Wednesday, February 18, 2015

On friendship

By Luci Shaw from Friends for the Journey

As Madeline and Bara and I have been working on the finishing of this book at Crosswicks Cottage, in Connecticut, we have been surrounded by the folds of Litchfield Hills. Between sessions at the computer we've made excursions to buy corn at the local farm stand, or to go to the Congregational church on Sunday, or simply to buy groceries, or take mail to the post office, driving along the winding country roads.
Very often our companion along the way, following the turns in the road as we drove, was a hand-built, low stone wall of the kind common in New England, erected as much to get the stones out of the fields as to keep cattle from straying. It struck me today that a wall like this is a metaphor of friendship. There's some time-consuming skill involved in putting it together without cement or mortar of any kind. There's nothing artificial binding the individual pieces of rock together; they stay in place simply because they fit, the convexity of one stone nextled in the concavity of its neighbor. Even the gritty texture of the granite stone has value, preventing them from slipping apart, keeping their surfaces in touch.
When well built, these walls last for generations. They are not only useful, they are ornamental, an integral part of the landscape. Like the stones in the wall, we see the skillful hand of God at work, using even our rough, gritty surfaces, fitting us together in love, in friendship - companions along the way.

One small change

I live by my google calendar. Everything goes on there: birthdays, anniversaries, all appointments, reoccurring lunches, odd holidays. If it's not on my calendar I won't be there. (Funny thing is that once it's on my calendar I don't have to try to remember it. But this could be a side effect of referring to my calendar so frequently.)

My work has been especially busy the last few months as the meetings and projects accumulate. With so many meetings it's hard to chunk my time and focus on the urgent and important work in a timely fashion.

So I started making appointments with my projects. This was helpful because then I could avoid making meetings during that time slot.

But even more it helped me adjust my expectations for the day.

I had been spending days guilting myself about not working on the important and urgent things and assuming that whenever I got to That Project no matter what I did would turn out awful.

Once the work was on my calendar I knew I was going to work on it. I knew I had the time for it - usually more time than I needed - and that I could manage to make progress in the midst of a dozen meetings.

Let me tell you, it's wonderful getting the important and urgent things done!

What's on your calendar?

Friday, January 23, 2015

Re-learning myself

In my journey, increased awareness has been critical.

I know  more of a planner, a "J" if you speak Meyers-Briggs, and knowing this lets me be thankful for those mysterious people, the "P"s who can drop everything at a moment's notice to serve others.

Knowing that I really do need eight hours of sleep helps me give myself the grace to "sleep in" if I've been up late and not hold myself to a rigid schedule just because.

One major thing I've found myself craving is feedback:'the relational space to ask and offer follow-up. 

That was fun! 

What did you mean?

Actually, I really meant it when I said "please don't do that."

Do you like this idea?

It involves vulnerability to ask for - and offer! - feedback, but I find that this is where trust is.

You're doing great! Thank you!

No, I don't need to be consulted. It's your decision.

She's doing great work, and will be an asset.

Could you move over? I'm trying to open that cabinet.

I am awful on the phone; texting is a much better way to reach me.

Would you like a hug?

Follow-up. It's where the magic happens.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Buy the fancy wasserflasche

Self-care isn't easy for me.

I don't go to bed when I should even though I know I like mornings and need > 8 hours of sleep.

I don't always do my dishes at the end of the day even though I know I like the closure.

I have been known to eat too many brownies instead of something reasonable for dinner.

I nearly bought a dog bed instead of my fantastic reading chair that I had been saving for three years for, cause it could have been alright.

And so when I drink too much coffee, and run a lot, and forget to drink water all day I start to wake up with headaches because I'm dehydrated. My lips turn this nice reddish color, and my mouth is dry.

It can take two days of this before I start doing anything to not be dehydrated.

I've known for a long time that I drink more when I drink through a straw. I don't know why, but its been a consistent observation. This is why I use a straw every morning with my coffee - then I won't waste it.

I had a water bottle at work, but lost it at the Chili's in the O'Hare airport while traveling this Christmas.

What with winter being so brutal and my energy/ desire to do self-care not very high I got dehydrated again. I knew that without replacing the water bottle that I had been using at work, the issue wouldn't get resolved quickly.

I brought my purple Klean Kantern water bottle to work - where I spend most of my waking hours.

Then last weekend in a Target run I finally bought one of those Contigo water bottles with the straw. It has a straw! And it doesn't leak. And it doesn't wobble (Al was badly dented on my Klean Kantern). And? And? It's purple.

So now I have two water bottles, one for home and one for work. And the home one with the straw? Yeah, I have been known to need to refill it twice in a given evening.

A step in the right direction, I think.

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.



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.