Posted tagged ‘learning’

Flawed

February 8, 2012

This morning, during breakfast, Jane decided to let her water from her sippy cup run back out of her mouth instead of swallowing it.  No big deal.  She was just playing.  Like toddlers do.

Let’s just say that my reaction was disproportionate to in relation to the actual harm done (which was, by the way, none. No harm.  At all).  I may have slammed her sippy cup down on the table.  This response may have made her cry.  I am not actually admitting to any of this, mind you.  Because that would be embarrassing.  Who slams their toddler’s sippy cup down as an instructional method?  No one sane, that’s who.

I spent the remainder of my morning doing penance for my over-the-top reaction.  First, I beat myself up about my temper (I rarely have one, by the way).  Then I berated myself for my lack of patience.  I apologized to Jane, although she had completely forgotten about the incident by that point.  Then I spent some time praying after my run, while Jane slept in the stroller (because God knows I need help, if I am slamming sippy cups).  Once Jane woke up, she and I spent copious amounts of time crawling around on the floor, wrestling and playing–all the while I kept hoping and praying that these are the moments she remembers, instead of my occasional parental lapses.

Parenting Jane brings out the very best in me, most of the time.  But sometimes I am forced to confront my character flaws.  And I just have to keep reminding myself that everyone has flaws; the real tragedy would be to see them and then do nothing to try to change them.

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How to Mess Up a Perfectly Good Saturday Run (and ache for days afterward)

February 7, 2012

After several years as a runner, I should know that my performance on a run depends as much on my mental state as my physical state.  I should know this.  I never seem to really remember it, though.

I do my long runs on Saturday.  I wake up early.  I head out no between 6:30 and 7, so that I am finished no later than 9.  Amy respects my need to run, but I don’t want to make the whole family’s Saturday revolve around my running schedule.

I started feeling a sneaking dread about last Saturday’s run on Friday night.  I felt tired.  I didn’t want to blog.  I didn’t want to do anything.  In fact, I laid about on the couch from the time Janie went to bed until I went to bed playing the free version of Scrabble on my phone.  That’s right… I don’t care enough to buy the actual app, yet I wasted an entire night messing around with my online Scrabble opponents.

Maybe dread is too strong a word.  It was really more like apathy.  I didn’t want to do a long run.  I hadn’t run more than 5 miles a pop for more than two weeks, and I felt ambivalent at best about putting forth the amount of energy a 13.1 mile run takes.  So, I kept hitting snooze on my alarm.  Even though I knew I needed to get up and eat, so I could get out of the house on time.  Even though I could smell the brewed coffee waiting for me in the kitchen.  Snooze.

All this is a long lead in to say that, while I made decent time on my Saturday run, it was painful.  In fact, I decided to cut my run down to a 10 miler, because my right calf began cramping around mile 8 and my left quad tightened a bit more with each mile.  And my knees felt every connection with the pavement.  I am not fan of stopping short of my mileage goal on a run, but I also know running shouldn’t hurt.  Especially not in a training run.  A stubbornness inflicted injury also would not get much sympathy from Amy.

Why all the aches and pains?  Remember that apathy/dread I mentioned?  It manifested itself in tension in all my muscles, an obsession with my pacing, and a bizarre (and misguided) need to push off with my calves to gain speed.  My head just wasn’t where it needed to be, and my body responded by completely freaking out.

I am actually looking forward to this Saturday’s run.  My calves finally feel normal again (I could barely walk for two dang days), and I am excited to see what I can do out there.  And this is a much better way to approach a run.

13.1 miles.  Bring it.

I Had My Reasons

January 8, 2012

I used to claim that I didn’t need to go to church.  God is everywhere, right?  And there exist a multitude of ways to connect with God.  Therefore, I have no need for church.  Or, at least, that is what I told myself.

But, truth be told, walking into my church renews me.  The music centers me, brings me to myself and to God.  I can’t always stay 100% in the moment.  Sometimes my mind wanders during the sermon.  Or I find myself off on a tangent, analyzing this or that.  But, when I force myself to focus, to listen, I know that God is there in that place.  And the collective experience of worship is what makes it holy.  We need each other, to love each other, to honor God in the way we treat each other.

I need church.  I am not my best self without it.  I remembered that today.

