The Pause That Refreshes: SoCS

It’s time for Stream of Consciousness Saturday, which means I’m also going to get a post in for Just Jot it January. What I like most about this happy coincidence is that I like getting a two for one in a post, AND SoCS posts usually end up being something I never would have written otherwise. So it’s a great surprise. If you’ve never tried it before, you should check it out. It can be really fun! So here is today’s prompt from Linda.

Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is: “pause/paws.”  Use one, use both, use ’em any way you’d like. Have fun!

When I saw this prompt, I couldn’t help think of the Coca-Cola commercial with the slogan “The Pause That Refreshes.” (OK, so I date myself.)

Refreshing or not, it’s time for a pause. Following the holidays, and all those reindeer paws and Santa Claus and shopping and festivities, a break is what most of us need. There is something to be said for that week between the holidays when people comment about not knowing what day it is because schedules as we typically know them during the rest of the year simply don’t exist. Many of us can just move through those days and catch our breath. The pause might actually be refreshing if it weren’t for all the hoopla leading up to the holidays, along with the reality of heading back to reality as soon as we recover from our New Year’s revelry (if we partake in such revelry and IF we’ve recovered by the time said reality sets in).

Still, the pause is something we look forward to, often hoping in vain that we will be more organized, less stressed, and full of contentment and good tidings. For many, the pause itself is an illusion, as we trade the crazy schedules and expectations of the holidays for the crazy schedules and expectations of the day-to-day routines we manage through the rest of the year.

One of the great things about Taiwan is that I was able to step out of the holiday tradition as I experienced it all my life. I experienced a different kind of pause because of the cultural differences. Although Christmas will be a holiday of sorts in 2016 in Taiwan, it wasn’t during the six years I was there. I have actually taught classes on Christmas Day, and Christmas Eve, and the days leading up to New Year’s (although that day was a holiday for different reasons). It isn’t until exams are finished and graded, and final grades submitted, that the holiday pause happened.


The semesters in Taiwan are 18 weeks long, and while classes start a week or two later than they do here in the States, they don’t finish until the first or second week of January. Sometimes exams can sneak into the third week. THEN we have our semester break, with a three to four week break before the second semester starts following Chinese New Year. 2015 issued in the Year of the Goat.

In some ways, the preparations for festivities surrounding Chinese New Year are the same as the Christmas season for those who celebrate it. People plan their meals, clean their houses, pick up gifts. But in other ways, there are major differences. Where you celebrate each day of the Chinese New Year is proscribed, depending on how close you follow the ancient traditions. And while many people look forward to Chinese New Year’s Eve dinners based on the male’s family, and the reunion luncheons and dinners the following day based on the female’s family, it’s the same level of stress and activity that we experience on this side of the world.

I was fortunate to be invited to various Chinese New Year’s celebrations of various kinds, and I found that the sense of pause and catching one’s breath wasn’t really there. On the other hand, for someone like me, who only accepts a few invitations and picks up gifts for the hosts of the events I attend, the season is one where I can at least catch up on projects I’m behind on, even if it’s not a true pause. But occasionally, I was able to steal away hours and sometimes a few days to truly pause and recharge my batteries. It was during those semester breaks in Taiwan where most of my quilting time happened. I later learned to sneak it in other places, but CNY worked for me. I suspect though that it was largely due to the fact that it wasn’t MY holiday.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABeing in Taiwan resulted in a huge shift in the way I approach Christmas. During my six years there, I sent greetings to family and friends, but aside from grandchildren, I didn’t do gifts. I invited students over to the house for a meal. I let them put up the tree, and we exchanged small gifts and ornaments, and they asked questions about the way Christmas was celebrated in America. But aside from that, it was business as usual, and we worked these gatherings around classes.

My first Christmas back in the States has been more of a pause than it would have been before my time in Taiwan, but as I reinvent myself in 2016, I have a feeling that Christmas will take on a new look as well, a space in time where I can truly pause and recharge my batteries and live in the moment of the season without getting wrapped up in the unnecessary trimmings.


This post is part of SoCS and JusJoJan. Join us. You can check out the rules and the other participants for either or both of these events Linda’s blog.

Gone Fishing!

me and cat on wallOK, maybe not exactly fishing, but I’m going to be absent from Blogland for a few days. I’ve now posted daily for over 40 days, and I’ve achieved several of my crazy blog goals that I set for August–knowing it would be the last month I had to devote that much time to blogging for a while. During the next few days, I will not be writing for my blog or posting on my blog. In addition, after the next 12 hours (a little time tonight and a little time tomorrow morning), I will not be visiting, commenting, or liking other blogs (unless I slip off the wagon) until my return toward the end of next week.

