Beauty School Drop-out

There is something to be said about higher learning. Though I can’t speak on this subject personally, I long to be able to.

I wasn’t able to go to college, but if I had I would have attempted to get a masters in American History with special studies in Native American History & Culture. I find the deep and rich cultural heritage of the Pacific Northwest Indian tribes fascinating, inspiring. Their roots, unlike my own, are steeped in tradition. They have a value of the world around them that is rare and beautiful.

There is something to be said about having a high school diploma/GED. I don’t have any stories for you here either, as I never got my high school diploma or a GED. I’m a drop out.




At what was my second senior year in high school I was part of a gifted/alternative high school program located on our university campus. I had already had several pieces of published writing thanks to the most passionate teachers, as well three paintings that had been on display at the university and then at a local gallery. I had an A in chemistry, English Lit, and had only 2 elective credits left to earn before I would graduate….when I had to drop out to care for my son, who was a tiny and loving one year old. Going to school full time and working part time at $4.10 an hour through a grant was not enough to meet his needs, and I didn’t want to be part of the ‘welfare state of mind’ that was plaguing my growing community. So, I quit school with a heavy heart and got a job, working 60 hours a week when I could to make ends meet. Having to ‘grow up’ at light speed was just life…because my life was no longer my own.

Time moves on with or without us…

Within a few years I met my husband. We married and started our family and the months turned into years. Our oldest children are attending college, and one will (hopefully) make the decision to go this fall. My middle child Jay uses my not graduating from high school as a reason/excuse that perhaps he should not put forth any effort, and drop out. It’s a very personal matter. I find it more of a slap in the face than anything. Not because he says it, but because I know what he will be missing out on. (?) Though I’m aware he could get his GED, or become a successful human being without it, I want to live through him. I want to watch him walk down the isle, collect his diploma, and get his degree in physics, basket weaving…anything. There was a time in the not-so-distant past that I tried to get my GED. I wanted to say to my kids that it was never too late to achieve your goals. I wanted to show them that if you put the effort in to what your dreams are made of that they can become your reality. Alas, I did swimmingly on everything but the math….which I failed by one or two points, every time. And I took that test many times. I was crushed.

*There are so many things we would have done differently in our lives isn’t there?*

If I could do this all over again, I wouldn’t.

The child I had as a teenager is what or rather WHO saved me from overdosing in an alley somewhere. He made me buck up and face life head on, in spite of my fears and struggles, and become a mother in every sense of the word. Do I worry as a result of my lack of formal education? Yes. My husband is the one who provides financially for us. I haven’t had a job in almost 14 years. (They asked where I attended high school rather then where I graduated from so I didn’t have to lie…I’m sure they’ve fixed that by now.) What happens if I suddenly have to become the one to provide? Or if Jay decided to stick to his guns and drop out, how will I change his opinions on this when I’m talking in two different directions?

Writing this post has required a lot of self-exploration, and life-long friends helping me to find perspective. This next part, is in part, because of them…

There was a time I longed more than I can explain to have a high school diploma. Hearing people complain about their homework, internships, graduate degree progress or the lack there of would cause a twinge of pain somewhere inside me. How fortunate they are, I would want to say. It brings up a desire to tell them about myself and say “You are so blessed to able to go to college. Don’t waste it complaining! Make the most of yourself. Go Forth in Knowledge.”

Now, I GET it.

There is far more in my life that I have without a degree than many people have with a lifetime of higher learning. My six degrees of separation are more like two, because I connect on a level with others that those with only a formal education can’t. I have all these beautiful children, a family that is complete because I’m a part of the equation. I am lacking in nothing.

