When life throws you lemons, thank it for the snack

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Fuzzy Blankets

I am an unashamed wuss when it comes to cold. I have poor circulation in my hands and feet and everything slows down for me when I'm too frosty. All I really want to do at times like these is sleep. The best comfort for me in the chillier months is not a cup of hot cocoa (love the stuff I got from Costa Rica!) or spice tea, but a warm fuzzy blanket. If I had my way, I would cuddle under the blanket my dad got us for Christmas a few years back from sunset to sunrise, only coming out when the sun finally decided to get to work. Of course, no one can always have their way; we must slog through some of the less comfortable moments of the year to fulfill our obligations to society. That makes the warm fuzzy blanket waiting for you at home that much more special.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

My Local Library

I am so happy the public library was conceived and I am glad that our local library is now moved into a larger space. This afternoon I can watch my daughter and her friend as they do their homework, while working on my daughter's Christmas dress at the same time. I love being able to spread out to cut the fabric. While I sometimes think it is sad that so few people frequent the library, I am also grateful that there is still room to spread out. Oh, I can also take a minute to post this blog from the computers available for public use. :-) Kudos to Ben Franklin and all the library advocates out there!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Serenity Prayer

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Please guide my hand, give me strength, and bestow your grace upon me. I ask that you help me find those most precious virtues of patience and forgiveness as I navigate my way through this day filled with encounters with many of your other children. Thank you, dear Lord, for your patience and willingness to hear my plea and aid me in my journey of self-improvement. Amen.

My Night Class Students

Right now I am so very grateful for the patience and understanding of my students attending my night class. I am very behind in my grading and other various paperwork, but they seem to be tolerant enough to not push me. Every once in a while I get a gentle reminder that I haven't graded anything or handed back any graded papers in a long while. They tend to stay on task a little more often, as well. This inspires me regularly to hold onto my life goal: my PhD in educational psychology with an emphasis on adult education. I don't like to see any group of people forgotten, and adult students are the most glossed over group of people in academia. We have years of research in teaching babies through teenagers, but then the research stops. I suppose education experts assume that adults who want to learn will learn; apparently adults don't have particular or specific learning needs and any technique chosen to convey information is interchangeable with any other.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Silence and Burnout

I'm sure many people will agree that a modicum of silence is a blessing. As an extreme introvert, I absolutely agree. The silence I am thinking about tonight, however, is not originated from others, but rather from myself. Sometimes I am thankful that I can choose to remain silent in situations that another person (or even myself) might choose to voice their opinion or feeling. Yes, there is a vindictive streak in me (at least in thought) that occasionally cries out to give people a good verbal smack so they can see they are not the only people of import on the planet. Thankfully, I am usually able to keep this part of me at bay. This is the silence that I am glad to have tonight.

It is actually very closely related to my gratefulness for burnout. I know that burnout is not usually seen with a positive light. Yet, the purpose of this blog is to shed a golden glow upon even the darkest corners if I can. Tonight I am feeling so burned out, stretched and stressed close to my limit, that I find it very difficult to lash out or to even have angry, vindictive thoughts for too long. So, while I may judge that other woman as being rude and selfish, because I am too burned out to give so much as a dirty look to her, I can pause a moment and realize that she probably sees me in the same light. Because of this, I will take the slightly raised ground and walk away from the copy machine while she finishes whatever it was that she decided to stop that allowed me to swoop in front of in the first place. Besides, I did manage to copy the bigger assignment for tonight before she expressed her ire. ;-)

On a side-note, I am very appreciative of my time spent in lowly office positions. I am able to use a copy machine with more efficiency than many "professionals," so I know how to slide stuff in and how to walk away with patience, getting other stuff completed while I wait for the machine to finish.

