Saturday, September 27, 2008

A SPARKLING LIFE LESSON: Love Life!..Love The Possibilities!


Love Life!...Love the Possibilities!

You, Whose Day It Is,
Get Out Your Rainbow
Colors and Make It
Beautiful !

-Traditional Nootka Song

I LOVE the first week of a new school year, a week brimming over with new students, new questions, new beginnings, and new possibilities.

Every first week is "different" and has its own complexities. This one was no exception.

I love the diversity of my students! I have a class with four basketball players sitting across from a tatooed, pierced creative student, with a huge heart. He has green dreadlocks and from time to time wears a skirt. Watching the eyes of the basketball players look at him, and they know I'm watching them, is why I am at SCC! They are all God's children and if they can learn to appreciate each other's differences in my class, that may translate to being more tolerant and loving in the world outside my class!

Most of the week I ran like a chicken with my head cut off. And I do mean run!! Yet the running felt satisfying and made me chuckle! I kept thinking, and saying outloud..."This is the BEST job in the world!" And I mean it!

Here Are A Few Things I Loved About This Week:

*I loved seeing former students (some of whom I have again) and giving them a hug!

*I loved that most students could not believe that I am 61. Several even argued with me. I don't fit their stereotype of an "older person"!

*I loved welcoming students who were scared and alone.

*I loved seeing my favorite colleagues get out there and do their thing.

*I loved starting new units that I knew would change students' lives!

*I loved having clothes to wear at the start of school that are two sizes smaller than what I was wearing last year!

*I love being in shape mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually so I can give 110% every day to my students!

*I love learning all of their names so that I can greet them and recognize them in the hall!

*I love that my classes are brimming full and that there is only room to sit on the floor!

*I love that I am way more organized at the start of this school year than I was last year!

*I love that God has called me to do His work in a classroom, and that He has entrusted me with these precious people!


This first week, like any week, was full of new possibilities! Today is full of new possibilities too!

And as the Nootka song suggests...Today is my day..and I am getting out my rainbow colors and making it beautiful!!

I am so, so blessed, and I am so, so grateful! I'm living every day as if it was my last!

God Bless!
Love Linda

Saturday, September 20, 2008

A CONVERSATION ABOUT RACE IN AMERICA: A Look At This Year's Election


I am a white, 61 year old female who grew up in an affluent household in Seattle, Washington. I attended Roosevelt High School, graduated in 1965, and when you look at my year book (we called them annuals back then) you will see a sea of white faces, most of whom grew up in affluence like I did. Over 90% of my graduating class of 875 students went on to four year colleges and universities.

Now understand, I didn't know that we were affluent at the time. My parents worked very, very hard to give me the benefits of the "American Dream." They had not grown up in affluence, but they went to college, worked hard, and doors opened. I mistakenly believed, at the time, that everyone lived like I did. I wasn't naive or stupid, I just didn't "get" how my being white opened so many opportunities for me. I thought everyone was told from day one, "Of course you'll go to college. College comes after high school!"

I became a Christian at Malibu when I was 15, and this opened my heart to social justice issues for those less fortunate. During the race riots in Seattle, I was, much to my father's dismay, in a black church cleaning the pool they used for baptisms. Much of my life since then as an educator in a community college setting has been about serving others, not just myself. But can I really "get" what it is like for my sisters and brothers "of color"? Even though I attend a primarily African American church...I'm not so sure. I can hear the stories of my church family, and I can truly empathize with how hard it is, but do I get the daily journey they face? At 61, and after reading "Why Are All of the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?"... I think not.

This book is a mind twister, a heart hurter, and a "must read" more than once journey. It addresses the notion of "white privilege" in an articulate and perceptive fashion. It, along with a discussion on Racial Reconciliation with Scott Finnie last spring at a conference, has opened my eyes... again. As I watch this election unfold, and hear the media commentary, I am reminded of this book.

I never understood, and am only starting to understand now, how I have a daily privilege bestowed on me by the color of my skin. Now granted, I am female and have experienced gender bias. I have one hand and am used to looks and second looks. But I am white, and that is a different story altogether.

I am writing this blog post after reading another commentary about white privilege and how it is impacting this election. I am in no way an expert on this topic, however as someone who wants to reflect on this culture...here is another way to look at some current events.

It is certainly food for thought...about racism, double standards, white privilege, and how far we all still have to go until the "American Dream" is open to everyone!

If you want to learn more, check out this website:

http://www.redroom.com/blog/tim-wise/this-your-nation-white-privilege-updated

God Bless! Love Linda

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

BACK IN THE SADDLE AGAIN: School Starts for Me!


In recent weeks I have watched my family head off to school and classes. Ryan started first, since his school district began classes at the end of August. His classroom was ready and he now has a wonderful group of new students. Likewise, Rog and Jessi went back and are in gear, Amy started her last class in graduate school at Gonzaga (she's working on her thesis for her Masters Degree), and even my grandchildren are "in the groove" with school.

While I worked all summer doing consulting, I had choices about the timing of my work schedule. I was blessed to have lots of good, challenging and exciting work to do for my clients. Yet hanging in the back of my mind was the task of getting myself "ready" to start a new school year!

One of the blessings of teaching college is that you get a fresh start each quarter, yet truth be told when I leave at the end of the year and students graduate, there are many loose ends that get left for "another day." :)

Well, the "another day" is here!

I spent much of yesterday sorting through old papers in my classroom, xeroxing materials for the first week, and throwing out things that I no longer need. I got a class list, searched for names of students I've had before (and there are lots of them), and started to refamiliarize myself with the curriculum and drill of starting again. It's truly a mix of feelings: anticipation, joy, and anxiety. Always, at the end of the first week and I know 90 new names, I feel like I am "back in the saddle again'...doing the job that God called me to do and that I LOVE doing.