Much like Benjamin Franklin, I have worn/wear many hats…often many in one day. I am a mother, wife, friend/confidante. I make the very best gumbo you will ever taste. I have memorized all the mother goose nursery rhymes I could find and I can hook a trout with the best of them. I am a writer/artist and I have lived. I have lived a life at times that was a struggle to want to be a part of. These struggles have brought me into the lives of people from all walks – who I have given a hand to and held while they cried, people who I cherish, who have helped me grow into the woman I am…compassionate, loyal, accepting. My interpretation of achievement is no longer measured by my desire for student loan debt but rather by the amount of change I make in the lives and hearts of those I love.

So what will I say to my child when he or she talks to me about dropping out now? I don’t know, but I’ve had a wonderful education and I’m sure I’ll have the answer.







22 thoughts on “Beauty School Drop-out

  1. This is beautiful. I love it. I love the conclusion and how you can now see all that you have , and that learning does not just come from a piece of paper and time in a classroom.
    I did homeschool/unschooling with my kids for 7 years and this reinforced that life is our classroom. 🙂
    Peace from a fellow Mom, Writer, and Artist

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Love reading this post! I was a high school dropout, too, but was able to go back and finish and then go on to college because I didn’t have any other responsibilities. However, I know what you mean by the dropout stigma — and I know many, many college graduates who would give their right arm to be able to write with your eloquence and precision.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s terrific! My sons Gma went back and got her GED at 36, and has a masters now in science of some sort. And thank you so much for your compliment. After reading your article on adoption yesterday I was filled with that euphoria I think I wold feel from meeting my birth family.) it’s a blushing statement. 💜


  3. My observation is that there are people who learn throughout life regardless of how much or little formal education they get. It’s a personality + intelligence thing. While I can understand why you want to get your GED, you are clearly a person who learns things. And that, in the end, is what makes a person educated and whole, it seems to me. fwiw.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree! It took a very long time for me to understand that. I wanted to become ‘something’ and in the process became ‘someone’. It was hard to let it go, and made me feel inferior for years. But it’s okay. I’m me and that’s the best.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. What others have said, I’ll repeat: It’s never too late, and the students I LOVED (and who were far more engaged) were the ones who had returned to school after a long absence and lapse. They had more passion, more curiosity and more drive than any of the “kids” I taught who, so many of them, were only going to school because they felt like they *had* to, not because they wanted to.

    I want to talk to you so much now about the Native American Trickster Tales I used to teach! I wish I could start an online book club or something and give out assignments like I used to do. Maybe someday. In the meantime, I’ll try to post about them sometime. They’re witty, quirky, thoughtful reads that really change your perspective on so many things.

    You know, like *your* blog posts do for any who encounter them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I would love to read some of your tales! My Gma would take me to museums often as a child, and growing up near reservations there were many artifacts as well as more recent works of art from many pacific north west Indian tribes. Those trips inspired my love of art, their history. I’ve been to galleries and museums in Santa Fe, NM, and an amazing private collection in Aspen, CO. I loved painting portraits of their children, ancestors, horses, you name it! I could go on forever!
      Maybe one day I will go back. It’s a wonderful thought. And to be self sufficient would change my life in more ways than one, but for now, I’m mama and that’s pretty darn neat already.
      Thank you for the compliment love💜it’s just mind boggling to me that people like reading my stories lol. It’s a huge compliment knowing in doing what I wanted…helping others with words.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Agreed. You don’t ever *need* to go back if you don’t want to. Just know, if you ever do want it, that’s a definite possibility, in so many more ways than one.

        For what it’s worth, I failed so badly at my math scores on the GRE (the test to get into graduate school) that my school had to conditionally accept me. (I had to prove, in my first year, I wouldn’t flunk out.) My grades from college were good, but that math KILLED me.

        Some of us are just better with words anyway! So be it. And I look forward to learning so much from you about life, love, and motherhood. You and your blog always help me, whether it be to smile, laugh, cry, commiserate, or think.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. I wish I could show you my artwork DLJ, but I only have one portrait left, and it’s unfinished. They were my pride and joy pre-mommy. And I painted up until about 12 years ago. My light went out and so did my desire to paint. If only if only. Sorry for the typos!!!

