Sunday, 2 September 2012

Story Telling Sunday - The Constant Learner

"Education is not filling a bucket, but lighting a fire." ~William Yeats


I left school at 16 without a full bucket or even a fire lit.  And yet.  And yet.  There simply must have been a spark there somewhere.  I had intentions of university but I left college only 3 weeks into my A levels.  Boy trouble.  I come from a very working class family so any qualifications were not really expected of me anyway.

Several years later, a chance comment by a fellow chalet-mate on a ski-ing trip, turned my life around entirely. I don't know how it came up but we got chatting about dropping oranges on Brighton sea front and researching who would help her to pick them up.  I remembered her fondly when I found myself doing similar research on Brighton sea front a couple of years later.  She'd been at a summer school as part of her psychology degree with the Open University and I was eager to know more about it.  Within hours of arriving home from the holiday, I was signed up for my first course.  Over the next 8 years, Management and I got married, moved house, we took a year out to go backpacking and then both changed jobs when we returned.  During that time I studied for approximately 14 hours a week, in my lounge, on the beach, in our spare room, in Wales, in Northamptonshire, in Hampshire and in France, on trains, on planes, on buses, in the garden, even in the loo.  At times it made me tear my hair out.  At times I was bored beyond belief.  Sometimes I was inspired and excited.  I lost sleep through stress and I lost sleep through thinking about things I had learned.  At the end of every module I felt relief.  Within a week I was itching to get a new set of course materials through the post.  I discovered a thirst for knowledge and a desire to write again that looks like it's never going to go away.  I met so many inspirational people and I am lucky enough to have found some great friends through my studies too.  Without meeting the people I did, I would never have made it past 24 hours of breastfeeding, let alone over 5 years in total.  I would never have had a home birth.  I wouldn't have had the support through my first miscarriage and the many years of depression.  Of course I met some very unpleasant people too or just plain weird but mostly they are my kind of weird.  


Getting the books out and setting myself up for an evening of study after a full day at work was mighty hard at times.  I hated spending hours at the word processor while other people were sunbathing in the garden or shopping for new shoes.  Some people were clubbing all night while I was revising into the early hours.  So many times I wanted to give up.  But I didn't.  After 8 long years, I passed my final module and gained a Bsc Hons in Psychology.  At last I was going to wear that gown and actually graduate.  But there was still one more hurdle to overcome.

We had decided to really make a celebration of my graduation, no bubbly though, I was 4 months pregnant by then.  Unlike with a bricks and mortar uni, you can choose your venue for your ceremony.  We chose The Barbican and we were all really looking forward to it - my Mum and Dad, my step-dad and step-mum, my Mother and Father in law.  My Father in law being there was important to me, he had never thought me worthy of his son and I had wanted to show him I was.  Of course it was nothing to do with my education, or lack of, but it brought us closer together and I have a lot to thank him for.  

8 days before the graduation, Management and I went for a routine scan and our whole world collapsed.  Our precious baby girl's heart had stopped.  I gave "birth", had several operations for retained placenta and I was, of course, a mess.  I didn't know if I was physically up to the graduation, let alone mentally.  With special dispensation though, I was able to sit near an exit, near the front, so I could escape if I needed to.  I managed that walk across the stage, wobbly legged and feeling sick, with my family cheering, my scan pictures tucked up my sleeve, one step at a time.  In the whole 8 years, those final few steps were by far the hardest.  But I did it.  I was a graduate.






Since then, I have continued to study with the OU just for fun.  I love to learn new things and get new books through the post.  I want to inspire my children to want to learn too.  I've taken classes in scrapbooking, writing, photography, nutrition, child care, anything and everything, I want to learn about it all.  My next OU course starts this month so expect more creative writing here very soon.  I can't wait.  

That chance conversation about oranges lit my educational fire.  And I'm so glad it did.


This post is brought to you by Sian's Story Telling Sunday over at High In the Sky.


Bye for now
xx

23 comments:

  1. Oh Lisa-Jane you'be made me laugh and cry over my croissants this morning! Beautifully told xx

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  2. *you've*
    Today I have learnt that commenting from my phone is not easy.
    Fiona x

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  3. Laughing and crying here too - so glad that you were able to do those final steps.

    Congratulations on all those 14 hours a week, every time I think about the OU I think of those extra hours and decide it just isn't doable right now... have nothing but admiration for those who manage it.

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  4. Such determination. Many would have given up with all the hurdles you have faced. Your story shows that if you strongly want to achieve, anything is possible. A very moving story. Irene

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  5. A powerful, powerful story. I have just commented on another story that I feel it's such a privilege when Storytelling Sunday lets someone really write what's in their heart. This is one of those stories and it's an honour that you have shared it with us today Thank you.

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  6. Thank you so much for sharing your beautifully powerful story today - I really appreciate being able to read about your strength and determination.

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  7. What a wonderfully moving story Lisa Jane...I was so full of admiration for all that studying, but even more so for your strength at being able to make that walk after having lost your precious baby girl. Thank you for sharing your story..and that Lovely LO with such heartfelt journalling
    Alison xx

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  8. Well done you for your achievements and bravery.

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  9. a wonderfully written story LJ. The highs and the lows are what make us stronger! I admire your passion for learning x

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  10. What a stunning story and so beautifully and movingly told. What heartache you have had.

    Such an achievement, and you have certainly lit the fire for me to see what they have on offer now. I like the sound of studying scrapbooking.

    Thank you for telling your story.

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  11. A very moving story and what an achievement!

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  12. Thanks for sharing such a moving story. I do believe it is an innate quality of being human that we have a life-long thirst for learning. Glad your cup is overflowing!

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  13. A very moving story about triumph and loss. Thank you for sharing it.

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  14. Thank you so much for sharing.

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  15. Popped back to say that yes I use a Bind-it-all. My first purchase as the class I took that started the hobby/addiction was a minibook class and I was so taken with it I just had to have one :D Once you have bought it the wires cost about £4.50-£5.00 They will do for about 24 minibooks so as I make about one mini a month that is 2 years worth. HTH :) x

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  16. This is truly inspirational. I really admire your honesty and determination. Congratulations on the graduation, it sounds like you really and truly earned it.

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  17. Thank you for sharing this wonderful story.

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  18. Huge congratulations from me to you! An inspirational and moving story. TFS even if you did make me cry!

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  19. Wow! What a bittersweet story and an amazing layout. Congratulations on graduating! I am so sorry for the loss of your baby, however. ((Hugs))

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  20. Such a sad story, I'm so sorry that your graduation was not the celebration you expected, you must have been so heartbroken. I'm glad that things have worked out well for you since, and that it hasn't put you off learning.

    I'd love to keep learning, I think that's one of the reasons I like LSNED. My next goal is to learn to use my DSLR better! x

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  21. LJ ... I am sorry , I'm not sure how I missed this post - must've been whilst away in London! What a wonderful story of determination, success and heartache!! I never knew ... and I am so very sorry for the loss of your baby girl! I wish I had the courage to scrapbook from the heart like that - one day i will be brave enough! xxx

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