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Christmas is coming…

Way too quickly! I was just looking through some pictures, and it seems like we were sweating through the summer heat.

We are preparing to travel to my husband’s family’s home in a few days, and each of us feels a little trepidation about this trip. One of the family members there is the one who has been mean to each of the four of us. We have our exit strategies planned and explicit instructions about handling this person. I’m hoping that we have over planned these strategies.

I’m also wrestling with the present I most want to give my husband: The freedom to tell his employer to take a flying leap. This employer is one of the worst I have ever encountered — and that’s truly saying a lot. They have created a hostile working environment, but I doubt they would understand if he said that. The clientele he works with are truly the worst of society, and his professional input is dismissed by his manager because he has never been homeless/addicted to illegal drugs/an alcoholic/gay. He works 12 hours per week at most, thanks to his manager’s bully-like treatment, but also has to remind said manager that he cannot work the additional hours that she requests. Just last week, he fell on the ice in the office’s parking lot, and his manager didn’t help or sympathize. Instead, she mocked him for not having cleats. Today was just about the final straw: said manager had instructed him to hold off on submitting his mileage expenses, but then complained when he did– and then short-paid his expenses. He is so disgusted with these people, and I’m furious with the lack of professionalism. We won’t go into my thoughts about the HR violations.

I’m meditating on the decision, as it will affect certain parts of our family dynamic. I’m 99% certain that we will be able to make his wish to quit a reality, and I’m not sure why I’m hesitant. Maybe it’s years of financial insecurity that fuels my fear. It simply feels right to get him out of this awful place, but that means trusting that the Universe will provide for all our needs. Trust. Not easy.

Maybe it will be the best Christmas gift — for both him and me.

 
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Posted by on 12/19/2014 in Growth, Insight

 

Overjoyed but dragging my tail

This has been one of those weekends that has contained epiphanies and serendipity. I feel as though I have run a marathon while towing a semi truck…that subsequently ran over me.

On one hand, my brother has finally accepted that he might have autism. My cousin, who works with autistic kids, and I both have agreed that he exhibits many suspect behaviors. I am overjoyed that we finally found a way to describe all the differences we have noticed over the years. I am filled with hope for my brother because so many resources exist to validate his experience and to possibly improve his quality of life. That I had to move across the country and take classes about a topic that I hardly understood 18 months ago in order to reach this realization…serendipity hardly describes it.

On the other hand, working seven long days in a row leaves me feeling like this little guy:

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Posted by on 12/07/2014 in Growth, Insight

 

Snow…SNOW…SNOW!

I love the snow here. It’s like a blanket that covers the land while it slumbers during the cold months. It crunches under my feet, and I feel the life that waits patiently for spring with each step I take. It sparkles (sometimes too much) in the sunlight and glows in the moonlight. In our current abode, I love the view from my kitchen windows  in the morning, when the neighbors’ chimneys emanate wood smoke that Norman Rockwell would have loved.

This week, nature gave us snow-coated trees that appeared as though they were dipped in white confectioner’s sugar. The lead-gray clouds offered a dramatic contrast that made me appreciate my warm home. I guess this is what makes me different from many people: I love the different seasons, but fall and winter are my favorites. I’m looking forward to being able to navigate the snow more comfortably this winter since my knees don’t hurt like they did last year.

Another first snowfall, another first Sunday of Advent, and the beginning of a new season: Hope. Winter is all about hope. preparation, planning, and appreciating this particular aspect of the Creator’s beauty. I am so glad that I have been gifted with the grace to appreciate it all.10462375_10205132120604344_1291601447380169149_n

 
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Posted by on 11/30/2014 in Motivation

 

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You know you’re finally a Vermonter when…

1. 50 degrees is just too warm for a jacket.
2. You hear “winter storm warning” and immediately wonder if you have enough toilet paper,  milk, and bread, not how much snow is coming.
3. The main fixtures in the car are the windshield de-icer, wool blankets, and a snow brush.

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4. Cup holders in a car are optional, but seat heaters are mandatory.
5. Main considerations when buying a house consist of “how much does it cost to heat” and “how much driveway do we have to plow.”
6. Boots are a wardrobe necessity–not those cute ones in magazines, but the type that actually keep your feet dry in the snow.

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New boots that depict a new facet of me.

7. Your home-canned food takes up more room than store-bought alternatives.
8. Checking the weather is both a hobby and a main conversation topic.

