Monday, May 30, 2011

F is for Finally

Finally I have come back home again. I have a lot of issues to deal with.

Every year I get older, amazingly. And once again, as I start my life over. This is New Life 3.0 for me. I find myself looking at and responding to the world differently. I think it responds differently to me too. Sometimes in a favorable way. Other times in ways that I am not ready for.

In business, I get a lot of respect. In my personal life, I often find myself feeling irrelevant. This summer I would like to discover how much of these reactions are objective and true and how many are dependent on my inner perceptions of myself.

Gee, it feels good to be back on this page again.

Let's have some fun this summer.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Feeling a litlle . . .

Like a New Soul . . .

Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Equation for Contentment

I'm sorry. I've been off-topic for a while. But, the truth is . . .

I'm not having a hard time with my station in life at the moment. Why?


As I mentioned before, I'm doing Bikram Yoga. It forces me to stay hydrated. One of my yoga teachers says that the blood it brings to my face plumps the cells. I don't know if it is the hydration or the "mini-face-lift" she describes, but when I look in the mirror, I don't see the tired lady with the minute lines starting to give her face "character." I'm not tired like I was. When I do get tired I Sleep. (Capital letter fully intended. The sleep is that good.)

+ Listening to My Body

I stayed home from work recently because I got a little case of bronchitis, and, because I now know what a healthy body feels like, I had no problem giving it what it needs to get healthy again quickly. I have decided that there is no real virtue in "toughing it out;" you just have to suffer longer. But that is not my point.

+ New Books

However . . . during that time at home, I was "Oprah-fied." (That's when you give in to the Goddess Oprah and really listen to her latest plan to rejuvenate the world. ) I admit it; I bought in. I buy a lot when I am sick and watching TV. I'm currently in the middle of Eckhardt Tolle's book, The New Earth. I even picked up The Secret. All of this is stuff I know, and stuff I have been applying to my life increasingly in the past year. (Truthfully, I have come a long way from where I was a year ago.)

+ Herbal Tea

Oh yeah. Then I fell in love with herbal tea. I discovered this place online called The Blessed Thistle. The woman who runs it is a true herbalist and the teas are Magnificent. (This is the direct link for the tea page.) I bought a sampler pack and could not find one tea that I disliked. They all tasted great and delivered on their promises. I just bought my second batch today. Not all these events happened in the order listed, but they all happened at the same time.

= Contentment

All in all, I am quite happy with myself. I am still a fashion disaster because it is winter and just getting up in the dark to go to work is an accomplishment for me. I guess I can continue to improve there. However, it just doesn't seem as important now. Perhaps for the next little bit, you may have to put up with posts about bliss and happiness with this very interesting decade of life.

New Focus?

Titles like "5 Things That Make You Believe It May Be Possible to Pronounce That Evil F-word: Forty."

That might not be so bad, would it?

Photo by Terwilliger911 through Creative Commons.

F is for Fantastic

I wanted to take my time with this one because I wanted to do it right.

The previous clip is footage of one of my friends, Stanley Love, being launched into space as part of the crew of STS-122. It was his first launch. He realized (what I believe to be) a lifelong dream, and my students and I watched it live (via the internet) as he prepared to fly and then launched on his mission.

Every time I watch this footage, especially the countdown, my heart catches for just a moment. The thrill I receive has most to do with the great joy of seeing him do something he has always wanted to do. It is like the gratification one receives at the thundering crescendo of a symphony as it grows toward its climax, the heart pounding thrill of being one with the music and the composer's vision, even though it is only vicarious, even though you are only getting a pale echo of what it must feel like to be that composer and have the experience yourself. I know his triumph belongs to him and his family, but I can't help but feel triumphant too, like for a moment anything is possible for all of us if we work for it and do what it takes.

A Profile

Stan Love is among the top 10 most intelligent, creative people I have ever met. This video does not begin to give a flavor for the man I know, but it is a start.

Footage of Him in Action

During his time in space, Love walked at least twice. This is footage of his last trip outside the space station. I believe this was the assignment he was originally planning to be a part of. However when Hans Schlegel became ill early on in the mission, Love was called upon to take part in actually installing the new laboratory, Columbus, to the international space station. He was then required to add another space walk to his agenda.


Finally, on Wednesday, the symphony of dreams reached its resolution as Atlantis landed, safely and beautifully once again on Earth. Both takeoff and landing looked picture perfect to me, and I hope that his trip was everything he dreamed it would be.

I am ignorant of so much of the science that happened on this mission. As an English teacher, I am far more into symbolism anyway. Once again, even though I know it is his triumph, I am honored to have been able to vicariously attach my own meaning to these moments, and I sincerely hope he does not mind that I have taken this time to share them with you.


