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Archive for January, 2010

I’m teaching four classes (two courses–actually, in my head I count it as five classes, since one of them is a combo class, which definitely FEELS like two classes when it comes time to prep and to teach!) at the local community college this semester.  I began teaching there last semester, and I love it!

At this semester’s adjunct faculty orientation, one of my colleagues (a friend whom I first knew when we were both homeschool moms) asked me what I like about teaching at the college.  Part of what I told her–and have since formulated further as an answer–is:

1.  I don’t have to deal with all the non-academics that go with teaching children.  Even though I’ve had to ask for quiet from particular individuals a time or two, and have asked a student to unplug after he came to class with an iPod, I still haven’t had to play policeman in the halls or bathrooms, I haven’t had to clean up vomit from the floor, and I haven’t had to call anyone’s parents about their naughty behavior.

2.  I am always amazed by hope.  There are men and women in my classes who are, for the first time, trying to get somewhere in life–and are finding success in the journey.  Some have lost jobs, but instead of sitting around collecting unemployment and feeling sorry for themselves, they are taking their unemployment period as an opportunity to imagine they might do something different–be something different–than they’ve been up till now.

3.  Finally, the thing I like most, is that the more I get to know my students, the more I find them to be an endlessly fascinating group of people.  There is a never-ending pageant of colorful life parading before my eyes every day.  In the laughter, in the pain, in the frustrations, in the accomplishments–my place in front of the classroom is like sitting in the viewing stand, and, maybe, just maybe, I can throw in a tootle or a toot or a bang on someone’s big bass drum as their parade moves on, adding to the joyful rhythm of the march.

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Changing My Signature

I got the idea from my friend Jon.  Quite some time ago I added to my email signature “I write at https://amyvanhuisen.wordpress.com”  I’ve had several people tell me they’ve read some of my posts, after seeing that tagline on emails I’d sent them.

People who follow that trail these days are probably disappointed.

I do write there–but only occasionally.

What I have written of late hasn’t been very well-crafted.

I’m not sure I even “qualify” as a blogger any longer.

So, maybe it’s time to change my signature….at least that part of it.

I am still, however, “Amy VanHuisen”–even if I’m not writing my life in my blog.  That part of the signature stays.

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Everyone’s home today–Martin Luther King Holiday is the reason for half of us being home; regular day off for one more; and waiting on the results of the latest interview for another.  We didn’t get up at quite the crack of dawn–on our own biological clocks today instead of going by the alarm.  Egg casserole is out of the oven but can use a little stand time while the last shower is being taken.

So, I’m here, at the computer.  Already my wanderings have given me a little spark of interested positivity (Is that a word?  Negativity is, so…why not positivity?).  Checking out new proposed Indiana teacher licensing standards, I find that I may in the future be able to obtain Indiana licensing without too many hoops.  I have checked this out before, never having had an IN license…I let my MI/AR certificate lapse during the days of early motherhood when I didn’t have time, resources, or aspirations to keep it.  I always thought the hoops were too many to go through for what it might be worth to me in having the piece of paper that says I am qualified to teach.  But now, to me at least, it looks like some common sense is entering into the picture and the new rules would open the door for people with knowledge and expertise to get licensing in a reasonable manner.

When I reflect on the weekend just past, I smile.  We traveled to MI with some friends of many years.  The rigors of driving the three hours to visit their children and grandchildren is something their kids no longer want them to undertake, so we have now twice arranged a deal that benefits us both:  Michael drives their car, serving as chauffeur of sorts, and while they are visiting their loved ones, we have the opportunity to do the same, as two of Michael’s three siblings live in the same area as our friends’ family.  Our journey was pleasant, as our friends are great conversationalists, always interested in people and ideas.  Our family time was thoroughly enjoyable.  Almost all the non-car conversation of this trip took place around one dining room table or another–probably about 8 hours in all (we were not eating all that time, however!).  I can’t remember when I have enjoyed talking with family so much!  Our topics were wide- ranging, our laughs were many.  Could it be that as we get older, we are learning how to truly enjoy one another more?

I love days when I wake up with a “this day feels happy” glow.  Today, I think it is partly “afterglow” from a lovely weekend and I am thankful for such a launching into a new week.  Hoping you, too, will have such a launch or some such moments as your week gets underway!

