My First “Weekly Smile”

weeklysmile1Trent has started a feature this year known as the Weekly Smile. I thought I’d join in, but I wanted to keep it separate from other happiness and gratitude blogs, and make this a little different. So I decide to make my weekly smile about something that may not be as significant in the overall scheme of things as the items I post about what’s going on in my life. Rather, I will select things that bring an unexpected smile just because they are unexpected. They don’t have to have a long ranging effect on my life. They just have to be.

So here is my first weekly smile.

It might be unexpected, but for me, this week’s smile is about Christmas lights. I know, I know, you all think I’m crazy. Christmas has been over for a few weeks, and even if you celebrate the entire Christmas season, Epiphany is also in the past. And if you go in the stores, Valentine’s Day rules the roost. But hear me out!

Three things:

  1. After six years in Taiwan, the Christmas lights here in Michigan were magical. Yes, I know that many people had them out way too early. Though, aside from the commercial aspect, there is something about having a holiday season, particularly if your family is more likely to be together for Thanksgiving than for Christmas, so I’m a little more tolerant of early decorators than I used to be: IN HOMES. So seeing lights this year was part of feeling like I really am back home.
  2. I had an exchange student from Japan visiting for a week at Thanksgiving. (NOTE TO SELF: put together a post about Yumi’s visit.) She was totally taken by our evening drives through the neighborhoods as more and more lights kept popping up each night. I realized, seeing things through her eyes, that with the amount of work people put in with their lights and outdoor decorations, no wonder they do it early. Let’s share this light for a while. Which brings me to three.
  3. Last night, I was driving home, and several people still have Christmas lights out. It made me smile. I was grateful to these people for having their lights out. I don’t care if it’s intentional, or they are just waiting for things to warm up before taking them down, or they haven’t had time to do it yet. I don’t care. What I do care about is that in this wintery season of snow, wind, and not much to look forward to, these lights warm me. I can feel them push away the edges of my depression and moodiness that can threaten at this time of year. I can imagine the people in those houses holding on to a little holiday togetherness, even if it’s only in my own mind. Those lights give me a sense of hope. And I like that. It makes me smile.

 

 

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This post is also part of JusJoJan, for day #15.

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Three Things Thursday: Also a Day Late! (BUT definitely worth it!)

snoopyThis week has had a couple frustrations and minor setbacks, but I’m getting back into the swing of things, even if I still have to keep my hand bandaged for another few days, but that’s a story for tomorrow.  🙂

This post is about three great things that have happened this week, in spite of the other stuff. And these things are helping me move in the right direction for 2016, so it’s turning out to be a good month overall.  So here are my three things for this Thursday (even though it’s late).  🙂

First up: I got the lease for the house so that I could start putting things in my name. I also was able to set up a time to view it and take pictures later in the week (see #3). Having the official paperwork set up for February 1 is quite exciting. We will soon be in a home where we can settle in and get back into building a life together. And it’s only a ten minute drive to the university — WITH traffic.  😉

And then Dave decided to wait on the moving van until spring weather and decided that he really needed to be here with some of the other things that are going on. Plus, it will be great to move into the house together. SO he investigated bus schedules, and three weeks from today, I will travel about 40 miles to pick him up from a bus station. He has to transfer in Chicago and in Detroit, but he’s doing it because — did I mention — he’s all kinds of awesome. He bought the ticket last night. To say I’m excited would be a huge understatement!

And last: today was the long awaited viewing of the house. It’s got all kinds of space and levels, and you’ll have to wait to see pictures when I have better lighting and more time, but let’s just say, it’s a Thursday thing for sure! I’ve picked out my office/sewing area, and I am looking forward to moving in and living and getting to work. And of course, we will finally be able to give my piano a home again!

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If you’d like to join in Three Things Thursday, check it out over at Nerd in the Brain. This post is also part of JusJoJan for January 14. I WILL catch up.  🙂

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One Liner Wednesday: A Day Late

Wednesday was kind of a lost cause, more to follow on that, but today (the second day of my Intro to Criminal Justice courses, I had a student come up to me to say:

“Thank you for being a not-boring teacher.”