Hurray, I feel better! :-)

Friday, September 10, 2010

Catching Up

There's no need to rush when you carry your home with you everywhere
I don't know about the rest of the world, but my life is like an accordion. There are times when everything is moving too fast and I struggle to keep up. These are then followed by moments when things slow down so much that I can take that "inbox" pile and process it. I am constantly fluctuating, travelling along my personal Yerkes-Dawdson inverted U curve. I suppose I could do the intelligent thing and take life slow and steady so that I am never behind, but then I will also never be ahead or caught up. I guess the real question comes down to whether one lives life like the hare--rushing about to get ahead so that you can nap, fall behind, then rush ahead again--or like the tortoise--slow and steady, just keep plodding along and you will eventually get there. Admittedly, I am partial to the hare's method, even though I do sometimes seem to take life at the tortoise's top speed. I find that the slow periods are much more enjoyable after I've come rushing through a chaotic period.
I'm late, I'm late. Oh, wait...I'm early now

Thursday, August 26, 2010


My husband enjoys a good book, too.
As a teacher, you would think that I don't particularly care for homework because I have to grade it. Part of that is true. It does take a lot of my time to get all 180 of my students' papers graded (that's per assignment, by the way). Being a psychology instructor, however, the type of assignments I hand out gives me the opportunity to get to know my students a little better.

This is not really what this post is about, though. Today I am grateful for my daughter's homework. Yep, I'm glad my daughter's teacher gives her homework every night. The best part is that it is consistent. There is math, reading, and spelling every day. The math my daughter completes after school before I pick her up. The spelling can be fun--if you have the spelling tick-tac-toe assignments, then you know how that works, so she doesn't complain as much this year. And the reading is now a blessing. She does have a specific story she has to read once a week, which she tests on later in class, but she also gets to read anything for 20 minutes each day. At least, that's how we've been interpreting the assignment. :-) This wondrous time allows me to read my book while she quietly reads hers. I don't care if it's a storybook or a comic book, as long as my kid is reading. I actually got to finish the 12th book of the Wheel of Time thanks in part to the reading homework assignment. So, "Yay reading!"

Saturday, August 14, 2010

My Mini Laptop

NOTE: This post could potentially be seen as a product review. I have not been paid or asked for this review. This is based on my real experiences with the product.

A couple years ago my husband bought me a mini Dell Inspiron 910 for Christmas. It's cute, really cute. It's smaller than a typical spiral-bound notebook. I was a little apprehensive at first because it runs on Ubuntu. I know nothing of any OS beyond MS (yes, I'm one of those people). It also has Open Office instead of MS Office. I taught a course on MS Office for 2 years, so to say that I am familiar with the software is an understatement. Thus far, these qualities are not too much of a hurdle any more.

I have been able to get online in a pinch (if I can find a free wi-fi connection, such as in my local library) and I can do some moderate editing work with Open Office from anywhere I choose to take the little guy. It has actually proven to be a sanity life-line for me. I no longer feel as tied down to my PC as I used to. This is great because the computer room is either dominated by my husband--he likes to use my computer chair as a foot rest--or horribly hot because of all the equipment in there (we have a number of PCs running, plus the television and printers, etc.) and oftentimes unbearable. Plus, I tend to get less work done on my main PC because it has so many games. :-)

While my little laptop is not as powerful as a full PC or a full laptop, that isn't necessarily a bad thing. Perhaps because of this I can get more work done. I have fewer distractions and more motivation to get straight to work. Plus, such as on a day like today, when our Internet inadvertently goes down it's much easier to take my little guy, along with my little girl, out to the local book store or library and reconnect to the online world.

I think I've decided to name my little laptop Gir. It's a thing for me. If an inanimate object annoys me or proves itself invaluable, I feel compelled to give it a name. Gir is compact, cute, humorous, and comes through in a pinch. Though, sometimes he does go off on the deep end a little, much like the sometimes-too-sensitive touch pad mouse on my little laptop. But I've learned to accept that and work around it.

I love my Gir and I'm happy my husband decided to get it for me.

