New project and huge book haul!
19 Friday May 2023
19 Friday May 2023
31 Monday Oct 2022
Hello lovely friends,
How often in our lives do we think, “I have arrived!” I’m guessing not often, for most of us. We see ourselves on a path, a journey to somewhere, but is there any “getting there?” Or do we just keep moving the goalposts?
I’m at a strange age right now – 60. I’m entering a stage of life where I’m no longer young, yet I don’t feel old. I suppose I’m on the brink of being a “senior citizen,” but I don’t yet embrace that identity. My grandmother, who lived to be 96, used to tell me that you always feel like the same person inside. I imagine her son, my 98-year old dad, feels the same. Even he doesn’t seem “old” to me.
Many of my students are also in one of these “between” stages – no longer a kid, but not quite feeling like an adult, not just yet. For many of them, it’s a time to experiment with being grown up, but they can still rely on family for support. Others find themselves having to practice adulthood before their time, before they’d ideally like to. Some of them are still searching for a soft place to land.
We have this cultural joke that “adulting is hard.” I remember really feeling like a grownup when I bought my first brand-new car, all by myself, without anyone else’s consent or advice. I chose the model and color I wanted, financed it myself. These events are scary, but also really liberating – a lesson in trusting oneself.
Perhaps that’s the mark of maturity – self-trust. We’ve all been let down, and wondered if we can ever trust others again (especially after a romantic failure), but I think the key to “moving on” lies in trusting yourself. I’ll choose better next time. I won’t be fooled next time. I will learn to be wary, in a healthy way, to ask for what I need, to refuse to be bullied or ignored.
The next stage of life is uncharted territory, but I’m so much wiser than I used to be. So are you.
18 Tuesday Oct 2022
It’s midterm time! – also known as the point in the semester where many of us are feeling behind, and could really use a break (thankfully, WMU has a “fall break” in the second half of this week, which means an extra-long weekend. Would be nice to fill it with fun and leisure, but I’ll be catching up on work).
Most of our endeavors have this “slump in the middle,” don’t they? We reach a point where we are exhausted, and need to regroup, recover, reflect. It’s good to stop for a moment and take a sincere look at how we’re doing, mentally, physically, emotionally, and to consider what we need to be our better selves.
On a daily basis, I hit this slump around 3 p.m. I don’t know if it’s a blood sugar crash, or lack of sleep catching up on me, but I always feel like I could use a nap around that time. These are the times when I remind myself why I started the task in the first place. For longer endeavors, there will always come a point when they’re not as engaging as they were at first, not as fun as we expected them to be, yet we still have some ground to cover before reaching the finish line. We have to find our strength again.
Let’s take a minute to rediscover the joy in our routines.
13 Thursday Oct 2022
I recently read the book Cultish:
and I was struck by a particular idea that the author shared. This book, subtitled “The language of fanaticism,” lays out the linguistic strategies used by people who want to control the thinking of others. The author outlines language habits of religious cults, MLM marketers, and other groups of “true believers,” and how they choose their words to persuade each other and to gain new followers. One concept she shares is “thought terminating cliches” – what I call roadblock words.
These roadblock words are words or phrases that are meant to stop you from thinking further. You’re supposed to bump up against them, then shut off your critical thinking process. Examples include “fake news,” or “it’s God’s will,” or “just do it.” You can probably think of many more – words that your parents said to get you to stop resisting their directives, words that you learned in organizations (company slogans are big here), or words that people are taught to use as a “mantra” to help fight addiction.
Roadblock words, in and of themselves, are not “bad” … they can be useful reminders to curb our behavior. But if we reflect on this concept, we can better recognize when we’re allowing these words to stop us from thinking further on an issue, to stop us from using our critical skills, to stop us from exploring new avenues. And if we can recognize when we’re bumping up against these words, we can push them aside, and refuse to allow them to control us.
I encourage all of us to take a moment to think on this, and to identify the linguistic roadblocks we use, and which are used on us, so that we can recognize and interrupt this process when it happens.
Let’s strive to be expansive in our thinking.
12 Wednesday Oct 2022
Time is a crazy thing. Remember when you were a kid, and it seemed like forrrevvver between birthdays and Christmases? Grownups would talk about how fast time was passing, and that sounded bonkers. A day was a long time, a week even longer – and we had an eternity to wait before we were grownups too.
Ah, now we know. Time really does fly.
But here’s the thing – our culture has conditioned us to expect instant results. Everything has to be fast and easy, quick and effortless. So our sense of time gets bifurcated, split in two. On the one hand, time flies … on the other, results seem to come too slowly. We “cram” for exams, and feel angry that we can’t learn and process a lot of information overnight. We try to adopt a positive new habit, like eating well or exercising regularly, but give up when we don’t see instant results.
How do we deal with this? How do we stick with a process when results are slow in coming?
I like the old metaphor of sowing and reaping.
A farmer sows a crop, plants seeds in the ground. A slow process begins. With sunshine, water, and care, the seeds will sprout and grow. The plants will mature over a long season. Not all of the plants will grow to maturity (some will be washed away, some will be eaten by animals, some will dry up through neglect), but if the farmer perseveres, there will eventually be a crop to reap. Will it be exactly like the crop the farmer anticipates? Maybe not, but there will be more at the end than there was at the beginning.
In our modern culture, perhaps we have lost sight of this idea that every endeavor takes time and nurturing in order to mature. That we can do a little every day, and the positive effects will accumulate. We become frustrated too soon, and allow our crops to die from neglect – I do this, and I imagine you do too.
When the wait gets hard, when the results don’t come fast enough, I remind myself of this idea. The good stuff takes time, and the wait is frustrating – but that doesn’t mean I should give up. Most of the time, it means I need to stick with it a little longer.
14 Wednesday Sep 2022
05 Monday Sep 2022
27 Saturday Aug 2022
27 Saturday Aug 2022
21 Sunday Aug 2022