During these next few days, I will be focusing on a few deadlines and projects that need my attention. To be honest, blogging is more rewarding than some of the projects I need to do. The “responsible” part of me had considered a long-term leave from the blog, but the “rational” part of me vetoed that crazy idea. I learn so much about myself while blogging, and I am unwilling to give up the community that exists among the bloggers I interact with. My life would be so much less without blogging and the people I have met because of it. So I’m taking a short break–just a few days–to try to make sense of my schedule in a way that allows me to get things done and to honor this blogging thing, which has become so much more than simply a hobby to engage in only when I can squeeze it in.

During August, I intentionally made blogging a priority. I’m hoping that by telling myself that I’m taking a break, I won’t say to myself (16 times a day), “Oh, I could blog about that.” And I won’t be asking my husband, “Oh, could you get some pictures of that.” In other words, taking a break is intended to remove blogging (which I really enjoy) from the forefront of my thoughts as I figure out how it fits into my life during the normal schedule.

To help with my blogging withdrawal, I will spend some time doing some sewing on the quilt top for the summer mystery quilt challenge. Hopefully, I can begin to do some regular drawing practice. Or at least, alternate it with Zentangle. But my main focus is to create a schedule for the coming academic year that provides a balance between what must be done and what I want to do.  Such a schedule may be too big a project for a week, but I will see how far I can get, while knocking off a few things on the project to-do list.

I have a couple of blogging “questions” that you can help me with, if you are so inclined. First, I would be interested in how other people organize the reading of and commenting on other blogs. Do you have a system that you would care to share? Some of you seem to get around much more than I do, even when I spend some dedicated time on it. So any suggestions would be welcome.

When I come back (probably on September 4th or 5th), I hope to have a blog plan. The free-flowing thing I’ve been doing may become more structured. It may not. If you have any preferences about which of my posts you enjoy reading the most, I would be delighted if you would let me know in the comment section. You can choose as many as you wish. I’ve listed a few that you can refer to by number (see purple list below). Or if you have other ideas, that’s fine too. This is also a good place to ask questions if you have any curiosities about me. Although, I’m sure that’s not very likely. Right?  😉

1. Responses to challenges where you learn random things about me?
2. Posts about Life in Taiwan?
3. More about my family and the experiences that got me here?
4. Quilting and creativity?
5. The eclectic mix that I currently do?
6. A decluttering challenge.

OK, thanks for all your support. Your comments will help me as I figure out my blog plan.

I’ll see you in about a week!  🙂

261 days til 60!

Lost, Not Found: Day 4 of the Writing 101 Blogging Challenge

writing-101-june-2014-class-badge-2Prompt for June 5

Write about a loss: something (or someone) that was part of your life, and isn’t any more.

Today’s twist: Make today’s post the first in a three-post series.

The process of moving out of the house where my children were finally raised and launched did not happen all at once. I left for graduate school after my daughter (the youngest) graduated from high school.  That was the first stage of moving. What we didn’t take to South Bend with us ended up in storage–with friends and relatives. My husband was a collector of sorts, and he was able to find storage homes for much of his stuff.

Not that I didn’t have stuff, I did. But after a few yard sales, I had scaled some stuff back. It was at that point in my life that I even thought I was going to “give up” quilting. Some lucky fabric lovers got deals on my fabric and my quilting books. We all know that quilting wasn’t lost forever at that point, so this post is about the loss of something else.

Somewhere in the process, however, I lost a black metal 3×5 file box–the extra long kind was nowhere to be found. It probably could hold at least 500 cards–not that it ever did, but the potential was there. If you haven’t noticed elsewhere, I really like index cards and their attendant paraphernalia. If you haven’t noticed, I’m better at hiding it than I realized.

As you might suspect, it wasn’t the loss of the file box itself that was terribly disappointing; such things can be easily replaced. But what was inside cannot be replaced. At least not in the form that held so much meaning. That card file was home to my collection of recipe cards. And while it’s true that I very rarely use recipe cards (or cookbooks anymore), that recipe file held something more precious than simple recipes–it held memories.

