FUN: Of Blogs and Soaps

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Here I am as a candy striper for Tallahassee Memorial Hospital in the 1970s. Come to think of it, I never got to stripe any candy...but I did have tons of fun. (Photo Credit: Dad)

Every now and then the 30 minutes teachers get for lunch contains enough conversation and lightheartedness that it seems as though 30 minutes is actually plenty of time to eat and enjoy visiting.

We’re four days back from Spring Break, within a week of 3rd quarter grades being due, facing “how to make FCAT run smoothly” training and a day off.

It all started as our round table was ringed with teachers and some of our favorite subs when a male sub asked another of our favorite subs – a woman with a young child – what she does when she’s not, well, subbing at our school.

I know her well enough to interject a non-sensical answer, so I replied, while winking at her, that she was content to “sit at home and eat bon bons” when not subbing at our school. A good laugh was had by all.

This, (eating bon bons) of course, can NEVER be done alone. That’s because then next oldest assumption about women who aren’t working fulltime is that they’re engaged in some sort of time wasting activities that rot their minds.

About 30 years ago, the bon bon part would logically be accompanied with a kinship acitivity – that of watching of endless soap operas thereby signaling the height of laziness. And subsequently, this meant dinner would be late, and NOT served at 6 p.m. But that, too, is another topic for later.

The first thing I want you to know about this female sub is that she is ANYTHING but lazy. Secondly, I’m so happy for her that she has the opportunity to NOT work fulltime, but that’s another story as well.

She laughed after I “confessed” about her non-existent bon bon and soap opera habit. It is here where we’re pausing this topic because a second one surfaced next.

It was an informal poll around the table soliciting topic suggestions for today’s blog post. From there, we answered bon bon girl’s questions about blogs, how to and where to get one, etc. She’s interested in starting one with a focus on finding the best deals on antiques. She loves to score them and share her “antique acquirement tips” with others. We discussed the pros and cons of blogging, topic possibilities and suggested sites she investigate for more information.

Disclaimer: No one has ever suggested our lunchtime topics were educational or serious, but how many people do you know who are willing and able to share the candid and kooky conversations they love having with their coworkers? So between nuking our frozen lunches and leftovers, we ping-ponged between blog talk and soap operas.

Anyway, I re-visited the soap opera topic begun earlier. I asked (already knowing the answer was “yes”) if anyone still knew soaps whether or not soaps were STILL aired. I mentioned remembering the sacred hour after I arrived home from middle school and then high school where “The Young and The Restless” were the “one and only” afternoon activity. (And there’s nothing wrong with that.)

“There’s a whole network dedicated to playing soap operas now,” one friend interjected. I realize that this is NOT news to the rest of the world – probably just me.

“Really?” I responded trying to imagine my life sucked into the soap opera zone. I’m simply trying to keep it from being absorbed in the Facebook and email zones….

“Yes,” said my friend who also does NOT eat bon bons. “I remember when I was 12 and volunteered as a candy striper at our local hospital…”

“Me, too,” I interrupted. I was suddenly transported back to 1970-something and the photo my parents took in our backyard. It’s the one I added above! I proudly smiled with my purple rimmed plastic glasses and pageboy haircut as I modeled my official red and white striped pinafore and white blouse. I was especially proud of the white sheer hosiery and the “earth shoe” type soles on the white nursing type shoes I wore. Those wavy, hard rubberized soles were the epitome of foot friendliness.

I especially enjoyed two primary duties: visiting patient rooms to help them fill out their menu requests if they hadn’t already done so and when I was promoted to transporting patients via wheelchair. (I am an accident-free wheelchair driver, just thought you should know.)

And then, I flashed forward to today, lunchtime and my friend’s candy striper story. She confided that that hallowed hour for soap operas ALSO existed at the nurses’ station/lunchroom as THEY watched their soaps.

“It was very quiet on the floor during lunch,” my friend said. “Candy stripers weren’t supposed to interrupt the nurses during that time.”

And there you have it. Lunch was over and it was time to resurface in the school cafeteria to claim our classes.

I love my job and the amazing people I work alongside.

And the lunchtime banter ain’t so bad either!

Hey. Can someone go get my class while I enjoy a hallowed hour?

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Faith: The First Day of My Spiritual Spring

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Photo credit: Salvatore Vuono/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I’m 28 today.

I know it’s confusing since I made such a big deal about turning Hawaii 5-0 in January. I’m not crazy. Let me explain.