I start this school year more than 50 pounds lighter and with even more positive energy!
We have two days of meetings (Thursday and Friday) and then Monday morning it all begins again!

I can't wait!

Loves and hugs to all who read this!
God Bless!
Love Linda

Monday, September 08, 2008

HOPE FLOATS! : LIFE LESSONS ON RESILIENCE!


I remember some years ago seeing a movie called "Hope Floats". I liked the movie, but I LOVED the title. It seems to me that hope does float... it bobs to the surface after being pushed down by the storms of life.

What I know for sure, after living for 61 years, is that part of the mystery and beauty of life is that life throws you curve balls now and again and again. You thought you had learned this lesson? Nope! The lesson is back again in ways you never expected or even wanted!

What I also know for sure is that some learnings and stressors do not have a simple conclusion, a date and time for when they will be over and finished. Some just stick with us, and we may have no control over their outcome.

I recently did a workshop called "Developing Resilience During Stressful Times" for one of my consulting clients, Dorian Studios. In July their building and life's work was devastated in a tragic fire. They have spent the last six weeks scrambling to re-build. They have made amazing progress and done what people said was impossible. Their resilience is remarkable, yet they are also exhausted physically and emotionally. They wanted some "tips" for how to make it through this very tough year for them.

I thought I'd pass along some of what I learned about "Resilience" as I prepared to give this workshop:

1) Resilience is our capacity to cope, over the long-haul, with stress, catastrophe, and tragedy. It's the process of adapting well in the face of adversity and significant sources of stress. Resilience is our "Buoyancy"...our ability to pop back up to the surface after we have been hit by one of life's curve balls.

2) Research shows that "Resilience" is ordinary, not extraordinary. Ordinary people
exhibit resilience every day, like after 911. However, most people could learn to be more resilient and this would improve their physical and emotional health!

3) Being "resilient" does not mean that a person does not experience difficulty or distress, emotional pain, anger, frustration, or sadness. In fact, resilient people DO experience their emotions. They just don't get stuck in them long term.

4)Resilience is not a trait that you either have or don't have. Resilience involves behaviors, thoughts, and actions that can be learned and developed.

5) A combination of factors contribute to "Resilience" and the number one factor is having caring and supportive relationships within and outside the family. These are relationships that create love and trust, provide role models, and offer encouragement and support. These kinds of relationships bolster "resilience".

6) There are many "tips" for building your own "resilience". A few of these are to make connections where you can accept help and support, find people to listen, assist others during their time of need, avoid seeing the crisis as insurmountable ( so work on how you talk and think about what has happened)and move toward your goals, even the smallest ones.

7) Many people improve their resilience because of their foundation of faith. Their faith helps them be resilient in the face of tragedy.

Yesterday at church we sang a song called "Pressing My Way!" Our congregation, which is mostly African American and struggling financially, sings this song with so much gusto that it almost blows the roof off of our church.

The chorus says:

I won't give up
I won't turn around
I am holding on
I'll rely on God
I'm keepin' my faith
I'm pressing my way!

Their resilience, their absolute refusal to give up against great odds, truly inspires me. They rally around and comfort those who are hurting. They avoid seeing a crisis as insurmountable. They constantly say, "God is bigger than this obstacle!"

In their storms of life that would make many of us consider giving up...
they find their resilience in God's grace and power! As one member said to me yesterday, "I am so sad that every cell I have is weeping. But I will leave it all at the altar. God is BIG enough to handle it ALL!"

While life's storms are not at my door today, I know they may be here tomorrow. I also know that for many of the people I love and care about... life is full of stress and adversity. May we all be "pressing our way" surrounded and comforted by those we love. May we remember to be caring and supportive people for others so we bolster their resilience. Our need for their loving help and support may only be just around the corner!

Loves and hugs to all who read this!
God Bless! Love Linda

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

OH MY GOSH...How Can It Be? We've Gone Full Circle!

It only seems like yesterday that Jessi and Amy were starting school!

That was such a special time filled with anticipation, nervousness, and a big lump in my throat. As my two darling daughters started off for this momentous school adventure, and we waited to see who their teachers would be, it felt like I had gone full circle from my own memories of when I started school to theirs.

Yet as I followed their school bus, and Amy waved from the back window at me, I could NOT have anticipated how it would feel to have Jacob and Emma, my two amazing grandchildren, head off to school yesterday. Now we have truly gone full circle.

Ah nostalgia!

Starting new things is not entirely easy for most of us whether we are a child or an adult. We often have our own set of nerves and anxious moments. Questions often fill our minds... Will I be liked? Will someone talk to me? And the ever important question...Where is the bathroom?

Yet I've learned over time that as I start something new I am never really alone. God is right there with me holding me up and giving me confidence! He's also right there for both of my precious grandbabies!

To mark this big event, the start of school for Jacob and Emma, I wanted to celebrate the moment with them. So to do that I made personalized yard signs with balloons and snuck them into their yards. The hope was to put a smile on their faces on the first day! :) As I made the signs I chatted with Bert remembering when Jessi and Amy started school. It was a big deal then, a life-changing moment, and it is a big deal today!

Soon I'll start back at SCC and have my own first day. Just like Emma and Jacob I'll have butterflies as I try to sleep the night before wondering who will be in my class. I've had 41 first days being a teacher and this year it is my 42nd. Still the anticipation is amazing. And just like Jacob and Emma...God will be right there with me!

Yes...we really have gone full circle, and I couldn't be more pleased!

Love and hugs to all who read this!
God Bless! Linda

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