Friday, January 27, 2017

Reading in Store

It's been awhile...I think that's my most common thought on the blog the past few months. Life has been plugging away. Before my own college classes began again, I had to prep for the senior classes I teach at the high school. They are part of a college in high school program. We will work from a college level syllabus I wrote and textbooks the local college requires and at the end of the semester, my students will have a college class credit to transfer wherever they may go when they graduate.

In other news, my own college classes are back in session. I have two literature classes - African-American Lit and The Anthropocene. I'm sure you're questioning that last one. Anthropocene is out current epoch. Scientists (and whoever else is in charge of this naming of time periods) haven't decided where the starting point of the Anthropocene is, but it "dates from when human activities started to have a significant global impact on Earth's geology and ecosystems." Anyway, we are reading a good stretch of books (mostly 20th century, which I like) and tracing the picture they paint (although some unwittingly) of Anthropocenic events. Something different and The Great Gatsby made the reading list, so you know I'm in!

In all, my work this semester consists of reading two books per week, adding up to approximately 30 books by May; thirteen short analysis papers; one five page book analysis; and two 20 page papers. We are heading into week three and after this weekend I should have three of my thirteen short papers done. Keeping on top of it is the key and my plan is to write my short papers now and save the end of the semester to sweat out the two larger papers.

I spent the entire last weekend at B&N, working 6-8 hours a day reading, note-taking, and writing. It truly worked so much better than trying to work at home. I'm so distracted by house and family things when I work from home, so I plan on spending the next 15 weekends at B&N as well. When all is said and done, B&N should start paying me for my advertising of their premises here and on social media! (Not to mention my dual meaning post title - something they can offer that Amazon can't!)

My outlook is much better this semester, which I credit to knowing what to expect. That makes SO much difference. Last semester really broke me in and God gave me some direction that completely helped calm me for all I have ahead. I'm excited and already enjoying it, although already facing the challenge of balancing life, work, and study with time constraints. Part of that balance includes things to add to the schedule. I've done a lot of taking things out, but there are important pieces missing too, like time to work out. I've mostly maintained my weight loss from this time last year, but last semester has started to challenge my gains. I'm more interested in endurance and toning/strengthening now, so I've fit a workout hour in three days a week based on times when I'm already out and about and can stop at the gym. I also saw a trainer for a customized plan, so my time and effort isn't wasted. Working smarter, not harder. Well, in this case working smarter and harder, lol. And maybe picking up with some fitness update posts again.

Hope all is well for you readers. I will hopefully remember to put some of my analysis papers here on the blog...kinda a throw back to book reviewing. Til next time...

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

I can be intense, I don't like to cook, I only clean when it starts crossing THEE line, I don't mind doing laundry, I hate the NFL (football itself is fine otherwise...if you're into killing brain cells), I have a love/hate relationship with exercise, I have a weakness for candy, pop, and sweet tea, I have always been a working mom and have never regretted it, I've never participated in PTO or a mom's group by choice, I enjoy my teaching career and have loved quite a few students as my own over the years, I am proud of my talents although they don't always feel useful in the grand scheme of things, I will read and write like there's no tomorrow, I love words and I want to use them to inspire and encourage people, I hold my close friends close as my family, I adore my fur babies, I've enjoyed my own kids more as teenagers than little kids (for the most part), I don't deserve my husband but I'm awfully happy I have him, I love Jesus, I know Jesus loves me.

That's me. I've spent far too much time regretting who I am and who I'm not. Feeling bad and feeling guilty for what I like and don't like, for what I can do and can't do, what I do and don't do, in comparison to common social roles or just other people in general. Even if it's just in my head, it's gone too far. It's a lie.

Because the only thing on that paragraph list that matters is the last one: Jesus loves me. And the last one validates all the others. The Bible tells me "...I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well" Psalm 139:14. Everything about me has been a part of me from the start. I can't remember ever liking cooking, even as a kid with my mom. My mom says I've sat "reading" books since I was old enough to hold a book open. I never once imagined myself as a stay-at-home mom, college and career have always been on my radar. Regardless of what anyone has to say about this list of me, I should stand assured because it's who I am...who I was made to be. And every part of me - made fearfully and wonderfully - will serve the purpose God has for me to glorify Him.

What a great word God has sunk into my head tonight (as I'm writing Sunday at 2am), but it doesn't end there because I'm not in this on my own. My husband is laid back, he doesn't mind cooking, he cleans and actually does it right (I take short cuts), he loves the NFL and played football, he drinks coffee, he has useful computer skills, he does not read or write and doesn't have a way with words, we are agreed on our friends and family, he loves Jesus, Jesus loves him.

Do you see what I see? Two people who are opposites, put together as compliments of each other. Our personalities and abilities fit together like the pieces of a puzzle, one filling in the other's gaps. Where one is weak, the other is strong, and vice versa. Team Gleghorn - cause everything we do needs to be done as a team. My realization that I should accept who I am came hand-in-hand with the revelation that I don't truly view my work as a team effort with my family. Dare I say sometimes I forget I'm teamed up with God?! Yet, everything I do my family (and God) are a part of, whether they or I like it or not. For example, right now, my enrollment in grad school affects my whole family's schedules. Especially Brandon, who has to do the running around of kids and errands that I don't have the time for. The kids picked up certain household responsibilities and more independent time. All of which limits their time for other things. And the tables have been turned in other seasons of our lives. This team compliments me and I them, so that we can each be who we are.

2017 brings with it so many good things - I can just feel it. Possibly the biggest for me though is learning - really knowing - that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. That God knows me and wants me to know Him, if I would only seek.

To paraphrase author Ann Voskamp: I am hard after Him.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

2017 Reading Goal

Waiting on two still, but this is it for
African-American Lit and
U.S. Lit - the Anthropocene
According to my Goodreads count, I read 28 of my 60 book goal for 2016. Wow. I can't remember the last time my year's reading record sucked as badly as 2016 did. (Actually, I can, cause I've kept track since 1997. It was 16 books in 2001.) Last year proved to be a busy year, divided into three time consuming parts, that left so little time for reading. January through May I was finishing off my first school year teaching AP Literature, which gave me the chance to read what I was teaching, but took much more time in preparation and grading. The summer was spent renovating our house and we didn't even go on vacation, let alone read much. And come August my PhD program started. I did a ton of reading for my two classes, but not in a trackable way. Bits of poetry and short stories here and there for British Lit and dozens of articles and academic book chapters for Methods.

That won't stop me from setting a reading goal for 2017 though! Even if I'm not reading a lot, one thing is sure, I am always in the middle of a book. You will never ask me, "What are you reading at the moment?" and hear "Nothing right now." The to be read list is a mile long and I own dozens of them, plus access to various library systems.

I'm setting a goal this year for two other reasons. My PhD reading this semester is solidly literature and my books are almost all novels! Everything I read will apply to my goal for 2017. Also, I'm hoping with that intensive reading schedule at hand and a goal to meet, I will gain back my focus. I find I am so easily distracted lately by technology, people, Netflix (I adore binge watching), staring at my new library shelves, you know, the usual. I'll be finishing off my current binge watch this week (the 100) and weaning myself from FB in preparation for the glorious reading to come...or at least I hope it's glorious, there's quite a few first time reads for me on the syllabi.

Here's to a new reading season!

Yes, it's so traumatizing, there are comics
just for PhD students. Ha!