Let me give you a few examples:

  • When my sister, Cindy, and I were in high school, we started doing some baking. And we had a few recipes that were pretty standard. A killer brownie recipe, no-bake cookies, never-fail cake, and maybe something else. (You might notice I have no trouble remember the items with chocolate as the featured ingredient.) We had a typewriter in our bedroom, and we decided that we needed to have these recipes typed up for easy access. So she typed them.
  • My mother-in-law, Ann, was well known for her cooking. But two of my favorites were her home-made bread and her 1-2-3-4 cake. And yes, I can find those recipes in other places, I know. But at one point in time, she gave me those two recipes. They were written on sheets of white paper with blue lines from a writing tablet. The recipes continued on both sides of the page. They didn’t fit in the file box without folding, but I folded them both in quarters, and they fit just fine.
    My maternal grandmother

    My maternal grandmother


  • My maternal grandmother made awesome date nut bread. Luckily, she also gave several of us the recipe on an actual recipe card with some little artistic thing in the upper left hand corner. I can almost see the handwriting and the little orange-colored thing in the corner, but not enough to make out what it was up there. And who can forget the most important part of the instructions: START WITH A COLD OVEN!

These three people are no longer part of my life, but the recipes in that file box were one of the ways I continued to feel connected to them after their deaths. Of course, I have other memories, and–in each of these three cases–I have something else from them.

  • There are other stories from that recipe box. Marie, our long-time neighbor and friend, gave me her recipe for hamburger soup. She had made it for me a couple of times, once after I had surgery. I loved that soup. It is not something I would typically make, but her soup was magical. And even though, I made it from her recipe, it was never as good as hers.

When I thought about writing about the loss of my recipe file, I knew some of the stories I would include. I hadn’t originally planned to put Marie’s story here. But I’m so glad I did. Our 22 years as neighbors didn’t end there. Every summer that I’ve gone back to Michigan, I’ve always included a visit to Marie’s kitchen, just like the old days when I went across the alley to visit. Writing this post reminds me that it’s time to check in with Marie. It’s crazy, because I really do think of her often, but she rarely hears from me. I am surprised how a simple thing like a recipe file holds so much more than recipes. Apparently, the loss of the file itself is not as tragic as it sometime seems; after all, I still have these memories even without the actual file. I still have the memories of the friendships, the connections, and the laughter that come with the preparation and sharing of food.


As for the twist, I don’t know how this will fit into a serial post, but I’ll see how it goes when I get there.


This post if part of the WordPress Writing 101 Blogging Challenge:






Riding Down the Highway: SoCS prompt

Today’s prompt is “Entrance.”

It reminds me of family camping trips, and the entrance and exit ramps to the highway. On our various summer expeditions throughout Michigan (and often into Canada), we covered a fair amount of ground, most of it on I-75. Of course, once we got close to the intended destination, we would leave the interstate, and travel some scenic state highways or county roads until we reached the state park or other intended campground.

While on the interstate, I always imagined taking each and every exit, wondering what wonders existed along those roads that we never visited. I was aware that if we turned off onto one of those roads, it would eliminate the possibility of the other roads further down the interstate, but I still thought about it. Kind of like, well, we could at least take an hour or two and go check it out, and then go to the next one.

On the way home, it happened in reverse. We would drive along whichever road our planned camp-out had taken us. And we would travel along, and I would keep my eyes peeled for the entrance ramp for the interstate, signaling the straight stretch back home. Even so, it wouldn’t keep me from wondering about the exit ramps on THAT side of the interstate.

After I began driving, I found the mystery of entrance and exit ramps weren’t as exciting as I had imagined them. One road lead to another town or city, much like other towns and cities. Sure, each place has its own charm, but there were no truly grand adventures to be had simply by taking an exit into the lush expanses of trees and ribbons of road.

Now when I look at new opportunities, I consider a little more carefully. My imagination might not be quite in synch with what really lies ahead.




This is a response to the prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday at

My Journey to Taiwan

As I am approach the halfway point of my 5th year in Taiwan, I going to answer a question posted by one of my blogging friends. So, Bear, this blog post is for you, as I embark on a new series about where I’m headed as I enter 2014.

I can’t find her exact question, but it was basically about how I ended up teaching here in Taiwan. She’s not the first to ask, and she won’t be the last. Every time I get a new class of students, someone will ask the question. The short answer is: I was invited. The long answer is: it happened through a series of invitations culminating in the specific one that led to my move to Taiwan.

In this post, I will offer three narratives about the journey to Taiwan. Two of them are previous posts for this blog, which detail the series of invitations I refer to in my long answer. Interestingly, it was a year ago that I wrote these two posts. At that time, my blog was only a couple months old. Now that I have more followers, there may be others who are also interested in this story. So it makes sense to offer these posts again.

The third narrative is a piece I wrote for my undergrad college alumni magazine as I was beginning my second year in Taiwan.

Here we go!

In the first post, I detail the first seven invitations and one of the consequences.