Thursday, August 12, 2010


I'm glad mankind decided to combine various sounds into entertaining, inspirational, moving music. Whether I'm excited, happy, moody, depresed, or just feeling silly, music always seems to be there in my mind. Sometimes I get pieces of a song stuck in my head and I don't know why. After I repeat the portion of the song over and over again I start to pay attention to the words. At that point I realize that they seem to be just what I need to accentuate a good mood, lift me from a bad mood, or remind of all the things I am grateful for at that moment. Sometimes the songs are little kids music--the things you listened to in kindergarten or on family road trips. Sometimes it's a snippet or refrain from a song I've sung in the church choir. Sometimes it's a popular song and sometimes it's video game theme music (Super Mario Brothers pops in alot) or generic circus music. Whatever it is, I have grown to appreciate music. Sometimes we take it for granted. Sometimes we relegate it to nothing more than a background for the rest of life. Sometimes it serves as the foundation for other sensory experiences. However we experience it, music is everywhere in so many different formats and I am glad our species decided upon it as a tool for expression.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Printed Word

I am grateful for the printed word. I know that billions of people now have access to information at any second during the day thanks to the Internet. I know that print may seem dead with all of the constant updating of digital information. Perhaps because of all of the bombardment of constant data streams we are inundated with, I find myself more and more appreciative of books. Oftentimes I read books (mostly science fiction or fantasy) that have been around for quite a while. The titles are no longer in vogue, their popularity and streamed Internet and TV headlines have long since been buried by the latest scandal or political upheaval or natural disaster. Some of them, like any of J.R.R. Tolkien's works, have been threaded in and out of society's consciousness throughout the decades. Thanks to print, however, any bound tome can patiently bide its time in a book store or on a library shelf, waiting for a new generation to "suddenly discover" it.

It is true that I am most often not up to speed on any trend whatsoever--being an extreme introvert often leads to this side effect.The great part about reading for your own enjoyment of the story itself is that you don't have to worry about popularity or being up to speed.Each new tome, especially those exceptionally well-written, provides hours of enjoyment and the sensation that I just unlocked an invaluable treasure.
The other great thing about print is it allows the works of great--though now passed--authors to be rediscovered and shared with a whole new generation that may not have had the opportunity to meet with the creative genius behind the words, but who can still enjoy them nonetheless. Prime examples of recently deceased word smiths, and some of my favorite authors, include Robert Jordan and Michael Crichton. And while they are not as recently passed, creators such as the fore-mentioned Tolkien, Frank Herbert, and Robert Louis Stevenson can still be captivating in the works they left behind for as many generations who choose to seek them out.

So, while the constant, in your face, up to the millisecond world we live in may try to convince you that you have to be in the there and then (here and now is SOOO 5 seconds ago!), I will continue to find a retreat in seemingly forgotten, though never truly obliterated works, rediscovering them at my own pace and enjoying them as I would like to think the authors would appreciate.


I am an adjunct (read: part-time) instructor of college courses. For the past 3 years I have been teaching solely psychology classes at the local community college. This semester I took on too many courses (I actually have technically 6, 4 at once, which is more than the full-time professors teach). Because I am a contract employee, I get paid per class, so this semester is going to be an overloaded challenge--4 of my classes are 2 sections of 2 back-to-back condensed minimester courses at a high school--but the extra money is sorely needed.
This semester was a fluke, though. No part-time instructor is allowed to have so many courses. As there are no other colleges or universities in the area, that leaves my instruction employment options limited. Next semester, starting in January, I will not be allowed to teach at the college. I will only be allowed to keep my college-level dual-enrolled courses at the high school. Yes, on the down side that means a significant pay cut. However, this blog is about the silver lining of life and I'm not posting this to complain to the imaginary audience that may or may not stumble upon this entry. The upside, as it is for just about anyone who loses their job or experiences a workload reduction, is that I will be able to spend more time with my daughter. Right now I am working two nights a week. That's tough on her. In the spring she will be able to spend more time with me. I might even be able to volunteer in her classroom or with her softball team. Every closed door is answered with another open portal.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Bath Time

