Monday, May 31, 2010

Graduation Day...

Well folks, I did it! I graduated from Westminster on Saturday. I have officially received a Master of Arts in Teaching. It has been a long and hard road, but worth all the effort. I'm a teacher. I cannot wait to start.

The graduation ceremony was, well, overrated. It was long and boring. Both the student speaker and the commencement key note were hard to follow and used their time as a forum for their own personal and political views. I wanted inspiration, but found nothing except my own thoughts. My friends had found mimosa induced bliss and I kept thinking I should have had some champagne.

When they finally called my name, I was hooded and diplomaed ceremoniously. I felt very proud and though my moment in the spotlight was short, I'm glad I did it. I looked up and my mom was crying. My brothers and sister in laws were clapping. Steven and Cristi (who lasted through the whole ceremony) were cheering. It was great to look up and see the most important people in my life there watching. I wouldn't have made it without them.

Afterwards, we had dinner at my mom's house, and more friends came to show their love and support. (The Yates clan was excused because of a family emergency). Brenna brought me a darling bag, markers, and a bouquet of freshly sharpened pencils. Amber gave me an owl punch I can't wait to use. Jess gave me a gift card for books. Cristi and my mom brought flowers. Steven brought me a pair of homemade pants filled with smarties, "smarty pants." We talked and laughed and had a great time.

I am so blessed to have a life filled with such wonderful people. Both my family and my friends have been so important in shaping and supporting my life. Each person has made an impact on who I am, what I've done, and where I am going. I am grateful to each of them. I would not be the same without them. My life would not be the same without them.

So, to each of you, my family and friends, whether you are reading this or not, I am thinking of you today. Thank you. I love you more than I can say.

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Friday Five...

I know it has been awhile since I posted a Friday Five. So, I am redeeming today. Here are five things I recognized I am grateful for this week. In no particular order.

1. Friends who don't cause drama. Thank you!

2. Cherry Coke. I know I am soon to bid you farewell, but you are a lifesaver for sickness. I look forward to using medicinally in the future.

3. The comfort of books.

4. The comfort of small children. Olivia and Wyatt, you are the greatest kids in the whole world. Thanks for being my favorite humans!

5. Quiet. I haven't had enough of this in my life for awhile, but today is all sweet silence.

That's it folks. Short, sweet, and right to the point. I should write like this more often, but then again, where's the fun in that?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Caps and gowns...

I picked up my graduation wardrobe today. I came home and tried it all on: cap, gown, and masters' hood. It all looked a bit ridiculous, but I felt pretty cool. Would it be too much to wear it around for awhile?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Beauty skin deep and beyond...

I have been thinking a lot this week about the idea of beauty, specifically the physical sort of beauty with which the world is obsessed. Early this week someone divulged some things that had been said about me in what I considered a circle of friends. The comments were unnecessary, unkind, and mostly importantly, untrue. The details of exactly what was said are unimportant, and at this point, are quite muddy having passed through several mouths to land ugly on the table. All in all, they were not words you want said about you in any circumstance, but especially when they are unnecessary, unkind, but most importantly, untrue.

I'm not going to pretend like these hurtful words didn't...well...hurt. I felt a little sad. I even cried a little. Then I started thinking about their truthfulness. I realized that what I knew about myself was more than what others thought of me. That someone's narrow and superficial view of me was the result of the narrowness of their vision. I am deeper than the surface. I am more than the immediate view.

I have not always been so self actualized and there are times I have to remind myself of my worth. I do this in a variety of ways, but one of the simplest ways I have to re-center myself is to take a long look in the mirror. It isn't an act of pride. I'm not looking at my makeup or hair. I don't focus on my nose or lips. I look myself hard in the eyes. I look until I can see the real me emerge. Then I sigh and say, "Oh, hi sweetie." I started this ritual when I was 25, when a very significant relationship ended leaving be broken and broken hearted. I was almost completely undone, but I think that was the first time I really saw myself in spite of the circumstances. During that time, I had to look for myself in the mirror every morning and sometimes many times throughout the day. I looked until I could see my own strength, my own beauty, then I said hello. Now if I start feeling at all lost, I look for her, the woman underneath, and greet her like an old friend.

