Monday, March 30, 2009

Not so much to report

Just checking in to say all is well here. For those keeping tabs on my mom, she is doing great. Still hairless. Still tired. Still fuzzy brained. Still achy on occasion. And still fighting.

All in all life it cruising along swimmingly. Hope the same can be said for you.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Those lucky dogs

One morning in January I tried starting our car but nothing happened. Just silence. I turned the key a few more times, but couldn’t get it going. Oddly, when Sam came out to diagnose the problem, the car started right up. We took the car in to have the battery checked and sure enough, it was about dead. So we bought a new battery and life was back to normal.

About a week later it happened again. I turned the key several times, but the car just sat lifeless. I went back in the house for a few minutes and then tried the whole thing over. Just like the week before, the car started up with no problem. Now I was confused. It couldn’t be the battery this time, could it? Maybe it had something to do with the sub-human (and sub-mechanical) winter temperatures. Was the car nearing the end of its long life?

It’s been a few months now and I still don’t have any answers because our car has been running fine ever since. I am, however, beginning to see the faint outlines of another theme taking shape in my life. I’m calling this one Appreciation.

We all know we take too much in our lives for granted. We forget how precious certain things are. Or we assume we will always have them available to us. Fortunately life has a way of reminding us how to appreciate what we have while it’s still ours to appreciate. Like the car. For the past few months, every time I turn the key in the ignition, I thank God when it starts up. Nope, no more taking the car for granted.

This theme has come up in a lot of other ways since (thus dubbing it a theme), but there’s just one more example I want to share for now.

I started reading a book called Unpolished Gem by Alice Pung. It’s a true story about a family that emigrated from Cambodia to Australia just after the Vietnam War. The family was destitute and desperate. They had been living under an oppressive regime and their spirits were nearly broken. Upon arriving in Australia, they experience a life they never could have fathomed. They behold a government that protects its citizens. They watch cars yield to pedestrians. And they discover food is cheap and abundant. Their first trip to the grocery store is a thing of wonder. They buy a few simple items including some canned meat and the daughter writes:
Back in our rented weatherboard house…my mother cuts the [meat] into little pieces and makes a nice stir-fry. "It smells so good," breathes my auntie as she spoons the meal onto a large plate. My mother cannot help but smile with pride. It is only later when my family sees the television commercial that they realize who - or more accurately, what - the meat is for. "Wah, who could believe that they feed this good meat to dogs? How lucky to be a dog in this country!"

So the goal is to try to remember to appreciate the goodness of life – people, health, circumstances, and an unpredictable car – while it's still ours to enjoy.

Monday, March 16, 2009

March Maple Madness

This weekend we drove to an old, old little town to celebrate the maple syrup season by indulging in all-you-can-eat pancakes, topped with the town's finest.

All across the Midwest, trees are thawing and sap is flowing. The sap is collected by the bucketful and boiled down until all that remains is a sweet, concentrated, amber syrup.

I learned that it takes about 50 gallons of sap to produce 1 gallon of pure maple syrup. I guess that's why it goes for around $60/gal. Fortunately, I think we got our fill for a while. And now I'm officially ready for spring!

Friday, March 13, 2009

This story has a point: Part 3

And it has an end. This is taking far longer than I anticipated.

ANYWAY, to wrap things up, I’ll summarize by saying that a few months after the failed career attempts, I ended up becoming employed by the library. I didn’t know what to expect, but I certainly wasn’t anticipating falling in love with it the way I did. And I discovered a lot of things about myself. For example, while memorizing lots of biological minutiae is not a strength of mine, it turns out working with people is. And though I probably would have made a lousy teacher, it turns out I make a pretty good librarian.

Looking back at college, I can see that there were things I was really good at, but because they weren’t the things I wanted to be good at, I overlooked them. And when I was trying to find work, I didn’t take into consideration what excited me. But once I recognized and decided to appreciate my strengths and not to sweat my weaknesses, I found my stride.

So finally, The Point: It’s been four years since I graduated from college and resolved that I would never return. But after a few course corrections, I’ve decided to try again. I’ve applied for and been accepted into a master’s of library science program and I’ll start in the fall. I think things will go much smoother this time around.

