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Life update 8/16/18

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Hello lovely friends,

I’m here in the office, setting up the course websites for Fall 2018.  School starts a week from Wednesday (August 29), and I have various meetings and appointments next week.  Fall semester seemed so far off, and now it’s like a freight train barreling down the track at us!

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I’m also moving offices – just two doors down, but a bigger (corner) office with much nicer walls and carpet than my current one.  The current occupant of that room is moving downstairs to an office that’s being vacated by a retiree – but his stuff is still in that room, so the process can’t begin just yet.  The retiring colleague is the first “domino” in this process.  I’m just hoping I won’t be trying to move during the first week of classes, but we’ll deal with it if we have to.

I still haven’t finished the book manuscript, but that has to be moved to the “back burner” for now.  Must finish course prep and get this move done.

Going up north for the weekend to visit my parents.  I’ve discovered that it’s futile to wait until a “good time,”  I just have to make time and go.  Otherwise there’s never a good time and I never stop working.  Girl needs a break now and then.

The days are already getting a bit shorter, and the nights are cooler.  Autumn is my favorite time of year – can’t wait for football and “hoodie weather!”

Blessings,

Annette

 

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Rethinking mental health for students

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Dear friends,

Universities can be hotbeds of stress – for students and faculty alike.  This article encourages us to rethink our cultural attitudes toward mental health, and to be more proactive in providing support for those struggling with anxiety in an academic setting.

Definitely worth a read, and a “think,” for all of us in higher education.

Blessings,

Annette

Link:

What Colleges Must Do to Promote Mental Health for Graduate Students

Book review: The Bookseller

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Dear friends,

I just finished this one on Kindle:

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I’m a little weird about mysteries … I get so far in, and then I want to know the answer!  I flip ahead to try to learn the secret.  What can I say, I’m one of those rare people who loves “spoilers,” but I’ll do my best not to spoil this one for you.

This book has been compared to the movie “Sliding Doors,” which I haven’t seen, but if you have, it might give you some idea what to expect.

The Bookseller is the story of Kitty (Katharyn), a woman who owns a bookstore with her best friend.  Kitty lives alone with her cat, Aslan (as a Narnia fan, I love the name), and enjoys her life as an independent, single woman.

Except she has another life.

At night, in her dreams, she enters another world where she is a wife and mother to three children, and her days are very different from everything she knows as a bookstore owner.  This life feels very foreign, and she slowly learns the details of this existence – how old the children are, how long she’s been married, and how she spends her days.  The dreams are vivid, but when she awakes, she’s back in her single-girl apartment.

The story alternates between these two “lives,” and as the “wife and mother” life becomes more vivid, the “single bookstore owner” life becomes less so.  Kitty becomes confused, and wonders if she is mentally ill, and whether one of these lives only exists in fantasy (and if so, which one).

I found the book to be a page-turner because I longed for the answer to those questions!

It’s a quick read, and I think you’d enjoy it.

Blessings,

Annette

The guest house

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The Guest House
by Rumi

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

The value of uncertainty

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“I can live with doubt and uncertainty and not knowing. I think it is much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers that might be wrong. If we will only allow that, as we progress, we remain unsure, we will leave opportunities for alternatives. We will not become enthusiastic for the fact, the knowledge, the absolute truth of the day, but remain always uncertain … In order to make progress, one must leave the door to the unknown ajar.”

– Richard P. Feynman 

You can b*itch to me!

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Hello friends,

Tuesday was election day here – a primary, in which we selected candidates that will be on the fall ballot.  Michigan will be electing a new governor, so we decided who the party candidates would be on November’s ballot.

Several of my Facebook friends were posting memes like this one:

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While I understand the sentiment – it’s important to take part in the process and make your voice heard – I don’t agree with the literal message here.

The literal message suggests that it’s ok to marginalize some voices from public debate.

The literal message suggests that everyone who votes has a well-considered opinion that has resulted from understanding and thinking about the issues, whereas those who don’t vote are too lazy for that mental exercise.

The literal message suggests that everyone affected by public issues CAN vote.