I’ll take it.  😀

 

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This post is part of One-Liner Wednesday and JusJoJan (Day 13)

 

More Good News! Not all Meetings are Bad

snoopyToday was the first day of the new semester. I had all three of my classes today, so it was a busy day. The hybrid class meets five times in person before moving to online, so this week and next, I have three classes a day. It is a little draining, but I do really like teaching, so I eventually recuperate. Plus, in a couple of weeks, I will only teach two classes those two days, and will do the online course mostly . . . well, online. But I can do it on other days. For now, it makes sense to have all three on the same day, but yeah, I’m feeling it.

Except something good happened today that kind of ramped up the energy. If you have been keeping up on my insane schedule, you know that I’m working on a major editing project, and that it’s due at the end of the month. You may also remember that I said I had to meet with the VP of the organization before I could finish it. Well, I met with him before my classes today. I wasn’t exactly looking forward to the meeting, because, well, . . . meeting.

But today’s meeting was different. It was full of good news. I’m on track with things the way I’m doing them. His request wasn’t about the material I was sending, but that he wanted me to do an additional project for him. That one gives me some additional money, but more importantly, he told me that he negotiated a significant increase in the stipend I am being paid for the big project. Enough to pay a couple months’ rent on the new place!

All sorts of awesome!

 

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This post is part of JusJoJan Day 12

ROW80: Sunday Check-in

ROW80LogocopyWell, here it is: my initial check in for my first round of participation in Row80. This week had progress, but it is still an easing in process with the new year and all that stuff, but I’m pretty sure many people are in the same boat.

So that being said, I will report on what has been happening (or not happening) with my goals. Then I will list the goals that have emerged during the past week that need to be added to Round 1.

Finish Accreditation Editing  (DEADLINE: January 30)
This project is going well. Ten of 15 chapters pretty much finished. The other five are well under-way. I have a meeting next week to finalize the recommendations. Then I can finish.

  • The meeting is Tuesday morning at 9:00. Then I will push to see how far I can get by the end of the week.

Finish Co-Authored Paper  (DEADLINE: January 11)
I’m waiting for my co-author to respond to my last take on the revision. This is relatively low-stress at this point, since we are largely in agreement about how to incorporate recommended revisions.

  • Finished on time, except as many of you already know, I was given the wrong deadline, so we actually missed it. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that our apologetic submission at this late date (6 days past) will still be considered. If not, I will look for additional places to submit it.

Finish planning courses and upload materials to website
I have to update my assignments and projects for Intro to Criminal Justice, but the Intro to Sociology will take a little more effort. I haven’t taught this course in a few years, and it’s a hybrid course (a few in-person meetings and the rest online).

  • Oh heck, what a pain in the *** this has been. It’s not that I haven’t done it, I just haven’t finished it. I did help a colleague get oriented to the system so that she can start her classes tomorrow. And I still have another day before mine start, so the initial stuff will be done in time, and I’ll continue to work to get the entire semester put up as this round goes forward.

Post on blog 25 days in January
I hope to publish something on my blog every day, but it’s better for me to exceed the goal than to miss it by one or two days. The January posts do not fit a specific theme. In fact, there is no real plan other than to experiment with all kinds of things, and see if anything sticks. Which leads to the next goal.

  • This one is going very well. Since classes haven’t stated, and I had some momentum, I have gotten a bit ahead on this one. Here it is the tenth, and I’ve posted 14 times in January. I may make all 31 days at this rate, but I’m not going to stress. I’ll easily make my goal of 25 posts for the month.

Create a Blogging Plan
I am not talking about looking for a niche. I’ve made peace with the fact I don’t have to write about one or two topics and leave out things that don’t fit those topics. I admire people who have niche blogs, but as long as my life remains as eclectic as it is, I can’t expect my blog to be different. I’ll be looking for a couple of focal points for my life, but not necessarily for my blog. Still, I want to have a plan for publishing with a list of possible post topics and a rough schedule for doing so.

  • I want to experiment another week or so before starting to construct a possible plan.

Read Draft Novels (TBA)

  • Nothing on this yet.