 

Beginnings (2012 Edition)

January 2, 2012

I love New Year’s resolutions.  Maybe it’s because I am really into new beginnings.  Clean slates and all.

This year, I made 3 resolutions:

1) Write every day.  Here or in a journal.  Either counts.

2) Blah blah Jesus blah blah blah.

3) Get more organized.  I realize this one wins the vagueness award, but the problem is that I really don’t know how to be more organized.  Things just kick around in my mind, and I try to sort them as best I can.  I don’t keep a calendar (BIG mistake since having a kid).  I tend to work on several projects at once, and there is always one that I forget about until the very last minute.  I procrastinate.  I don’t even know where all my office supplies are, for goodness’ sake.

So, I guess I will take this one incrementally… use a trial and error approach.  Tomorrow, I am going to make a list of goals for the week.  First thing.  Over coffee even.  And, if Jane keeps in her new routine, I will starting my day at 4:45 a.m.  Hurrah!

Here’s to new beginnings.  Very organized beginnings.

Sorting

December 30, 2011

Late this afternoon, I found myself sitting on the edge of a fountain, in the middle of a little shopping area, watching Jane sort leaves.  She takes her sorting very seriously.  She lifted each leaf, examined it, and placed it into a crack in the pavement on the other side of her.  Occasionally, she would collect another leaf to add to the assortment.  Then we would count the leaves:  1…2…3…  She gets engrossed in these kind of activities.  She only looked up when two sorority girls began howling with laughter at a table nearby.  I thought Jane might throw one of her fake laughs their way; she loves to mimic sounds, especially laughter, at full volume.  But she just studied the girls for a bit and went back to her sorting.

I am unsure what I loved so much about this time with my daughter.  Maybe it was just that she had been acting like a drunken ferret in the coffee shop just a few minutes before, and now she was playing quietly and peacefully.  But, it feels more significant.  I think, in the glow of the late afternoon sunlight, I really saw Jane as the individual she is becoming.  There is so much that she explores, discovers, analyzes every day.  And I know each discovery makes her more independent, more self-sufficient.  Some days that makes me sad; I feel like I am losing my baby.  But today I just felt awe that I get to share the world, and my life, with this wonderful little person.  And I am so excited to watch her become… whoever she wants to be.

 

Love & Compassion

February 24, 2010

Perhaps, if we shrug off all the pretenses, we can begin to see each other as human beings first and foremost.  Within all of us, there exists a desire to truly be seen, heard and valued.  As I plow through each day, running about and getting stuff done, I try to remember that my fellow human beings deserve my love and compassion… just as much as I deserve to be loved.  Slowing down can be difficult; but truly connecting with someone reminds me why my time on this earth is valuable… and that sure has nothing to do with how much stuff I can accomplish in a given day.

Shall We Try Another Draft?

February 5, 2010

Conferencing with my students simultaneously marks the most rewarding part of my semester and the most challenging.  I meet with each student for 20 minutes.  We discuss the most recent draft of their paper.  Currently, their assignment is to rhetorically analyze another author’s work.  Yeah.  They don’t know what it means either.  All rhetorical analysis boils down to (for their purposes) is looking at the way the author lays out her argument; does she use appeals to logic, ethics and/or emotion?  How do those appeals impact the reader (do they have the intended effect or does the author miss the mark)?  How well does the author achieve her purpose for writing the essay?  Has she reached her intended audience?  Not too difficult, really.

Some kids get it right away.  For others, the assignment requires a bit more explanation (and some examples); I can see their expression shift when things click in their minds and they suddenly understand.  And then there are those poor souls who just can’t get past summarizing.  Those are the kids I really struggle with.  I try to explain the assignment in a different way.  I provide examples.  I chatter on about the way I see the argument… and they just give me the same blank look.  Just staring.

I always wonder if the problem lies with them or with me.  Why can’t I explain something this simple and get them to understand?  But, then again, shouldn’t any university student be able to understand this assignment?

Sometimes the impulse is to impatiently dismiss them (in my mind at least) as inferior students.  But I don’t.  Instead, I urge them to try another draft, to come to my office hours, to let me help them work through the assignment.  I will not give them a grade they didn’t earn, but I explain and re-explain and work with draft after draft in an effort to help them get the assignment right.  In an effort to help them learn.  Because I am a teacher, and that is my job.