Learning Curve

Step Into the Light

Journal Entry 18 – January 13, 2023

Considering all that’s gone on I’m sure I could have gotten away with not writing an entry in my journal this week – or whatever such nonsense we’re going to call it now. Me, I don’t care what we call it; I’m just getting my thoughts out there. You see, I hit the speed bumps of academia this week. Let me put this in a little more positive way…my whole world has changed in one week…just another facet and I am really digging college.

Now as you may know, I started with a full load, meaning I signed up for 12 credit hours or four classes. Two of these were big prerequisite classes with a whole lot of reading and other assignments. Actually three of them are, so once I realized this was just too much, I decided to drop one class this semester. With me being me, I had bitten off more than I could chew but instead of being the old me and just trying to fight my way through it, I have now grown into the realization this is not a race. I’m in it for the long haul, so I’ll do whatever I have to do to ensure my success.

I’ll pick up the mandatory Introduction to Sociology class another semester. I still have my Introduction to Human Services, Public Speaking, and Music Appreciation for a nine-credit semester. Anyone who has been through college or are going to college already knows you have to be prepared to work. Learning requires a lot of work, especially when it’s geared towards something you’ve dreamed of for years and years and prepares you for something you want to do with your life.

I want to say this about Lincoln Land Community College: Go Loggers! This school is amazing. The staff in every department I’ve encountered has been more than helpful; it’s obvious they care about their students. What they don’t care about is race, creed, color, religious background, or past life issues. Trust me on this; I know. Staff members who know my story have done everything possible to encourage, advise and assist me in any way they can to make it possible for me to get off to a good start.

When you’ve been through as many jungles and battles and hell holes as I have, one thing you learn is human behavior and how to read people. This is what keeps you alive in those places out here in your world, it lets you read sincerity in others.

Here’s one example of the kindness I find here. Yesterday I forgot and left my lunch at the center. I’m a diabetic so I needed to eat and I was feeling it. I knew I had to find food so I asked one of the Student Success ladies. The Student Life supervisor, Leslie, sent me to the Student Life Food Pantry. The young lady there had me fill out a form, then gave me a can of Hearty Campbell’s Chicken and Noodles, a bag of chips and a granola bar. The food was exactly what I needed. But what I needed even more was the grace of these women who handled the situation, the dignity they allowed me to keep even when I had to humble myself and ask for help. In no way did they make me feel like a beggar; they made me feel like somebody they wanted to help and they were happy to do it.

My professors have all gone out of their way to help me as well. They all know I have no computer skills, that I must learn how to navigate the system so I can get through all my assignments. I have an appointment coming up with the lady who handles accommodations for people like me who have special needs but maybe don’t want or know how to ask. The college has faith in every student and a willingness to invest their time, care, and efforts into them. Seems I fit right into that category.

Right now I’m sitting in the library writing this. How cool is that? The person who started out writing on a simple prison email computer not long ago has now become me kicked back in this beautiful chair surrounded by a wealth of knowledge and information – a whole library full of books that I can now read when and if I choose.

Talk about Stepping Into the Light!

I’m just glad I was able to teach myself to read and then figure out for myself what else I needed to do in order to get to where I am now. That’s change. I don’t know why I can’t be as proud of myself as those who love me are. I guess I won’t be able to really feel a sense of accomplishment until I’ve actually done what I need to do to get through this and get to the point where I can talk to the first person that needs help and try to be that help.

Today I dropped off a copy of Long Road Home at the Creative Writing Center to be reviewed by the professor there. The woman who was gracious enough to accept the manuscript to pass along asked how much I had written. I told her I wrote all of it and in fact I had written four books only I was told they’re not four books, they’re four parts of the same book. Then I explained to her how that decision was made for me by Sings Many Songs and my beautiful, loving Janice. And why would they bother to ask me? Asking me would just led to a bunch of me acting like a baby and saying, “No! It’s four books, it’s four books, it’s four books” when in actuality, it’s all the same story, my story, and it’s my gift to you.

I hope maybe one sentence will resonate with you, one pain or anguish or hurt or let down or self-reflection will help you through something that you’re going through. To me that’s what it’s all about. That’s why I’m not trying to sell it but will gladly give it away to as many people as will read it in the hopes of helping just one person. That will validate everything I’ve been through in the past as well as all I’m going through now and I’m so blessed to be a part of. Maybe when it has all been said and done and I can sit across some desk or stand in front of a group of people and actually help one person, it will all have been worth it.

Another blessing worth more than any money is the love of the people that help me and have faith in me. I would rather cut my hand off than let them down. I’m learning how to navigate the computer. I’m learning how to get to my lessons. So far I still can’t quite figure out how to submit the dang things. I guess that’s why I have some appointments with tutors…finally I learned how to ask.

And for that I will give thanks to two beautiful women; they know who they are. To me they define beauty and grace, goodness and caring; they restored my faith in humanity, but even more importantly, they restored my faith in myself. There was a time I damn sure thought it was over with; for a minute I thought it was all going to be too much. They made me back up and focus…take a look at myself and my stubborn willful ways, determined to not ask for help when help was exactly what I needed. They taught me how to ask without feeling shame and never once have they made me feel shame because I need help.

Amazingly enough this entire academic Institution — Lincoln Land Community College — is showing the same grace, kindness and willingness to help me help myself so that maybe, just maybe, someday I can help someone else.

The one thing you can count on, I’m Walks On The Grass and I Will Never Surrender.

Long Road Home by Steven Maisenbacher

Published by Sings Many Songs

I'm an 80-something child of the great depression and WWII. Throughout my life I have been a seeker, an outsider, never quite belonging anywhere, still always looking through cracks in the fences of life, questioning, challenging, learning, trying to make sense of the world and its conventions. A lifelong student with many interests and a love of writing and editing, my elder's path led to encouraging and assisting some remarkable people to write out their amazing stories. This calling became the magic elixir that keeps me growing, keeps me alive.

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