32432131 - funny grandma's studio portarit with a tie on her forehead, showing thumbs up

After twenty years, seven kids, three dogs, two hamsters, two cats, five suburbans, infinity-times-infinity dirty diapers, two grand daughters, an unfathomable amount of dirty dishes, dirty clothes, scraped knees, and shuttling little humans to a myriad of lessons – I’m officially walking back into college, today.

Yes, you heard me….I can barely breathe as I say it. It won’t look the same as it did when I was seventeen and I walked up to my parents’ room the night before I drove away with my cousin, in her little blue car. It was packed to the rim with a few pillows, a few bags of clothing, a clock for the wall, and some other “necessities”. I wasn’t sure exactly sure what my goals were at Utah Valley Community College, but I did know that I was ready to face the big world, and of course, enjoy the time of my life! I had barely any clue what I’d study when I began class, but I remember penciling in the bubble next to “Sociology”and handing it to the busy woman behind the desk.

Little did I know the chain of events that would soon take place, but that is the beauty of naïvety and youth; marching straight into fire, without realizing it. But it doesn’t matter, because it’s exactly how we should be, at least once in our lifetime; absolutely positive we know everything!

I can’t help but reflect back to the day I sat across the desk from my high school counselor, and listened to him read from my  permanent record before graduation.

“I’m genuinely concerned for Janae’s future and her ability to navigate life in the adult world.” He read.

The jovial man looked up slowly from the manuscript to carefully gauge my reaction. Much to his bewilderment, he watched me bust into a gut splitting laughter… and then realize he was being completely serious.

How could any human forecast my demise when I was eleven years old? I remember being ordered to “Stand in the corner with my mouth open for fifteen minutes” or watch him roll his eyes when I shot a rubber band at Jason, the boy I had a crush on. But from my perspective, it all seems pretty common pre-teen craziness. It’s a good thing he wasn’t my teacher when I jumped out the class window on a beautiful Spring day in Junior High, so I could be out in the fresh air, or seen the time I switched my best friend seats in French class and swore we were the other person, for no less than fifteen minutes, until we were sent to the principles office. Or the time I mummified a cabbage patch doll with Amber, while studying the Egyptians, and decided to put the little bags of flour into the tail pipes of the teachers cars – only to have to sneak back out to retrieve them with a ruler because a smart boy told us, “That could kill someone”. Or the time I shoved a two-inch needle in a boy’s bum when he wouldn’t let my friend out of a rolled up chain link fence, because he’d caught her in kissing tag. Or the time I was laying out on the bleachers in my underwear during high school hours – or a million other random acts of teenager-ish things I did.

But he didn’t see me and I wasn’t caught, so how in the world could Mr. Kartchiner know that I would be a menace to society? No, I’m sure he really was way off-base. Because somehow, someway, after leaving my college experience over two decades ago, I’ve been accepted into the Utah Valley University, Utah Women Leadership Project with Dr. Madsen, in the Woodbury School of Business.

It’s highly possible they’ve picked my name on accident, but I’m going to run with it!

I will look a bit different walking into college tomorrow. I’ve gained a few pounds, a few grey hairs, and a few experiences that have prepared me with a different perspective from before. Life has prepared me to walk with confidence in being an older woman with many days under my belt and a lot of voice to share. My heart beats strong and my eyes are open. I’ve learned that I can be edified from anyone I spend time with, and that everyone has a background that can add to creation and collaboration. I’ve practiced being a little nicer to myself, and I now know that I don’t know it all – and I shouldn’t.

I will share my voice and listen to the other fifteen women in the program, and it will be beautiful. And if they order me to stand it the corner with my mouth open for fifteen minutes, I’ll be ready for it because I’ve already mastered that class.

Wish me luck.


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