Wonderland’s Cheshire Cat had nothing on me!

“I hope your dreams take you… to the corners of your smiles, to the highest of your hopes, to the windows of your opportunities, and to the most special places your heart has ever known.”
~ Author Unknown

My graduation last night was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had and I hope I don’t forget it in a hurry!  Yesterday, I officially graduated with my BA degree. It is hard to actually find the right words to describe what sitting there was like.

The seat assigned to me was in the second last row, right in the middle, and in front of me I had this sea of black tasselled caps filling the rows in front of me. I wish more than anything I had my camera with me to take a photo of it, but I think it will be imprinted in my mind forever.

I would love to know the thoughts of anyone of who caught a glimpse of me as I sat there. I had this permanent grin on my face and I hadn’t even been called to the stage yet ~ Alice In Wonderland’s Cheshire Cat had nothing on me last night!  To say I was ridiculously proud to be sitting there would only be half the story. It started with a dream many years ago and finally, FINALLY there I was at my graduation! As I sat there waiting, I was like a little kid waiting to open a birthday present, the smile across my face, solid and spread wide and when I became aware I was sitting there grinning I would attempt a straight face but gave up on that idea because the grin just instantly spread back on my face again. I had to practically restrain myself from sitting on the edge of my seat as I waited for my turn! I know if I could have laughed I would have been sitting there laughing and smiling till the tears came. The joy inside of me was literally just bubbling up!

I can’t recall how many times I repeated under my breath “Oh My God, I’m at my graduation!” as I sat there.

The accumulation of all that hard work over the last five years was so, so worth it! The late nights and the all-nighters, the cramming, the frustration, the hair pulling, the early mornings, the Bio-Plus, the exams, the never-ending assignments…

Suddenly it was my row’s turn to get ready. We all stood up. My grin was now ridiculously spread across my face. As we got to the end of our row a lady straightened our gown, folded our sash correctly over our left arm and straightened our tasselled cap. There was no need to say smile here!

At the stage, we headed up one step then another waiting our turn. Suddenly, still smiling ridiculously, I was up! I walked up to the top and handed the Dean my name card with my degree on it.  I remember hearing my first name and second name and the surname became a blur, it was all suddenly so surreal.  I stood there trying to find the official photographer but all I could see was bright spot lights. I hope at this point my ridiculously huge grin was still planted firmly on my face and I was looking in the right direction for the cameraman and that I didn’t suddenly look like a dear caught in the headlights! Those moments are a bit of a blur, and typically this is when I needed my smile the most. After they announced me and I hoped the photographer had gotten the photo, I moved forward, it was time to kneel and get the tap on my tasselled cap and as I knelt down and I was tapped, I looked up and got a huge congratulations and it was like I suddenly snapped back into my body. The grin was back!  Next up was shaking someone’s hand and another hearty congratulations. I remember saying thank you so much and my smile was so big I thought my mouth was going to split! Then I walked to the next one, I turned to face the audience and the cameraman and I was draped in my golden banded sash. I knew I was smiling for this one!

Walking down the stairs, I received my certificate and then a little way down the aisle I was in a short queue alongside the audience to get another picture taken by the professionals.  As I stood there waiting my turn I found my mom, dad and best friend, all turned in their seat with camera’s pointed at me. I held up my certificate and did what I hoped I was doing best ~ I grinned and grinned and grinned!

 I had done it.

It was the best feeling in the world!

 Now, I can’t wait to go back when I complete my honours!

I think had I studied straight after school and been at my graduation at 21 years old I don’t think I would have appreciated it as much as I appreciated it last night. I worked damn hard for this and yes, I am ridiculously proud of myself and yes, last night I fell asleep with biggest grin ever.  Waking this morning realising it wasn’t just a dream…  and just like that my grin was back!

I wish I could bottle up all the amazing feelings I felt last night, and carry that jar of amazingness with me as I journey down the path of completing my Honours now, to open it up when the going gets tough and the nights of hard work get long, to remember these moments of my graduation and the joy of reaching my goal.

“All our dreams can come true… if we have the courage to pursue them.”
~ Walt Disney

If the last few years have taught me anything, it has taught me never to give up on my dreams no matter how far away they may seem, or how big a mountain it is to climb because when you reach that dream and suddenly you are “holding it in the palm of your hand” you’ll be glad you defied so much to get to that point. ~ You have to relentlessly pursue your dreams for no one else can do it for you!

Next dream up is Kilimanjaro ~ 15 Days to go!!!!

Not sure if it’s possible, but I think my smile just got bigger!

Below are a few pictures from last night, the official photo’s have been ordered!  Unfortunately, the pics that were taken of me on  the stage by my guests were blurry as they were following the names in the programme and there were about 8 people to go before it was my turn but all of a sudden they heard my name called and I was walking on to the stage. I would have loved to have watched the three of them sitting there in the audience grabbing their camera’s in a slight mad panic as they unexpectedly heard my name called out! Luckily, I had the opportunity to order the “professional” photo’s so those moments will still be captured, I just have to wait before I get to see the pics.  Here’s me at my graduation…!

