Growth and Development

Am I at the highest stage of my own growth and development? I don’t think so. Lord, I hope not.  There has to be more. Maybe I’ve been regressing.  As a teen I wanted to be with friends and hated to be left out of things.  Now I’m happy in solitude… most of the time.

As a teen my intended trajectory was to become a nurse, and yet really what I hoped for more than anything else was to be a mother and a wife.  All of it came true, even with many bumps and bruises I persevered. Nursing School was extremely challenging and it was there that I learned how to keep on no matter what.  The problem was that my idea of Nursing was stuck in the 1940’s with a romanticized Cherry Ames, the nurse with the cherry red cheeks who always knew what to do when it came to taking care of her patients.  Scrapes?  She had plenty, but as a nurse she was perfect.

At that time I didn’t know about ADD or ADHD, and wouldn’t have recognized the symptoms anyway.  Hyperactive?  Not a chance!  Today, plenty of research shows us that girls, women and adults definitely suffer from Attention Deficit Disorder, hyperactive or not.  I struggled to concentrate, to hold on to details, all the while with a head swimming with information that was hard to hold on to.

I pushed through, graduating from the University of Tennessee’s College of Nursing. If only educators and I had known about learning and teaching styles that would have helped me.  But we didn’t and I continued on. I learned best by my mistakes and thankfully there were no huge errors.

Looking back, I see that I got by in many situations by appearing mature; Nursing School, Marriage, Babies… friends thought I was so mature.  Ha!  I wasn’t mature I was depressed. Low energy, down, sometimes really down, with difficulty focusing on what “needed” to be done.  I found myself wondering what I could do differently, and quite often pretty sure that whatever I was doing at the moment was not what “needed” to be done.  Which task, in what order and how on earth could I have so much laundry? It went from the kitchen to the dining room table. Getting the laundry done wasn’t a problem, getting it folded and put away was a true challenge.

Meaning.  In 1982 or so I became involved with the development of a battered women’s shelter.  There was purpose in my life!  Later I would learn how essential meaning and purpose were to my being, my core.

Meaning came in different avenues as life continued on. Involvement in church with leadership and preaching. PREACHING!? No one was more surprised than I was. The idea of doing something that might help others, might help myself, was huge.  During that time I became familiar with the Myers Briggs Temperament Indicator. Learning my “type” was such an awakening experience that eventually I put my type on my license plate.  (If you know MBTI, (Myers Briggs Personality Indicator) you have a good clue as to what my type is.)

To be continued…



High School Transformed

(This is written to my high school class.)

Back in 2013 I wanted to write something reflecting upon our 40th reunion. I never ever thought I would be ecstatic about a reunion! Never! But I was.

If you knew me at West Hills or Bearden, you know how shy I was, and most likely saw me as sweet and possibly even smart. The smart part came mostly from the glasses I wore, along with how quiet I was. I must have been studious, right? Well, kind of. I was, and yet socially, I struggled, not knowing how to be me, nor how to be content with myself.

High school was a true challenge. I did have friends and relied on them greatly, and yet sometimes even with them I didn’t quite know where I belonged. I was always trying to fit in. Academics, especially Math were a challenge. I remember Mr. Jenkins getting mad at me for not understanding geometry! For years, looking at my BHS yearbook was a painful exercise; it showed what a wallflower I truly was, revealing how shy and isolated I was back then.

I tried, I really did. I invited three guys (separately) to the TWERP dance one year. I was turned down by each one. I did not go to a single dance in high school. When I lived in Vermont my hospital had a holiday party with a prom theme. I was angry at first due to my painful memories, but I actually fun and now have a prom picture to show for it!

What I’m trying to express is that life at BHS was not easy for me and that my memories of those days were filled with pain. I did attend our 10th reunion, had a nice time and enjoyed reconnecting with friends such as Marion Cook and Aimee Fuller. Then there was a huge gap where I heard nothing about a reunion… until our 40th. I learned that there were others who were unsure about attending another reunion, given the mixed feelings that some of us shared. Some of us chatted via email and messaging, sharing our uncertainty about returning to the “scene of the crime”. Did we really want to go?

After many conversations and pondering, I attended and am so glad I did. High school walls seemed to melt away. Walls of exclusion and fear were gone. Popular kids talked to the quiet ones and we learned that the designations of the past were not important, that we had much in common or at the very least we were interested in one another’s lives. We were concerned about those known to be ill and deeply saddened to have lost many of our class to early death. I learned that we are people with a shared history, with memories of Coach Smelcher calling out “LiBerry” for those who wanted to leave study hall and proceed to the library, memories of band trips, plays, football games and more.

I came away from the reunion filled with hope and with joy. To quote John Wesley, I was “strangely warmed.” Our class was something to believe in! I connected with people I had never talked with before. I knew that if I needed something I could call almost anyone in our class for advice or a favor. I was on a high for weeks after our gathering. My favorite parts were the more informal ones, the first night at the McCamy’s and then the Sunday brunch, the only down side was that I could have used more time!

Whether our class needed to be redeemed in anyone else’s mind or not, I came away from that weekend in November with a sense that I belonged. I am grateful for a shared history that with some goes back to 3rd grade when we moved to Knoxville, and connection with others that I did not recognize until we met for our 40th. And of course, new ones were formed.

I am extremely grateful for you ALL, even if we did not know one another. If someone were to ask me about a transformative time in my life, our 40th reunion would definitely come to mind. Our class gave me a healing gift and I will be forever grateful. Thank you.