Monday, February 26, 2007

English Language=A Big, Fat, Red F

In college, when studying to become a teacher, it was discussed that we should avoid using red pens and pencils when we finally had our own classrooms and papers to grade. I think the theory was that the color red would strike more fear in the hearts of our young students than they could take. I'm not sure why grading in bright purple or green makes such a difference to the fragile psyche of a student, after all, an error is an error...but, never-the-less, I took the conversation to heart, and I now grade in a multitude of colors....which leads to the title of this blog.

I've recently had several instances in which I've found the English language, as I know it at least, to be seriously lacking--in fact, I would give it a big, fat, red F. I've found that the language that I have grown up speaking and reading is incomplete. What adds to my dismay is the fact that I feel that I have a pretty good grasp of vocabulary, frequently having to "dumb down" my conversations with those around me... I don't feel that it is my lack of exposure to words that is creating the problem...I simply don't think there are enough words to express what needs to be said.

For instance, a friend of mine recently lost his grandfather. How does one express the sorrow, the sadness, which a compassionate friend feels, without reverting to the hollow and trite sounding statements of "I'm so sorry for your loss." I'm not saying that I don't feel the sorrow, or recognize the sadness the person must surely be feeling... In fact, I am sorry! But, how does a person put that feeling into words, without sounding like every other person who wants to offer comfort? There are no words, at least none that I know, that can encompass what needs to be said. SIDE NOTE: In saying that, I also realize that the fact that I'm even making an effort means something to the person I'm talking to, and that I shouldn't have to say anything other than an "I'm sorry..." but, what is my feeling sorry for them going to accomplish? How is my sorrow for the situation going to end up helping them process their grief? It won't!


This past week I had my annual physical exam with my primary care physician. After years and years of doctor visits for my migraines and no answers, I finally just stopped going, except for these yearly general checkups. During the course of the numerous doctor visits, I many times felt that there weren't enough words to describe pain. You have the general terms of "hurt", "ache", "shooting"...but nothing that could definitively describe what I was feeling. Instead, I learned a completely different language. I'm now familiar with all manner of explanations for what might be happening in my head (cluster migraines, rebound headaches, pseudo tumor cerebri, tumor, cancer—who the hell knows?). I have found though, that if I use the terms I now know, I'm not taken seriously. I'm instead looked upon as a patient that knows too much about their condition, and therefore can't be trusted, or even a “drug seeker” (although I always try to make it very clear that I’m not interested in being their lab rat for the latest drug therapy and that I'd rather not be on any drugs at all, thank you very much!). Can I ever win? Thankfully, my primary care physician is wonderful! She spent over an hour with me conducting the exam and then answering all of my questions. She has decided to refer me to another neurologist, and I’m dreading starting the cycle again. Endless rounds of questions, that all have the same answers, and will lead to the same conclusion—no one knows what is going on!

One would think that since we speak a language that is made up of other languages, that we would have enough words…Either we need to start stealing a few more words from others, or we need to start making some up! That would be FANTABULOUS! :)

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Silent Prayer=Active Life

God is the friend of silence.
See how nature--trees, flowers, grass--grow in silence?
The more we receive in silent prayer;
the more we can give in our active life.
--Mother Teresa
The past two days have been beautiful. The warmer temperatures, and bright sunlight have brought not only a thaw to the winter snow, but also a more cheerful disposition to those that are around me (and to be truthful, myself). The gloomy days that winter consists of really do drag my spirit down, and I need the refreshment that the rays of sunshine bring to my moods.
A friend of mine thoughtfully gave me a little book this last Wednesday--that day that all single people dread. :) I'm not complaining, really, but Valentine's day is a day when it is tough to be single. Anyway, my friend Christina left me a sweet card and gift, and it really brightened my day to know that I am really not "alone", as much as V-day really makes you feel as though you are. Christina is my exercise partner, and we get up every morning and exercise at 6:00. She is currently subbing at the school, and so she is familiar with my trials and tribulations concerning coworkers, kids, community happenings, my health, school, etc... Knowing all of that, she realizes how stressed I can be, and gave me a book entitled "101 ways to Relax and Reduce Stress". I've been skimming through it, but have decided to use it more as a devotional activity for myself. Many of the pages offer biblical quotes and authors, and after reading a few, it really made me miss the days of the paper and writing my editorials. I doubt that many people actually read the editorials that I wrote, but it was good for my soul to be able to read something in a book and then have an opportunity to reflect on it...much as I seem to do with this blog. Writing for the paper wasn't really (at least for me) to produce something for someone else to read, but instead, an exercise of putting my thoughts on paper and mulling over the things that I read, or the events of my life. I just happened to use a medium that other people had access to, much like I am doing now. Anyway...since I haven't given myself an opportunity for that type of writing lately, my blog posts may go the route of reflective writing, instead of standard journal entries... I'm sure it may depend on what has happened that day, and whether I feel that I can share it truthfully in this way, or whether I can even be that honest with myself, knowing that many people (who actually know me...scary thought!) check this! :)
In the past few days, since the weather has been nicer, I've spent more time outside. Specifically, I've spent a lot of time at the Marion County Lake. Julie and I walked around it the other day, and today we rode our bikes around it. Even though Julie and I talked throughout our walk and ride, there were moments of companionable silence. In those moments, there were times that I was: thinking about our conversations and what my next witty (ha!) reply would be; doing a mental checklist of things that needed to be done later; thinking about traffic and annoying yappy dogs; but also there was just silence. My thoughts were silent...I was silent...I didn't pay attention to the thoughts that were crowding in my head and vying for attention...instead I looked, I listened, I smelled the breeze, I mind was clear--still soaking in the beauty that surrounded me, but being silent and feeling that by being silent I was restoring myself, slowing myself down, being prayerful. Instead of petitioning God as I am so often guilty of, I was rejoicing in what was surrounding me and living in His beauty.
My life is active, I am active...with friends, family, work, school, church, RESPONSIBILITIES! In order to be active though, I need to spend the time, set aside the time, to be quiet, prayerful, to lead a "slower" restore my body and mind so that I can be useful to others.
As the days become longer and warmer, I look forward to being quiet and watching those new shoots of spring emerge from my lawn. Already I have several sprigs of new growth poking their tops out of the ground that just last week was frozen solid. Right now they are fragile looking, but I know that with time they will grow to be strong and beautiful. Steadfast silence now=true beauty later.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Where to begin?

