Monday, November 24, 2014

New teachers newlyweds

I'm teaching this semester. It's been fantastic. Being a first time teacher reminds me of being a newlywed. Bear with me here.

I've been involved with this course for three previous semesters. But as a graduate student teaching assistant not the instructor.

I had my own students. I had near full responsibility or class time. I wrote and graded my own materials.

Even having been involved before, being the instructor is different.

I knew I was going to like it.
I knew I was comfortable with the course content.

But it's still different being the instructor versus facilitating discussion sections.

I still have my own students. 
I still mostly have complete control over what happens during class time.
I still write and grade my own materials.

The best analogy I can think of is the difference between dating lots of guys and knowing you like guys and getting married. 

Even knowing you like the guy you intend to marry, it's still different when you're married. Even if you get along with your groom, it doesn't mean you won't have bad days too. Even if you've been together and committed for a while, it can still be good to learn fringe wisdom of those that have gone before.

Be nice to new teachers.
Even if they (and their students!) love what they do, they're new to it.

Encourage.

Support.

And help count down the number of days until break.

Friday, November 21, 2014

To Be

I keep lots of To Do lists. They're helpful in keeping me on task and working on my most important and pressing tasks. I probably write a new one every 2-3 days.

Yesterday, I reminded myself that I am a human being not a human doing. Not a new commitment for me. But then I wondered, if I'm not a human doing why do I make so many to do lists and not a single to be list?

A to be list.

Like a Rule of Life.

A check in on the principals that I want to guide my life.

These wouldn't be items to check off, so much as direction markers.

If, for example, I believe community is an integral part I education, is it okay for me as a prof to not build that into my course?

If, for example, I have a fundamental commitment to living a healthy life, what does this mean for my eating habits (or lack thereof) thanksgiving through New Years?

I'm not sure how to go about writing and refining such a To Be list, but I do think having one would be a good thing.

Do you have something like a To Be list?

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

I'm a morning person

I've long known that my days go better when I have slow mornings versus when I feel rushed to get out the door. My favorite mornings are lingering mornings: waking up slowly, drinking coffee while looking out a window, intermittent reading, doing my breakfast dishes, and dressing slowly.

I'm not, however, relational in the morning. Generally speaking, I don't like to talk to other people. With one giant exception (Roommate1), I prefer to be left to myself in those early hours (yes hours).

It's still hard to get myself to go to be early enough to be up early enough to have lingering mornings, but it's worth it. I like feeling well rested, well fed, AND productive by 9am.

I didn't realize I had the tenacity to regularly get up until my most recent training regime. To get all my miles in, work, and keep other commitments meant that I had to get up and run 4-8 miles before work, sometimes multiple times a week. It wasn't great, but I could get it done. And I found that I liked when my mornings started earlier.

In this new post-marathon season, I've decided to intentionally be up to have a lingering breakfast with Jesus on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. We'll mostly just hang out. I'm not sure either of us have much to say, but time will tell.

Today, however is Tuesday and I found myself waking up before my alarm. I managed to do a load of laundry, make brownies, chop, roast, and freeze two red peppers, clean up from yesterday, pack my lunch, answer a few emails, and commute to campus by 8:15am.

I like this kind of routine. It wasn't my MWF lingering morning, but an intentionally productive morning does mean that I don't have to do chores on the weekend and that I feel awake and ready to go when I get to work. Both are notable targets.

So. It looks like I'll be early to sleep and early to rise.

Monday, October 27, 2014

What now?

In April of this year, the last weeks of grad school, I got the feeling that it was time for a new running goal. I talked to a running friend to see if she wanted to run a marathon with me - shoulder to shoulder. I had the whole summer off from work (on sabbatical) and so I had the time to train. She said yes.

April 31st I successfully defended my thesis.
May 20th I turned in all my thesis revisions.
June 1st I set a(nother) new PR time on my fifth half marathon.
June 2nd I started training for my first full marathon.

It was a great plan.

Running keeps me honest. You can't fake your weekly miles and do okay on long runs. If the calendar says 8 miles in a Thursday but friends are getting together for dinner, I either got up and ran the miles in the morning or went to dinner late.

I ran miles on a cruise ship.

 I ran miles on three vacations in new cities.

 I did some of my double digit long runs by myself in the hot summer heat.

I had committed to the whole plan and I did run every single mile on that plan. The training plan gave me direction and focus towards a goal that I wanted to achieve. The goal was actually to do the training faithfully, and I did.

