Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Is cleanliness next to Godliness?

The pile of dirty laundry, in the room that will eventually be the office, looked daunting. Having avoided it long enough the options of clean items and such had dwindled down to one towel, very few articles of clothing and, well, the bed sheets needed to be changed. Still living in and out of boxes with about 60% left out on the back patio, which is down from a few days ago, maybe not by much but it is progress.

Separating it into appropriate piles has always been the first order of business when tackling laundry. Taking longer than expected, in the end, hills of laundry surrounded the room. Not piles; hills. 12 loads needed to be washed, dried and folded. One washer and dryer in the house was going to take hours to complete. Then the bright light went "ding" and the idea of taking all of it to a laundromat came up.

Having not been in a laundromat for years, what was to be expected? It was much cleaner than imagined. Less occupied than thought to be. More expensive than recalled. Faster than thought. So fast, the first four loads seemed to be completed through the wash cycle before the last pile was put into the washer. Drying came next and one can only wish to have those supersized dryers at home; a time saver, for sure.

Being in a laundromat was a reminder of youth. Times in the winter when the family lugged the bags and baskets of laundry to the laundromat because line-drying would be impossible; too cold to dry outside. Folding warm, Downey-fresh clothes and linen; a reminder of how much cleanliness defines. Cleanliness is next to Godliness, or so they say. If that's true, would one be disconnected from God with 12 piles of dirty laundry?

Thoughts of sleeping on clean sheets, warm and clean-smelling, brings a smile. Imagining the doggies rolling around in the clean beds and blankets. Thinking of the clothes that will be available to wear, now that the weather is turning chilly. All reasons that make this all worth it.

12 hills of laundry, finally clean. Breathing a sigh of relief and turning attention to more unpacking.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Haiku of the day...My work

Nearly halt my breath;
Reading and grading to do;
So many papers.

What did I ever do without a dishwasher?

I remember life well without a dishwasher. My mom started me young on learning the basic human principles of keeping a tidy house. Rather, she forced it on me. Mainly because I hated the duties, any and all, associated with keeping a tidy house. Especially since it seemed I never seemed to clean and tidy at the level of expectation that my mom had. I seemed to always leave steaks on the mirrors, would miss a patch of floor while sweeping and definitely didn't lift every ceramic niknak, positioned just-so, on the endless flat surfaces to dust under them. I grew up for the first 24 years of my life living in a home without a dishwasher.

It is for this reason, and only reason that I can surmise, that I have an affinity for washing hand. Yes. I'll admit, even when I have a dishwasher I seem to bypass the electrical powered wash box for the soap and suds in a sink full of warm water. I seem to prefer to get my hands wet and scrub the grease off the dishes, pots and pans, with the help of Palmolive or any other new dish soap that promises to keep my hands soft and smooth while I do the dishes (see previous entry regarding my affinity for new shampoos...this is a similar obsession).

Anyhow, it was just earlier this week that I noticed our new home doesn't have a dishwasher. While unpacking more kitchen items (I'm quite prepared for almost any dish I love to whip up...yet, I can still think of additional cooking utensils and pans that I could use), it dawned on me that the kitchen was without the electric wash box. As I thought about it further I realized that a dishwasher was not even on our list of "must have" items (such as an air conditioner) when we started looking for a new place to inhabit. For a moment I thought it odd that I didn't put that on our list. The more I thought about it I realized how unimportant having a dishwasher was to me. Even during the times I've had one, it was probably used only about 25% of the time.

Then in my usual fashion of pondering things further, I imagined all the things I actually get done in my head while I'm washing dishes. I plan out my day, think about my life, question my purpose, mentally prepare a grocery store shopping list...the list goes on. As a matter of fact, usually when I'm dealing with something stressful, cooking and washing dishes seem to be very therapeutic for me. There's nothing like chopping veggies or scrubbing pots and pans when I need to let out a little stress.

So what do I do without a dishwasher? Well, I talk to myself quite a bit and have pretty deep conversations with God. I ponder things in my life, evaluate decisions I've made, contemplate decisions I need to make, marinate on things that need my attention, question my motives, values and ethics, try to make sense of my mistakes, and well, if Palmolive isn't lying in the marketing of their product, my hands are getting moisturized at the same time.

Who needs a dishwasher? Not me!!!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Sunday Morning Haiku

Doggies surround me.
Sun shining through the windows.
Living room, sitting.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Paradise Cafe, Borders and my bed...what do they have in common?

