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Have you been “tidying up?”

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Dear friends,

Jennifer Le Zotte’s article “Why Marie Kondo’s Netflix Show Won’t Actually Change Us” raises important points about cultural differences and living space, and also, about the differences between a book and its visual interpretation through a medium like television.

Le Zotte explains the history of conspicuous consumption in America, and makes a compelling case of how acquisitiveness came to be deeply embedded in our culture.  “Decluttering” doesn’t lead to a downsized life – we simply replace the discarded items with things we consider “better.”

She also examines how Kondo’s book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” (the 2014 best-seller that inspired the Netflix show) presents a deeper, more expanded view of the benefits of decluttering than can be portrayed in a short television program.  The Netflix show focuses more on the people Kondo is helping than the method itself, and the cultural differences between Kondo and her American clients are played for humor.

The article is thought-provoking, and if you have any interest in these topics, I recommend it.  Click on the photo below to read it:

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Blessings,

Annette

Book reviews/recap – Nonfiction November!

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Hello lovely friends,

Here’s a review/recap of some books I read in November, including:

Becoming by Michelle Obama

Quiet by Susan Cain

The Events of October by Gail Griffin

Educated by Tara Westover

Hope you enjoy the video! (Winnie makes an appearance too).  Please subscribe to my Youtube channel and follow me over on Goodreads if you are the bookish sort.

Blessings,

Annette

 

Thankful

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Dear friends,

This is the week when we focus on being thankful.  Being thankful isn’t just about feasting, football, and Black Friday sales, and I want to be mindful of that.

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This is a good time to reflect on our blessings, and to cultivate a peaceful mindset about the days ahead.  The “holidays” can bring stress in so many forms: family squabbles, overeating, fighting the crowds at the shopping mall or post office, worrying about travels, overspending, trying to figure out the perfect gift for each person on the list.  It’s exhausting, it’s depleting, and in between the moments of joy we find that we don’t feel so great after all.  We look forward to the new year so this will all be behind us.

Surely that’s not what our spirit really longs for, or what God wants for us.

This week, let’s all take a moment to reflect on all of this.  What am I grateful for?  How will I express that gratitude?  How will I cultivate a calm mind and spirit in the days ahead?  When I lose my focus, what can I do to remember what’s really important about this time of year?  And most importantly, how can I find peace for myself and bring it to others?

Wishing you comfort and joy,

Annette

Thoughts and prayers

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Dear friends,

I’m aware that a lot of people scoff at the idea of sending “thoughts and prayers” when others are in need – but I’m not one of them.  I pray all the time.  I don’t believe prayer persuades God to do this or that, but rather, that prayer forces me to quiet my spirit, to listen, and to draw close to the Creator and to my fellow humans.  It opens me up to allow God to work in me, and through me.

If you, too, are a pray-er, I invite you to welcome the following people into your heart today:

The family of B, an elderly woman who is transitioning into nursing home care.  This is a very stressful time for her children and loved ones;

The family of S, who have been stunned both emotionally and financially when a loved one was recently jailed.

Please keep them in your heart today.

Blessings,

Annette

 

Make it your own

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Dear friends,

One of the challenges of teaching college students is that they arrive in my classroom with some ingrained academic habits.  I’ll ask them to give an example of something, or react to what an author wrote, and they’ll *tell* me what the author says.  I’ll tell them, “Don’t tell me what the author says … I know what the author says.  I’ve read this about 47 times.  What I want to know is, what do *you* say?  How do you apply these ideas in your own life?”  They are often stumped, because they are used to summarizing what others have written, rather than expressing their own interpretation of it.

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I also find that college students often struggle with the idea of “studying.”  Young people often have not been taught how to engage with ideas in a way that leads to recall and deep understanding.  They’re good at memorizing, but that’s not what critical thinking is about.  So my challenge is to help them think more deeply, and to make the classroom a safe place to do that.

My mantra has always been, “I’m not here to teach you what to think, but HOW to think.”  I stand by those words.  I once had a student who seemed very angry about one of the readings for class, and he sat with his arms crossed and a stormy expression on his face.  When I invited him to speak, he revealed that he disagreed with the author’s contentions.  “That’s fair,” I said.  “Tell us why.”  It took him awhile to articulate his position, but he seemed to feel better after he did.

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Later, he told me he’d been upset because he thought I was advocating for the author’s point of view by assigning the reading.  I explained that I assigned that particular reading because it was a good foundation for discussion of our particular topics that day, but that it was okay to disagree with it.  In fact, it was more than okay, because it showed a level of deep engagement with, and critical thinking about, the material.

I want my students to get every ounce of good out of the college experience.  In my classroom, it’s not about memorizing lists or summarizing what others have written.  Yes, we need to work from a shared vocabulary, but that’s just the beginning of learning to be an engaged citizen of the world.

I hope I can bring them a step closer to that.

Blessings,

Annette