Work Out a Weekly Schedule
With all the various activities I need to do in a week, I need to schedule routine activities like grading, course prep, tutoring review, writing, and personal time. No reason to waste thinking time on remembering and scheduling these activities over and over.

  • I had hoped to start the semester with a plan in place, but it hasn’t happened. I will try to form a draft plan this week based on the way classes and other commitments go.

Finish Jack’s Quilt
I’m ready to start the machine quilting. I want to have the quilt delivered to my grandson and then post pictures online (my daughter-in-law wants to be surprised), so no posting until the quilt is delivered.  😉

  • I arrived back in Michigan on Friday, and I unpacked the sewing machine today. By the end of this week, I will at least get started on this. My goal is to finish it by the end of the month. It might be ambitious, but I’d like to try.

Piece the back of Kate’s quilt
My daughter has given me until her 30th birthday to finish it, but I’m going to see how many months ahead I can manage to beat that deadline. (She’ll be 29 the lst of March.)

  • This will be on hold until Jack’s quilt is done. But Kate’s is next before any new projects.

Get back into regular music activities
I got a call about scheduling some dates to play at a church nearby, and once I get back into it by working with them, I can be on a wider sub-list. this is one of those two-birds-with-one-stone kind of things. I want to brush up on my skills, and earning a little extra money will be good. Who knows, I may even pick up a couple of piano students.

  • Good progress on this. I will do an observation on January 24. Then I will cover three weekends: the end of January, and the first two in February. Yay!

Determine longer range goals
I want to make this year really focused toward specific goals, but I haven’t yet really defined what those will be. The first half of Row 1 is going to be focused on creating a plan that will carry me through the year.

  • No real progress yet, but this is something I will grow into over Round 1. Not expecting any big shift here until mid-February or so.

ADDITIONAL ROUND 1 GOALS

The following items have emerged as active goals for the first round.

  1. Move into new home. Immediate goals involve setting up utilities in my name. Start packing. Look into internet service.
  2. Get car serviced. Oil change. Other issues.
  3. Create rough outline of book based on student response to ESL writing course.

 

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This post is also part of JusJoJan for Day 11.

Weekend Coffee Share: A New Semester

weekendcoffeeshare

If we were having coffee,

I’d tell you that I can’t spend as much time as usual because I still have a few things to finish up for the start-up of my classes this week. I’m teaching Intro to Criminal Justice again (two sections) and a combination online/in-person (hybrid) Intro to Sociology course. This is my first hybrid course, and I just completed the training for it about ten days before Christmas. I’m looking forward to classes, but as always, I wouldn’t mind having a little more time before things started up. But I guess that’s always the way. But I’m going to head to a near-by coffee shop (3 1/2 miles away)  😉 to gather my focus.

If we were having coffee,

I’d tell you that I got my sewing machine set up this morning. Dave was so great about packing it up securely so that I could bring it back with me and not have to wait until he arrives in February. I’d also tell you that I think I’ve practiced the basic machine quilting enough while I was in Iowa that I can move onto the actual quilt, hopefully tomorrow.

Dave in Iowa 229

If we were having coffee,

I’d tell you that I finished all the revisions and the report to the reviewers for the co-authored article only to find out that my co-author confused the deadline with one of his other deadlines. We have effectively missed the deadline. He thought it was tomorrow, but it was actually last Tuesday. If we’ve lost the chance to get it published with them, I will start targeting other journals to submit it to, but it was a big disappointment.

Still, I’m still feeling very good about the direction life has been taking over the past few days, and I’m looking forward to the coming weeks.

 If you’d like to join in and have coffee or tea and see what everyone else has been up to this week, you can head over to Diana’s page for the details and the Linky to lots of people who are making the weekly coffee share part of their weekends.

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This post is also part of JusJoJan, Day 10. Another great place to connect with other bloggers.

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Life: Three and a Half Weeks at a Time

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASome people consider me to a bit unusual. No one who reads my blog, of course, but people who have to actually put up with me on a day-to-day basis.

Anyway, I was driving home last night at the conclusion of my Transition Friday, and I got to thinking about numbers–specifically numbers of days and how many days I’ve been in different spots and how many days are ahead in certain spots. And I came to an interesting discovery regarding the magical number — three and a half.