Invitation 1: New Job Position
Invitation 2: Entering a Master’s Program
     Consequence: Decision to Complete BA
Invitation 3: A Marriage Proposal
Invitation 4: Joining the Honors Program
Invitation 5: Becoming a Writing Center Mentor
Invitation 6: Taking a Second Major
Invitation 7: Considering Graduate School

In the second post, I continue with three more invitations and a couple more consequences. At one point, the invitations seem to compete, but we sometimes limit what we think is possible, as I would discover.

Invitations 8 and 9: Apply to the Roberts Fellowship Program
     Consequence: Travel to Asia
     Consequence: Shift in self-perceptions
     Competing Possibilities: A Fork in the Road
Invitation 10: “Come to Taiwan to Teach!”


And now for my contribution to the alumni magazine.

If someone had asked me a year ago where I’d be today, Taiwan would not have made the list of possibilities. Leaving the US wasn’t even a consideration at that point. But life has a funny way of surprising us sometimes.

When I returned to SVSU in 2000 to finish a BA I had started nearly 30 years earlier, I did so because I wanted to enhance my credentials for my work in church ministry. During my first semester back, I took an Introduction to Sociology course both because it fit my work schedule and it met a general education requirement, but I was not looking forward to it. I didn’t think I would be interested in sociology. It turns out I didn’t have a very good understanding of what it was. But I had the good fortune to have a professor, Dr. Joni Boye-Beaman, who awakened in me a love for sociology that changed my life. Within two weeks of the semester’s beginning, I had changed my major to sociology and have never looked back.

Members of the English department faculty were also instrumental in helping me forge a new direction in my life. Judy Kerman approached me after my peer review work in one of her classes resulted in an improved paper for one of the students in my group. She asked if I had ever considered teaching and suggested that I think about graduate school. English would have remained a minor for me, but for Dave Gaskill. Although we lost his gifted teaching way too soon, I will always remember his advice both on my writing and on my approach to project management. He also talked me into majoring in Professional and Technical Writing. Diane Boehm welcomed me into the Writing Center and encouraged me to develop my twin loves of writing and teaching. Kay Harley, Janice Wolff, Phyllis Hastings, and Mary Harmon provided support and friendship as I completed my second major.

In the 2003-2004 year, I was accepted into the Roberts Fellows, and another round of surprises and experiences awaited me. In May of 2004, I visited Taiwan for the first time, and spent time at both Ming Chuan and Shih Hsin Universities. When we went to Tokashima University in Japan, I found myself feeling an urge to return to Japan for a year and teach English. I asked a few people about it while I was there and even mentioned it to my husband, who was also willing to join me in that endeavor. But there were many challenges. My youngest child was still in high school, my parents were recovering from a major car accident, and my age put me in a situation of having to choose between two competing goals–teaching overseas or going to grad school. At that time, it didn’t seem I could do both, so I went to graduate school.

But after graduate school, I began looking for a job teaching sociology in a community college. As I was preparing the materials for my applications, I emailed Dr. Robert Yien (former Vice-President of Academic Affairs) to ask him for a letter of recommendation. I did not realize that he was currently working at Ming Chuan University to assist them in working toward U.S. accreditation with the Middle States Commission on Higher Education in Philadelphia.

When Dr. Yien responded to my email, he not only agreed to write me a letter of recommendation, but he suggested that if I wanted to come to Ming Chuan and teach for a year or two, that I should let him know. I didn’t respond immediately, but over the next few weeks, I thought more and more about it–both the good and the bad. I knew I would like spending time in Taiwan, but it was a long way from my my family and friends. I knew I would make new friends in Taiwan, but I couldn’t just get on a plane and head home for the holidays. I discussed it with my friends and family, and eventually, I decided to pursue a position teaching English at MCU.

Some things made the decision easier. I had already visited here and had some sense of what I was getting into. I don’t think I would have been so willing to go to a place where I knew no one or nothing of the culture and environment. Also, Dr. Yien was here, so I had someone here that I knew. And most importantly, I knew that I could keep in touch with my family in ways that could not have been imagined even a few short years ago. With SKYPE, I am able to talk to my husband daily,* my parents a couple times a week, and my children with varying frequency. My mother even says she thinks she talks to me more in Taiwan than she did when I was in the States.

I love my work here. I enjoy my students–ok, most of them–and I am learning a lot about them, about their culture, and about myself. I feel very appreciated here, and I’m beginning to pick up a little bit of Chinese. Tonight when the clerk at the tea shop told me how much I owed, I understood the amount without having it translated to English! There have been many special moments–like when one of my students invited me to a student karoke competition because he was singing a Christmas song in English. After he sang, he spoke to me from the stage, thanked me for coming, and told me that even though I couldn’t be with my family for Christmas, that I wouldn’t be alone, that I would have them–my students. I couldn’t really ask for more than that.