Seems like an awful lot of writing when I could have just said, “I’m going back to school,” huh? So why don’t I throw in A Moral, too? Here it is: Sometimes it’s only after we’ve strayed quite far from the path that we can recognize when we’ve finally found it again.

And just for good measure, I offer A Tip: From time to time, a little introspection does a body good.

The End.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

This story has a point: Part 2

Right after college I applied for a teacher licensing program and a college ministry position at the same time. Just like when I was choosing my major, I didn't stop to think whether either of these careers were really a good fit for me. I was just eager to be doing something.

After a few months of phone calls and research and testing and interviewing, I found out that neither job would be an option. To get licensed I needed to go back to school and I just couldn't stomach that at the time. To join the ministry, I needed to attend a mandatory week long training that was scheduled for the same time Sam and I were planning to go to Mexico to get married.

I really didn't take this well. Not at all. I felt like a failure.

It turns out I had a lot of ideas of what I wanted to be that basically fell outside of the realm of who I already was. I resisted what came naturally and fought to be something else entirely...

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

This story has a point: Part 1

As a senior in high school, I only applied to one college. There was no doubt in my mind - I knew exactly where I wanted to go. The harder part was figuring out what to study. At this point in my life it probably would have been a good idea to do a little soul searching to really figure out what I liked and what I was good at. Instead, I put a check mark in the box that sounded the least UNinteresting to me: Journalism and Mass Communication.

I don’t remember thinking about my major over the next few months. I was just excited to be accepted to college. I dreamt about where I would live and who I would meet and whether I might find my future husband. Those things were much more critical to me at the time.

Early in the summer before I started college I received a letter asking me to confirm my major or select a new one. For about ten seconds I tried to imagine my life as a journalist and it just didn’t look right. I reread the list. I noticed biology. Then I remembered back to visiting a forensic crime lab on a job shadow day. That had been interesting. Ok, I decided, I’ll change my major to biology. And just like that it was done.

Thus began the hell that came to be known as my undergraduate studies. I loved my overall college experience, but classes were brutal.

By the time I realized I had seriously erred in choosing my major, I was half way done with it. Almost none of my science classes would count toward a non-science major and I wasn’t about to commit any extra time to correcting my mistake. So I pushed through my courses as fast as I could, avoiding studying as much as possible.

I finally graduated with a degree I was loath to use. And I had no idea what to do next…

Monday, March 9, 2009

Brief Update

Right before my mom was diagnosed with cancer we took her out for a family photo shoot for her birthday. Because we were celebrating my mom, the photographer wanted to highlight her in a few shots.
I love this picture now even more than when I first saw it. Cancer is my mom's battle, but we're right behind her, supporting her however we can.
It seems like hardly any time has passed since she was diagnosed, but now here we are looking down the home stretch. Only four more chemo treatments to go, the last one scheduled for April 9. What a whirlwind it's been.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

A Library Pearl

Does anybody recognize this lovely lady on the left?

How about now?
Yesterday I got to attend a staff workshop with Nancy Pearl - the only librarian I know of who has an action figured fashioned after her. Perhaps you've heard her on NPR. Or perhaps you've perused one of her books looking for a good beach read. But have you hugged this woman? Yep, this is workshopping at its finest. Oh, and we also learned about reader's advisory.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Girl + Unpredictable Life = Chills

I’m not really a go-with-the-flow, role-with-the-punches kind of gal. Instead, I would really rather be in control, know what to expect, and have the universe unfold according to my comprehensive ten year plan.

Subbing at other library branches basically goes against my nature. The whole process, from trying to find the secret staff entrance to deciphering how the collection is arranged, is rather unsettling when you prefer mastery of your surroundings.

Despite the fact that putting myself in these situations gives me that I’m-so-nervous-I-might-pee-my-pants feeling, I think stepping out of my comfort zone 4-8 hours each week is a good idea. In fact, learning to deal with variability seems to be the main theme in my life since we left Colorado.

Obviously it’s taking some time for the message to sink in. And while habit is begging me to take detailed notes, instinct is just shaking its head because that’s the first lesson: life isn’t a thing to be's a thing to be lived.