Monday, December 11, 2017

My Cancer Experience in One Phrase -

Jules Jones Peters, the wife of musician Mike Peters, has had her own cancer journey (Mike has been down the cancer path multiple times). The BBC Wales affiliate, interviewed her about her cancer. And while I can't find the video anywhere except Facebook , one phrase reached out and summed up, pretty much, how I feel: 

"And I think it's made me less fearful about the future."

I've used these phrases, "Bring it on," "Faith," "It is what it is," "What's the worst that can happen when the worst that can happen has?" to describe how I feel. Yet Jules' statement is perfect - Less Fearful About The Future. Great thought for the week -

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Hallelujah - Last Day of Class at UVU -

I have been teaching at UVU for 16 years, and most of that time has been teaching night classes. I really like teaching older students, students who work, students who have lives outside of school. And this semester has reinforced that for me.

Two of my three classes have been fantastic, with my third being ok, yet it's an 8:30pm class, in a yucky classroom, which I think has something to do with the dynamics.

Some of my students are:

Tim - Older, married young, has a child nearly ready for college, works during the day, writes well, works hard, makes good eye contact, always attends, turns in assignments on time, is engaged, participates, good final project.

Elise - Younger, opinionated, likes Taco Bell and brings it to class, has a skateboard, asks good questions, thinks for herself.

James - Mid-twenties, sits in the middle-back, works during the day, always connected, keeps me honest when it comes to numbers (dates, percentages), asks good questions that typically everyone wants to ask, good writer, great final project.

Brandy - Mid-twenties, sits in front, works during the day, always alert, has good questions.

Aaron and Aron - Foreign students, cousin, always attend class, pay attention, stay after class and ask lots of questions, and because of this they are succeeding, participate, share in group work.

Doug - Older student, parent to 4 nieces and nephews, works full-time, comes in late, wears pink backpack, irreverently funny, loud, no boundaries, definitely created class community, learning to write and doing well, worries, good student.

Elise - Older student, kind, asks good questions, reinforces my comments, new to UVU.

Marie - Older student, mother, sits by Annette; they are the two that are my anchors in a rowdy funny class.

Jacob - Older student, new to Utah and Mormonism, asks questions without pause, moves casually through the classroom, talker, unifier.

Nathan - Older student, serious but fun, good writer, shares, steady.

Janie - Mid-twenties, works during the day, asks questions, shares easily.

Brent - Older student, makes fun comments, asks questions that need to be asked, engaged.

Ryan - Older student, wants to finish 2010 after 3 tries, good writer, diligent, concerned, works during the day, serious.

Jarod - Older student, anchor in class, doing school to say he's been to school.

Jordan - Younger student, funny, asks good questions, stays after class, cares.

Michael - Younger student, funny without knowing he's funny, makes random statements that engage the class (or at least make me laugh), eats way too much sweets, doodles during class, great research paper.

Julie - Younger student, took class last semester, dropped out, finishing this semester.

Matthew - Mid-twenties, new to school, came into class with a "show me" attitude, engaged and participates.

Amber - Early twenties, asks lots of questions, sends lots of emails, does her best to participate.

Kimberly - Early twenties, struggling juggling with assignments and work, tears up easily.

And I could give personal information about each of these students as well, that may stereotype, but are endearing - autistic with no emotion, struggling financially, gay, lesbian, Saudi, ex-military, newly home from a mission, drug addict, dyslexic, ADHD, over-weight, perfectionist, newly married, etc.

And I could list several students who haven't been engaged, who have a million excuses for why they're missing classes or haven't done their work, but the students I've mentioned by far make up for these others.

And I NEED a BREAK from them - at least for a few weeks!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

On My Mind -

Facebook - Sucks! I log in to see who is having a birthday, wish them a Happy Birthday, then off. If I take the time to scroll through any posts, I typically find myself sucked in to nonsense! I miss the days of personal postings rather than reposts of videos. Yeah - thumbs down.

December Colds - I can't make it through the month without a cold, haven't been since I began teaching at UVU sixteen years ago. It just happens. This year it hit last Thursday, and I caught it, and I stopped and slept and medicated. I think I'll be better in a couple more days.

UVU - I love teaching! And I have my grades up to date, which is always a concern right now, and I'm ready to grade my last batch of papers. Having a new textbook this semester has been tough, and I'm still not comfortable with it, but the lessons and assignments have been going fine, I'll adjust.

Insurance - Sucks! I have to teach an extra class every semester just to pay for my premiums. It's going up tremendously come 2018. Good grief - the working poor.

Being Married - I am totally in love with my husband, right now! He makes me laugh, we joke, we have a history, we tease, we help each other, and we are just relaxed with each other. We are in a really good spot - having learned how to negotiate and when to give space and when to come together. Nearly fourteen years of "dancing lessons," and I think we've got it. Fingers crossed.

Chaplaining - I adore being a chaplain. The combination of chaplaincy and folklore is perfect for me. I appreciate working with those who are facing death - being forced to face this is scary and beautiful, and a fundamental aspect of all our lives. I faced it five years ago. Empathy goes a long ways. 

Christmas - Gifts are purchased or made, some delivered, wrapping to be done. I even took the time to write a Christmas letter! Hopefully it will go out in the next ten days. My goal is always to be as close to being finished with the business by Dec. 1 as possible. Then I can tackle finals and relax - with kids, grandkids, Scott, friends. Going for that again this year.