*At the time I wrote this piece, my husband was still in the U.S. He joined me here in Taiwan as I began my third year here and has been with me since.


The opportunity to teach abroad has given me a new appreciation of my abilities and confirmed my love of teaching. It has taught me that some of our best laid plans don’t always work out the way we had hoped. Sometimes, flexibility and creativity are needed to find the path to satisfying life work. And to have a life that’s larger than what I might have imagined for myself.


If you have more questions about my Taiwanese adventure, please feel free to post them in the comments. I will try to respond, either there or in a supplemental post, depending on how many questions I get.

496 days to 60


This post is also part of JustJotItJanuary (JusJoJan)

The Lie is Revealed!

We come to the end of a journey. I have strung you along for nearly a week with this game of intrigue and mystery, and now the time has come to reveal which of the final three statements is the lie.

A brief recap:

#1:  I broke my toe in Taipei. TRUE (no one doubted this one)

#2: I got married in a Chinese restaurant. TRUE (and there were pictures to prove it). This was one of the two with the most guesses. But lots of people believing it is a lie doesn’t make it a lie.  😀

#3: I had lunch with Sergei Khrushchev. TRUE (I posted this just yesterday).


#4. I attended a Klingon convention in costume.

Fans dressed as Klingons in a Star Trek Conven...
Fans dressed as Klingons (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

5. I volunteered to assist with a 6-week quilting class for beginners.

Rosie Chan quilting class
quilting class (Photo credit: _Jill_)

6. I climbed the Great Wall of China.

Great Wall of China near Jinshanling

Great Wall of China (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In my post yesterday, I mentioned that I had lunch with Sergei Khrushchev as part of an academic program I was part of, The Roberts Fellows. As a Fellow, I had many amazing experiences and opportunities, including a two-week trip to Asia. During that time, the 12 Fellows from that year’s program visited Beijing, Taipei, Hong Kong, Kyoto, Hiroshima, and Tokushima. While in Beijing, we made several stops, one of which was at the Great Wall.

One of the interesting things about climbing the Great Wall is that even though there are stairs to assist you, you have to remember that these stairs were done many years ago. There was no code for how many stairs there would be, how steep they would be, or even a common stair height. So you could have a couple steps that were only a couple inches, and then have one that was nearly 10 inches. No predictability: you have to watch.

One of the traditions among the Roberts Fellows is that there is a record for how fast someone makes it to the top. As you might imagine, I am not one of the record setters, but the year I was there, someone from our group did break the record. Alas, it’s been broken a few times since then. (We were the group from the program’s fifth year, and now the RF 15’s will make their trip in May of 2014.)

Anyway, that’s my long way of saying that #6 is TRUE!

And while I do not have the photos with me in Taiwan, I did attend a Klingon Convention, known as the Camp Dover Peace Conference in Dover, Ohio in 1996..My then husband was VERY heavy into Klingon fandom, and was the leader of an international Klingon fan club. He used the name Kris and the Klingon honorific of Thought Admiral. He went to many Klingon conventions, while the 1996 one is the only one I went to. He stayed home and I went with one of our mutual friends, who was also high-ranking in the Klingon organization.

Now, while I helped (albeit somewhat reluctantly) with the newsletter (Mindscanner) and helped create one of his costumes, I was not that interested in the club. I enjoyed the original Star Trek series and eventually came to like some of the later series as well. As for the convention, I was happy to have the chance to dress-up and go do some role-playing and spend some time with my friend. Anyway, while I did not do the Klingon forehead (I preferred to be a rather non-descript species), I did have fun with my costume. My outfit of black and gold looked pretty good, if I do say so myself, and the shoes had amazing heels that I could probably not even stand in today.

As the Thought Admiral’s Consort (wife), I was a bit of a celebrity, but apparently not for one particular Klingon who engaged me in an innocent bit of hand kissing. Since I don’t have a photo to share with you, here is a post that another Klingon wrote after the Thought Admiral reprimanded him for the hand-kissing incident. I don’t remember his name, but that’s nothing: I don’t even remember my own Klingon name. And so you know I didn’t make up this quote below, here is the link.

Warning from On High, May 1996

I receive a warning handwritten on this month’s issue of “Mindscanner” from the Thought Admiral. If I ever please his consort again he will have my head on his battle standard. Thick skulled as I am, I take days to come to the realization that the object of my hand-kissing lesson at Dover was none other than Kris’s consort. Kishin even sent me an implicating photograph.

So this is long way of saying #4 is true.

Which means that:

#5 is the lie!

While I love quilting and do a lot of teaching, I have never mixed the two. I take quilting classes, I don’t teach them. Sometimes the most obvious “truth” is not what it seems.