I was “all good” with the first day of Spring, 1984 making its annual rounds but I have to admit that it was also a day that startled me by surprise.

I had just returned from a college retreat sponsored by the church I attended.  I was a retreat professional – if there is such a thing. Retreats weren’t new to me; what was new was how God used my arrogance to reveal that I was nothing but externally religious.

The retreat’s theme – they all have them – was “Knowing God”. Sheesh, I thought, don’t really think there’s anything new in that territory for me but what the heck. The retreat even came at a time when I was involved in a structured program designed to teach me how to share my faith.

But something odd began to happen. As I dutifully “wrote my testimony” for an assignment in the program, I became increasingly frustrated. C’mon, I scolded myself. You’re a journalism major. You can write ANYTHING!

Imagine my surprise to learn I had no real faith to share – only the faith I had in myself.

So the weekend – the Knowing God retreat – came and went. I returned on Saturday and house sat for the rest of the weekend for a dear family I knew. They really KNEW God and lived out their faith void of spiritual checklists to measure their holiness.

I placed my Bible on their couch and walked past it continually – unable to bring myself to even pick it up. Suddenly, the Bible and anything I knew about it seemed foreign to me. It was a scary disconnect for all spiritual things familiar in my life.

It frustrated me each time I tried having a conversation with God; I seemed to have justifications for every aspect of my life. Surely I’d say something that would convince HIM to accept ME!

  • I had grown up in a home where God was loved, spoken of and taught;
  • I knew the order of the books in the Bible;
  • I even arose at 4:30 a.m. many mornings during my senior year in college to “get my Bible reading in” before going to class;
  • And probably most “importantly,” (think humor, here)  I didn’t “smoke or chew or go with guys who do.”

I was in an exhausting place. Then came church on Sunday, a regular staple in my spiritual schedule. But this was no usual worship service. It kept going until mid-afternoon as person after person explained the retreat’s impact on them. And then, the minister to college aged kids wept as he told his story – one of realizing that he, too, had the exterior veneer that said, “Of course, I’m a Christian.” He talked about realizing that he had known ABOUT God, but not actually known Him.

Bingo! Something inside me agreed without hesitation. I could relate because that’s what I had experienced as well. I soon found myself praying and asking God to forgive me for thinking I had sufficiently known Him.

I left the service around 2 p.m. feeling free of the strangling spiritual entanglements I had hidden in my whole life. No longer was I coasting on the faith of my parents or the morality code I lived to uphold. Jesus had made it clear to me that all the “doing” was very, very far from the unfailing love and forgiveness He provides.

My story – my testimony, if you will – was now genuine. It was not created with examples of my efforts, the judgment I had lavishly lathered onto others who didn’t “act like Christians.”

But on the first day of Spring 28 years ago, Jesus freed me from a a superficial spirituality and He became my freedom provider. Spirituality had strangled me but Jesus rescued me so I could really live – now and forever.

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” – From The Bible, Book of  Second Corinthians, Chapter 3, verse 17

A site I love: utmost.org

(Photo link: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=659)

Fun (not): Opinions and Surveys

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(Photo: google images)

“Congratulations,” the cashier said cheerily as she forcefully thrust my 20-inch-long grocery receipt, half of which was an “invitation” to participate in a phone survey.  “By participating, you are entered for a CHANCE to win free groceries for a year!” 

Now you’re talking, I thought. If someone has a chance to win a free, full pantry it might as well be me. After all, we’re talking a retail value of $1,000.

And then, I returned to reality.

My real response?

Resist! It’s a time waster and you know it.

But “eligibility,” nonetheless, was appealing. It didn’t even matter at the moment that my two loving sons – 18 and 20 – don’t even live with us anymore. Besides only 100 survey recipients are used. Improving my odds from who knows what to 1 in 100!

I caved. The survey was for the grocery store chain I frequent. Its lay out makes sense to me. It had employed both my kids. I even know the cashiers by name and just learned that one became engaged.  

The rationalizations kept rolling in,  but soon I found myself dialing the survey’s 800 number and answering the 3.5 billion questions. OK, so maybe I’m exaggerating about the number of questions. However, I even convinced myself that in a small, microscopic kind of way my responses would jumpstart the Marketing Department providing information that would supercharge the chain’s communication efforts. 

And now?

It’s over and I want my 11 minutes back.

I’m fatigued from answering the 50+ (really) questions. At this point, I didn’t even care if I WERE eligible for ANYTHING! Maybe I should have punched 5 for every answer telling the chain how great it is.

