First Day of School—Again!

first day of school

It’s been a few years since I looked forward to my first day of school. I’d dressed up in one of two new dresses Mom had sewn for me using the same pattern, but different fabric and trim. Somehow, she’d found time and energy to make them after she’d managed the barn work all day—sorting and packing peaches and helping Dad get the day’s harvest off to market.

This week I returned to the University of Waterloo and a fulltime course load. I didn’t have new dresses but I was just as eager to dig in as I was on that day so long ago when I started at Woodland Public School. This term I’ll be exploring Anthropology, Cultural Identity, and German Folklore and Mythology—all relevant to future studies. This is the first time I’ve been to university full time and there’s a steep learning curve for the technology and culture. I’m confident I’ll be successful but already it’s changed my lifestyle. I had to return from my riding to get ready for school!

This year my moto travels took me east to Quebec’s Gaspé Peninsula. This rugged land, surrounded by the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the Atlantic Ocean has been relatively untouched by humans. The first Mi’kmaq settled here 3,000 years ago, before the first Europeans arrived 500 years ago.

As you travel east past Montreal and Quebec City, the Appalachians rise from the ocean. Formed roughly 480 million years ago by volcanic activity the ancient exposed rock helps the land retain its wild character. The road took me along the coastline where I could observe sea, sun, sky, and wind—all the elements. Formations of birds skimmed the surface feeding off insects hovering just above the water. Endless ocean on my left, rock beneath me, mountains and forests on my right. I felt as if I could close my eyes and disappear but I was riding Trudy so it was prudent to pay attention. It was as if in a sacred dream, another dimension, watching nature be, going through the cycles as it has for those millions of years, doing quite well without human interference.

And now I’ve entered what seems like another dimension than what I’m used to. It will certainly challenge me but it’s my soul’s calling I accepted without hesitation and I know I’ll have all the resources and support I need. Already there’s been plenty of evidence of that.

We’re part of nature as surely as are all the other beings I observing during my time on the Gaspé. How do we live as part of that natural cycle? This is what I’m curious about and what I intend to explore in my studies. Where were my ancestors indigenous 5,000 or 10,000 years ago? What do they have to teach me about living today? How can I share those teachings?

Getting into that level of detail won’t happen until my Master’s studies begin next year. First, I need to complete the fourth year of an Honors Degree, which marks the completion of another cycle. When I earned my three-year BA in 1986. I was as unfulfilled in my work as I was in my personal life and wandering aimlessly through life. It gives me a great sense of fulfillment to complete that Honors Degree now with subjects that have called to me.

Mom’s not getting me ready for my first day of school any more, but I did visit her on the eve of my first day back. As I fed her and later tucked her into bed, I told her I was going back to school. She and Dad always valued education. More than that, they had the courage to follow their hearts and back it up with action. Those lessons have’t changed. The dresses are long gone, probably donated to a thrift store, yet she continues to inspire me with her assurance, trust, and acceptance, even when words fail.

Photo credit: fortinbras on Visualhunt


Author, writer, and student Liz Jansen combines her artistic mediums to create stories that inspire readers to embark on their own journey of self-discovery.

14 Comments on “First Day of School—Again!

  1. This is very touching, your memory of your first day back to school and your Mom living to know that you are going back to school, a rebirth of sorts, for sure. I was lucky in that when I transferred to Hampshire in 73 I “discovered” Jung and thus began my adult life and passion for dreamwork. I enjoy your blog entries. I look forward to more.

    • Thanks for your help in sharing the highlights. Memorable trips, some of which is still surfacing. I could write a book! 🙂 It’s a new academia world!

  2. Here is a poem I just posted: “Rebirth”

    What am I running from?
    Where am I going?
    My feet hurt, but I don’t have time to rub them,
    No time to cool them in a stream.
    Like a deer in a burning forest,
    I bound over smoldering hotspots,
    Or like an old dog dreaming,
    Who still has it in him to run!
    Running for joy ephemeral
    And then to escape
    The fools who think they own me.
    I can barely see the cities rushing past.
    I have wings on my feet now.
    My sight skims over the bones of things.
    I see too much.
    I smell fear . . .
    I smell my own fear.
    It surrounds me
    Like the smoke of a never-ending fire.
    I see the future like a slow-motion wave
    That is carrying me forward.
    My legs simulate a leap
    But no need;
    I am riding a wave that seems to know me.
    And now I am looking around.
    What message am I carrying,
    From god to impotent god?
    I leap from the wave,
    Which is moving too slow,
    Into silver-winged flight.
    I am flying from mist-draped ledge to fog to cloud.
    When will it be my time to rest?
    Down there is not safe.
    Valley after valley
    War has carved a garish theater
    Out of bedrock
    Where there used to be a paradise.
    I hear the echoes of anthems,
    That merge into a drone
    While sweet ballads swarm
    Around my ears.
    The booms of manmade thunder
    Trail off behind me.
    And now I hear only the wind in my ears
    And the thumping of my heart
    Trying to tell me something.
    I’m evanescent,
    Like a falling star
    About to flare in the upper atmosphere.
    Where have I been?
    What do I know?
    How can I know anything?
    I would have to stop to know
    But first I must be born.
    Exploding like a harmless bomb
    I am rising like a phoenix
    A burning bird
    Recalled by flames of vision.

    Note from Liz:

    Gary sent this note which I’ve added to the end of his poem: Sorry for writing so much but my poem ‘Rebirth” formatted as a block of prose. If you want to read the poem with the proper line breaks just go to my blog. — G

  3. Liz congratulations on your plans for continuing education, I applaud your grit and determination. I send love & hugs to you my friend ❤️

  4. Hi Liz,
    All the best in your future endeavors! That takes a lot of guts and thoughts and soul searching.

    • Thanks Carola. Contrary to what you might think, it was a quick decision. It was more of a calling that I received (read my blog on reclaimed threads) and I said yes. Now it’s up to me to honor my commitment. Aside from that, it’s really aligned with my interests and I think I’ll really enjoy it. Three days in and so far, so good! 🙂

  5. All the best in your new endeavours, never too old to go back to school. Your subjects look interesting. I am sure you have your mother’s blessing. You are a great student & you will do well. Are you living in Waterloo now?
    Enjoy your studies.

    • Thanks Helen. I know she’d be all for it. Courses are online this term so I’m studying from home. Even next term, assuming they’re in person, I’ll commute.