Now I realize, most of you may not think of a number with a half added to it as magical, but you can just humor my love of patterns that emerge in life without any manipulation on our part. I mean if you have to manipulate numbers to make them come up with cool patterns, then what’s the point? But ok, I could do whole numbers and just use the number of 24, but I ask you, does 24 sound as magical as 3 1/2?

So brace yourselves, I’m going to take you on a journey of the inner workings of my pattern-seeking brain. It’s not too late to run away.

Oh! You’re still here? (And people think I’m strange and unususal.)

Check out these dates:

November 21 – December 15 (24 days)

December 15 – January 8 (24 days)

January 8 – February 1 (24 days)

They each represent 24 days (or 3 1/2 weeks). And each of those blocks of time represents something fairly significant in terms of the location where I’m spending my time. Regular followers know about two of them, and they may even suspect the third one, but here’s the quick run-down.

November 21 – December 15 (24 days)

November 21 was moving day! Well, the first of a few. But it was the day I got into the house I am living in now after staying with my parents since my return from Taiwan at the end of July.

November 21 was the day I picked up Yumi from the airport, stopped at the grocery store to get us some food, and then drove here to unload stuff and fix dinner for our first evening in the new house. She stayed with me for eight days.

The next 16 days involved me getting through the rest of the semester and doing some tutoring. I left the house on the 15th.

December 15 – January 8 (24 days)

On December 15, I headed to my friend Susan’s house and spent the night, so that I could catch an early flight to Iowa on the 16th. Spent 22 glorious days with my husband. Flew back on the 7th of January and spent the night at Susan’s again. I ran errands for a fair amount of Friday, and got back here last night on the 8th.

So, after spending 24 days or 3 1/2 weeks, in the new place, I then spent the same amount of time away.

January 8 – February 1 (24 days)

random numbersJanuary 8 was my first full day back in Michigan. And after working at the coffee shop, helping a colleague with computer stuff, visiting my daughter, making music arrangements for later in the month, and verifying next week’s tutoring schedule, I stopped at the grocery store on the way home from my daughter’s house. That’s when I realized that 24 days from then, it would be February 1, the potential target date for moving into the new place with Dave’s arrival within a couple of days (depending on how things go). But regardless of his arrival date, the lease is likely to begin on February 1 — another 3 1/2 week block of time.

After that, I’m willing to stay in one place for a while. Three blocks of 24 days is enough, but it was kind of interesting to see the pattern of time spent in this house, out of this house, back in this house, until I leave again–more permanently. And I will admit that part of the reason I was thinking about all of this is I got a little disoriented last night unloading the van in the dark and finding my way around the house. That’s when it really hit me. I’d been away from this place as long as I’d been in it, and 24 days isn’t much time to really start to feel like it’s home. But I’m here, and for the next 3 1/2 weeks or 24 days, I’m going to make the most of it.

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This post is for JusJoJan, Day 9.

Transition Friday with a BIG Dose of Good News

library coffee shop 004I flew in from Iowa last night and landed in Michigan at 11:15 pm. My friend Susan picked me up at the airport and brought me to her house where my van had been parked while I was gone. Three weeks ago, I spent the night at Susan’s place before we headed out early for the trip to the airport, and last night, I again spent the night there before heading out this morning back in the direction of my current residence.

However, since there was a fair amount of distance to cover, along with errands (like groceries and a potential visit to my daughter’s), I planned a leisurely route that would get things accomplished and get me home by evening–a day of transitioning from my time in Iowa to my life back in Michigan. This plan was workable largely because my classes don’t start until next week, and my private tutoring also got put on hold until then as well.

The plan had been to visit my daughter around lunch time, and I planned to stop somewhere along the way (about a 55 miles driver to her place) to have coffee and finish the revisions on my co-authored paper which is due Monday.

I decided to stop at a coffee shop that I’ve visited many times in the past, but not since my return to the US in late July. Today was the perfect day for it. I ordered a latte and a muffin and settled in to work on what I hope is the next to the last time I have to look at this paper.  😉 While I was working, my phone rang. It was one of the faculty from the university where I work. She was frustrated trying to put her course materials on our online platform, so I arranged to stop by before going to my daughter’s.

