Posted by: Michelle | May 25, 2010

Wild Rumpus Redux

Last fall, I was all excited (and just a bit terrified as well) about starting down a new path in my life attending culinary school. I thought I would be attending Robert Morris University (a school with a well-respected culinary program in downtown Chicago). I applied, got accepted, filled out all the paperwork, met with an admissions counselor, filled out my FAFSA, tried to reach my admissions counselor to make an appointment with a financial aid counselor…tried again…tried again…and tried yet again…and finally gave up.

I continued to receive mailings from RMU asking me to fill out my FAFSA (I already had), to have the results sent to them (I already had), and to make an appointment with a financial aid counselor (believe me, I tried).

I don’t know what happened and I don’t know where or how the ball got dropped, but it did. As it turns out, God really does know what he’s doing, even if we’re often frustrated by the process.

So I spent the better part of the winter once again feeling like I was back at the drawing board, trying to figure out where my life was headed and how to start heading there.

Enter spring. As often happens to me (and many others, I’m sure) when the weather takes a turn for the better after the gray days of a Chicago winter, I suddenly felt energetic again, itching to get out and be productive about something…about anything!

Still a bit bummed about my less than stellar experience with RMU, I planned a container garden (my first garden ever) for the little cottage where we live. I began to fill my time buying plants, seeds, potting soil, garden tools, and the like. I waited for the last frost to pass (geesh…it was a long wait this year) and began potting and planting.

I was amazed at how much I enjoyed everything about it. Digging my hands into the dirt, designing the containers with plants that created a pleasing look, watching the seeds germinate…all of it.

And I liked the result!

So I began looking for another project that would satisfy my very right-brained self.

When we moved into our house a year ago, there were six outdoor chairs that, I’m sure, were quite nice when they were new. But years of sitting in the elements had rendered the cushions and the chairs themselves pretty useless, not to mention pretty gross.

Why we hadn’t tossed them the day we moved into the house, I don’t know. But there they were, just begging for something to be done to them that might keep them out of the landfill.

A trip to Home Depot and Ikea netted me a few cans of spray paint and some snazzy, albeit inexpensive, cushions. A few days later, the result was these pretty cool looking chairs.

Ok…so now I’m thinking I’m not exactly the next Martha Stewart, but I’m definitely so right-brained that if I were forced to sit in a cubicle ever again, I’d probably die of boredom and depression. I realized I needed to find a way to channel my creativity in some way.

Just about the time I’m thinking this, I read an article in the Chicago Trib about the jump in enrollment for culinary programs at local community colleges. Back in the fall, I had dismissed the program at College of Lake County, the school closest to my house, because it seemed to place an emphasis on food service management as opposed to actual culinary skills. But I decided to give it another look. I discovered the program has seen a 70% increase in enrollment in the past 18 months and, probably due to that interest, it was retooling it’s Food Service Management degree — renaming it Hospitality and Culinary Management and placing more of an emphasis on actual hands-on culinary arts.

Woo hoo! I think God has opened a window.

I filled out an application, sent in my FAFSA, made an appointment with an academic advisor, had my previous college credits transferred and, unlike my experience at “that other school”, I’m now enrolled and scheduled to begin classes the week of June 7th! Financial aid will be enormously helpful and, because of the affordability of the school, I won’t have to borrow any money. I’ve applied for scholarship money through a few other sources as well, so we’ll see how that pans out.

I’m only taking one class this summer, as I’m also currently taking a pottery class through a local gallery and just didn’t want to put too much on my plate at one time, especially considering the fact that it’s been 20 years since I’ve taken a college class. But I am registered for 15 credit hours in the fall and, with some hard work and good luck, I can have my degree in about 18 months or so (I hope).

So hey…the wild rumpus is beginning again, and I think I’ve begun my journey down the right path this time.


  1. You can do it, you can do it! Yay, Michelle! Love the chairs, too. 😀

  2. Thanks, Angela! I’m sure you can identify with getting that itch to create something. 🙂

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