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. :)

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