|UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs graduation program, June 2014|
I was having a panic attack right before the defense so I reached out to a good friend and actor - he offered emotional support and a host of tips to cope with performance anxiety. It helped a lot. Thank you, Randy, my Mexican-American Richard Gere.
|Randy Vasquez at LA premier of movie, "Volando Bajo"|
After passing the defense, I could not stop smiling. I walked the streets near the beach and on the beach all night. I know I appeared odd by the looks I got from strangers but I did not care because the defense was over, for good.
|View of Santa Monica pier while laying on the beach and feeling fistfuls of sand fall through my fingers|
On Friday, June 13, 2014, I participated in graduation. It was a magical day. Truly.
|My daughter in the victory stance|
|Me in my electric blue robe|
|That's why I do it|
|I'm officially smarter today|
On Thursday, June 19, 2014, I flew to Hawaii to celebrate with my daughter. It was a magical trip. Truly. "Mom, you are so annoying," said my daughter on the third day. I deserved it. I had been gushing non-stop :) I was relentlessly joyful.
|Yes, this happened and it was that beautiful|
I am middle aged and the next 45 years of my life feel bright with hope.
I am working six days a week for the next four weeks. Thereafter, I will juggle part-time jobs, including teaching grad school courses in social work, until I secure a tenure-track Assistant Professor position somewhere. Or God's plans will take me in another direction. I'm open.
I attended some workshops on documentary film making so I'm planning to write a research and development proposal for a documentary about the life, art, trauma and resilience of one of my mentors. Normally guarded, he has readily given me the green light to proceed.
I'm in the moment and I'm smiling.