On a Friday afternoon when most people are leaving their office for the lunch break, I sit in Paradise Cafe with my hubby, my MacBook and my iPhone, of course. These days my mind races a thousand miles a minute and as much as I want to slow down it feels impossible. It seems lately I have a never-ending pile of papers to grade (suddenly, teaching has become my full-time job again), two articles that I've started in hopes to get published, a survey that I've put together and need to get out to peers, oh yea,...and a dissertation to get started on. So much to do, so little time.

I don't know about most people but I self-analyze quite a bit and find that as much as I try to understand myself, it's through knowing and understanding others that I understand myself. The good, bad and ugly. For example, just a while ago I walked over to Borders to buy a new notebook for my daily 'to do' list. First, the whole point of getting a new one is that the current one I have is filled mostly with work from my last job. The last page, a list of things that were unfinished. Written down thinking I could follow-up and proceed to do my job and when that job was pulled out from under me, the list just sat there. Not looked at again until weeks later. What is funny is that the responsible employee in me made me automatically, mentally transform into the Director of Faculty Services again, and suddenly I was concerned that I had not gotten back to the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts. I kicked myself momentarily because I really like that Dean (actually, I liked all the Deans...they were great to work with) and I tried my best never to drop the ball on something that I said I would do or research. Then it hit me...there's not need to follow-up, that's not your job anymore. I'm not actually sad that it isn't my job any longer, I'm just sad that I didn't follow-up on what I said I would. The one thing that I've learned over the years is that I'm not defined by the job I have, the money I make or the things I have...which is why I'm still content with life regardless of where I'm at.

Anyway, while in Borders paying for my notebook, there was a young man behind the counter ringing me up being very nice to me. He made small talk with me as we waited for the computer to process my purchase. He asked me if I worked around the area, I told him no and that I was working in the cafe next door grading papers for my online groups. He then asked if I was a teacher, I said yes. He then proceeded to say that he wishes he had gone to college. And like a script in a good movie, that was my cue...

Of course, the educator in me jumped out and suddenly I was sharing with him that most of my students are adults and that it was never too late to go to college. I was ready to call one of my enrollment counselor friends at the variety of colleges and universities I am affiliated with and get him talking to someone. But I was stopped in my tracks as he shrugged and said, "Life is too hard at times. I wish I had done something sooner, now, I can't even see the light at the end of the tunnel." I wasn't sure where to go from there but of course, I did. I went back to talking about how it's never to late to go to school and how the tunnel can be deceiving to us at times. I could have gone on and on....but he was done ringing me up and the next person in line was waiting. Sigh. I just hope what I said will stick with him. This experience made me grateful for the path I've gone down. Whether chosen myself, or for me, there always seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel. Or maybe I've just been blessed with the opportunity to see the light and seek it out. Either way, I have rarely ever thought things to be hopeless.

This morning I woke up with my hubby laying next to me and our four little dogs snuggled around me in their respective places. There are rules, you know, in the animal kingdom. Our pack leader, Mamita, is a loner and hates for anyone to be touching her while she's sleeping, except for me. Of course, that doesn't stop her from snapping at my toes whenever I shift around and she gets startled. Widdle is happy curled up in a ball sleeping on my left next to Piggy, who sleeps in the same area. They seem to migrate towards each other a's rather cute. Lumpy, on the other hand is our goofball dog. He refuses to sleep next to anyone but me. He moves from sleeping between my calves or up on my pillow above my head. He seems to make this decision based on how I've moved in my sleep and whether or not my move has put him in the position of being touched by one of the other dogs. Sleeping with us is a luxury these days, as we've trained them to sleep on their own beds, and this last night was one of those luxury days. So anyway, my original point was that upon waking up this morning one of the first things out of my hubby's mouth was "I love you with all my heart and I know no one will love you the way I do". I looked at him and with my messy hair, naked face and morning breath, all I could do was tear up in gratitude to God for all I've been blessed with. Especially love. 

Finally, you may be wondering what the three things listed in the title of this post have in common. And to answer that...nothing. They all just happened to be a part of my day. :)

Monday, October 5, 2009

Contribute your thoughts and opinions...

I'm doing research for an article I'm writing about higher ed for a higher ed journal. If you would like to be a part of my article from an interview perspective, I would love to send you a short questionnaire. The questions will be open-ended, essay-style and will focus on perspectives of the changes we've seen in higher ed in the past 10 years to a future focus on what educators must do to be prepared for the changing student population entering the world of nontraditional education in the next 10 years.