October 19th I ran the Detroit Free Press Marathon. I rocked it. I was happy and smiling the entire time. I hugged family who came to spectate. I got I encourage my running buddy on those terrible miles.

We finished five minutes before our goal time. It could not have gone better.

And during this training I started a new job (my cushy postdoc) a part of which is teaching as the instructor of record for ~250 students in my section. It's pretty much the best thing ever.

But the day after my marathon I couldn't help but wonder: "now what?"

Just the same as I knew it was time to train for a marathon, I know that this is not the time to train for a new, large running goal. (Though I will certainly keep running.)

I don't need a new hobby, or another place to serve.

I liked the focus that the marathon training brought to life. Scheduling was simpler - I was usually busy running. The people I saw most were those also training for full marathons.

Yet, I miss having a goal.

Finishing a PhD and a marathon in one year is enough.

Yet there is this niggling question: now what?


Monday, September 29, 2014

Simplified Community

Over the last two months my community -who I do life with - has changed pretty comprehensively. 

Some of it has to do with having a new job. I had 15-20 coworkers that I was with ~60 hours a week. Now I have one  coworker that I see ~35 hours a week.

I left three small group bible studies through my church this summer. 

The group from my department that I had prayed with every week in grad school had disbanded since we have ( nearly!) all graduated.

My weekly lunches with my best girl friends aren't happening (like they used to) since we work in different cities now.

I can go days without seeing my roommates because marathon training has me early to bed and early to rise.

I am way down on numbers of friends, but the friends that I do have are really  good friends. It's always been quality over quantity, but this is yet somehow a little different.

I'm not lonely.
I'm right where I'm supposed to be.

I don't really understand this. And I wouldn't have chosen it. Yet there is a decided sense of rightness about how things are.

I like simple. And a simpler community is working for what Life is right now.

I don't know why it is what it is, but Im leaning into this blessed, full life one day at a time.


Saturday, August 2, 2014

transition in three movements


Transition is one part adventure.

The new Open Space as I leave Old Things creates space for adventure as I move into something different. I don't know who I'll eat lunch with; could be anyone! Or maybe I'll write the great American novel, or work on a fun knitting project. I could take up a completely new hobby (after marathon training ends). I get to figure out what I want to do with not in lab. I get to play with now quirky, nerdy, involved, and open I want to be as I continue to grow and change.I'm kinda excited for the adventure.

Transition is one part grief.

I'm grieving the loss of Old Things which have run their course, or are changing in some substantial way. Friends I used to see regularly but now will have to make an effort to keep up with. Not being a student for the first time in 26 years. Not wearing jeans and sneakers (the grad student uniform) daily. Okay, so I'm not grieving that last one, but still. While grad school sucked on so many levels, I had a lot of good (comfortable?) things embedded in that ... identity, stage, place, and transitioning those places, people, and routines isn't a single, positive shift.

Transition is one part thankfulness.

I'm thankful for the New Things;  that they exist and in my life and at this time. I'm thankful to get to do something new and different professionally. I'm thankful for a season where I get to develop new professional and personal networks. Sometimes a restart is a gift, and I'm not going to begrudge the one I've been given.

I think I mostly want to BE thankful, PROCESS the grief, and EMBRACE the adventure.

What does transition feel like to you?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Developing Community - two thoughts


1. Grey works better in my wardrobe than my relationships. 

I value clarity, clarity in ideas, goals, and relationships.

Why doesn't this outfit work? Too many things going on.
Why does this relationship bother me? I don't know where I stand.

I've learned that it is okay to ask for the clarity that I want: Is that a goal or a deadline? Are these firm plans or should I follow-up again later? 

2. I'm better in community.

Apparently I do like to be followed-up with. I learned this when I was out of town and my host texted me to make sure I was okay and offer assistance in getting home. It really touches me when my roommates text a quick "Thinking about and praying for you today!" I've loved that my Pastor seeks me out to see how I'm doing. These interactions don't make me feel like a burden.

I've intentionally sought out all sorts of community this year. I've intentionally deepened friendships with my coworkers which has made for a much safer and more supportive work place.While I am developing my independent streak, I am fiercely committed to interdependence.

I've sought inter-generational communities, both in a professional and personal contexts. I've done half a dozen informational interviews with people a step or two ahead of me professionally. I've continued to run with people who are old enough to be my parents.