Past Memories: College Days

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Introduction

Hubby and I enrolled in the University of Wisconsin-Madison as freshmen in the Fall Semester of 1969.

I was 27-years-old, Hubby was 28, and we had three children 9, 8 and 2.

I was a high school graduate.  He earned a GED, while serving in the military, after dropping out of high school in the 10th grade.

Both of us were on a mission to improve the quality of our family’s life; and, we believed earning a college degree would lead us toward fulfilling this mission.

Memories Disclosed

While I have many positive memories of my student days at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, for some reason, I chose to disclose memories that have remained hidden for many years.

They were hidden in my mind because I lacked the confidence to even self-acknowledge, much less open up to others, about how the things I am sharing today made me feel.

In the late 1960s, we stood out in our new roles as freshman college students.  And, sadly, I felt uncomfortable.  My classes were filled with students in their late teens and early twenties.

I felt “less than” and “different than” these college students.  They were young and single with recent educational experiences.  While I was older, married, with three kids; and, I hadn’t been in a classroom for more than nine years.

Another “less than” and “different than” experience, which was personally embarrassing, happened when Hubby and I attended a freshman event on campus; and, the reporter covering the event walked over to Hubby and sarcastically asked, “Aren’t you a little old for this.”   

Hubby, responded, sarcastically saying, “You’re never to old to follow your dream.”

Today, if asked the same question, rather than being embarrassed, I would say, We are here to provide our three children with a better life. “

Another “less than” college memory was when, during my first semester, I had to drop out of both Spanish 101 and French 101 within the first several weeks.  Even though I tried, it was impossible, to keep up with students who had just finished taking high school classes in these languages.

But, I needed the required foreign language credits to graduate.  Thinking I could manage a class where my foreign language skills (none) were comparable to the other students, I decided to try an African language.  Classes were offered in the University’s African Studies Department; and, I was able to satisfy my foreign language requirements by taking classes in Swahili, Xhosa and Hausa.

Several of the faculty members, in the department, impressed with my academic performance encouraged me to apply to the school’s PH.D program.

I thought my life had opened up to a wide-range of career possibilities.  But, the optimism didn’t last long when friends and family members cited a number of reasons why this wasn’t a realistic choice.  So, I walked away feeling “less than.”

Thankfully, I have reached a point in life where I am no longer controlled, embarrassed or intimidated when confronted with “less than” or “different than” comments made by others.

After two life-threatening illnesses, breast cancer and epiglottitis which occurred in 2008 and 2010 respectively, I went on a self-awareness, self-empowerment and self-love journey.

The longer I stay on this path , the easier it is to “let go” and discard the unnecessary baggage of “not good enough,” “unworthy,” and  “unlovable” which  controlled my life from early childhood.

Closing

Despite my struggles, we fulfilled our educational dreams:

  • Hubby earned his Bachelors and Masters of Science Degrees;
  • I earned a Bachelors of Science Degree
  • Our eldest daughter, who was 9-years-old when Hubby and I enrolled as freshmen, earned her Medical Degree;
  • Our youngster daughter earned her Bachelor’s in Business Administration and Law Degree; and
  • Our youngest grandson enrolled as a freshman, Fall of 2014.

In this season of life, I live with the awareness that my “today is better than yesterday.

 

Gratitude Sunday – October 19, 2014

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Grateful for Photos:  College Memories

Several week ago, my friend, The Librarian, sent photos of several of my most remembered buildings and places at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where I spent my days, 1969-73, as student.

Today, I am grateful to The Librarian for sharing these photos, not only for the past memories, but for opening up my space to write, “Past Memories:  College Days;”, which, I will post on Monday, October 20.

Each of these photos bring back different memories.

The Red Gym. Every semester, I waited hour-after-hour standing in long lines with thousands of other students to register for my new semester classes.

photo 1

 

Bascom Hall.  This is the buildings where I took a number of my classes.  I remember, many times, walking from the Red Gym up the hill to Bascom Hall only to learn the class I registered for was no longer available.  This required trekking back down to the Red Gym to find another.  Then, backup to Bascom Hall to confirm the class.   The walk up to Bascom Hall, which was located on top of the highest hills on campus, was a workout.  Today, I am Thankful for the daily uphill walks to Bascom Hall, which caused me to give up smoking.  I couldn’t handle both.

photo 2

 

Old University Hospital.  Fortunately, we were young and healthy, so routine family physical exams were the only times that I had to enter this building.   There is a new hospital on campus now; and this building now houses the UW Medical School.  But, even though I didn’t know it had the time, the building will always hold a special memory for me.  Our eldest daughter, a 9-year-old when we enrolled as freshmen students, attended classes in this building and graduated with her medical degree in 1985.