This colleague is the same one who is letting me stay in the house that they are planning to put on the market in the spring. But there has been something happening in the background. They also have a rental house that happened to become available around Thanksgiving. But they were trying to decide whether to rent it again (after a frustrating broken lease) or to just put it on the market again.

In a bit of a joke, she said, “too bad we didn’t know. That would be an even better location for you.” (Although at the time I moved here, I hadn’t started the tutoring yet, and my income was still a little iffy to take on rent.) But right before Christmas, she sent me an email and asked me if we were serious about it. Dave and I talked about it and of course, we were interested, but we were concerned about how much rent we could afford at least until he got here and we knew more about what we could expect as regular income. At our ages, we aren’t fooling ourselves about finding full-time jobs, but we’re both good at cobbling things together to create income.

So, I responded to the email, saying yes, we’d be interested if we could work something out rent-wise. Then we didn’t hear anything. I sent another email a couple of days ago, but no answer as of yet.

But after working on her course stuff, she brought up the house again. I gave her the timeline Dave and I were looking at, and she said she was willing to work out a rent that just covered their expenses plus a bit–and not a big bit. The end result was $20 less than my best hope for what we could get. I was delighted. Even if Dave didn’t get a job for a while, I could manage it if we cut our spending to not much.

Dave was planning to get a small truck to bring back a few of the pieces of furniture his sister doesn’t want–things we didn’t give to Salvation Army because they are things that we could use to reestablish a household again. And it looks like we’re going to have a place to put those things, and we can set up the lease on the new place to coincide with his arrival with the truck. We are quite excited!

I also got a call for doing three weekends work of music at then end of January and the first two weeks of February, so it was a rather awesome day. And I still got to see my daughter and spend time with her.

And a bonus? I will be able to move my piano out of my brothers’ house into my own place. A darn good day, I’d say!  🙂

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This post is part of JusJoJan

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Three Things Thursday: The New Year

three-things-thursday-widget-badgeI’ve had a lovely three weeks with my husband and his sister here in Iowa. That makes me smile, even though getting on the plane to head back to Michigan does not. Well, that’s not entirely true. I am looking forward to getting back and seeing my daughter and grandson and my parents. I am even looking forward to getting started with the new semester and meeting my new students. So even though it will be hard to leave David behind, I can smile about all the great memories from our time together.

On a related note, the second thing that makes me smile is that I got to play a part in helping the sorting and de-cluttering process here at his sister’s house. Yesterday was the day Salvation Army came to pick up the first load of stuff that she’s been wanting to get rid of. With all the furniture from the basement and the bags of clothes, and the stuffed animals, and boxes of video tapes, they pretty much filled the van. Whether or not she ultimately moves is immaterial; the place is now beginning to become more her own. After Salvation Army left, Dave and I wrestled the sofa from downstairs up to the living room. With the bulky furniture out, and the streamlined versions in, we got to surprise her when she came home from work. Well, she knew that Salvation Army was coming, and she had told us what she wanted to go and about wanting the sofa brought up, but while we were the ones making it happen step-by-step, she was able to come home and just see the results. I couldn’t wait! And the smile on her face was worth all the little aches and pains we felt this morning.

The third smile is that because of #2 above, we have shaved some time off of how long Dave will need to stay in Iowa. Dave will still need to have Salvation Army back one more time (I know it’s hard to believe with everything that went yesterday), but he aims to get that done next week. But with any luck, he’ll be home by mid-February or even sooner! And that’s definitely something to smile about!

This post is part of JusJoJan and Three Things Thursday.

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Discernment: One-Liner Wednesday

dance with Doug

Discernment is a dance of knowing when to tap loudly across a stage in charisma and when to soft step a delicate ballet across the ice that only comes with the experience of trial and error. 

–Lisa

This week’s quote comes from Lisa at Underground Energy.

 

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This post is part of One-Liner Wednesday and is my post for Day 6 of JusJoJan.