Wednesday, December 30, 2009

No Resolutions for the New Year?

Well here we are again.  It's that point where we look back at the previous year while at the same time determining to make some changes in the New Year.  And as this year ends we are also looking back over another decade.  Or if you are one of those people who likes to point out that the new decade doesn't technically start until 2011, then you won't be looking back over the past decade quite yet.  But for the rest of us, come January 1, we'll be looking forward to the beginning of a new year and a new decade.

So what's the plan....?

I tend to be someone who is always assessing, considering, reviewing, planning.  Be it January 31, July 31 or December 31, I am always thinking about where I've been and where I'm going.  I've never been one to make "New Year's Resolutions", and I don't intend to start now.  Instead I will simply continue on this journey that I have been on for 43 years.  With each passing day I accumulate more data, live more experiences, acquire more knowledge, observe more circumstances, gain more insights.  And each day as I do so, it shapes me more and more a little at a time. 

It may be that there are times when it appears that abrupt changes occur.  But in reality, those are extremely rare.  The truth is that a lot of experiences (perhaps unseen by the casual observer) have combined with a lot of thought, feeling and processing of information.  And when I get to a point where I think I sufficiently understand the situation, I make a move.  It could be on June 30 as easily as on December 31.  But it is almost always the result of a lot of forethought.  So while the casual observer may see only the change, the very few people who know me well would know that there is a lot more to the story.  (And then there's my abundance of stupidity and mistakes.  But I'd prefer to not go there for now!)

Change is a process.  It requires a combination of many factors.  And it generally tends to go hand in hand with time.

Goals are good to have.  But it is a good idea to assess them often.  Are they wise?  Do they realistically line up with where your life currently is?  What will you have to sacrifice in order to achieve them?  Is it worth it?  Will they benefit your family?  Will they help your marriage relationship?  Do you have a Plan B?

And then, as we all know, there is something called Life.  And Life can have a mind of its own.  It doesn't always play by your rules.  It doesn't always stick with the plan.  Sometimes it shows up with unexpected bonuses.  More likely it throws you a curve ball.  And you're back to the drawing board.  Life doesn't care if it's May 31, October 31 or December 31.  Life happens.

So on December 31, 2010, it is unlikely that you will find me significantly thinner, noticeably richer or my myriad house projects somehow miraculously completed.  But I do have a plan.  I will continue to keep up with my walking, bike riding, hiking, swimming and snowshoeing (if we ever get a decent snow storm without rain mixed in).  It is my husband's intention to continue to get up every morning and go to work as long as he has a job.  And I will continue to work part time in education and part time in corporate.  Therefore, my bills will continue to be paid, one month at a time, and my mortgage will be ever so slightly smaller next year at this time.  We will likely have completed one or two of the things on our house projects list.  I desire and pray that my marriage relationship will continue to grow deeper and that my relationship with my children will continue to grow stronger.

So do I have a plan?  Yes, I guess I do.  In the year 2010, with the help, strength, grace and mercy of God, I intend to stay the course.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

An All-Purpose Holiday Greeting and New Year Blessing

The following blog is not my own writing, although I wish I could say that I did write it since I find it a fantastic piece of writing.  Several years ago we received this greeting from Dan Whiting, a friend of my husband's.  (I do not know if he is the original author or not.  So if you are reading this and you recognize it as your work, or you do know who the author is, please let me know!)  My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed it, and every year since then I have been sending it out via email to all our friends.  But this year I decided to post it on my blog.  In the next few days I do want to write a bit more serious post as we reflect back on 2009 and look forward to 2010.  But for now, enjoy the following in the humorous and light-hearted spirit in which it is given.

***************************************************************************

Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, my wish for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, politically correct, non-addictive, low stress, gender-neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, as well as the secular practices of your choice, but with full respect for the religious/secular persuasions and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all.

And further, please accept my wish for a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling, and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2010, but not without due respect for the calendar of choice of other cultures whose contribution to our diverse society has helped make this country great (not to imply that USA is necessarily greater than any other country, and without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith, veteran status or sexual orientation of the wisher, wishee or their third party beneficiaries).

These wishes are limited to the customary and usual good tidings for a period of approximately one year, or until the issuance of a subsequent holiday greeting, whichever comes first.

Note: By accepting this greeting, you are accepting these terms. This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal, and is revocable ab initio at the sole discretion of the wisher at any time, for any reason or for no reason.

This greeting is freely transferable provided that there is no alteration to the original greeting text. Any transfer is to be at the risk of the transferor who, by making such transfer, thereby agrees to hold the wishee harmless from any and all adverse consequences resulting from such transfer.

This greeting implies no promise by the wisher to actually take any action or fail to take any action to implement any of the wishes for the wishee her/himself or others, or responsibility for the consequences which may arise from the implementation or non-implementation of same.