If you enjoyed this came, check back in a couple of weeks when I will launch another, with an interesting twist.

Thanks for playing along!

Truth or Lie? Lunch with Sergei Khrushchev

Too Fancy For Me

(Photo credit: vasta)

A few days ago, I posted a list of six things about me. Five of them are true; one of them is a lie. Here is the original list:

Yesterday, I revealed that both #1 and #2 are true.

I did break my toe in Taipei, and I did get married in a Chinese restaurant (the most popular choice for the lie).If you want to see a little evidence, check out some of the wedding pictures here:

Time to move on to number 3: I had lunch with Sergei Khrushchev, son of Soviet Premier, Nikita Khrushchev. Only a handful of people thought this was a lie, but I think it’s time to set the record straight.

Sometimes, we attend big meetings and conferences where there is a guest of honor and hundreds of other people sitting at tables around the room. And while everyone is having lunch, it can’t really be counted (in my opinion) as having lunch with someone specific. Besides, it’s kind of sneaky, and I wouldn’t be that sneaky. Well, at least not on a contest like this. .

Sergei Khrushchev, son of Nikita Khrushchev, p...

Sergei Khrushchev, son of Nikita Khrushchev, presents his books about his father in Moscow. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

However, that was not the case with my 3rd statement. When I said I had lunch with Sergei Khrushchev, I did not mean in a room with hundreds of people. I mean in a room with 14 people, 2 tables. And I was on the other side of a round table with seven people, smaller than the table shown in the photo above..

The year was 2003, and Sergei Khrushchev was one of the featured speakers for our university’s 40th anniversary celebration. That was also the year I became part of the Roberts’ Fellows.* The 12 members of that year’s Roberts’ Fellows were invited to attend Khrushchev’s presentation and to have lunch with him afterwards. BONUS: After the presentation, he autographed books, and I bought one of his books for my history buff son. Score!

On to lunch: As I mentioned, I was at the table of seven where Sergei was seated. I can’t tell you what we had to eat for lunch that day, or even what topics of conversation we covered, but it was definitely a great experience. I do remember, he was interested in what people were studying, what their plans were, and he was gracious about asking questions. To be honest, I think most of us were a tad intimidated to be having lunch with someone of such historical significance. That could be the reason I had a place at the table with him, because I was a little less intimidated than some of the others. But I could have easily just made that part up. After all, we do rewrite our stories every time we tell them.  🙂

As I write about this experience and realize how much of a gap there is in my memory of this event, it is a reminder that life has amazing moments, and that even when we’re paying attention, things fade over time. I used to think that because I had what could be considered by many to be “a good memory,” I didn’t always make notes or record my impressions at the time. I understand now why written reflection on a regular basis was part of the Roberts’ Fellows program. I plan to dig out those journals the next time I’m back in the US to see if there are any more comments about this particular day.

But for now, with the wonderful world of blogging, I can have a better record of what I’ve experienced. It’s still interpretation, my story of what is happening and what I’m experiencing, but stories are a good thing to have.

So there you have it. #1, #2, and #3 are all true. Stay tuned: Tomorrow I reveal the final results!  See you then! 🙂

What Really Happened in My 40’s


I read a blog post yesterday, “One of These Things Will Not Set You Free,” In it, Aussa Lorens told about six interesting (and sometimes, downright scary) things that happened in her life. Except one of them is not true. And that’s when the fun starts. Well, actually just reading her post is fun. But in the comments, everyone tries to guess which of the six statements is not true. Some people actually go through the items one by one to discuss the probability and their logic about the likelihood of such events.

She also invited her readers to do a similar post and then include it in her comments. While I haven’t had quite the number of off-the-wall experiences she’s had, I have done some unusual things. The hardest part of my list making was writing the lie. I found it a little hard to find something what wasn’t either too far out there or too mundane. But I think I’ve got it now.


My 40’s were a great decade, so I focused on things that happened (or didn’t happen) during that time. If you want to get the full experience, see if you can figure out which of the six things I did not really do, and post your guess in the comments.

I will post the correct answer next week (Monday or Tuesday).


Do a post of your own, and post it in my comment section, so I (and my readers) can play.

MY LIST: 5 Truths and 1 Lie

1. I broke my toe in Taipei.

Shilin Night Market
Shilin Night Market (Photo credit: roboppy)

2. I got married in a Chinese restaurant.

A Chinese buffet restaurant in the United Stat...

A Chinese buffet restaurant in US (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

3. I had lunch with Sergei Khrushchev.

Sergei Khrushchev, son of Nikita Khrushchev, p...