Honest feedback, though, takes time.

I even found myself wondering where all those tabulated answers go as they float off somewhere to be evaluated by someone. I’m sure I caused joy unspeakable as my responses arrived at an undisclosed location.

HONEST feedback DOES exist, the evaluators will say. Give this woman – she did indicate her gender and that she’s a year-round resident – even though she passed on disclosing the number of children in her home (none) and her annual salary (do they really need to know I’m a public school teacher?) – a BIGGER chance to win!  Aww, heck, just chunk the other 99 responses. 

Somehow, though, I don’t think it works that way. I have realized that giving my “honest feedback” is now NO longer important to me. Besides, I’m sure anyone younger than say, 50, out there could answer in half the time and feel really good about their efforts.

Besides, the last time I gave my honest feedback in survey form was in December. I had just completed  a State required education program designed to put me on the fast track to earning my professional teaching certificate. I was “required” to answer a survey about the program before my coursework was considered complete.

Surely, THIS would matter, I thought. I even provided my truthful impression about the first professor on the first day of the first course. You know what they say about first impressions… I knew inside that I had to tell the program director something she really needed to know. It was that first professor’s comment, which was “Welcome to h- e- double hockey sticks. 

Let’s just say I inferred that I was already in a state of heightened anxiety knowing I was willingly investing my entire summer into classwork in this “summer intensive.” No one had to explain to me where I was. In fact, I was hoping for a little encouragement like, “Only seven weeks stands between you and having this program behind you. Now let’s get started.”

But I was stuck. The tuition paid and I had not majored in education, thus my participation.

The administrator’s response? Zilch. Nada. Zippo.

So the next time I’m “invited” to participate in a survey? 

I’ve got nothing to say and I’m good with that.

 

 

 

 

FUN: Baby Birds

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Once upon a time when I was in 7th grade, I called my mother to ask if I could stay after school. Not the usual request, I’m sure. However, I had a very important reason. Chicks were about to hatch and they weren’t going to beat the last bell of the day.

Of course mom said yes. I still don’t remember how I got home, though.

At any rate, my 13-year-old brain was mesmerized, spellbound even at the incubator contents inside our classroom. And you’re right, I don’t remember which class or how many hatched. But they did and I had witnessed a miracle.

Previously the closest I’d ever been to animals other than our pet gerbils, (which lived short lives and were buried in cardboard jewelry boxes in our backyard) and our current cat was the occasional visit to a family farm in Michigan. It was there that twin cows were born soon after my sisters in 1964. And yes, the calves were honored with Karen and Kathy’s names.

But I digress.

So today, 47 years later, that incubation watching vigil was what I communicated to my 6th grade class as an introduction to the “nest” best thing to being there. Let it be said now and forever more than even when I am online, it doesn’t mean I’m on Facebook. Recently, my friend emailed me a link for a live bald eagle cam in Iowa.

After I told my exciting (of course) story about my 7th grade experience, I projected the eagle cam image onto our large screen in front of the class. Turns out that the teacher whose room I was in was raised less than 100 miles from the nest location!

I plan to project the eagle cam from time to time because the parents – Liberty and Justice – and tending to three eggs which are due to hatch sometime in April. The 2011 eaglet of Liberty and Justice was named Freedom via an online poll  conducted by the company that installed the eagle cam.

Then the questions began.

“Are they real?”

“Is that all they’re doing just sitting there?”

“How big is the nest?” Really, the question was, “Are we seeing this in its actual size?”

Almost. The nest is 7 feet wide. I’m 5’ tall and told them to add 2’ to my height and flip that sideways to get an idea of how wide the nest is – in real life.

So thanks to the wonders of technology I was able to take my students on a field trip to Iowa to see bald eagles AND it didn’t cost taxpayers a penny.

As I stood in front of the 34 6th graders, I wondered about THEIR family nests. Are the nests strong? Do they have parents or other responsible adults who are visible even if they are JUST sitting there? Are they’re really solid adults in their lives to listen and look past all the obvious questions to make them feel valued?

For a moment, I felt like a mother eagle with 34 eggs. My desire is for them all to hatch “just right.” After all, I can’t wait to see them fly! That’s why I teach.

JOIN US! Here’s the eagle cam link:
http://www.alcoa.com/locations/usa_davenport/en/info_page/eaglecam.asp

(Photos: Google Images)