I call myself a certificate whore. It’s not a nice way to describe that I have a thirst for knowledge obtained and rewarded with a certificate or license. Even in my 20s, I usually had more than one job, trying to get all the experience I could. My friend Kali would always tease, “You only got five jobs, Mon?!” quoting from the “Hey Mon” skit from the early ‘90s show, In Living Color. Most of the certificates I obtained helped me navigate my professional career changes over the years, but some were just collected in case I wanted to pursue new avenues.
When I thought about the fact that I was attempting to write a book, I got unusually excited that I could add “author” to my list of jobs. Unfortunately, the job title does not come with a certificate. Instead of throwing out the whole book and idea because I didn’t have a “license to write,” my sister Alysia said she would print me a certificate as an author, (something equivalent to a participation ribbon at a fair). Whew… I can continue writing now.
My obsession with obtaining certificates started in elementary school with Honor Roll and Perfect Attendance. I guess my first real license, like most, was my license to drive. That little piece of plastic represented freedom from my dad dropping my sisters and me off at school in his veterinary pharmaceutical delivery truck with a picture of Shannen Doherty wearing a Holstein print swimsuit on it. Plastered on the side of the box truck was the well-known caption that read, “Milk. It does a body good.” SO embarrassing. We would ask dad to drop us off a block away. The first time I took my driver’s test, the D.M.V. examiner, nicknamed “the dragon lady,” failed me after I barely rolled my tire up the curb attempting to parallel park. Fortunately, I passed the second time around—but I can admit I’m still not great at parallel parking.
In June of 1996, at the age of seventeen, I earned my Pharmacy Technician License from the State of California. Back then, you could work under the supervision of a pharmacist for 1500 hours to “grandfather” your training hours into the California State Board of Pharmacy. Years later, I passed my exam with the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board, which would allow me to work nationally. I was a pill roller, drug dealer… same same, but different.
When years of retail pharmacy were wearing on me, I decided to make a career change. I was engaged to be married and thought becoming self-employed would allow me the ability to share my time at home raising a family and working. In 2006, I decided to take a course in manicuring. My youngest sister, Courtney, is a manicurist with great artistic talent. Her nail art is quite amazing!
Courtney has influenced many manicurists by teaching her skills in sold-out classes and has a huge Instagram following. I am so proud of her! Although I knew I didn’t have her creative skills, I decided to try it. I continued working full-time as a pharmacy technician and completed the 10-week course in manicuring. I passed the exam to receive my manicurist license from the California State Board of Cosmetology. It’s kind of like being a therapist, with no formal education and I don’t have to spend time charting patient notes.
I have always been curious about health and wellness. In 2018, I completed a 200-hour course to become a Vinyasa yoga instructor. The training took place on several weekends over ten months at Sojourn, a yoga studio in Hanford, California. The course was taught by my yoga instructor and friend, Lucianna. In January 2021, I traveled to Miramar, Florida for a 200-hour Hatha yoga course. There, I lived in Yogi Hari’s ashram for fifteen days with the other students, immersing myself in a traditional yogic lifestyle. In between, I became a Health Coach Institute Certified Health and Life Coach. Let’s not forget to throw in the Reiki attunement training I completed for good measure… As I said, I’m a real certificate whore, ha!
I was thinking that when I became a mother, that job did not come with a license or certificate until I remembered my son did come home with a “birth” certificate. That birth certificate was documentation proving not just a new job, but my career as a mother. What happens now that I received his death certificate? Does that mean I am no longer classified as a mother? My kind and supportive friends say I’ll always be a mother; but who am I mothering now? Who will I snuggle with when they are sick, teach how to drive, proudly watch walking the line at graduation, or glide around on the dance floor with during the mother-son dance at weddings?
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