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      1. Oh, do I understand that. It took me years after going through the tornado to ever write again, even though I’d gone to school to be a writer. I thought that storm and its trauma killed my spirit.

        When I got pregnant, my letters to my daughter brought me back from that edge and let me find the joy of words again. She relit a light I thought had been forever extinguished, and I am so grateful to her for that.

        Who knows what portraits you have left in you? I know you have trouble with your hands, but Monet painted some of the most moving of his water lilies when he was practically blind.

        I’m not trying to push you in any direction on anything. My point is just, if you’re meant to get back to anything–art, school, etc.–and you want it enough, you’ll find your way back.

        And then, you can teach all seven of your children that it’s never too late to do what you want to do!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m a retired nurse. I think I decided too young what I wanted to do and was happy when I could finally retire. Last year, I audited a college level poetry course. It costs 90% less, you attend class and do the work, but you get no formal credit. Others collected their 3 credit hours after complaining and doing as little as possible. I put my whole self into it and got way more out of it. The way I wish I would have felt about college the first time around. Don’t feel pressured–you’ll complete the GED and take college classes if and when you’re ready. Everything in life prepares you for what’s around the bend. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Awesome. I do hope your son graduates. Things are different now, and even cashier positions often require that diploma. In the past, it was important, but not as vital as it is for these generations.
    I loved this, because I also dropped my education plan in favor of motherhood. I have my hs diploma, started college, but didn’t finish. My husband is in college now, graduating soon. He may pursue a master’s degree…he hasn’t decided. He encourages me to go too…but I am different now. My ideas are different than they were then. I don’t have the desire to pick something to do. I feel my time has come and gone in regards to my education. And I am ok with that. Math also deters me…it is something I am awful at too.
    This post helped me see my leaving school wasn’t a failure. It was a choice that makes me…me. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Ok, so in my rush (and with the entire top half of my phones screen smashed) to get my post out while the writing was still flowing I spelled COLLEGE as COLLAGE. My 10 yr old daughter Birdie found it as she read my post this morning. Well done darling daughter! Too funny!!


  8. Very interesting what you’d choose to study if given the chance, American History & Native American History & Culture – sounds amazingly interesting! You could always take just one class at a time. Or learn on your own for that matter. Take out books from your local library and go crazy 🙂 I know what you mean about having a child that shows no interest in college. I’ve got one on his way to his Masters and the other son who refuses to even go to the local college for classes. It’s very frustrating. I too have received my degree from the School of Hard Knocks- and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I have had many chances to go to college (and still do as my work pays 75%) but have no desire. Life seems too hard and complicated as it is- I rarely have time to read let alone go to a class. but, that’s my choice, I’m just not interested right now nor do I think I ever will. It’s good to hear that your older children are going to college- what a blessing! Good for you! Must be exciting for you to live through them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have a ton of books on most of the tribes here in the US and a few of the tribes that were forced to migrate into Canada. I use to paint portraits of the people in my books. I loved it…maybe when all my kiddos are grown up I’ll start again. But for now my books are all at my moms or in our basement. I am so proud of my college kids, and as long as my kids are able to provide for themselves and be happy that’s all that matters! 💜

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Having received your credentials in what we used to call “the school of hard knocks,” you are wise enough to know that there are a lot of folks with the highest “degrees” out there, who know little about life and can’t work their way out of a paper bag. History also teaches us that many creative minds, industrious hearts, and compassionate souls with little or no “formal papers” have lived beautiful lives and accomplished wonders in this world. But of course, you know all this. You’ve lived it. You are it. Now to convince a whipper-snapper who, being young, has a limited perspective on things, just how tough it can be, if you don’t take advantage of all the helps along the way.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you and yes! That young whipper-snapper has had a comfy life and he doesn’t understand the reality of what his choices might bring. He’s a great kid, but he’s at the age where he will be in high school next year…and I think he’s just really anxious about a bigger school, new kids…we will see how it goes! 💜

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