Grace

Mar 02

I've had a difficult time with my job lately.

The work is challenging, but it always has been.  That's one of the things I like about teaching college students about writing.

I've been angsty, uncertain if this career choice was a mis-step.

I've been feeling disrespected.  Many people who aren't teachers or don't live with teachers see the winter break and the summer months off, and think I have it easy.  I've been told this, so I know there are people who think it.  

Some people in my life have said that I work part time, despite teaching a 4-4 load, serving on two committees, and doing things like spending over 30 hours (last week) on grading.  

I've been frustrated by students who don't read carefully, who don't follow instructions, and then behave badly when asked to resubmit work according to instructions.

As with most jobs, there are hundreds of ways to be discouraged.  I'm not Mark Thackery or Erin Gruwell, yet there's a pervasive attitude that I should want to be them.  I don't want to be them. I am a woman who loves the English language. I am a woman who is passionate for words, who has developed some skill at helping others name and control what they can do with words.

I get a reset button every semester.  New faces.  New chances to improve my teaching.  

Yet, I've been angsty and uncertain.

Today, though, a young man came to see me during my office hours.  His story of what he has been through as he's tried to bounce back from a bad semester, from bad decisions, from a horrible personal situation humbled me.  

Then a young woman stopped in to thank me for offering her an extension on a project.  She was upset, tears in her eyes during class earlier in the week.  I asked to speak with her after class and told her that she didn't have to explain what was going on, but she should feel free to ask for an extension if she needed it.  I don't think she knew she could do something like that. Today when she met with me, she looked me in the eyes for the first time.  She had a conversation with me. Her gratitude humbled me.

I remembered the most important thing I should bring to my work.

Compassion.

I don't want to be the cranky professor who mutters "kids these days," and that is the direction I've been heading.  The students who make me feel that way deserve grace, and I need to behave with grace towards them if I'm going to do my job and find the joy of it again.

What has reminded you to strive to work from a place of grace lately?

 

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Ten on Tuesday, March Madness Edition

Mar 01

Like Carole, March has typically been my least favorite month.  While it is far from my favorite (hey, there May! June! August! September! October! February!), I like it much more than I used to. Why? Let me tell you.

1.  March Madness. The only sport I follow is men's college basketball, specifically, the UCONN Huskies.  I take my brackets damn seriously.  

2. Spring break.  There's no similar break in the fall semester, nor do I feel the need for it.  The week off (well, at least from being in the classroom. I collect papers right before break so the students don't have to spend their break working) is a chance for me to get caught up on grading and prepping.

3.  Spring cleaning.  I'm optimistic that there will be at least one day this month warm enough to open all the windows and let the crisp, fresh air flow into the house.  I enjoy scrubbing away the winter's grime.

4.  Lent.  This time of reflection and discipline is powerful.

5.  Melting snow.  I'm not a fan of mud, which is the sad, sad result of melting snow, but I'm about done with looking at the white stuff.

6.  Jane Eyre is due out in March! Hurrah!

7. Packing away winter sweaters and coats. I'm ready to wear my lighter clothes, and the switchover will take very little time since I'm living with fewer clothes.

8.  Violets. If that snow gets out of here fast, I'll see a lovely carpet of violets in the front yard.  This year I'm harvesting them to make violet syrup.

9.  Seedlings. I'm no master gardener.  I'm not even close, but I do like to try new techniques each year. I'm going to start some plants from seed…probably this week if I'm going to have any success!

10.  April is just around the corner!  The best thing about March is that it HAS to end after 31 days and April (and spring) finally begin.

How about you?  What is your favorite thing about March?

Stay tuned for some exciting changes!

 

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So, Is that Mohair, or Crochet? *

Feb 27

Every now and then I enjoy taking a few hours to visit some of my favorite antique shops in the area.  Most often, I'm window shopping, inspired by imagining the original owners of the variety of goodies I see.  Now and again, I have a day when I find all sorts of wonders that I can't resist.  Yesterday was a craft-themed day.

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I found a trove of vintage knitting and crochet magazines.  Pretty proud that I only brought four home.  Aren't the covers fantastic?

