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Fine Arts Degree?


So I finally did it – I graduated college May 20, 2015 with a Bachelors in Fine Arts!!!!

With this accomplishment and degree came THE question: what are you going to do with that fine arts degree?.  And all I can say about it is it’s not so much what I’m going to do with the degree – it’s about what the degree has done for me.

My father was illiterate. My mother was lucky enough to have the opportunity to graduate from high school. We were low-income minorities living in Elizabeth. I never thought about going to college – I thought about surviving. About working and providing for myself and my family. But I just so happened to stumble across a job, that just so happened to be at a university, that just so happened to offer tuition free courses for employees. And something made me take that chance….just try it, for the hell of it. To see where it would lead me – it was an opportunity and I took it.

My degree is not one many are proud to say they have. Some are shunned and told it will lead nowhere. Some are told it is a waste of time and money. Some are told they will never find jobs. But for me – it was never a waste of time or money, because it was never really about the degree to me, or about a career. It was about personal growth – it was about challenging myself and taking a risk. It was about doing something that I truly enjoyed, and that for much of my childhood was so much a part of me already. From my love of music, to being creative and hands on….it was always who I was.

Pursing my degree in fine arts was truly one of the best decisions I’ve made. I’ve grown immensely from the experience. The saying “it’s the journey, not the destination”, rings so true for this experience. I’ve grown in ways that I don’t think I would have, had I stayed in my own little shell – in the safety of not trying, and just working and surviving. I’m much more open to others and life in general. I learned to step out of my box, to try new things, to get involved (not only in class but through my participation in college activities such as the CPTS (Council for Part-Time Students)). I’ve connnected with other students, both older and younger, as well as professors. I’ve learned so much in my classes and have been privy to conversations, cultures, and people, I would have never gotten a chance to meet and be part of had I passed on the opportunity. Not only that, but the experience helped me get through rough patches in my life – from my father’s illness which spanned the majority of my time at the university, to unemployment and heartbreak.  It gave me other things to focus on.  It was a channel I desperately needed to keep me on track and moving forward so that I wouldn’t be stuck drowning in my own sorrows and disappointments.

Yesterday (my graduation), went by in a flash. 10 years – yes, 10 years as a part-time student at my university (never giving up), and it all lead to 4 hours at a ceremony and 3 seconds on a stage to receive my diploma. Those 3 seconds a complete blur, but a culmination of what I had set my mind to 10 years ago.

I’m proud. Proud that I stuck with something for so long, and continued, even through everything that was going on in my own life. Proud that I can say that maybe I sparked a fire in my brother so that he too could begin his college career and eventually end up receiving his Masters in Social Work. Proud that there are now 2 college graduates in my immediate family. And proud that my parents (my father who is not here, but I know would have been proud of us), can see us moving forward in our lives and reaching for goals that they could have never even imagined for us.

So I say to those who ask me – it is not about what I am going to do with the degree….it’s about what the degree has done for me.

Last Good Day

I watched the movie “The Fault in Our Stars” this weekend.  It was a romantic, yet sad and thought provoking movie about two teens who fall in love – one of them, Hazel, who is battling cancer, who falls in love with Gus, someone who survived cancer, lost a leg, yet seemed to have a positive outlook on life and sense of humor that changes Hazel’s perspective on life…and on what she was going through.  But as the story develops, it turns out Gus has a recurrence of cancer which only gives him a short time to live.  And we see his battle and struggle with the disease.  So much so that it changes his perspective…..diminishes his light.  And then it is Hazel who holds him up….tries to encourage him.

There were a couple of things that made me sad.  One, and I guess the most important, is that it reminded me of my dad…..of his illness.  Of how it took so much away from him.  Of how this strong man became so weak and frail. I hate illness.  I’m scared of it.  I live in fear of having to go through what I went through with my dad with someone else I love.  I don’t want anyone I love to ever go through any of that. How horrible it is to be ill and not be able to do the things you once were able to do so freely without a single thought or effort.  Something as simple as walking down the street, or using the restroom by yourself, bathing without help, or speaking clearly, or feeling your left arm or leg, or working and feeling useful and productive.  God, so many things.  So many things that we take for granted.

There was a quote in the movie…one that resonated, which was:

“There’s no way of knowing that your last good day is Your Last Good Day. At the time, it is just another good day.”

When I heard that is was like, wow…she’s right.  We never know when today will be our last good day, or great day, or ok day…..or even our final day.  When today will be the last day we can talk, and walk, or see, or move freely, or be without pain and illness, or see our loved one, or hear our kids laughing, or hear our moms and dads say “I love you”, or feel their touch or presence, or not have to see our loved ones suffer, or have a place to call home, or food on the table, etc…etc.

