ongoing process–a succession, a sequence, a string of courageous actions that build upon, link and entwine with one another.

Creative Affirmations (From The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron)

  1. I am a channel for God’s creativity, and my work comes to good.
  2. My dreams come from God and God has the power to accomplish them.
  3. As I create and listen, I will be led.
  4. Creativity is the creator’s will for me.
  5. My creativity heals myself and others.
  6. I am allowed to nurture my artist.
  7. Through the use of a few simple tools, my creativity will flourish.
  8. Through the use of my creativity, I serve God.
  9. My creativity always leads me to truth and love.
  10. My creativity leads me to forgiveness and self-forgiveness.
  11. There is a divine plan of goodness for me.
  12. There is a divine plan of goodness for my work.
  13. As I listen to the creator within, I am led.
  14. As I listen to my creativity I am led to my creator.
  15. I am willing to create.
  16. I am willing to learn to let myself create.
  17. I am willing to let God create through me.
  18. I am willing to be of service through my creativity.
  19. I am willing to experience my creative energy.
  20. I am willing to use my creative talents.

The Joy of Reckless Abandon

24 Aug

Because I’ve been turning to pages randomly, I didn’t realize until I completed this page on Friday that Wreck This Journal comes with a WARNING statement at the opening of the book. It states:

During the process of this book you will get dirty. You may find yourself covered in paint, or any other number of foreign substances. You will get wet. You may be asked to do things you question. You may grieve for the perfect state that you found the book in. You may begin to see creative destruction everywhere. You may begin to live more recklessly.

Well, that explains my nearly uncontrollable actions this past week doesn’t it???

I was also thrilled to see on Keri Smith’s acknowledgment page a dedication to perfectionists all over the world and a thank you to Brenda Ueland–one of the people “whose ideas and perceptions continue to rip [her] wide open.” (That’s one way to put it!) Brenda Ueland happens to be one of MY favorites, too! She was a very spunky writer and the author of If You Want to Write–my favorite book on writing and the creative process. Now I feel like I have two more connections endearing me to the author of Wreck This Journal.

And not only that, my other sister, Darcy is going to join in on the fun! She couldn’t resist buying Wreck This Journal, too. Time for a book par-tay! Wahoo!


21 Aug


As a follow-up to yesterday’s post, let me assure you that I did not traumatize my 6-year old son by ruining his cookie dough fund raising materials. I just about grabbed his packet first but thought better of it at the last second. Once he saw how much fun my daughter and I were having destroying her packet, he gladly offered up his and joined in on the paper thrashing.

Let me just say here too how much I hate certain types of school fundraisers–particularly the ones that exploit our young children and lead them to believe that they could EVER sell enough cookie dough to earn a limosine ride. How cruel IS that, really? Not to mention how cruel it is to expect an already overloaded mom to take her child door-to-door in a neighborhood with 50 other kids who are doing the exact same thing. I’d much rather just send the school a check for $50 knowing they will get ALL of the proceeds instead of just a small portion. AARRGGHH! Done ranting now… 

See what this book is doing to me? It’s making me snarky. I told you it was going to get me into trouble…;-)

Yesterday’s “Scrub This Page” was really fun, BTW. I got out the Comet and a sponge and went at it. The black ink and paper started rubbing off. Then I took a soapy nail brush to it and scrubbed so hard, I ripped a couple of holes in the page. I also used white nail polish to paint synonyms to the word “scrub” across the top and bottom of the page.

Next thing I knew, I had a very strong urge to take on a home decorating project that has needed to be done for quite some time. I went into my main floor bathroom, began ripping the wallpaper off the wall and spent the next several hours spraying and scraping off wallpaper backing. It was a very satisfactory feeling, indeed, to rip and scrub and make such a mess of things!

When my girls came home from school, they were amazed. I NEVER do things like this. The world as they knew it had been upended for a moment–until I asked them if they wanted to join in on the fun. Guess what their answer was?

What I’m discovering from this experiment already is that when you give yourself permission to play, to create, to break the rules, to LIVE, you give other people permission to do the same.

(And that goes for our rowdy Yorkie puppy, Jonas, too–who gladly ripped apart a roll of toilet paper and TPeed the bathroom while we were doing this project!)