I am not only thankful for bath time in general, but also for the large bath I have in our master bedroom. My daughter is growing at a rapid pace (she's 8 and already past 4'3"), so anything that allows her to still play like other little, smaller, kids is a boon. Bath time in our house means I can walk away from her for half an hour while she plays in the water. This gives me some relaxing down time during an hour when I am still conscious, before the caffeine wears off and cares of the day pull me down. When she gets bored, I scrub her down and wash her hair thoroughly. By the time we're finished it's off to bed. I can sometimes get in a story or a song while I'm scrubbing or drying. Then it's easier to tuck her in. She's clean, warm, happy, and ready for dream land. And I'm more relaxed and ready for another hour or two of productivity--grading papers, doing dishes, catching up on TV or crafts, etc.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Arm & Hammer Kid's Spinbrush My Way

Okay, that last post was a little preachy (though true). I did have another thing I'm grateful for today. [NOTE: This is NOT a paid endorsement or advertisement! This is an honest encounter with a real-life product.]

My daughter has been begging me for an electronic toothbrush for months. I've been reluctant because I didn't want to waste money on a product she was not likely to use, especially when there are much cheaper ignorable options available (like the free toothbrush we get from the dentist at our regular check-ups). Well, I was in a relatively good mood and I felt like encouraging her creativity, so I gave in and purchased this product. As soon as we got home she opened up the package and decorated it in her own style. She likes the idea of the "waterproof" stickers. My daughter was so happy with the gadget that she even said "I'm going to go brush my teeth now, since I forgot to brush them this morning." I was astounded! First of all, I usually get the usual lie--"Yes, Mom" or something like that--when I ask if she brushed her teeth. Second, I didn't even have to suggest it to her. She came up with it on her own! This could be the magic wand I needed in order to reduce future orthodontic bills for my darling's smile. We'll see, but I have hope.


Many of us constantly complain about our jobs. Even the happiest, most satisfied employee will occasionally find something that needs improving. This is a good thing for two reasons.

1) The most obvious: complaining about your job means that you are employed. This means that you have an income, no matter how small it may seem, that can help you put food on the table and a roof over your head. I know that not all jobs provide enough to even live comfortably. However, something is ALWAYS more than nothing.

2) If you have something to complain about at your job, then that means that you have an opportunity to help your organization grow and improve. Organizations are organic--funny how that works, huh? That means that they need to keep learning and growing, improving and changing as a system if they want to survive (and maybe even thrive). Much like a human's personal journey on the path to self-improvement, the best way for any organization to grow is from the inside. Embrace those things you complain about and try to look at them as windows of opportunity to make things better and more efficient.

Of course, if the job is too abrasive, too much for you to handle, go on the job hunt. Just remember to secure a new job before you walk away from the old one. Something is always better than nothing. Plus, unemployment payments don't last very long.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Delete Key

I am grateful for the delete key (backspace, undo). Although you cannot always take back your words once they have been said, the written word gives you an opportunity to think about what you are going to say before you make it relatively permanent. I know that "the Internet is forever," however, sometimes by writing out our thoughts we have a better opportunity to see them. And sometimes we can catch our thoughts before they become hurtful or shameful to others.

Perhaps that is why I prefer writing an email, or even a real letter, to calling someone. It gives me a better opportunity to think about what I want to say and time to word it so that my meaning might be better understood.

Saturday, August 7, 2010


Today I am glad I have my conviction in my faith. It is my belief in God that has helped me weather my most turbulent storms in life thus far, and it will be my faith that will help me through all future crises. To live without believing in something, anything, is to choose an empty shell for existence. Even a seemingly empty seashell has the power of the ocean behind it if you stop to listen.