Are you impressed with people who have a bunch of letters after their names? MSW, PhD, DDMV, BS, etc.? I am and I'm not. (Though I rather relate to people with a BS. :)
It's nice to know a person's specialty if you are looking for an expert. However, people with several sets of acronyms after their name also make me think they just have an ego problem.
I don't have a college degree from a U.S. accredited university. I wanted to jump right into the school of LIFE. At times, I've reflected that might not have been the best decision, but that's what I did, so I've learned different lessons than people who learned in the classroom. And sometimes I still feel a twinge of not being quite as qualified as someone with a bunch of letters after their name.
However, looking back on my experiences, I see those letters don't always make a person more qualified. When I worked for the state, I remember one guy in particular with a masters in something. He might have been quite intelligent in that particular subject. But he couldn't spell or put together a grammatically correct sentence. Those of us with a "lesser" education corrected his poor attempts at written communication. Neither did he have any social skills. I think he offended pretty much everyone he came in contact with.
On the other end of the letter spectrum were a number of people with MSWs who were not only experts in social work, they were genuinely caring people who worked magic with some of the toughest problems people face in life. I am still in awe of those very special people.
It's also the case that some of the wisest people I've ever known did not have a college degree or even graduate from high school.
So I decided to take another look at my perspective on learning. Since the only person I am responsible to change is myself, I'll use me as an example.
I've lived with dogs all my life. For the last eight years--roughly the time it takes to earn an advanced college degree--I've been immersed in living with dogs. I learned to work with our life's energy through a process called Reiki. I received the gift of being able to communicate with dogs. And I've had five to nine dogs in my home over those eight years.
Yes, this is a degree program where fraternizing with the instructors is not only encouraged, but required!
This has been hands-on (paws on?) course work with dogs as my teachers. Classes have included:
--Proper greeting: Joyful noise, kisses and ear scratches have come easily. However, I'm totally failing the sniffing part. Thank goodness!
--Nutrition: of course kitty roca is one of the basic food groups. Just ask your dog.
--Play and exercise: I've had to repeat this course many times. I still get caught up in the busy-ness of life and don't consistently incorporate this into my routine.
--Releasing past traumas: Some of the work I do with dogs is deeply serious and spiritual. When dogs and I communicate, they share not only what they are currently thinking and feeling, but experiences from their pasts--sometimes ugly and traumatic experiences. I have my own mix of tools I've learned and adapted in working with energy--Reiki as well as Qigong, EFT/tapping, massaging meridian points, visualizing and releasing blocked energy. I use these tools to help dogs release traumatic experiences and in the process, also resolve more of my own emotional experiences.
--Loss and grieving: In my decades of life as a human, I've outlived my dogs. Wonder who set up that system? Though I know my beloved canine companions need to shed physical bodies that no longer serve their incredible spirits, the selfish part of me mourns the loss of their physical presence. I've had the honor of going to the Rainbow Bridge with a number of doggie spirits. Each of their journeys is unique and special. I cry, laugh, and celebrate with them. And sometimes I ache for just one more furry hug.
--Miracles: Dogs do come back to be with us again. Right now, I'm living with a Collie who has come back four times, and with a Shepherd who is stretching my beliefs with life #2 or #3, depending on what my limited human mind can conceive. There are also everyday miracles that dogs can help us appreciate. Stretching out on the grass to soak up the sunshine. Taking a nap. A full body stretch before a play session and a drink of cool water.
--Love: Perhaps the most valuable lesson from dogs is learning to love unconditionally. Who else greets you so exuberantly when you come in the door, whether you have been talking to the neighbor for five minutes or have been gone for several hours? Who else gives you another chance so easily if you're grouchy or neglectful? Who else knows when you need a kiss and a cuddle?
So I think I am well on my way to earning a doctorate in dogs. May the learning never end!