After five long years of part-time studying I was standing at graduation!

I know, I could hardly believe it myself!

With my mom and dad. A proud day for all of us!

Taken on my best friends phone just after I have come off the stage ~ Degree certificate in hand!

My best friend and I after the ceremony!

And there it is ~ My degree on paper! A very, very happy & proud moment!

To all those who supported me and encouraged me along the way, my family and my friends, this journey was never dull ~ THANK YOU!!

“There is a good reason they call these ceremonies ‘commencement exercises’. Graduation is not the end, it’s the beginning.”
– Orrin Hatch 

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Who Said Impossible?

Just last week I got news that I had completed my BA degree in Psychology. I am 37 years old. This is big news for me. Ever since I can remember I always knew this is what I wanted to do. But after school, life happened; I was young, I moved in with my boyfriend, I let my dreams get squashed and I ventured down other paths.

But six years ago something was awakened in me and I questioned what on earth I was waiting for. To study psychology was still my dream; I had absolutely nothing holding me back so why on earth was I waiting for a better day? Unfortunately, it was already too late in the year to register but I made enquiries, approached universities and found out all the information I needed.   Then when the time came for the next registration intake the following year, I was ready to apply. Fast forward five years and I have completed my degree. Full time it takes 3 years, however, I work full-time so I did my degree part-time over 5 years. It’s been a long and sometimes hard road, but with each result that came in my excitement grew and it pushed me towards that finish line and I worked even harder. I started getting distinctions for modules I finished and before I knew it, I had a pile full of distinctions. My dream was unfolding before my very eyes! While nearing the finish line I realised that to get admitted to Honours, I would need to get an average above 60% for my 3rd year psych subjects. The challenge was on. Even though my marks had been really good up until then (I have surprised myself over and over again!) I knew I had to work really hard to make sure my grades were good enough and that came with endless sacrifices.   Each one worth it, as when my final results came in, my average was sitting on 70%, I had done it and today I have been officially accepted for Honours in Psych and so my next chapter begins.

I can’t remember where it started, my belief that nothing is impossible. Maybe it came from me listening to everyone saying “nah, that’s impossible.” Maybe I just like to defy what others say. I was always the black sheep of the family anyway! But since that belief took hold of my life, my life has expanded in ways I never imagined possible. I walk this path, sometimes only seeing what’s right in front of me, and at times there are obstacles in my way (sometimes the whole road is blocked) and as I move closer to that obstacle, I often begin to panic wondering how on earth I am going to get around this lot. Then I remember where I’m going and start hatching out a plan and once I’ve made the decision to keep pushing forward it is like these invisible angels are working to clear the way before me. I see the obstacle, I make plans to get around it and suddenly the obstacle is moved to the side of the road and it dawns on me yet again, all you need is absolute faith and belief, not only in yourself but in where you are going.  If it is meant to be IT WILL BE. It amazes me constantly how all of existence conspires to assist me to bring forth my gift ever since I fully committed to listening to what was heard by me alone. I have never been more sure of anything in all my life; this is exactly what I am meant to do.

Never let anyone shut down your dreams.
Never stop believing in them.
Nothing is EVER impossible.  
Set your course.
Take that first step.
And before you know it, you are reaching for the stars and your dreams are in sight.
 

One afternoon after school Emma and I were standing in her parent’s kitchen making some lunch. Due to CF, Emma needed help with digesting her food so every time she ate she would have to take numerous pills to aid this. Not just one or two pills but literally a whole hand full of them. She would just get a glass of water and gracefully gulp them down, sometimes all in one go and often while still holding a conversation with me!! This always amazed me. (Taking all those pills not the holding a conversation part!!) Anyway, back to my story, I had watched her do this thousands of times over the years and on this particular afternoon as I watched her, I asked, “Doesn’t it bug you having to take so many tablets every time you eat?” She swallowed the last lot of pills and put the empty glass of water in the sink and turned to me and said nonchalantly, “No, I have never know anything else so I don’t know what it’s like not to take these pills. For me, this is normal.” With that reply, I nodded understanding and we finished making our lunch.  Emma often had obstacles placed in front of her and as she had said herself, she has never know anything different but yet each day she would get up and deal with what each day put in front of her. I might not have realised it then, but Emma turned out to be one of my greatest teachers.

My life has by no means been an easy path, I have had to fight for everything I wanted and I have had to work damn hard to get it and don’t get me wrong, there are always obstacles of some sort in my path ahead. It is never been only smooth sailing. Maybe that is what makes victory so sweet.

No matter what’s going on in your life, whether you view your life as easy or hard (it is always a choice in the end), you just have to face the obstacles head on and make that conscious decision as to how you are going to deal with it. Anyway, what would life be without a few challenges?

The path beyond those very obstacles doesn’t stop, it continues to beckon you ~ will you heed its call?

I did, and now my dreams are coming true…!

Never stop believing ~ As the Mad Hatter said, it is only impossible if you believe it is.

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