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Imperfection

July 2, 2007

We have all heard the stories like that of a young Ansel Adams whose father took him out of school and bought him a camera and the young Einstein who struggled with math and formal schooling. Bill Gates is seen as an enigma, but the world is filled with men and women who were unable to “fit in” to the system; they failed in school and set off on their own journey with nothing but an insatiable curiosity and intuition to guide them.

It took me several tries before I was ready to go to college. Once I signed on though – I got with the program and polished off a BS and an MS one right after the other. I discovered that I had an inherent cleverness that allowed me to learn “just enough” to please the professors and then the rest of my time found me thinking and making connections and learning and experiencing things that would never show up on a multiple choice test or in a Thesis Defense.

I am an incurable lifelong learner. That master’s degree never did me much good – but it passed the time and allowed me to support myself (GA, TA, Fellowship) and get some distance from my undergraduate experience and my relationship with my future husband. I needed that space and time to find my individuality. Three challenging years of living apart in small crowded apartments and commuting back to the “home” we shared every few weeks ended and we did the expected thing. We picked out a lot, bought a house, I went to work, and we settled into a “normal” ego-centric life.

The thing is – I was restless… and curious.

My interest in gardening, erupted into a passion. I learned about plants and planting and my husband learned about landscape architecture. We struggled and slaved in the yard and spent the evenings poring over books. We traveled to Carter’s Grove and Williamsburg, in all seasons, and always with a camera, a notebook and a tape measure. We converted our half acre of mud and clay into a thriving oasis with many of the elements of formal Williamsburg gardens.

After my son was born, I became interested in midwifery and childbirth education, home birth and women’s and children’s health. I began a home study course with the international childbirth education association. Volunteering with a pregnant teen mentoring program – I blended my academic studies with the immediacy of being a mentor, guide and companion to teenage mothers.

As my son weaned himself and I longed to return to the work force part-time, I expanded on my computing skills and landed a job in a tax preparation firm, transmitting tax returns to the IRS vis dial-up modems.

My first experience with a computer was when I realized I was going to have to TYPE my graduate thesis and then RETYPE it with every revision. My parents offered to contribute money for this – but in the end, my father bought me a computer instead. A Zenith 8088 – two floppy disks and 512 MB of RAM that I used to create a “virtual hard drive.” A, B, and C what more did I need? With my data disk in one drive, the program in RAM and the spell checker in the other disk drive – I spent many happy hours writing, and rewriting my thesis. I even found free plotting software to graph my data. Each night, I dutifully backed up my thesis through my external 2400 baud rate modem onto the mainframe at the university.

When the research was stuck, I played the DOS version of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and a command prompt Dungeons and Dragon game that required me to IMAGINE the worlds I was exploring as I typed commands in at a command prompt! No color, no mouse, no video cards, these machines were raw computing beasts and I adored mine!

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This is a post I started the other day and titled it Imperfection because I began writing it when I was feeling particularly imperfect. As I wrote – I wrote myself right out of imperfection and into one of my soul gifts. I saved it for editing which I am not going to do! I am going to publish it unedited.

As more and more people get to know me through my blog – I find myself feeling a little nervous sometimes sharing my inner work and introspection. Any time I worry about that – I just remind myself of Heather at dooce.com and her incredible personal writing style and I am more willing to expose myself. She writes even though her family reads her blog! I have sent the url of my blog to my family – but I don’t think they are regular readers – this type of writing and introspection baffles them and reminds them of the differences between who they think I am and who I really am. I am continually fascinated by the blogging community and am grateful for the support I get – but when I began – it was just a way for me to express myself. It is still a way to express myself and it is becoming something more. I am not sure what that is – but it is emerging – just like me.

Emerging Crone

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