Sergei Khrushchev, son of Nikita Khrushchev, presents his books about his father in Moscow. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

4. I attended a Klingon convention in costume.

Fans dressed as Klingons in a Star Trek Conven...

Fans dressed as Klingons (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

5. I volunteered to assist with a 6-week quilting class for beginners.

Rosie Chan quilting class

quilting class (Photo credit: _Jill_)

6. I climbed the Great Wall of China.

English: The Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What’s in a Name: Stories From the Past

Charming My Name!

Charming My Name! (Photo credit: jpellgen)

A couple of days ago, a blogger friend named Cate posted about the name she would choose if she had to change her first name. Her post was based on a prompt from NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) that she is participating in. I really enjoyed reading her story about her name and how she wanted her name to be different because she wanted to be different. And how others tried to impose their identity on who she was simply by the way they treated her name. Cate’s post reminded me of my own journey with my name.

As a child, I was called Debbie most of the time. That’s what my friends and family called me. That’s what my name became at school, after the first few formal roll calls of the year. I shared the name Debbie with another girl in my class, but our formal names were spelled differently. I had “Deborah”; she had “Debra.” In terms of the spelling, I liked my name better. But in terms of our spoken names, there was no difference.

When it came to hearing my name, I went through a long period of time when I didn’t like my formal name. It probably isn’t as dramatic as I remember it, but “Deborah” seemed reserved for times when I was in trouble, and if it the intent was unclear, you could have no doubt once it was combined with the middle name. That dreaded combination of Deborah Lynne cast fear in my heart. Of course, later it was used in a more joking manner, and maybe that’s when I came to decide it wasn’t so bad.

Early Adulthood

During high school, I had a mentor of sorts who noticed my aversion to my formal name and made a point of using it in a more “respectful” way. Hearing him say Deborah made is seem not quite so bad. Still, I reserved the formal name for more formal occasions. Fast forward a couple of decades later, and my name was on the front of the church bulletin with the other staff. As Director of Liturgy and Music, my formal name was there for all to see on a weekly basis. Still, in the day to day working environment, I was Debbie to pretty much everyone there, with an occasional Deb here and there.

Identity: Who are you?

Identity: Who are you? (Photo credit: philozopher)

For reasons that I may or may not talk about in future posts, I was in my 40’s when I went back to college to finish my BA. I decided at that time to do a minor “identity experiment” and used Deborah at school, without changing it at work. I gradually became accustomed to being called Deborah and even  began to like it. It felt more sophisticated, more professional. At the same time, my major and ultimately my academic trajectory also changed. By the time, I went to grad school, I was comfortable with the name and with the new direction my life was taking. I intended to keep using my formal name, but pretty quickly, people started calling me Deb, and I decided not to stop them. I now had a formal name that worked professionally, and a relaxed form that was used when I was among colleagues..

Social Media

On Facebook, I started out with Deborah, though I’ve since changed it to Deb. Sometimes I think about changing it back because of my students. I use Facebook quite a bit to interact with students. And while I tell them in class my name is Deborah and explain to them that I use Deb on Facebook for my family and friends, they very quickly think it’s OK to use Deb. I’m trying to decide if that bothers me. I mean, in general, students don’t use names at all; they often just call me “Teacher,” which actually DID bother me at first, until I learned that it was just a cultural thing. For now, students calling me Deb must not bother me too much, because I haven’t done anything official to rectify it. I could, after all, change my Facebook name back to Deborah. And I may. I just haven’t decided whether or not it’s important, or if perhaps I’m going through another transformation. To this point in Taiwan, I had been using Deborah pretty much across the board, reserving Deb for a few people who knew me well.

When I started my blog last year, I used Deborah. For no special reason other than I was using Deborah for almost everything else. But realistically, I am currently using either Deborah or Deb. Debbie is reserved for family and for long-term friends who have never really used any other form of my name with me. For example, if my siblings ever called me anything other than Debbie, it would seem almost foreign to me.

My Daughter

And that leads to the story of another Kate–my daughter–and her name.

Kates wedding 2Interestingly, my daughter does not like her formal name. My husband at the time and I had a thing about giving her a solid name with lots of options. So even though we wanted a daughter named Kate, we gave her the nearly impossible moniker of Kathleen Elizabeth. To be fair, I didn’t really think about how enormous the name was. The boys all had sturdy names–Douglas Richard, Erik Daniel, Thomas Andrew–with four syllables. Kathleen Elizabeth got all of that and two more. When she graduated from high school, her name stuck our further than any one else’s! Oooops! , and when my mother uses that dreaded combination on Kate, she just rolls her eyes.