Gifting - Scott and I don't typically buy "Christmas" gifts for each other. We don't need anything, want any thing, and time sitting in front of the fireplace rather than online or shopping, is my idea of time well-spent - a great gift.

Anxiety - Along with my cold these past few days I've had some anxiety. Cancer seemed to really bring it on, and every once and a while I get some palpitations, some sweats, a headache, feel like the walls are closing in, and my mind doesn't stop racing. It's hard for me to stop, even when I stop and address my triggers. This week it's been the post-Thanksgiving rush, the pre-Christmas and pre-finals pressure. God grant me the serenity -

Happiness - Life is what we make it. And today I'm choosing to be happy, and fit, and mostly healthy.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Crossing Muddy Waters - Hiatt and Watkins -

I first heard this song by John Hiatt when it was newly released in 2000. I remember where I was when the local independent radio station, KRCL, played it.  It's a pure acoustic tune, not even drums, and the melody plus the story brought me to tears. Such a tragic story, from all directions. And my heart broke, and I could see me as one of the characters in the story. And I think it's one of the most lovely lost bitter sorrowful songs I have ever heard.

I heard it again, on a Spotify station earlier this week. This time sung by Sara Watkins. And hearing it from a woman's voice didn't change the sorrow that I felt. And I'm once again reminded of the power of music. 

Friday, November 24, 2017

I've had enough -

Let's practice a little kindness, not turning a blind eye, but a helping hand. Not all bad things, or bad deeds, or pissy attitudes, turn a person into a bully or a narcissist, or a serial rapist, but we are products of our environment, and our words can hurt each other and ultimately, ourselves. If day after day we are discriminated against, degraded for things that are out of control, we need to be the change to get rid of these people, these situations. And I know some of us stay - because of loyalty, duty, money, or having been put down so often that we think we don't deserve better.

But we do - I do, you do. And I can change myself - my behavior, my work ethic, my attitude, but sometimes - the best thing we can change is by not staying - we can leave, we can walk away, and we can end the life of letting the little things slide.

I have left, more than once, a relationship and a job, where I felt uncomfortable. Sadly, I have often left silently, without letting anyone know about the uncomfortableness I was experiencing. Because - like many others, I began to doubt myself - did I bring the bullying on, was it my fault, did I dress wrong, maybe I listened too long, did I send the wrong message. But - bullying and harassment are in the eyes of the receiver, and being assertive is typically a trait the perpetrator (whether that's a 7 year old girl or a 55 year old man or an account executive, the POTUS, or a big brother) is the one asserting their behavior, while the passive, or quiet person is the one who gets hurt.

Stop it, damn it. Be an advocate. Get involved. Show a little kindness.

And remember -

"I am my best friend. I need to treat me with dignity and respect, and most importantly, I need to be compassionate with me. I need to accept me in whatever state and condition I am in." ~ Anonymous

Great article regarding my rant:

Monday, November 20, 2017

Instrument of War - BYUTV - Jack Ashton -

My friend, Russ Kendall, invited Scott and I a few weeks ago, to attend the premier of a movie he has recently produced. It's a war movie. I was not excited to go. But Scott loves war movies, and I love Russ, so we went.

After the first 2 minutes, I was ready to go home, but I didn't. And goodness, I'm glad I didn't leave the theater.

An amazing movie - inspiring, thought-provoking, tear-inducing. The script, cinematography, soundtrack, lighting, costumes, acting, could not have been any better.

And a little "behind the scenes" info:

  • Russ' company, Kaleidoscope Pictures, produced this movie for BYUTV. It was filmed completely in Lithuania, where Russ and his colleague, Adam, took their families for 3 months during the late winter and spring. 
  • All of the actors are British, with a couple from Lithuania. 
  • The lovely Jack Ashton, from Call The Midwife, is the star in the movie. 
  • Jack Ashton does not, and could not, play the violin that is featured in the movie. 
  • The movie is based on a true story. 
  • The gentleman whose story it is died in 2010. 
  • His family are musicians, yet they didn't know about this part of his life until shortly before he died.
  • Russ' daughter is in the movie (he did Jenna and I a "favor" years ago, and we're in the original "Charlie"). Russ' son and wife are part of the film crew. 
  • Last year Kaleidoscope Pictures produced A Winter Thaw, based on a Tolstoy short story. The crew fell in love with Lithuania during that filming. 

This movie will premier on BYUTV on Thanksgiving Day, and show throughout the holiday season.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

A Must Read - This Appalachian Life - The Bitter Southerner -

The South seems to give birth to some amazing writers - fiction, non-fiction. What is the reason? A plethora of experiences, environment, examples (good and bad), history, or the culture of writing and expressing oneself through some creative genre whether writing, music, art, dance?

But I know this, dang, there are some great young Southern authors appearing, and I am really enjoying their brashness - their unapologetic tone for all that is good and bad in their lives, their values, without demeaning their lives and culture. 

I'm just blown away at the thinking and expressing that are being presented. And here at The Bitter Southerner, you can find great examples, in quick easy read material, nonetheless thought-provoking. As well, This Appalachian Life, by Joshua Wilkey, is filled with Joshua's own stories - his own thoughts, ponderings, questionings, and thinking-things-through pieces. His "Appalachia Needs a Reformation" is poignant and leaves me wondering about my own religious heritage and change. David Joy is also a favorite of mine. His "Digging in the Trash" essay is required reading for all of my UVU classes. 

I highly suggest exploring.