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I picked up the crochet hook in the same booth as the magazines.  It was FILLED with vintage linens.  I had to remind myself of the drawer full of my Gram's linens to keep from greedily snapping them up.  The tag on the hook claims that is ivory, but I'm betting against that.  Still, it is comfortable in my hand, especially for a size 1.  

The box.  Oh, the box.  That was from another shop.  It was labeled "tatting".  I didn't look too carefully inside. I was drawn to it as though it had been placed on the shelf for me. Only once I got home did I investigate more fully.

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I was gobsmacked to find a stack of hemstitched "blanks" partially made into a project.  My mom recently wondered if such things were still available.  I have linens edged by my Gram, and I wanted to copy some of her work.  And look at this!  The unfinished project of a crafter from days gone by, just waiting for me! It might take a while for me to decipher just how the original crafter created her joins, I'm psyched to give it a go.

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Gram taught me to crochet doilies using similar crochet thread.  It will be a return to my crafting roots to play with these supplies.  

What supplies have you eager to get crafting?

*Last night Neal flipped through one of the vintage magazines in an effort to show interest in my finds.  His question made me laugh until my stomach hurt.  He was utterly sincere, utterly adorable!

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Ten on Tuesday, Blog Edition

Feb 15

Today's directive is to list Ten Favorite Non-Knitting Blogs.  I'm excited to share some of my faves with you as well as learn about some new ones.

In no particular order:

1.  Smitten Kitchen.  I credit any skill I have in the kitchen to this blog.  Over our SK-inspired dinner last night, Neal commented, "her recipes never fail you."  He is so right about that!

2.  Be More With Less.  Courtney's brainchild, Project 333, has changed my life.  Her approach to common sense and good living is thought provoking and delightful to read.

3.  Les Mesaventures de… One of my dearest friends, the blogless-no-more Sara is now chronicling her move from a small Connecticut town to one of the most exciting cities on Earth.  Follow her romance with the dashing Frenchman and her move to Paris.  Once she's there, I've made it clear, she must blog almost daily so I won't miss her quite as much. (Okay, she does knit, but the blog is really about her move into this new life.)

4.  Academichic.  I love clothes.  Clothes in academia fascinate me.  These bloggers make wise sartorial choices, which can not often be said about academics!

5.  Huffenglish.  As a teacher, I love everything about Dana's blog.  I have learned so much from her.

6.  Creativity Boot Camp.  Be inspired.

7.  Another Kind of Drew.  A tiny house.  An adorable couple.  What more do you need?

8.  Jane Brocket.  I know, I know. Sometimes she knits.  Her posts always make me a little swoony with the pretty pictures and clever ideas.

9.  Moleskinerie.  My favorite notebooks.  All art-ed up.

10.  Lifetime Reading Plan.  I love projects.  I love books.  This reading project is fascinating to follow.

How about you?  Leave me and the other readers a link to explore, will you? 

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Random May Thoughts

May 01

Ahh, May Day, the start of my favorite time of year: school’s out season.  By this time next week, I’ll have collected the last of my students’ papers, and I should be nearing the finish of my very last graduate school paper.  Only twenty pages stand between me and my degree, and it feels like heaven!

Neal and I had planned to go to Greece later this month with my sister and her kids.  Sadly, my sister’s fiance is waiting for a liver transplant, and his case has gotten more urgent.  Of course, we canceled the trip so that she can be by his side should his "new" liver arrive this month.  He’s getting the best possible care, and they’re super optimistic about everything.

We (Neal and I) still wanted to get away, though, so I think we’re going to take a weekend trip to celebrate our first anniversary.  I’ve never toured the mansions in Newport, making that high on the list.  We love spa hotels, so I’ve been googling in search of something relatively affordable that also has good reviews.  Any suggestions for a romantic New England getaway in mid-May?

Sometimes, in the midst of deadlines and ill family, the only action a girl to take is to buy a perfect bag.  A couple of nights ago, that’s just what my sister and I did.  I ordered mine and e-mailed her my confession, only to find that she’d ordered the exact same bag.  Mine arrived today, and I’m smitten.  It’s fabulous (1,000,000).  I’m a huge fan of Floto Imports, and I adore each and every bag of theirs I own.  This one, though…this one is amazing.  It’s green.  And on sale.  Want to see?

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