I guess this post is like a long look in the mirror for me. I was affected by the unkind comments of people I thought were my friends. I was hurt and angry. I became self conscious and overly critical. I let what they thought of me matter more than what I thought of myself. Now it's over. I can look at myself straight on and honestly say I like what see. I am smart and kind, honest and reliable, generous and compassionate. I am strong. I am beautiful.

Oh, hi sweetie.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

This is where you belong...

This post is something hard thing to write, even to the few people who read my little blog, all of whom love me. Still, I feel like I should, so I am. For the past few years, I have been away from church. I have been attending, well mostly attending, but my heart has been removed from it. I became one of those people going through the motions instead of being really invested. In other words, I have been a hypocrite.

There a lot of reasons for this absence and most of them actually sound pretty reasonable. Reasons like it was hard to go to church after my dad died because everything felt like too much. Very true. Reasons like I don't feel like there is a place for young single sisters. Not true, but it felt true. Reasons like it is easier to stay home and sleep or knit or read. Also true. Reasons like I can be spiritual by myself, so I don't need church. True, you can be close to God all by yourself, but it is harder. A lot harder. Reasons like it doesn't matter if I am there or not. Also not true, but it felt true. See, lots of reasons, but logical reasoning is a slippery slope friends, and even though the reasons were true, or least felt true, they kept me from the real truth, which was that I was slipping.

Last week, I decided to try the whole attend all your meetings counsel. I went to church and stayed for the whole thing. More than that, I let myself be present in the meetings and really tried to feel if it was the right place for me to be. Not surprisingly, I felt like it was. I didn't have any visions or revelations. I didn't have a powerful spiritual experience. The lessons didn't have a message specifically for me and I didn't get anything specific from the sacrament talks. Still, I knew being there was where I belonged. I felt a quiet feeling, a peaceful sigh, a resolve to come inspite of the reasons that kept me absent. It was a good feeling and a familiar one.

Today, I had to work and made it only for the last hour, but sitting in that last meeting, I had the same feeling--this is where you belong--and I felt for a moment, without going anywhere, that I was closer to home than I had been in a long time. I don't think this the end of my troubles or that going to church will be any easier. All my reasons are still there, all of them still feel true, but I feel something else now too.

O that ye would awake: awake from a deep sleep, yea, even from the sleep of hell, and shake off the awful chains by which ye are bound, which are the chains which bind the children of men, that they are carried away captive down to the eternal gulf of misery and woe.

But behold, the Lord hath redeeemed my soul from hell; I have beheld his glory, and I am encircled about eternally in the arms of his love.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

A baker's thirteen...

"Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers."
--George Eliot

Anyone who knows me, knows my love affair with books. While I do enjoy reading in itself, I also love the books themselves. Their heaviness and heft, the sound of turning pages, the scent of papers and ink. Long shelves where books are nestled in close together and spread in lines of different colored heights are a beautiful sight. They contribute to the quiet.

My own books were in storage for two years. I missed them like old friends. When they were finally unpacked, I held each one like it was something I had lost. Amber was helping me and she said every now and then I would sigh. She would look over at me and I would be smiling at a book I had just pulled from the box--running my hands over the cover, smelling its pages, placing it in line.

This love of books is one part of me that I love the best. It seems like the simplest and truest part. It is also the easiest to maintain. Yesterday, I took my love of books in a different direction and attended a workshop on the making of simple books that can be used in the classroom. In four hours, we made thirteen different books; a great way to spend an afternoon. We used simple papers, but I kept thinking about all the beautiful papers that could be used, how beautiful the books could be.