This greeting is void where prohibited by law.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Broken Pipes (and other realities of life)

Written by Carolyn
December 22, 2009
True story. Really.  This is how we spent last evening:


Twas the week before Christmas and all through the house
I was rushing to clean up, with help from my spouse.
The laundry was piled from ceiling to floor
And piles of dirt were in front of the door.
The vacuum should really be run all around,
And other house cleaning tasks did abound.
But really for us this was all nothing new;
We're a five person family, there's plenty to do.
So in jeans and a sweat shirt, my hair all a mess,
I plowed on through the cleaning, doing my best.
I had just finished dishes, the stove was all clean,
I was ready to sit down with some hot herbal tea.

I pulled out the drain plug, breathed a sigh of relief,
When suddenly I saw water surrounding my feet!
I suddenly realized that waterfall sound
Was from under my cabinet! In dismay I looked down.
What I saw was a scene that caused me great stress,
Water was flowing out of my cabinet!

I screeched and I hollered, like that would have helped,
"There's water all over the floor", I did yell.
I grabbed at some towels by the washing machine,
(Good thing that not all of the laundry was clean!),
I reached for the cabinet and opened the door,
The mess underneath there was worse than my floor!
And there to my wondering sight did appear
A pipe burst in two, each half hanging in air.
The sight was so shocking, I could only just stare
At those pieces of pipe hanging there in mid-air.
"How on earth did this happen?" I asked in dismay.
"I really hate plumbing", was all my spouse could say.

Meanwhile the water, knowing no bounds,
Flowed on 'cross the floor without making a sound.
Underneath the fridge and then along the wall,
Finally coming to rest at a spot down the hall.
I was thankful for tile! And I said with a shrug,
"This would be even worse if the floors all had rugs!"
So mopping with towels, I went straight to my task,
While my husband crawled under the sink on his back.

While he worked his magic with PVC pipes,
I found some more towels and continued to wipe.
Don't ask me what he did, I don't know plumbing tricks,
But not too much later, the problem was fixed.
I gathered up towels, breathed a sigh of relief,
And tossed all the towels in the washing machine.

But there is more to the story, let's not forget
That under the fridge had to be cleaned up yet!
So began the discovery of things long forgotten,
Pencils and earrings and food slightly rotten.
Oh, it's amazing the things you might find
When you roll out your fridge and look in behind!
Suffice it to say that we did not find treasure,
And cleaning under fridges does not give me pleasure.
But the good news is that behind my fridge is clean
And under my sink is as neat as a pin.

So for those who are single, young and naive,
Here is some insight to you I can give:
If you're ever married and you own a house,
These are likely the things you will do with your spouse.
Forget about having sex 24/7,
There's a thing called reality, and it ain't heaven.
It interrupts evenings you may have planned,
It throws you curve balls, and it makes demands.
It comes in all forms and wears many faces.
It manages to show up in all kinds of places.
It's broken pipes one day, money troubles the next.
It might be sick kids or dealing with death,
Loss of a job, or a car that breaks down
Leaving you stranded in some unknown town.
These are the things that as husband and wife
You live out together as you journey through life.
(So there you all have it, my spiel for today
About life's adventures you live on the way.)

By the time it was midnight, I was ready for bed
As I pulled on my nightgown and laid down my head.
"Likely tomorrow will be more of the same",
I thought as I drifted off into dreams.
And I peacefully drifted off to sleep for the night,
As my spouse whispered "I love you" as he held me tight.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Conversations Over Coffee and other things...

About once a month or so I get together with one of my friends for some uninterrupted conversation time.  She lives about an hour and a half away, so we pick a place somewhere in the middle (usually Panera) and we meet for lunch.  We get ourselves some coffee and lunch and sit down to eat together.  We talk for a while, have a mid afternoon snack, grab another cup of coffee and talk some more.  Before we know it, lunch time has turned into supper time, so we have another sandwich or bowl of soup.  And then, of course, we talk some more.  A couple of hours later we have dessert and then, of course, a little more conversation.  We've been known to have no problem spending eight or nine hours talking together.  One Saturday we even got a couple of free brownies to take home with us since it was closing time and we were still sitting there talking as the staff was shutting down for the night.

This relationship has an interesting story.  I first met this friend when I was ten.  I was the new kid at a new school in the middle of the year in fifth grade, and she herself had not been there too long either.  For some reason we hit it off right away.  Through the next several years of jr high and high school we remained good friends.  We spent a lot of time together, shared a lot of conversations, had a good number of disagreements, laughed together, cried together and grew up together.  After high school I went off to college, she got married, and we lost touch.  We didn't have email, facebook, skype, texting...  Twenty five years ago when you lost touch with someone, you really lost touch.

For over twenty years we had no contact with each other.  My life took me to Pennsylvania, back to various New England States, a few years in the Boston area, out to Grand Rapids, Michigan and then finally back to New England.  Along the way I managed to accumulate three college degrees, one husband, three children one dog and two cats.  During those years I had no idea where this friend of mine was, what she was doing, or where life was taking her.  Then, not quite a year ago, I found her name when I was doing an internet search - interestingly enough, for a different person.  I sent an email, and I heard back from her immediately.  We made plans to meet for lunch, which turned out to be a six or seven hour event, and a friendship was reborn.  And so now we meet once a month just to spend time together.