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9. You know exactly where most of your food comes from and it’s usually within a one-hour drive.
10. Family and community are more important than things.

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Yep. We’re Vermonters now. It’s just one more step on the journey.

 
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Posted by on 11/25/2014 in Motivation

 

Jock or Athlete?

Yesterday, a family member said that my older daughter was “becoming quite a jock” due to her interest in soccer, basketball, snowboarding, and softball.  I found myself offended by the term “jock,” because to me that implies someone who is somehow less smart or less feminine. Neither of these descriptions apply to my daughter, who is excelling in school — for the first time in her life! — and has developed a balanced, thriving social life, also a first.

So I questioned my reaction to the work “jock.” What about this word is so offensive, besides the fact that it often precedes the words “strap” and “itch”? In its essence, it is simply a word that describes a person who enjoys participating in sports. However, when it was uttered by this particular relative (who has a reputation for being deliberately hurtful when people don’t behave the way that she expects), it seemed derogatory.

When I Googled the terms “jock image,” I found many images that I would not consider appropriate because they depicted either the “strap” or the “itch” part of the term. The few female images my search returned were of females who were either sexualized excessively or lack any scrap or femininity. None were even remotely appropriate to describe a lovely young woman who enjoys sports.

When I Googled “athlete image” or “female athlete image,” the results were significantly different. These results showed people who were strong, vibrant, and confident. As I watch my older daughter navigate the HopeSoloSpeakermurkiness of early puberty, I would rather she start from a basis of confidence and strength. Since her choices are mostly team sports, she also has the social skill development that she was lacking in previous years. She is excelling in her academics. That she’s good at her chosen sports is icing on the cake. She is clearly thriving, and athletics is clearly the key.

That she is following a path similar to mine (similar only — I did different sports and only excelled at swimming) makes me delighted for her. I learned self-confidence in similar ways, and I survived my teen years relatively well. I’m hoping that her choices may help her smooth out the bumps in the road ahead.

Go, girl!

 
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Posted by on 11/23/2014 in Motivation

 

What do you do when you finally finish initially authoring a textbook?

  1. Sleep
  2. Make homemade apple pie
  3. Feed yummy family-recipe pasta to anyone that sits down long enough
  4. Hug my husband and children
  5. Breathe
  6. Call people on the phone
  7. Actually watch a TV show without the laptop open
  8. Catch up on other projects that you put off until that someday arrived
  9. Pet the cat who can snuggle in your lap now that said laptop is removed
  10. Figure out ways to make the next edition better
  11. Resist the compulsion to open the laptop
  12. Laugh
  13. Plan tomorrow’s workout
  14. Post a hilarious video to Facebook
  15. Figure out that the laptop is open since you’re writing this blog post, so you might as well get some work done.

Damn. It was bound to happen anyway.(C) Chuck Lorre Productions. Thank you, www.exclusivetouch.co.uk for posting this picture

 
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Posted by on 11/13/2014 in Insight

 

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Off-balance on Purpose

I often choose to work from my couch. I have found that being relaxed and with my family reduces some of the isolation that I feel on occasion. How does a professor feel isolated? When I’m not in front of a class, I’m often in my office, seeking peace so I may attend to the ten gazillion other tasks that a teacher of any name does. My colleagues have a similar existence, and we delight in the times that our paths cross. Okay, maybe “delight” is an exaggeration, but we at least acknowledge each other’s presence in the same room.

On top of that, I have the text book authoring work that continues (and will, to an extent, for the foreseeable future). With the exception of the occasional teleconference or symposium, it’s usually just me and my laptop. The same goes for my school work, and many of the other aspects of my life. That’s the way I like to operate (obviously, or else I wouldn’t do it), and I accept the consequences of my choices.

Tonight, while looking for an activity for one of my classes tomorrow, I ran across a TEDx video that finally explained my behavior to me. For a very long time, I’ve wondered why I like to have almost too much on my plate, or why I always try to improve myself, or why it is that I seem to move forward when so many people in my life seem to stand still. According to Dan Thurmon, my work life balance is not “in balance.” It is off-balance by design. His talk is enjoyable, as most TED talks are, but it has that something extra that now places it in my short list of go-to tools. If you choose to watch it, I hope you enjoy it. If not, that’s fine too. 

 
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Posted by on 10/28/2014 in Growth, Insight

 

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