Since so many of you are or have been tied to higher ed for years, it would be great to get your perspective. Shoot me an email at or send me a message via FB and we'll discuss further if you're interested.

Hope to hear from you!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Fitting in isn't always possible...

Once upon a time, many, many years ago, I woke up to with butterflies in my stomach. I probably slept very little the night before, as happened most important nights before a big day. Excitement for the first day; going to get books. The summer had flown by and this day arrived sooner than expected. Nervous, scared, hesitant, shy. I wasn't alone, though; friends nearby. Those known from many years before. Some recall the pig-tails and MaryJane shoes. 

A new chapter in life was about to be written. Had no clue what would happen; no clue what the conclusion might be. The introduction was just beginning. A list of scheduled classes on the registration form was clutched by my clammy hand. Glancing at others with piles of books that, for some, would tower over their heads as they carried them.

Each of us assigned a locker. Each of us with different courses. Some of us with different lunch hours. Suddenly, we're small fish in a big pond; so many new faces. Though a core group of friends existed, as the year moved on, some friends became distant, some no longer friends but simply acquaintances, some of them disappeared never to return. Each hour a different class with different people. People who are products of parents and families from all walks of life. Coming from a youth portrayed similarly to those in one of many John Hugh's movies. Different 'groups' of people; jocks, nerds, cheerleaders, stoners, etc., were already known labels. How easily some people fell into those groups. And how interesting it is for those who don't. Those who can't.

A little fish in a big pond, on the outside looking in. Society's categorizations flying above head not always falling on the shoulders of some. Fitting in isn't always possible. Fitting in isn't always desirable. Coming into who one is can be unique, yet, confusing. The first year flew by.

Another year of classes to take. Photography, French, I.B. Algebra; never thought to be possible. A whole new world of knowledge opening up my young mind. Weekends at the library in search of books to read; in search of new lives and worlds made possible through the written word. Journals, periodicals, micro-fiche film, encyclopedia's, autobiographies...a new lexicon introduced to this soul. A world of possibilities.

Yet, amongst all the positive, conflict brews. Tortured minds, hearts and emotions; social, economic and racial differences evident. History stories of the segregated years resonate with personal experiences. Some just don't fit in. Mid-year I'm involved in a physical altercation amongst two groups of girls. All from the same side of the track; why were we fighting each other? Jealousy brews even amongst those thought to belong together. Friendships of the past begin to weaken. 'They' say the older you get the wiser you are; thought to be true in the mind of this sixteen-year old.

Summers spent differently than most when younger. Mom, just fifteen years older, struggled to hold jobs but always survived; always provided. She was the mom and sometimes the dad. She was the hand that ruled. For a few years she would clean others homes to make ends meet; struggling more than needed due to choices made. Yet, she always provided and always survived. Amazing woman, defeated by a lack of education. It didn't have to be this way but it was. "You're so smart; you read and write so well; don't take your brain for granted"...her words always.

Another year, closer to the end. Friends of the past, gone mostly; I'm usually alone. I mind it but I don't. Acquaintances met in classes; some friendships established. In this head, graduation couldn't be close enough. Already planning for the future; looking beyond the gates of this educational institution. A few memorable things; first car, first job. Sweet sixteen come and gone. Already planning for the future; always a mature soul.

A summer of studying; one more year to go. Surviving the heat and not knowing what's to come. Looking back, college wasn't planned. I wasn't told the importance of a G.P.A. and what in the world is an S.A.T.? Why was there a lack of information? Why didn't the counselor advise? Fate would intervene - the divine plan laid out for me.

Final year only half a day of classes required. The afternoons free left room for me to be a member of the COE program. Classes in the morning; office employment in the afternoon. I'll never forget you, Mr. Sheets...your guidance and the interview you sent me on changed the path of my life forever. A private, for-profit university looking for a part-time employee. Ms. C.J. Black interviewed; hired me on the spot. Graduation still couldn't come soon enough.

Homecoming, prom - foreign to me. How easy some people fell into the groups. How interesting it is for those who don't; those who can't. Four years of a blur; much learned and much growth. Graduation didn't come fast enough.

Nearly 20 years since. Can't believe how fast time has gone. I know many who loved their high school years; I don't recall liking mine at all. No offense to those who did, but for me, fitting in wasn't possible. Too busy planning for the future; always this mature soul.