The studio smelled of books, of papers and ink, of heaviness, of possibility. I am even more excited now for bookbinding in the fall. I feel like my books are waiting.

Friday, May 14, 2010

A little something Rich...

I have been reading a lot of poetry lately. It is balm for the soul, friends. There is just something about the fall and flow of words that makes me happy. I often read poems out loud to myself because while they are beautiful to read, they are even more beautiful to hear. One of my favorite poets to read out loud is Adrienne Rich. Her poems are haunting and beautiful. They fall from the tongue like honey and sit heavy in the air, waiting. Waiting.

I know you are reading this poem
late, before leaving your office
of the one intense yellow lamp-spot and the darkening window
in the lassitude of a building faded to quiet
long after rush-hour. I know you are reading this poem
standing up in a bookstore far from the ocean
on a grey day of early spring, faint flakes driven
across the plains' enormous spaces around you.
I know you are reading this poem
in a room where too much has happened for you to bear
where the bedclothes lie in stagnant coils on the bed
and the open valise speaks of flight
but you cannot leave yet. I know you are reading this poem
as the underground train loses momentum and before running
up the stairs
toward a new kind of love
your life has never allowed.
I know you are reading this poem by the light
of the television screen where soundless images jerk and slide
while you wait for the newscast from the intifada.
I know you are reading this poem in a waiting-room
of eyes met and unmeeting, of identity with strangers.
I know you are reading this poem by fluorescent light
in the boredom and fatigue of the young who are counted out,
count themselves out, at too early an age. I know
you are reading this poem through your failing sight, the thick
lenses enlarging these letters beyond all meaning yet you read on
because even the alphabet is precious.
I know you are reading this poem as you pace beside the stove
warming milk, a crying child on your shoulder, a book in your
because life is short and you too are thirsty.
I know you are reading this poem which is not in your language
guessing at some words while others keep you reading
and I want to know which words they are.
I know you are reading this poem listening for something, torn
between bitterness and hope
turning back once again to the task you cannot refuse.
I know you are reading this poem because there is nothing else
left to read
there where you have landed, stripped as you are.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Life on the flip side...

I've been done with grad school for almost two weeks and have been feeling a bit lost now that I have so much time to spend leisurely. I've read several books and knitted a cowl and a pair of slippers. Still, I keep thinking I need something to do. I have found myself looking at other Master's programs online and browsing community education brochures longingly. What is wrong with me? Can I not have one blissful summer without learning something? Don't I remember my huge, and now looming, student loan? In reality, I do not have the energy or the money to start another degree right now, but I still keep looking.

To appease the beast, I signed up for a book making workshop for educators that teaches 13 different ways to make class books using regular 8 1/2 by 11" paper. It was free and I am really excited about it. I also signed up to take a book binding class at the studio this fall. I have wanted to take the class for several years, so I am very excited about that as well. Hopefully, I can feed my education need with little classes that aren't as expensive as another degree.

I wonder what the pull is to learning and I think it must have something to do with progression. I feel happy when I am learning something. It makes me feel satisfied and whole. It keeps my head quiet and my soul centered. I sometimes think about life as a road. We travel along and stop at places that look interesting. Sometimes we stay awhile. Sometimes we turn around immediately and try to get away without looking rude. We get tired and road worn. We are refreshed and renewed. We see long stretches of nothing and then long stretches of sky, mountains in the distance, the promise of another bend. We see storms and sunsets. We keep walking because we have too and walking because we want too. I have had a good journey and I look forward to the road ahead; to a whole life of learning new things and finding new places. I think the next stop will be one on composting and square foot gardening, but you never can tell what will come up. Whatever it is, I can't wait!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Finding a pen pal...

pen pal: n. A person with whom one becomes acquainted through a friendly, regular correspondence.

I have recently acquired a pen pal. We met in New York and spent a couple of hours together there in various group activities. There was an instant connection. We met and I thought, I could definitely be friends with her. Then I came home...

