DAY 3 PROMPT: What kinds of classes, programs, or workshops have you taken to hone your skill as a writer? What sorts of exercises did/do you use to improve? Have you ever taught a writing class or workshop?
As part of the Author Blog Challenge I am participating in, we have been asked the above questions regarding our writing skills. I thought about these questions and realized that during my entire life, I have always felt somehow less of a person due to not completing my higher education. Life got in the way and like many of us back in the 1970’s, I started working at a very early age and liked what that salary brought to my life. I was one of the lucky ones and got a job as a civil service employee at a university, took classes for free in accounting and business and climbed the career ladder during my 10 years there.
Along the way came marriage and two little boys, one of which was profoundly mentally retarded. Within months it was apparent that neither his life, my other son’s life or my life would ever be the same. This little boy never grew beyond an infant level of 4 months of age developmentally and dreams of completing my college degree were left behind.
Within a year of my son’s heartbreaking diagnosis at 8 months of age, I had moved to St. Louis with my two little boys, divorced and alone. I eventually married a man who would help raise my boys, but not before moving to that big city 100 miles away from my support system. My goal was to find professional services that would perhaps solve this medical puzzle of why my baby would never experience any type of learning in his sheltered life.
It took months to convince a privately held investment company to hire me, a young single mom with no accounting degree. What unfolded over the next 10 years was truly a miracle. I was among the first users of PC’s that were released in 1983, and was part of the first wave of people to learn Excel six years later. How was this even possible? I never would have had this opportunity at the university or even at most businesses at that time. Was dealing with my son’s affliction the reason for this opportunity? Did God provide a path that was truly special and full of amazing life experiences to help me become a strong advocate for my son and his struggles during his 29 years of life? Yes, I know deep down in my heart that was the reason behind this chance in life.
I had chosen a company owned by a man that believed in Life Long Learning and he was willing to spend as much money as necessary to assure that his small company had the most innovative technology available. He was determined to be the first to purchase everything as soon as it was released during his entire life. This same man became my mentor and infused his Life Long Learning desire into my life. He taught me everything there was to know about business, that traditional financial statements were worthless due to the delay in reviewing critical information that was changing every day. He compared it to trying to stop a river fast flowing down a hillside for a brief moment, rather than keeping up with that flow and understanding the causes behind it. He taught me that 2 + 2 doesn’t have to equal 4.
I had the rare opportunity of attending this University of Learning for free while obtaining positions that were difficult to achieve by women at that time. There were no limitations, I could learn as much as I wanted to and the experience led to my decision to start my own consulting business ten years later. I continued to work with my mentor for years and never stopped learning from him. I’ve thought about finishing my accounting studies but it seems as if I had already moved beyond the need of having a traditional college degree. I have been attending the University of Life Long Learning and will remain enrolled all of my life.
As a business co-owner of a Doggy Daycare, I continued to learn new things, especially that providing consulting advice to small business owners is a lot different than actually running your own small business. There is nothing like being thick in the weeds and fighting the fires every day, giving you a better understanding of the struggles that small business owners face every day.
Many people think they are finished with their formal education once they receive their diploma. I thought there was nothing more I could learn after 10 years of accounting experience at the university. There couldn’t possibly be more to learn after the years with my mentor, or even after years of consulting work. Then my husband and I learned everything that we could about the Doggy Daycare business from the day we turned on the Open Sign. We managed our own website, did our own marketing and photography, developed relationships with all of the folks that would support our business, hired wonderful, loving dog handlers and I learned to write.
We wrote on our website every week, hearing that to stay at the top of the web searches you must keep your content both consistent and yet fresh. I wrote monthly emails to all of our customers called “The Pooch Tales,” a newsletter that educated, entertained and provided the necessary free marketing. Our customers who left their pooches with us during the holidays received personalized updates to help temper the guilt that comes with leaving your pooch behind.
Life did get in the way. But life taught me many diverse things along my journey. I learn everyday with the research necessary for writing my two blogs, Praise The Lord of My Life and The Pooch Tales. I know that I will never stop learning, there is a world of information out there that is far beyond stopping with a college degree. I still may pursue a degree one of these days if I can take time out from my Life Long Learning University.