WisconsinGeneral

 

The Ratskellar.  This is where the students gathered to socialize and grab a meal.  We spent our rare Family Date Nights there.  Hubby and I with a tap beer and the kids enjoying the best ice cream I have ever tasted.  Oh, and I can’t forget the free bowls of popcorn which continuously popped throughout the evening.  There were other times, after an evening class or hours spent studying at the Library, Hubby and I would end the night with tap beer and popcorn.  I just recalled that the first time that I drank beer from the tap was at the Ratskeller.

 

photo 2

 

Eagle Heights.  This was the married student housing on campus.  We lived there for four years.  The housing was restricted to graduate students and their families.  How we ended up there.  Hubby, being unaware of this restriction, applied for housing.  He used our student advisor’s name as a reference, which unbeknownst to us, also was the name of the Chair of the Business School.  We later learned that Graduate Business School students received preferential treatment.  Why, I am not certain.  The good news is that when they finally discovered their mistake, we were never asked to move.  Looking back, I can see how the mistake was made.  We didn’t, meet the freshman student profile — 18-year-old and single.  Instead our family met the profile of a graduate student — late twenties with three children.

photo 1

Again, so grateful to The Librarian for taking the time to shoot these photos and share them with me.

Finally, Expressing gratitude is healthy for my mind, body, and spirit.

Tenney Park: Sad and Happy Memories

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The Photos

A long-time friend, sent me an e-mail with the attached photo:

GorgeousSky

She took the photo early one morning, on her long, long walk to her job at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  Getting to work is not the only reason for her early morning walks.  She also uses this time to meditate and felt this might be an option for me.  Something to consider.  But, for now, I plan to sit on the lanai at 5:00 a.m. with the fans swirling overhead, to meditate until the weather cools down in Florida.

Let me move from walking and meditating to the photo.  Having lived in Madison for more than thirty-five years, I emailed and asked, “What Lake — Monona or Mendota?”

She didn’t answer, but sent the following photos.  Then, I knew the answer – Lake Mendota.

TenneyParkSign

TenneyParkLocks

TenneyParkBeach

Summers 1970 – 1973

I remember, the summer afternoons, spent with our three children, in this park and on that beach.  It was many, many years ago; and, I have Sad and Happy Memories

Hubby and I were both full-time students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  We were living, I am certain, below the poverty level for a family of five  (GI Bill, student loans/grants, and Hubby’s part-time jobs).

Sad Memories:

Mentally, I allowed worrisome and non-productive thoughts to enter my space; and this disengaged me from spending quality time with my family.  Unanswerable questions controlled my thoughts.  Like, WHAT IF —

  • We made a mistake by returning to college at our age?
  • We can’t find a job after graduation?
  • Hubby can’t find another part-time job when this one ends?
  • We can’t pay back the student loans?

Sadly, my WHAT IF questions were continuous and endless.  And, regretfully, I was not able to enjoy and embrace what was happening in the present moment during this period of my life.

Happy Memories

Even though I was not always in the present moment during these summer days, I know our children enjoyed the time we spent at Tenney Park.

Regardless of the WHAT IFs, I have many Happy Memories of those sunny afternoons, sitting quietly, and watching our Happy children — wading in the lake, creating in the sand, and playing in the park.

Hubby joined us for dinner at the end of his work day.  Tenney Park was our evening dining place during the summer.  And, we had some of our best times and meals there.  Most days, I cooked something on our portable grill.  And, occasionally we had enough money to treat the kids with pizza or burgers from a fast food restaurant.

Happy, that today, I am learning to:

  • Let go of the past;
  • Live in the present moment; and
  • Accept what may happen in the future.

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Postscript – Thank You to Two Special Friends

The Librarian, for the photos in this post.

Cupcake, for the photos taken in an earlier post, “July Vacation Days:  Happiness in the Presence of Children.”   (Special Note:  We share a beautiful granddaughter, Little Cupcake.)