Since then we have been writing long letters via email and getting to know each other. It is wonderful and exciting. I feel transported to a different time. A time when letters were the most common form of communication. There is something so satisfying about writing out your days and including little pieces of who you are. It is equally satisfying to learn about a person a little at a time, through the little snippets of self she chooses to enclose in her letters. I open each letter wondering, what will she give me today.

As a side note. I finished The Guernsery and Literary Potato Peel Pie Society on my visit to New York. It is an entire story told in letters and it is absolutely delightful. Perhaps it was the catalyst for my correspondence with KC. If it was, then I love the serindipitous nature of the book and our meeting. It helps me believe there are forces at work bigger than ourselves.

Lettering writing with KC makes me want to write more letters. I know pen pals are sort of out of style, but I think it would be wonderful to have friends all over the country that you only knew through letters. It would move us all, even for an afternoon, to a simpler time. Maybe it will happen someday. For now, I will just keep the one I have and wait for the next letter.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The thirty-three on 33...

So, in my little blogging hiatus I have reached several milestones...

First, I hit my fiftieth blog post! Who knew I could do it? My new goal is to get to a hundred in much less time. Since I now have more time this seems reasonable.

Second, I graduated from graduate school! I know pride is a sin and all, but I feel exceedingly proud! This has been a goal for me for a long time and there is something so wonderfully gratifying in completing something so huge! There is also something satisfying about progressing. I learned awhile ago that progression is the key to happiness. You have to keep moving forward. It is the only way to live a full and beautiful life. Grad school was a lot of hard work and long days and desperate, frantic assignment completion. Still, I feel a sense of peace and pride that I worked hard, I did it all, and now I am at the end. I haven't decided what to do next, but you can bet something big is on the horizon.

Third, I finished my 33rd year on this planet. The girls took me dinner on Thursday and we had a wonderful time talking and laughing. Natalie bought me the most beautiful flowers. Brenna bought me darling pearl stars. Cristi is working on canvas of birds. My family celebrated with me on Saturday and it was great too, even with a little too much drama in the mix. Being 33 is going to be great, so great in fact that I have compiled a list about it. I do love lists! Here we go...

1. I'm still an old soul with a young heart. I couldn't ask to be anything better.
2. I'm on my path...finally.
3. I am surrounded with beautiful friends.
4. I have a supportive and loving family.
5. I am optimistic about what the future will bring me.
6. I believe the universe gives back what it gets. I am expecting only good things.
7. It is almost summer, the season of endless possibilities.
8. The summer reading list is newly finished, but still open for revisions.
9. The summer music mix is finished and ready for a roadtrip.
10. I will go places this year I've never been. Ireland this summer and Italy next.
11. I know more now than I ever have before about myself, my purpose, and my path.
12. I know more now about education and the importance of learning in the lives of children.
13. I have time to read more books.
14. I have time to knit.
15. I am enrolled in a book binding class, something I have wanted to do for a long time.
16. I have a trip planned through Montana, Canada, and Oregon. It will be my first solo roadtrip longer than a day.
17. I will get to visit New York regularly for friends, food, and wonderful anonimity.
18. I have time to read more poetry.
19. I have time to write more poetry.
20. The outdoor concert season is starting.
21. I'm learning, very slowly, the value of being a minimalist.
22. I will be braver this year than I have ever been.
23. I will say I love you when I mean it.
24. I get to decorate my own classroom!
25. I get to work with small children everyday and see the wonder of the world through their eyes.
26. Number 25 means that every part of my life will be filled with books and art.
27. I won't have talk to any more sick people.
28. I will work somewhere with windows.
29. I have my own ktichen one way or another.
30. I will get to have playdates with Olivia and Wyatt.
31. I will have the chance to meet new people and try new things.
32. I will have time to play my guitar.
33. I will try to be a better person, be a better friend, live a better life, and find joy in the width and beauty of this wide world and the experiences it offers. After all, life is too short to be anything but happy.