Well, it's been awhile since I posted...when I look at the past weeks from a day to day perspective, it never seems like I have much to report. But then I start thinking of one thing, and then this post will just have to be a conglomeration of all sorts of ideas that are running through my head!

Some of you chat with me on messenger, and might have noticed that yesterday my handle had a short message: Bomb threat today. Yup, yesterday, in the small, but exciting town of Marion, we had a bomb threat. Thankfully it wasn't in our school building, but there was an incident at Marion Middle School. There was an item found in a locker, and so the whole school was evacuated, and school was halted for several hours while they waited on a bomb squad to declare the area safe again. While I realize that it wasn't in the building I work in, it did make me feel a bit unsettled. Many of us like to think that we live in safety in the small towns and areas that we work. When something like this happens though, one begins to question how safe you really are. Thankfully, all has ended well. I hope this eye-opening event will begin to make us think more closely on what is needed to keep our students and staff safe, and how we should prepare for "unlikely" events.

One of the secrets I've been keeping is now able to be publicly broadcast. I'm happy to announce that my good friend Becca is now engaged. Wedding will be sometime this summer, and I've been asked to be a bridesmaid. I'm very happy for both of them, and wish them well as they start planning for this exciting time!

My massage classes are going well. At first my A and P class was pretty frustrating (lack of teaching, more breaks than lectures, difficult subject in general-especially if the instructor isn't teaching it!), but it has been going better the past 2 weeks. We've had 3 quizzes so far, and my average between the 3 is a satisfying 93%...considering the fact that she didn't tell us we were having a quiz over one of the chapters, which means I didn't study that chapter, I'm pretty happy with my grade. Classes are every Thursday night, and they are 4 hours (plus an 1 hour-plus drive each way)...needless to say, it can be pretty hard to stay focused during it...the last 2 classes have been better because we've starting talking about pathology-what diseases and things we need to be aware of, and whether massage is contraindicated for them or not. Pretty interesting stuff--also a bit scary when you think of all the things you could be exposed to! My Therapeutic Massage class on Monday's is great! Right now we are concentrating on learning the back sequence, which is a large section of a full-body massage...we've actually started working on people, so if anyone is interested and wants to volunteer... I also need people throughout the week to practice on, so if Mondays don't work for you, I'm sure we could find an alternate time.

Mom and Dad are busy planning their short trip to see Heidi and Tim for Fasching. I'm very jealous, but I guess I get to go up earlier than they do this summer. I'm sure they'll have a great time, and I'm looking forward to seeing their pictures. Thinking about the fun they're sure to have has also reminded me of my nanny time in Germany and the fun Matthew, Norah and I had dressing up and going downtown for the festivities.

This week I finished up getting registered and getting hotel reservations made for the Oklahoma City Marathon at the end of April. Last year I did the 1/2 marathon, but this year I won't have enough time to train for that, so I opted for the 5K. It is such a great event, and it is wonderful to participate in it, no matter which part you are doing. The city always does such a nice job of turning out and supporting the race, plus they have a wonderful arts festival going on at the same time. This year I'm going down with my friend Christina, a substitute teacher here at the school who is also my early morning exercise buddy. There was a group of us last year who did it, but Christina and I are the only ones who will be going again this year. My mom and dad will also be joining us, and I think the Donleys, Whitney, and assorted other friends might also be attending. I'm sure we'll have a great time, especially after the race (complimentary massages, food, festivities....)!

That's enough for now...I'll have to wait awhile for some more "exciting" news to post! :)

Monday, February 05, 2007

More Secrets, and No Friends!

At the rate I'm going, I'm not going to have any friends left (secrets, secrets, don't make friends!)... This has been a pretty exciting day for me, on many issues...just got off the phone, and I'm in the middle of a BIG secret this time! :) Just can't leak anything, because I would hate to spoil the surprise!

My other excitement today was that I gave my first official massage! Yippee! It went really well, and I finally felt like I was learning something! Tonight was Swedish massage, for the back...a 20 min sequence... My tutor taught me each phase, and then let me practice on my "volunteer". (Let me know if you willing to drive to Marion to be a volunteer! I need bodies on Monday afternoons, but I also need to practice throughout the week, so let me know if you're available. I currently have my massage table set up in my dining room, as there isn't room in my "back" room because I'm babysitting a bed and dining room set for Heidi and Tim.)

After class I headed to yoga and then out to Julie and Quinn's for an evening in the hot tub. Quinn was teasing me about my "massage moves", and told me that he needed one in the worst way, never thinking that I would take him seriously. I called his bluff and made him lay down on the floor so that I could practice. Yeah, yeah, I had to twist his arm! By the end of it he had decided that this needed to be a weekly occurance.

Heidi and Tim are leaving tomorrow for Tenerife. I'm terribly jealous, although it doesn't sound as though they will have nice warm weather. I hope they end up having a good time, it's a beautiful place to visit, and great people! :) Drink lots of good red wine, and eat plenty of goat cheese and flaming meat!