Deb Brumley

Deb Brumley

My mind always has an information excess. If I am not devising YVC lesson plans for science, writing, history or reading, I’m thinking of my kids, grands, better half, the one or two books I read myself to sleep with, the stories waiting to be written for this wonderful paper, my fantasy golf team, my volunteer work or my class, where, as a student, I only need two courses more, then dissertation, to complete my doctorate. I’m thankfully about to close it out, after all at 63, I’m in 20th grade.

During the past week my mind has decided to review the highlights of my life, the tripped-up moments and the sweet spots, where someone has put their hand out or karma felt sorry and offered a hand up. We all are on this fascinating journey, call it a racetrack, an amble, a walk-through time, and there are just stand out moments which deserve framing.

In 2004 I met the coolest 70s guy I had ever run across and married up when I married him. There were astonishing work assignments in Albuquerque and Washington DC, and three bosses who became long-term mentors. Then there were the real-life professional dips of two unexpected layoffs in my 45-year career. But far more professional paths always developed following each big drop on the head.

In 2012, after I failed a fourth try to pass basic math which was required to complete my Bachelors’ degree, I hit a wall of despair. This was something I could not fix with talking to the self-involved school career counselor, or by changing up studying methods or trying different types of math classes. I had no idea what to call this failure, I am not a failure person.

What happens in life when we can’t fix a necessary thing which must be completed?

I asked myself what other people do, when they are not able to pass a core class but sail through all the others. I am sure I Googled it. The term ‘disability’ popped up. Aha.

I spent two long days at WSU Pullman disability analysis center getting tested in ways in which I was very uncomfortable.

But glory, the test said my brain refuses to process sequences of numbers. The wiring is hiccupped in vital place and along with this math disability, my dyslexia (your other right, Mom) was confirmed.

The moment these results were shared with me I was floating, and the years and pounds of shame absolutely fell away. The math failure was not my doing. We don’t know what we don’t know, but now I know genetics and wiring are a thing.

Now I talk about it at the beginning of each new year in my college classes and to anyone really. I’m not embarrassed anymore, and will tell anyone, how big it feels to be released from an albatross we have no hand in.

My final two doctoral classes are both math – there is no accommodation in this program for math. I must be able to properly analyze my dissertation research findings. My emotions are trying hard to sprint, but that family hardheaded as bedrock attitude is telling me to knock off the emotional nonsense and just “Go, Girl!”

Deb Brumley can be contacted at 509-837-4500, ext. 114 or email

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