Names and Identities

I’m glad Cate posted about her name. It got me thinking and writing about things like names and what they do and don’t mean to me and how it changes over time. It got me thinking about the things my daughter has said to me about her name over the years. Obviously, our sense of who we are changes over time. Maybe it’s natural that the way we think about our name might also shift from time to time.

What about you? Do you have a story about your name?

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Stories from the Past (The Quilting Version)

The Upcoming Quilt-Along

Yesterday, I posted a picture of the quilt that is being featured in the quilt-along I joined. Technically, it has already started, but we are still in the preparatory stages. So far, I’ve gathered most of the materials, and I’ve selected and prepared the fabrics that I will use.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAccording to the posted schedule, I will get instructions tomorrow to make fabric sets for the blocks, and Thursday, the cutting begins. By the weekend, I can be sewing blocks! If I stay with the schedule, the entire quilt will be finished by Christmas; however, I will be happy just to have the top pieced. I can do the actual quilting at a more leisurely pace over my winter break.

My color scheme is more complex than the one recommended for beginners. Luckily, I’ve had a bit of quilting experience, so I’m willing to try a color scheme that deviates quite a bit from the recommended one. I am using fabrics in greens, pinks, blues, and purples. Many of them are fabrics I’ve collected over the past several years. I’m combining these fabrics with the quilt-along pattern so that I can finally make good on a quilt idea that’s been on the back burner for a while–one for my daughter, Kate.

A Recap

For those of you who don’t know, my daughter, Kate is the youngest of my four children, and she is the mother of Mr. Logan, the “not so little” guy you see at the right with his quilt. When I gave Logan his quilt in the summer of 2012 (when he was 18 months old), Kate asked me when she would be getting hers. Funny story!

1278316_10201658315880667_1692301913_nSeveral years ago, Kate showed some interest in having me make her a quilt. She knew the colors she wanted–pinks, greens, blues, and purples–and I started collecting fabrics in fat quarters and half yards. Occasionally, I would see a possible pattern and show Kate. But we never truly set on a definite pattern. Graduate school came along, and quilting went by the wayside, until I found out that Kate was pregnant with Logan. It took me until he was 18 months old to get the baby quilt done, but as seen in the picture at the top right, he did get it. As I was working on Logan’s quilt, I found myself wondering whether Kate was still interested in having me make her a quilt, and if her choice of colors would be the same. So when she asked me when she was getting hers, the discussion began.

She still wanted me to use the colors and fabrics that I had started collecting. The pattern didn’t matter except, now that she had seen Logan’s quilt, I knew she wanted something that included more specific blocks, something less “random” than the design I used for Logan’s quilt. Something with structure, but not too traditional. And something that, when I got to it, I would enjoy making. I’d been thinking about doing something with log cabin blocks when the conversation of the quilt came up in a chat back in February, as seen here:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAME: ok, here’s another. If I did a log cabin pattern, I would incorporate purple, green, and blue as well, unless you want just pinks.

K: If you want to roll with that, you can. And if you do, you should do each block a separate color.

ME: ok 🙂

K: or whatever you want 😛

ME: When I start playing with some blocks, I’ll send you pictures and you can tell me which you like best.  It will be a while, but I like to at least think about quilting, and yours is the next big project I want to do

K: Do an all blue one, and one that includes all four colors.

ME: ok 🙂 that will be fun:

K: keyword: fun. don’t make it a job! if it’s a present for my 30th birthday so be it.

ME: 30th birthday present! Crap! I only have 4 years! LOL

It will be a while, but I like to at least think about quilting

When I wrote this line in the chat, I thought it might be a couple years before I could even think about getting to this quilt, so I am thrilled that the quilt-along has provided a structured way for me to pursue this project at this point in time. One of the things I’ve really come to grips with lately is that there is no such thing as making time. And the things I have to do will always take up whatever time I have. I can let the obligtaions and things I believe I have to do expand to fill my hours. Or I can use the skills and tricks I’ve been learning in the past few months, and intentionally take time for me.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen I had that conversation with my daughter 9 months ago, I was still thinking about log cabin blocks, looking at the fabrics in my stash, and dreaming about some distant quilting time. Now, instead of just hoping, everything is in place. I have a plan with a schedule, a support group that cares whether or not I quilt.

I won’t be giving up my quilting time just because I could be doing other work. I will continue to take time for me, time that refreshes me for the other tasks that need to be done. Taking care of me is something that is necessary, not a luxury that can be relegated to meager scraps.

The closing words on that post of February 5 were: “Thanks, Kate! And maybe you won’t have to wait until your 30th birthday for the quilt. But no promises. The keyword is fun!” What a joy it is to be able to know that Kate will get her quilt well before her 30th birthday, and that I will be immersed in a project I love.

566 days to 60!