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Feeling Joy

I’m on my way to bed, checking email one last time for some info I’m expecting.  The tug of the blank blog page has pulled me here, though, and I’m thinking about joy…feeling joy.

I did two things today that “tripped my trigger”:  I put in final order the syllabi for the classes I will teach this semester.  I was wordsmith for an important letter.  Both of these tasks evoked a heartfelt “Oh, goody!” (she rubs her hands together with glee!).  Why in the world, you say?

Notice the main words in the descriptions above: order, teach, wordsmith, letter. Something of all of these are hard-wired into who I am.

Even though I am not always neat and not always perfectly organized, I crave order and am most content when life has it.  If I can bring order out of chaos, tweak the dysfunctional system into well-oiled machinery…I am indeed a happy woman.

Teach.  Heading down a bunny trail when I went to my basement “office” for something else in the past hour, I found myself leafing through my “50 Letters” folder.  When I turned 50 in 2005, I began a project of writing letters to 50 people who have significantly impacted my life.  (I’m still at it.  Note that speed is not included in the list above.)  The one to my mom focused on her as my first teacher.  In that letter, I mentioned to her my passion for teaching and talked about the example she has been to me.  The last two teaching jobs I’ve had have been SO MUCH FUN–just the right setting, teaching material, teaching format, student demographic…I love it!

I love the word wordsmith. It speaks to me of craft.  The craftsman chooses just the right tools for the job.  The wordsmith chooses just the right words to communicate the message.  The letter I crafted today had a specific mission and I felt a huge sense of satisfaction in being able to put words together in such a way as to accomplish that mission.

Someone–actually, two someones–commented to me yesterday about notes I’d written them.  My response was something about being in the tradition of John and Abigail Adams, whose preserved letters give us a vivid picture of their personal lives and of the life of our country as a young nation.  I’m not sure how I got started writing letters, but there is something to a well-written letter that cannot be duplicated in any other communication form.  It is a quirk in myself, I guess, that, if something important needs to be communicated, I will always think “letter” before  I think “phone call”.

So why I am telling you about these “joy spots” in my day?  Simply because they were that and the reason for it was that they are “green zones” in my life.  All of these were things that are fulfilling pursuits of my passions and gifts.  Each one is a “go” for me.

Have the gray, sunless days of these first weeks of winter got you down?  Operate in your green zone for a little while tomorrow and feel the sunshine glow of joy break out!

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That is, instead of reading some pages in Murder for Christmas (a collection of murder mystery short stories set at Christmas time…Kind of macabre, I know; maybe it caught my eye because we had just seen Sherlock Holmes the day before I went to the library) before I head to bed in the wee hours of this new year, I will blog.

…Okay.  Here I am.  And I find myself where I have been now for a matter of months:  Sitting before the blank screen, with nothing fresh to write.

I could attempt to say something profound for the new year.

I could vent about Pippin the cat, who no doubt will interrupt me at least another time or two while I sit at the computer tonight.

I could express gratitude for the friends and family with whom we were privileged to ring in another new year a couple of hours ago.

I could tell you that, in some ways, this has been one of the most exciting and, at the same time, one of the most difficult years of my adult life.

I could tell you that it has been challenging for months to be consistent in any kind of regular quiet time of Bible reading and prayer.

I could tell you that some days I nearly lose heart for my country when I listen to the news.

…Now I am getting into that hole, auguring, drilling  deeper and deeper into the muck of the common ground of humanity in a fallen world.

This doesn’t sound very new years-ish.  Isn’t the new supposed to be a place filled with hope, with bright light that beckons us forward to something better than what we’ve left behind?

In these early hours of 2010, I burst forth with the prophet Jeremiah who, in the midst of his lamentations for what had been and would be lost, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end.  They are new every morning; great is Thy faithfulness.”  Jeremiah understood.  God’s love and God’s mercy and God’s faithfulness are beyond what I comprehend as large.  They stretch out ahead of me–of you–in this new year…endlessly.  Yet, they are doled out to us only in bite-size apportionments:  “new every morning”.

Not that God couldn’t give us more at a time.  I think it must simply be that we couldn’t handle more of His goodness and of His wise pouring out of custom-made love into our lives than just one day’s worth at a time.

It is standing in that place of realization, of recognition of Love’s fingerprints already marking this new year’s moments that the Light which brings hope begins to glow steadily in my heart and in my sight.

Happy New Year.

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