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The literal message is coming from a place of privilege – from a person who knows how to vote, where to vote, and has a way to get there.  (Yes, public transport is available, but those who need it most might not know how to arrange for it).

Worst of all, the message shuts down conversation.  It builds a fence and shuts the neighbors out.  It implies that some opinions are more valuable than others.  It suggests that one can only earn a spot in the public debate by sporting an “I voted” sticker on election day.

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I understand the sentiment, I really do.  But I also think we must be careful of marginalizing the voices of our neighbors, of pushing away other members of our communities based upon their outward behaviors, behaviors for which we might not know the reasons.

Let’s open a dialogue instead.  I’ll start.  I’m not going to stigmatize those who don’t vote, or tell you that you don’t have a right to be upset with the outcome of an election, or the behavior of public officials who should be acting in the best interest of their constituents.  If you didn’t vote, I’d be curious to know why.  Perhaps there’s an obstacle that can be overcome, or a problem we can fix.  Perhaps you’re feeling like it’s futile to participate in the process.

Let’s be willing to listen to each other.

Blessings,

Annette

Life update: 8/9/18

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Hello lovely friends,

I can’t believe we’re so far into August already – I’m prepping for school to start, including all the personal stuff I have to get done (took the car into the dealership for its checkup, getting my own medical stuff done), and planning one last trip up north before my schedule gets too crazy.  Oh, and:

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Before now, I never cared too much about primaries or midterm elections, but our current political situation has changed my mind about such things.  I look forward to a new crop of public servants who have strong personal character, active intellects, and a true desire to serve others.

Let’s take part in making our community life a place of mutual support.

Blessings,

Annette

 

Experiment and make mistakes

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“You have a right to experiment with your life. You will make mistakes. And they are right too. No, I think there was too rigid a pattern. You came out of an education and are supposed to know your vocation. Your vocation is fixed, and maybe ten years later you find you are not a teacher anymore or you’re not a painter anymore. It may happen. It has happened. I mean Gauguin decided at a certain point he wasn’t a banker anymore; he was a painter. And so he walked away from banking. I think we have a right to change course. But society is the one that keeps demanding that we fit in and not disturb things. They would like you to fit in right away so that things work now.”

Anais Nin

 

Promise yourself

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“Promise Yourself

To be so strong that nothing
can disturb your peace of mind.
To talk health, happiness, and prosperity
to every person you meet.

To make all your friends feel
that there is something in them
To look at the sunny side of everything
and make your optimism come true.

To think only the best, to work only for the best,
and to expect only the best.
To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others
as you are about your own.

To forget the mistakes of the past
and press on to the greater achievements of the future.
To wear a cheerful countenance at all times
and give every living creature you meet a smile.

To give so much time to the improvement of yourself
that you have no time to criticize others.
To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear,
and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.

To think well of yourself and to proclaim this fact to the world,
not in loud words but great deeds.
To live in faith that the whole world is on your side
so long as you are true to the best that is in you. ”

Christian Larson

 

Lesson in a mayo jar

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(A story I enjoy – about “time management” and the important things in life).

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him.  Without speaking, he picked up a large, empty mayonnaise jar and filled it with golf balls.  He then asked the students if the jar was full.  They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured it into the jar.
He shook the jar lightly and the pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls.  He then asked the students again if the jar was full.   They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. The sand filled the remaining gaps.  He asked once more if the jar was full.  The students responded with an unanimous ‘yes.’

The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty space between the sand.

The students laughed.

‘Now,’ said the professor, as the laughter subsided, ‘I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life.  The golf balls are the important things – God, family,children, health, friends, and favorite passions. Things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.  The pebbles are the things that matter like your job, house, and car.  The sand is everything else – The small stuff.

‘If you put the sand into the jar first,’ he continued, ‘there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life.  If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you.  So pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children.  Take time to get medical checkups. Take your spouse out to dinner. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the dripping tap.

‘Take care of the golf balls first – The things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.’

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented.

The professor smiled, “I’m glad you asked. It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend.”

(Author unknown)