The Power of Visualization, Part II: The Power of Making It Happen

When I was in my late 20s, I had fleeting visions of wanting educational degrees, in particular, a Ph.D. I say fleeting because I was raising a family and there was no way I could be on a college campus, let alone have a way to pay for it. This was the time period before affordable computers for individuals and before the Internet became public.

It was an idea so far out of my reach that it was an impossible dream. At that time, my education consisted of an executive secretarial certification from a business university—one where I would later in life find a career as a teacher. An irony not lost on me.

On June 29, 2013, at the age of 62, I walked across the stage and was hooded for a Ph.D. I was an English professor, overseeing two campuses at the time. In earlier years, I’d overseen three different locations, spending a lot of time traveling, in addition to teaching, and overseeing a dozen or so adjuncts at these locations.

It was my employer who had propelled me toward the degree and had paid for its tuition. How could I not want to achieve that goal with that kind of help? It was a win-win for me and for them. In exchange, I couldn’t leave their employment for five years, a price I was willing to pay.

Now that I had the Ph.D., along with my MFA, I felt secure in my career, and the university wanted me to publish. The problem was I wanted to focus on both creative writing and academic writing but I didn’t have time for both. I had to choose.

My gut told me to go with creative writing, and it was my first choice, but would the university agree? After a brief discussion, my supervisor agreed with me, saying the MFA and my previous publications created a more natural path for me. She supported me in that decision.

Life events kept getting in the way of doing that writing, however. After being involved in a 22-car pile up on the highway while traveling from one campus to another, I sent a request out into the Universe. My request was, I want writing time but where I’m allowed to live comfortably enough without horrific sacrifice.

It was late fall 2014 when I made that request.

As was happening with many colleges and universities, student enrollment was dropping and had been every year for several years. Fewer classes got offered. I watched as an organizational restructuring took place. I’d seen it happen a few times in my twelve-year employment with them and with every restructure, jobs would disappear.

The last big restructuring had taken place a few years earlier where they shut down several of the smallest campuses. We knew the Battle Creek campus would be next, and then our Kalamazoo campus after that.

Those campuses residing in community college environments were becoming partners with those community colleges. We could see the writing on the wall for Kalamazoo. By late spring 2015, we figured we had only a year left. As summer progressed, we were confident we’d be closed at the winter Christmas break. We were prepared.

Late June 2015, a meeting with all the senior administration occurred. Not usual for that time of year as we prepared for another year. A couple times a year such meetings would take place. We figured this would be the talk for the winter closing.

What some of us didn’t know is that day would be our last.

I was taken into a room with a senior human resource official. I was informed that I was being let go as they were shutting down our campus for all classes that fall. The core administrative staff was moving to another location and classes would be held on the community college campus. We were six weeks away from classes starting. When I left the room, I would have 10 minutes to gather my things and could arrange to come back later to collect anything else.

I sat there, in my usual stoic manner, thinking it all through.

I wasn’t stunned at all. Just merely surprised that we hadn’t guessed correctly.

And then I realized. I had asked for this. I said the words aloud. The HR official’s expression was one of surprise. Great surprise. “You’re not angry?”

“How can I be when I asked for this?” I told her of my fall request, saying this was the Universe answering that request. She was astonished and I could tell that she was also relieved that she wasn’t having to deal with anger, resentment, or frustration.

The good news was my Ph.D. was free and clear of any indebtedness. A big win for me.

As I collected my things, I wondered what I was going to do. Where I was going to live? How I would support myself until I could officially retire, something I didn’t want to do until I turned 66.

That’s when I heard my little voice say, Don’t worry about it. It’s going to be okay.

Having trusted that little voice in the past, I knew it spoke a truth that I couldn’t comprehend yet.

In the coming months, I was to find out.

Stay tuned for “The Power of Visualization, Part III.

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Writing Down the Words: Making Magic Happen

I make lists.

Yes, I’m one of those.

I guess it’s because I like 1) seeing tasks accomplished, and 2) having direction for my day, particularly toward specific goals.  My daily To-Do list keeps me on track . . . well, most of the time.

I’ve always been a list maker since I can remember.  I found out that when I wrote down my goals rather than just thinking about them, the goals eventually became a reality.  I now believe that writing down my desires is a magical way for the Universe to know what I really want.  It’s not enough for me to say what I want, to vocalize.  Writing these goals, these desires down creates a strong commitment, a contract if you will, with the Universe.  I want these things badly enough that I was willing to put them to paper.

I was heartened some time again when I found support in the book, Write Your Own Magic: The Hidden Power in Your Words by Richard Webster.  He states that all “creativity is magic” and practiced by “Pythagoras, Leonardo da Vinci, and Isaac Newton” and that even “William Shakespeare made countless references to magic in this plays, and was obviously familiar with the subject.”

Once upon a time in my twenties, I wanted to become a writer.  I had no training whatsoever, other than high school English, being a voracious reader, and having an immense curiosity to learn.  When I said I wanted to be a published author, people—family and friends—laughed.  Over time, the laughter stopped.  My goals were coming true.

I have a planner—the hard copy kind—where I list goals/desires for the month.  Using that monthly goal list, I create my weekly list, and from that my daily list.

On July 14 of this year (2015), I was let go from my professor/admin position at a university where I’ve been employed for almost eleven years.  I served as an adjunct for a year and a half, and then with my M.F.A. degree in hand, I hired into a full-time in a position I served for the remainder of that time.  I understand completely why I was let go; it was a restructuring event due to enrollment decreases over the last few years, decreases that are affecting college campuses across the nation.  Honestly, if I had been in my supervisors’ shoes, I would have done the same thing.

That said, over the last couple of years as more duties were assigned to me, I found myself become more tired.  The joy I once had for the job was fading, assignment by new assignment.  My career change to academics was the result of my love of teaching non-academic classes, connecting with students of all ages, helping them re-awaken an earlier joy of writing, and showing them how to become better writers.  Plus, I enjoy teaching or coaching teachers how to teach writing.

I would come home so tired from work that I often needed a nap before bedtime.  I was sleeping upwards of 12 hours a day.  As a result, my creative writing was neglected.  That depressed me further.  During that time personal life events—family deaths and a major auto accident—were taking their toll on me.  I hid this tiredness, this depression well, diving into my writing for relief, which has always served me well in the past.

But it wasn’t enough.

Back in the spring, I asked the Universe to find a way for me to be to write more, but without it jeopardizing my ability to live, to pay bills.  Close to retirement, I was still obligated to my institution for another three years due to their generosity in helping me obtain my Ph.D.

In being let go, that obligation disappeared.  I realized I was free to write and that I could retire from the daily 40-hour week grind.

I am now writing to my heart’s content.  My future isn’t nailed down yet, but that’s okay for the moment.

Today, I looked at my planner and the list I created on July 1, my monthly To-Do list, which were mostly creative writing tasks.  Sadly, I realized I’ve not accomplished one thing on that list so far this month . . . with one exception.  I know I still have time to accomplish the rest of the list this month due to that one item.

The last entry read:  Open a way for me to do more writing.

The Universe does answer.