Sometimes what we make out to be hellish or difficult days, are not that at all.  In fact they are sorry excuses for bad days.  They have absolutely nothing on the bad days of people who are ill and in pain and in hospitals, and who are going through devastating and heart breaking struggles.  Our bad days are laughable.  Compared to them, our bad days are amazing wonderful days.  They are great days.

We need to start seeing all the positive around us.  Because there is so much to be grateful for.  So much to be happy about.  So much to be thankful for.  You know that saying – “you don’t know what you got till it’s gone”?  That saying is so true.   See it’s like that song by Passenger…….”only know you’ve been high when your feeling low”, “only miss the sun when it starts to snow”.  We humans are like that.  We don’t realize what we truly have until it’s gone.  Until we lose something.  Let’s not wait to lose something to realize what we have. Lets not wait until we are crippled, and ill, or dead, to realize how great we had it.  How great our “bad days” really were.  Let us not have to ever realize that today was “OUR LAST GOOD DAY”.

You see we all fall into that mind frame.  We all succumb.  But the goal is to have less days like that, and more days where we admire and count our blessings.  More days where we make an effort to see the brighter side.  To laugh.  To find the humor in difficult situations.   To reach out to those we love.  To reach out to strangers.  To admire in awe at the beauty of the world.  To smell the roses……and how beautiful those roses smell.

I Went Through That, But I’m Still Here…

I was bullied and teased as a child and felt alone, but I’m still here.

My father became ill…my whole world changed and I had to carry a heavy load, but I’m still here.

I lost my father and I never got a chance to truly know him, but I’m still here.

My first real love broke my heart, but I’m still here.

I lost my job a couple of days after that breakup, but I’m still here.

I still feel lost and alone at times, but I’m still here.

There must be a reason why I am still here.  Something greater than me got me through those things.  God, love, family, friends, faith, hope. A promise of a new day filled with less pain, less tears, and more joy, happiness, laughter.  A promise that things would get better.  That there is a greater plan for me. That who I was and still am is special, strong, loving, and deserves happiness and joy. That I was meant to learn from those experiences.  Become a better person, a more loving and compassionate person. This is my journey.  I am looking forward to all the great things God has in store for me. May this coming year be a year of great joy, laughter, love, self fulfillment, new adventures, fun, tranquility, peace, family, and great friends.  I welcome you 2015. Let your many blessings rain over me and those that I love and care for.


father daughter handprintsDad, I still have guilt in my heart. Please forgive me for not knowing how to deal with certain things. Forgive me for being angry, hurt, scared. I don’t know if at the time I could have done better, because it is now as an adult that I know better. Forgive me.


It’s been two years. Is there a heaven? Is it how they say? Beautiful, peaceful, void of pain, suffering and hurt? Just love and freedom? Are you with my grandparents? Can they see us? Are you free? Free of illness, pain? Are you watching down on us? Are you protecting us and helping us as we walk this life without you? Are you proud of us?


Am I living this life the way I should? Is there something I’m not getting? I’m sure there is. I’m sure there is sooo much I have yet to learn. So much I don’t understand. So much that just doesn’t make sense. Can you help me? Help me make sense of it all. Help me be better. Help me live a life of joy, peace, compassion, humility, and most importantly love. Help me not to worry about things that have past, things I cannot change or control, things I do not understand. Guide me. Help me find those things that make me happy. Help me become a better woman, daughter, friend, sister, cousin, niece. Help me get out of my old ways, so that I can see the light. So that I can see the beauty in front of me…now…in this hour…this moment. Help me create bonds with others…those bonds that will carry me through life, and lift me up through difficult times, as I will them. Help me to live the life I am meant to live. Help me be open to it. Help me find my passion in life – that which makes me who I am. That which brings me joy and fulfillment. I’m doing my best….but help me do better.

I love you always.

Your baby girl.

We’ve All Been Broken…

Never Should Have?

Tooting My Own Horn

Woot! Woot! After such a difficult year and a half, I’m so glad to say that I’ve maintained my GPA this year (all A’s this school year!). I don’t know how I was able to concentrate, or study, or continue with my studies this year. It was soooo difficult. But I’m so glad and grateful that God gave me the strength to keep up with it. Somehow, I made it through, and I’m proud of myself for it. There were days I just didn’t want to do anything…I just didn’t have the mind to, or the heart to. But maybe my studies is something that helped keep me afloat among so much sadness, uncertainty, and heartache. Because it was one of the only stable things in my life at the time. One of the “constants” in my life. Kept me moving forward in a way.

I have a bit more to go, but I’m close to my goal. The goal of having stuck with something for soooo long, and finally seeing it come to fruition. It’s not about the degree or a future career for me. It’s about knowing that through all the adversity, frustration, and challenges, that I said I was going to do something and did it. That I stuck with it as hard as it may have been. That I didn’t give up. And that means the world to me. It’s a lesson in life – I can’t ever give up. No matter how hard it is. I need to keep moving forward.


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