Presentations

Friday, February 6, 2009

Do You Think You Can, or Think You Can’t?

Jodi Stucker, Phi Beta Lambda advisor spoke at our Business and Professional Women's Meeting last night. I was impressed by the accomplishments of State Fair Community College students. Local PBL students competed at National Competition and two placed in the top ten. One young lady won first place in computer applications!

At the end of the presentation, Jodi showed a slide of a beautiful fountain in front of their hotel in Atlanta. Across the bottom of the slide was a quote: “If you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.”—Henry Ford.

The “can do” attitude was instilled in me at an early age. My Mom and Dad had a hard time raising eight kids. My mom worked at a factory, and dad farmed, drove a school bus, and worked long hours as a builder. They never threw their hands in the air and said, “Lord, how are we going to feed all these hungry mouths?” No, they just thought they could and they did.

When our kids were small, I stayed home with them while Jim earned our living. For several years when we filed our income tax, we fell below the poverty level. Strangely, we didn’t really consider ourselves to be poor. We always paid our bills, and saved money when we had it to tide us through the times when we didn’t. We always knew we would make it. I’m not saying we never worried, but we never let setbacks destroy our lives.

In 1976, I began classes at State Fair Community College under a program called Manpower. I had to be persistent to quality for the program because I was not the primary breadwinner in our family. The second roadblock was the counselor’s insistence that with high unemployment, I should study nursing instead of secretarial. Let me tell you I was squeamish about nursing—shots, illness, all that blood… I knew nursing was not the program for me.

“You have to be top-notch to get a job in secretarial,” he said. “There just aren’t many jobs now. Nurses can always find work.” He totally didn’t understand why I wasn’t jumping at the opportunity to be a nurse.

“I will be top-notch,” I assured him. At State Fair, I doubled up on classes and managed to get a two-year degree in slightly more than a year. Even with high unemployment, I found a job before graduation. I was able to do it because I thought I could.

Later, the stakes became higher when Jim developed dementia. You can imagine that my squeamishness had not changed a lot over the years. Being a caregiver is much like being a nurse. You learn to deal with illness and occasionally blood. During the years of caregiving, I basically woke up each morning chanting the mantra: “I can make it through today.”

Money can't buy love or good health, but the lack of it can make life tougher. Either accept the challenge to make it through the tough times and still enjoy life, or decide you can’t and sink into despair. The choice is yours—can or can’t? Just remember, you will be right.
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