Hey beautiful people!


So, graduation was last weekend, and what a weekend it was. Up until graduation day, I made sure all my family and friends had a smooth arrival and that everyone knew the agenda for the weekend. I told you I was trying the whole “no planning” thing. Well, I did minor planning and went with the flow the rest of the time. It was a great start for me, although graduation day was a bit rough in the beginning.

Graduation did not start until 6:30 pm so I had a full day to get ready…

and I was still 45 minutes late.

Let me tell you about my day.

My two sisters, my niece and nephews arrived in town at 4:30 am. They stayed at our place until they could check in to their hotel. When they got there, at 4:30 in the morning, the story teller of the family (my sister Christina) wanted to tell us about their drive from Washington, DC to Columbus, OH. The story took a while and we did not get back to bed until close to 5:30 am. JC starts getting ready for work at 6:15 am. When he gets up, I usually get up and can never go back to sleep!


So, I got out of bed and cooked a full breakfast for my niece, nephews, and sisters. All my nephews and my niece were in the kitchen asking to help me do everything. After delegating jobs to them, we finally finished cooking breakfast. We made grits, eggs and cheese, and bacon with toast. After breakfast, my sister and I went to Party City to get some last-minute decorations for the venue in which we held my celebration. When we first stepped outside, we struggled to cover our hair because it was raining. It was the first time I had my hair straightened in two years and I was trying to preserve the style.


We proceeded to drive around the city completing last minute errands. As we were driving to the last stop before going home, we exited onto a roundabout and my car did a complete 180 turn right in the middle of the road. My car then slid the direction of the light pole that was on the side of the street, but stopped within inches of hitting the pole. Next, an 18-wheeler comes flying past. All I wanted to do was thank God. The roundabout we were on is usually full of cars and it was lunch time so it should have been heavily populated. If more cars would have been there we would have got into a serious accident. If that 18-wheeler would have come seconds earlier, I may have not been able to walk across that stage. But God.

We eventually made it back to my house. We could laugh about it now, although at the time I was doing like 20 mph on the entire way home. My sisters and their children went to check in to their hotel and then we all got ready to go to lunch.

It was Cinco de Mayo, so you know we had to go to my favorite Mexican restaurant in Columbus, OH: El Vaquero! We all met at the restaurant: My sisters, brothers, niece, nephews, friends, JC, and me. We had such an amazing time. We talked about family, old memories, education, politics, our next vacation, etc. I’m the youngest of my siblings, and they all take care of me. They are intentional about their love, and I always feel it so deeply.


After we filled up on Mexican food and Margaritas, we went back to our places and started getting prepared for graduation. We left out 1 hour and 15 minutes early, and we still arrived 45 minutes later than I, as a graduate, was supposed to arrive. Traffic was CRAZY and I was irritated. I hate being late.  JC was doing everything he could to make me happy. He then put on a Drake song he knew I liked and I couldn’t help but smile. When we arrived on campus, knowingly late, JC let me out in front of the building before he went to look for parking. I sprinted to the auditorium in 5 inch heels. I was not playing games. I worked too hard, and paid too much in tuition, to miss out on anything the graduation had to offer. Mind you, I have on 5 inch heels, it was raining, and the wind was blowing. I didn’t fall. But my cap did.

So, at this point I am late, my recently straightened naturally curly hair is getting wet, and my cap is a little muddy. I’m just like forget it. I realized that I was so caught up on making sure that I got there, that I forgot that I already GOT THERE! I already  made it through my last semester. I already finished all my coursework with a 3.9 grade point average. I already got accepted into my PhD program. I should be happy. I should be celebrating! I started to take my time. Strutting in the rain like a young Tina Turner. I realized that I was about to walk across the stage in representation of my beautiful family. I was about to be hooded by one of my amazing professors. I was ok.

When I got into the auditorium, I went to the bathroom to fix my hair and wipe the mud off my cap. It was that easy to turn everything around. With just a bit of water, I could wipe all that anxiety away.


Graduates could sit wherever they wanted so I sat by one of my good friends I met in my program. We joked and chatted until our names were called to walk across the stage.  When I was being hooded, my professor knocked my cap off. And you know what? I just posed for the cameras. Took my few extra minutes on stage so my family could get good pictures. It was alright.

After the graduation ceremony, I met my family and friends in the reception area. My mom was the first person to come up to me. She said, “I am proud of you” and laid her head on my chest and cried a little. My mom has this warmth about her. An unshakable certainty. When she hugged me, her assurance enveloped me and any concern in my heart that was left sailed away.


After I took about a million pictures, we all went back to our places. It was close to 9:00 pm so we called it a night, and celebrated the next day.

Some lessons I learned from graduation day is that you should take life as it is given and you must learn to adapt in any situation or you will be stuck focusing on how things should have been instead of recognizing the beauty in how things are. I don’t want to miss out. I want to live in the now. For the rest of my life, I vow to be mindful. I vow to remain present and to experience life with a non judgmental view. I vow to spend time and energy on cultivating only those relationships and ideas that truly matter in my life.  I believe that every part of my growth, whether personal relationships or my path to being an academic, will benefit from making this change. I know it will be hard, but I don’t scare easily.

…and I hope you will join me, and perhaps be inspired to follow your own path, with no distractions, and all peace.


Sandra Renee

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