It is fascinating how you just mesh so well with some people.  We were immediately comfortable with one another as soon as we saw each other again.  Time had in no way erased the way we were able to communicate and relate to each other.  The depth and sincerity that I had remembered was still there, perhaps even deeper than ever.

I really believe that this renewed friendship is a gift from God.  I am so thankful that this person is once again part of my life.  I have had freedom in my spirit to talk with her about things that I would not mention to anyone else, some of which I have chosen to not talk about for years, and I know that she understands.  I have been able to run things by her and hear a different perspective.  I have been able to express anger or sorrow over some things, and I have not been judged.  We do not always agree.  And often we approach things from very different angles.  Many pieces of her life are in a very different place from mine, and yet we relate well to one another.  I know that when I am talking she is really listening and processing what I am saying.  We each really listen to the other.  When we laugh together it is sincere.  It is really quite amazing and extraordinarily rare.

In a world of tweets and texts, I am thankful to have a friend that knows what conversation is.  In a world of "friending" and "unfriending" on facebook, I am thankful to have a relationship with someone who knew the definition of the word "friend" before there was such a thing as "unfriend".  In a "throw away" world, that tosses out everything from old clothes to people you no longer have a use for since they can not or do not further your own personal goals, I am thankful to know someone who values relationships for relationship sake.  This truly has been one of this year's greatest blessings.

Monday, December 7, 2009

If You're Going My Way...

Technology and... Jim Croce???

For some reason, this afternoon I found myself humming the tune of that Jim Croce song, "I Got A Name".  (Here is a link to a fantastic video of the song being performed.)  One of the lines from that song that has always struck me is "If you're going my way, I'll go with you". 

Don't exactly know why, but today I started thinking about technology every time I hummed "If you're going my way, I'll go with you".  Perhaps it is because we now live in a technology driven world.  Perhaps it is because in recent months I've been made aware of so many of the opportunities to incorporate technology into the education arena.  And whenever I think about the way the world is going and therefore, by default, the way I'm going, I think of technology.

In recent months I've also become acutely aware of the fact that the reality of technology, and the extensiveness and usefulness of its presence is not always welcome.  Nevertheless, it's the way I'm going.  So "If you're going my way, I'll go with you".

Upon occasion, in recent months, I've also found that I'm "singing" my technology "song" to deaf ears.  But that's ok...

"I've got a song, I've got a song
And I carry it with me and I sing it loud
If it gets me nowhere, I'll go there proud..."

I don't want to remain stagnant.  I want to take the good from the past and move forward into the future.  I want to learn more. I want to be in an environment where technology is valued.  I want to be somewhere where people are sharing what they know and are being encouraged to do so.  I want to continue moving forward.

"Like the fool I am and I'll always be
I've got a dream, I've got a dream
They can change their minds but they can't change me
I've got a dream, I've got a dream
Oh, I know I could share it if you want me to
If you're going my way, I'll go with you... "

So it appears that this dream is going to be "Movin' me down the highway, Rollin' me down the highway".  Where that will be, I'm not certain.  But hopefully it will be somewhere where I'm "Movin' ahead so life won't pass me by".

Thursday, December 3, 2009

How Did

You

Celebrate World AIDS Day?

Yesterday, in one of my math classes, one of my students asked me, "so, how did you celebrate World AIDS day?" (It was one of those moments where we get a little off topic and everyone's brain takes a break from math.)  I'm not sure what kind of answer he was looking for, but I'm guessing the one I gave wasn't what he had expected to hear.

"I stayed home in my own bed where I belong and had sex with my own husband, who is the person I should be sleeping with", I answered.

I noticed I suddenly had the undivided attention of the entire class.

I continued, "Furthermore it's the way I've been celebrating World AIDS Day for the past 15 years."

You could have heard a pin drop.

Taking advantage of the situation I continued. "It may not seem like much", I said, "but think of all the worries I don't have.  I don't have to worry about all the STDs that might be being passed from genital to genital to oral to genital to anal to genital to oral to anal to genital to oral to genital and back to oral again".

Eyes were quite wide by this time, I can assure you.

"Furthermore", I said, "some of you are passing things that way frequently, perhaps even in the same evening or weekend."

They seemed shocked that I had a clue about the variety of sexual activities that people engage in.  HELLO???!!!

"Imagine never having to worry about a STD, ever", I said.  "Don't you think that's a cause for celebration?"

Since no one had recovered enough to answer my question, I answered it myself.

"Well I do" I said, "so I had lots of good sex with the person I should be having it with and no one else".

One of my male students recovered enough to say, "Well just use a condom."

"Seriously", I said, "not to insult you or anything, but do the math.  The surface area of your penis is extremely small compared to the surface area of the rest of your body that you use during sex."  Having secured his, and everyone else's attention, I continued.  "How about your tongue?" I asked, "or how about your scrotum?  Do you keep all that covered too?"

Furious blushing, but no answer.

"Hmmmmm...." I said.

One of my students finally recovered enough to say, "Well at least we all know you're sexually active".

"Most definitely", I answered.