Archive for August, 2009

My new place of employment has a great system for a number of services.  There are two options for submitting items (such as class syllabi) for printing–one digital, one hard copy via intracampus courier.  Since I couldn’t get the technology to work for digital submission (password issues, I guess, which I will get sorted out after the first-week-of-classes dust settles), I turned in my class syllabi for printing at the end of  last week the “old fashioned” way.  I was running by the skin of my teeth due to transitions in my department and the fact that I am new and I am slow.  So I made special note of the fact that I would need at least the one set of materials for an 8AM Tuesday class, as per the instructions of the department secretary (an angel).

Long story short:  When the last courier delivery before my 8AM tomorrow class was made, my syllabi did not appear to be among the stacks of materials I’d seen being hauled out of the delivery van just as I departed campus for the day.  This sad news was waiting for me when I got home.

Being the resourceful person that I am, I picked up the phone and tried to call the person closest to my difficulty.  Getting no answer, I called a wonderful woman whose sole task is to smooth the way for adjuncts.  Several targeted phone calls later, it appeared that there would be nothing for it but to make a run out to campus yet today and copy what I need for that class first thing in the morning.

Halfway to my destination, my cell phone rang; it was the department secretary saying she had made one more call, and my materials, which had been delivered to the wrong building (our divided campus is in physical transition, with some buildings just opening for the first time this semester, new delivery stops, etc.), had been found and promised for delivery to our building by 5PM today!

With a lightened heart, and a thankful prayer on my lips, I headed home, knowing that these good people doing their jobs well would get a few lines of exposure here.  Not only did they do their jobs well today, but they went the extra mile, rescuing me in the process.

I am humbled and challenged to pay it forward as I go on my way, not to mention showing my gratitude to these with servant hearts every time I get the chance.

What kind person doing his/her job well needs to hear/receive YOUR thanks?  Be on the lookout!


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On the Edge at Dusk

I passed one of my favorite spots along the road driving home tonight at dusk.  I love this place in the road because it speaks peace and beauty to me.

Just before reaching one of the busiest traffic corridors in our city, there are wetlands.  I love it that this bit of wildness exists juxtaposed with urban/suburban development.

If you keep your eyes open, almost always some avian species can be spotted.  Tonight, it was a little hard to see because the sun had set, but there was still enough light to spot a lone heron standing where water and reeds meet….on the edge at dusk.

This made me think about another wildlife sighting that I’ve trained myself to seek out.  Whenever we happen to be driving along the interstate in the early morning hours when the sun has not long been up, I watch in those places where wooded areas meet open fields.  Almost always, somewhere along the way, a white-tail deer or two or three can be spotted, grazing at still-dew-laden green.

It occurred to me that there are some people who are like my heron and the deer.  They don’t make themselves vulnerable by being out in the open spaces of life.  They don’t invite scrutiny by placing themselves in the intersections of busyness.  Much of the time they are hidden to most of the people.

But, if the busy passers by in life know where to look, and how to look, and when, then those people who linger at the edges, who hesitate in the spaces in between, become visible.  When those on the edge are seen, there is often surprising beauty in the picture.

I want to notice more on the edge at dusk.

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Don’t you love weddings?  Today’s nuptial event united two dear friends who have found love and each other in the “September” of their lives  The celebration was a beautiful expression of some of the greatest of life’s treasures–family, friends, music, and love–especially God’s love.

Post-wedding, when pondering life’s good things was the mode, I opened my inbox to discover the following from my friend Marcia, who keeps me uplifted and challenged with her regular inspirational emails.  The secret of the original writer’s longevity can surely be found in what she has written.

I should read this list at least once a week!  (So should you!)

Question of the Day, after you read the list:  What’s your favorite of Regina’s life lessons?  How does it speak to you this very day, in this very circumstance, in this very season of your wonderful life?

(Written by Regina Brett, 90 years old, of the Plain Dealer, Cleveland, Ohio)

To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me. It is the most-requested column I’ve ever written..

My personal odometer rolled over to 90 in August, so here is the column once more:

1. Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.

2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.

3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.

4. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and parents will. Stay in touch

5. Pay off your credit cards every month.

6. You don’t have to win every argument.  Agree to disagree.

7. Cry with someone. It’s more healing than crying alone.

8. It’s OK to get angry with God. He can take it.

9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.

10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

11. Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present.

12. It’s OK to let your children see you cry.

13. Don’t compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn’t be in it.

15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don’t worry; God never blinks.

16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

17. Get rid of anything that isn’t useful, beautiful or joyful.

18. Whatever doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger.

19. It’s never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.

20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don’t take no for an answer.

21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don’t save it for a special occasion. Today is special.

22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.

