What is your story of strength?

I think if you think of strength as the ability to overcome any obstacle that life gives you, then I would say I get my strength from the Lord. Having great role models in my life — my mom, all my aunts, so many other teachers growing up that were amazing, my mother in law, sisters in law, and sister — definitely gives me a lot of strength too.  

Can you tell me about a time you failed or disappointed yourself?

That’s a hard question because I’m such an optimistic person. Every time I do fail, which is often, when things go wrong and they’re not as I planned or it wasn’t my goal, I just look at the brighter side and figure, “Okay, how am I going to make this better?”

I don’t focus on failure, because then you’re taking away life lessons. What one person could think of failure…for example, me

I went away for college at 17 and my dad died.  I decided to go back to Florida and I went to respiratory therapy vocational school and became a Respiratory Therapist. Then John and I got pregnant before married. And that right there would of been considered a failure to most people, especially older generations. That would be considered a failure and there are so many other people that have different views on that.

But I was considering it a blessing. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, by no means is that road easy. John and I got married and we had the beautiful blessing of Johnathan. And then the family grew with continued blessings!

In so many eyes, in so many people’s opinion, that was considered failure. And to me, I was like, “Wow, I wasn’t planning this yet!” It was with a man I love. I did have it easier because John and I worked together with it. He was finishing up college and by no means is that easy…but we made lots of sacrifices and that was worth it.

To me sacrifice is not failure.  And that’s why I can’t really see much failure, because a lot of it is sacrifice and things not going as I planned.

Now it’s 30 years later and I’m going back to school. Again! (Laughter) So you know it’s one of those things.  Now if I decided to just stop school right now, I would consider that a failure, that would be a failure in my eyes. But I’m not, I’m not going to stop.

What advice would your adult self give your younger self?

The advice my adult self would give my younger self, which is really funny and will just be quick, is to be in more photographs. Because when you’re younger, especially a young mom, you’re always taking the pictures. I was always the one behind the camera. So I see all of these great pictures of my kids and everybody and I’m like, “Wait where am I? Oh I’m behind the camera.” Usually that was by choice because I was taking the pictures. But then sometimes it was “I don’t look good today, I don’t want to be in the picture.”   

A wise person told me years ago, this may be the best you ever. So take a picture now. And it’s true! I may not want to take a picture the way I look right now, but in 10 years I might look worse. So you know, just embrace you as you are right now!

What advice would your adult self give your younger self? (Answer Continued)

The course of my life, and I think this is good advice for any young woman, regardless of her age, is that what you have planned in life, the Lord has plans, but they are flexible plans. And thus, we have to be flexible. I know not everyone believes in the Lord or a higher power, but realizing life is fluid and we must adapt can help us find joy in all that we do.  

Basically I think it’s important not to let any kind of adversarial changes in your plan cause you strife. Life is too short to be stressed and unhappy. You can always find a way to make something work.

And I think at my age, I’m 51 and going back to school, it’s just nice to remember that.

And actually, what I really want to do is medical school. Honestly at 51 years old it’s the financial aspect of medical school, dying in debt, that I don’t want to do to my husband and children. I just don’t think that’s fair. If I were offered a free scholarship (anyone out there reading this want to give me a scholarship!), I’ll take it!

I’ve talked to a lot of physicians and surgeons and I’ve gotten good advice. They are the ones that have directed me to the Nurse Practitioner route because of my age. And I know it’s not impossible to go to medical school, I could very well go and John (husband) would support me if I wanted to. But I’m trying to be practical and I’m trying to have a quality of life. I know medical school for me right now would be study, study, study…which I love, but the rest of the family would get annoyed with me at some point. And I want to be part of the family still!

I think any woman has to realize she can change her role at any time in life. You can change your role, and that’s your power. You have to have responsibility and accountability, but you can do it. And that’s something that I’ve learned…. It’s very important to admit that we make mistakes and to own up to them. It’s important to say sorry — to apologize to people, or to yourself, or to your higher power if you believe in one. It’s just nice to realize we are all fallible and that’s part of growing.

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