I don't mean to brag, but I have another friend at NASA who was also instrumental in the STS-122 mission, and many others as well. His name is Glenn Pogue, and he is part of Mission Control, routinely launching astronauts into space and guiding them to their destinations. Thanks, Glenn. I know this little blurb doesn't do enough to appreciate the things you do for the space program, but I couldn't let the fact go unnoticed.

Monday, February 18, 2008

A Call to Action

Alright. I realize it is too late for me (and even my kids, probably) to put a stop to it. But I have a plea for all you parents of children 4 and under.


You have a chance to raise your sons and daughters to see a better world. You can do it. The world doesn't have to look like it does right now.

You see, I'm an alumnus of Northern Illinois University. I was shocked and moved and betrayed by the events that happened there this past Valentines Day. (I was also in shock when events played out at Virginia Tech last year.)

I was most disturbed by the fact that various places that I spent many beautiful, peaceful, and happy hours have now been touched by blood, and traversed by SWAT teams. A memorial to the dead now stands on a hill that my young sons and I spent an afternoon giggling and rolling down. All our hearts are tainted by the events that occurred last Thursday.

I teach high school in DeKalb County and many of my students graduate and attend classes on campus there. Many of my current students also find themselves on campus for various reasons. Some co-workers from my part-time job also are their pursuing their Bachelor's Degree. Worry ran high, but no one was lost or even in the lecture hall (Thank God). My colleagues and I are fortunate.

But it is time to look at the bigger picture. How can we make this stop? Eric Zorn of the Chicago Tribune asked his readers for some description of the problem. He got a lot of answers.

As I told you: It is too late for me and my generation. The children we have raised are the ones engulfed by violence in one form or another almost every second of the day. Our children have been raised by daycare in large groups and many lack a sound background in our own family values. There may not be much we can do for them. However, it is probably never too late to try to bring civility and the expression "This is what our family does . . ." into various conversations and situations.

The school where I teach has been in the process of forming a curriculum in Social and Emotional Learning (a less technical phrase would be a curriculum in how to know oneself and get along with others). For a good article on this go to the CASEL website and click on the article from O Magazine called "the New Improved Self Esteem." You will find it under the announcements section.

One reason we are implementing this curriculum is because it is mandated by the state. The other is because our students often don't have a clue how to deal with situations that involve uncomfortable feelings like when someone doesn't agree with you, or you don't see any way of achieving what you want quickly, or you just feel bad and don't seem to fit in. Fights increase as our school population becomes more diverse, not just ethnically but socio-economically as well. Cruel, threatening, words are spoken just to get attention or to make a particular student feel like they have an affect on the world. Our students come from homes where, if the same tactics have not been used by the parents and role models in the home, those tactics have not been corrected because the world is a "tough place" and people have to be tough along with it. You can't be "weak:" you need to win and never back down or lose face or embarrass yourself.

This needs to stop. Today.

A new world will not begin in a world with more guns or less guns. Nor will it begin in a world with more abortions or less abortions, more God or less God, more drugs or less drugs. It will begin in the nursery.

A New World will begin with:

The unabashed love of each parent for his or her child. This love will not tolerate an unkind act, not from the daycare bully or (most importantly) from their own child to another. It will begin with responsibility for actions. When the child is too young to know better and does something unkind to a playmate or embarrassing to a neighbor or friend that act will not be shrugged off or laughed at. That act will be met head on and corrected, apologized for, and restitution will be made to the wronged party. Parents will be examples of the Right Thing to do, meeting uncomfortable situations and feelings eye to eye, never wavering, being brave.

When a child has problems that make them hard to manage, or that might be embarrassing to acknowledge. Parents will love their children enough to meet that issue head on, get the child the help they need and never waste a moment on regret or shame. The only shame is in not doing what it takes to give a child the best possible chance of existing comfortably with in the bounds of this world.

The True Acceptance of Difference. I am in no way advocating conformity, but I am advocating the acceptance of difference. People are not alike. It is ok to stop pretending that we are. Even though all ways of being are valid. No one will be liked by everyone. Children should be taught how to dislike, disagree with, and be different from each other without needing the opponent to be less than they are. An opposing viewpoint does not negate your own. A good wish from a different culture is still a good wish. Teach children to live with love and acceptance and they will love and accept.

Guidance. Children need guidance, and that is what they have lacked from my generation. We want our kids to be happy and we run around trying to do what it takes to give them the things that will "make" them happy. The truth is, we cannot make anyone happy. No car, no game system, no amount of freedom will do it. Children grow happy when given guidance and the ability to be unhappy and learn that it will pass.