23. Be eccentric now. Don’t wait for old age to wear purple.

24. The most important sex organ is the brain.

25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.

26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words ‘In five years, will this matter?’

27. Always choose life.

28. Forgive everyone everything.

29. What other people think of you is none of your business.

30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.

31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

32. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

33. Believe in miracles.

34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn’t do.

35. Don’t audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.

36. Growing old beats the alternative — dying young.

37. Your children get only one childhood.

38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.

39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.

40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s,we’d grab ours back.

41. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.

42. The best is yet to come.

43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up..

44. Yield.

45. Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a gift.

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Zach had to work till closing time tonight at Chick-fil-A.  On the way to pick him up, I passed three bars–“taverns”, if you will.  All of the parking lots were full.  It was a little before 10:30PM on a Friday night.

On Fridays during the 5PM hour, “Pat’s Pub” is the feature on local talk radio.  Complete with the sound effect of callers’ favorite libations being poured, people gather over the airwaves to talk over their views on the news.  It’s a congenial hour of radio broadcasting.

I’ve been Facebook messaging back and forth the past couple of days with a friend who also is an adjunct faculty member at the community college where we’ll both find ourselves in the classroom in a couple of weeks.  She commented that she thinks one of the reasons she likes working there so much is because of the large number of employees who share a common set of faith beliefs.

The intersection of all of these snippets from the day in just the past few hours set me to thinking–to the tune of the theme song from the TV show “Cheers”.  (I may have seen part of one episode of that program sometime while channel surfing, but other than that, the only thing I know about it is the iconic nature of the thing and some of the words of the theme, which is played every week in conjunction with the  aforementioned “Pat’s Pub” radio segment.)

That idea of being glad you came because it’s “where everybody knows your name” is powerful.

There is something magnetic about a place where you feel known–and cared about.  What makes for a better time than being with people who know you and still love you–or, at the very least, will listen to you and interface with your life?  What makes for a more stressful time than being in a room full of strangers or, worse in my opinion, in a room full of people you know but with whom you feel you have nothing in common?  (That, in my lexicon, defines “loneliness”.)

The bar is full tonight.  There is never dead air space during “Pat’s Pub”.  It’s a plus in the workplace to know that you are among faith friends.

Day after tomorrow is Sunday.  My church will probably have at least one visitor.  So will yours, since it’s vacation season and people come to visit as well as go away to visit.  Will those people feel that , when the last “Amen”  of the morning is said, they’ve been to a place where they were known, where somebody understands life, where somebody thinks their particular life is significant enough to try to understand…in the larger, figurative sense of things, will they be glad they came to a place where everybody–especially God–knows their name?  I can be part of that for someone, if I’m paying attention–so can you.

…Dare ya.

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It’s happening again.  I recognize that old, familiar rush.  It’s what happens when I’m where I’m supposed to be doing what I’m supposed to be doing.

I’ve got a new job.  I’ll be teaching two courses (three classes) of reading strategies at the local community college.  These classes are designed to review read-to-learn skills and help beginning college students get up to speed for dealing with college-level reading materials.

I’m excited.  In addition to just plain old loving to be in the classroom, I’m especially excited at the encouragement potential in teaching these particular courses.  Some students will be eager for the opportunity afforded by these classes.  Some students will be put out that they are required to take them, placed by virtue of their skills assessment test scores.  I want to affirm the former, and nurture and persuade the latter.

I love it when I say “yes” to something that is a good fit.  Don’t you just know it in your bones when that happens?  That’s why there are tasks that seem heavy and cumbersome to some people, while the same duties are a breeze and a delight for others.  People who analyze these things call the latter “working in your green zone”.  The former is functioning in one’s red zone.  It’s there that we are drained and depleted over the long haul.  We can get tired in our green zones, too, but it’s what some people call a “good tired”.  My friend Nancy, for example, is working on a big project this week for the children’s choirs for which she works–but, she’s the woman for the task, so her exhaustion at the end of the week, when it’s all over, will be because she’s poured herself out right where she’s meant to be.  On the other hand, we probably all know people who have faithfully functioned for years in tasks or jobs that weren’t really a good fit (yellow zone–they could do it, but….–or maybe even in their red zones) .  When their “tour of duty” finally ended, they could walk away without ever looking back and, if you saw them a month removed from their service, you’d remark at how refreshed and rested they were looking.

It’s always a good idea to take the occasional look at the “zones” in which we’re functioning.  Of all that I’m involved in, what energizes me?  (green) What am I doing that I can do in an okay manner, but it leaves me stressed and overeager for it to be done? (yellow)  In what realms of life am I daily dreading the tasks and finding myself drained and depleted regularly in the doing? (red)  The start of a new school year is a good time for some of us to evaluate.  Could it be time for a drop or an add to your course of life?

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