The Courage to Be Uncompfortable. If it sounds like I am advocating a world where every mother or father stays home with their child, I'm not. I'm advocating a world where sometimes a parent chooses the discomfort of their child's protests over the comfort of a quick fix. I'm advocating for a world where every parent advocates for a child's right to be themselves, but not at the expense of another child's rights. If your child likes to push others around, give them the guidance to know that is wrong. If your child is harassed let them know they did not cause it by their existence and show them how people work together to settle difference. Do not be upset if your child's behavior is criticized, look for the truth and help the child adapt to exist peacefully.

Zero Tolerance for Unkindness. Don't tolerate rudeness and active unkindness from each other or in your children. Some "jokes" just aren't funny. Don't let people belittle others then hide behind that excuse; don't do it to your kids.

Don't let Daycare and Elementary School be the places where kids go to learn to be mean and to learn to tolerate the tough treatment that the world has to offer. Teach them a better way, and as best you can, for their sakes, follow that better way yourself.

If we start now, with our children under five years of age, if we stand tough and brave, and filled with Love, we may be able to make scenes like the one at Northern an anomaly of history.

I am an undying optimist and I know that calls for Utopian solutions don't work. I guess I assume that we all want the same things, and I shouldn't. But we need to make a plan somehow.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

5 Ways to Maintain Until Your Next Yoga Class

Ack! I'm antsy.

Last Sunday I took the Bikram Yoga class. I enjoyed it as I told you before.

The next day I was not nearly as sore as I thought I would be, and I have been eagerly looking forward to going back to class. The plan was to make it back this evening. Not happening. I had my last late night at work, finally completed the project, but I couldn't just pack up and go to class.

Everyone says: "Its amazing the changes you will feel." I don't know what they mean exactly, except that I have been very pleasantly conscious of my body since then. I know when it needs to breathe, eat, sleep, and especially drink water. The only way I can describe it is that my mind has been very "full of" my body since Sunday. I am amazed at how anxious I am to get back. What really happened there?

The only problem is that my body is becoming very viscerally insistent that I have to go back to "that place" to the point that I will almost do anything and shirk any responsibility to get back there. Therefore, I have decided to give myself 5 ways to maintain until my next yoga class.

  1. Drink Water. Whenever I feel like I need to climb out of my skin in order to make my muscles let up on their chatter ("I'm stiff," "Are we there yet?" "Can't we just stretch a little bit?"), I drink some water and feel its chilly goodness spread through my body.
  2. Take a bath. A candlelit bath with aromatherapy oils, and soft soothing music has been getting me relaxed in the evenings. I even try to do a little meditation to get my mind off the day's stress.
  3. Work Hard. Do the things I need to so that when I actually do get a chance to go, I will not feel guilty about being there and not being wherever my work waits for me.
  4. Sleep Deeply. I have been trying my best to sleep well to aid my body in recovery from what it goes through in class.
  5. Check the class schedule. Maybe I missed a class that I could attend. No, I was right I would have to break the sound barrier in order to make it in time from my workplace.
So these tips probably aren't any more helpful to you than they are to me. But . . . Maybe, tomorrow, if I leave work early . . .

Or, maybe you can clue me in about how you maintain by posting a comment.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Whoo!! I Feel Like I Climbed a Mountain

First Bikram Yoga class today. Yay!

I actually made it through the whole thing. My goal was to pace myself and do at least one set of each posture. This turned out to be a good plan because halfway through I was asking myself if I would make it, but I was determined and actually did a fairly nice job. (Meaning: I made it through and never threw up.)(Not once.)

Bikram Yoga is a type of yoga that is performed in a room that is kept in the neighborhood of 105 degrees and 40 percent humidity. My instructor was apologetic that the room was only 94 degrees today, but there was a problem with the heating unit due to the severe cold we are undergoing in the Chicago area.

Frankly, I was happy. I'm not sure how I would have done if things were any hotter. I will find out on Tuesday night I guess. The other participants said that since we had such a large group the temperatures felt fairly similar.

I have to say, they take very good care of first timers there. I was given a very nice yoga mat to use, and after the session, they gave me a free coconut water to help hydrate me. (And I needed it.)

Mick was my instructor, and he even helped me surprise myself when he gave me a tip for a posture I was having difficulty with and the next thing I knew, I was in a position that I thought it would take me months to even begin to achieve. I'm not saying I was perfect at it, but I was in it.

I have an introductory incentive plan trying to get me back eight times in the next eight days. I think I will be able to do three or four times, but the cost savings will be enormous.

The thing I like about doing this is that I feel like I lived through an adventure. An "adventure" is something that enriched your life or gives you a tale to tell, something that you are very glad and thankful that you did. It may not have been comfortable to get through, but you would do it again in a heartbeat.

That's how I feel about this yoga class.

So listen . . . if you live in the Plainfield, IL area. I totally recommend going to Bikram Yoga Plainfield. Tell them Some Feisty Chick sent you.