Thursday, December 31, 2015

#364: Keeping my big fat mouth shut

I arrived at the Austin airport yesterday morning an hour-and-a-half before my flight. I've never had to get there that early; usually I get checked in and through security in about 15 minutes, then sit for half an hour working on my computer.

Not so this time! The line for curbside checking was long, and I arrogantly walked inside, feeling superior to the nimrods waiting in the cold. The line doubled back on itself like I've never seen before. I migrated with a group of likeminded passengers to the end of the line and immediately began making snarky remarks to the people in line. Midway through the 3rd huff and eye roll, I caught myself. I noticed that there was an icky feeling inside of me. Vaguely I sensed that there were larger problems in the world than my inconvenience and discomfort, though the thought wasn't that clear.

I stopped talking to the people around me, as I couldn't trust myself to not complain if I did.

For the rest of the line I just stood there, playing on my phone. I told myself over and over that I hadn't slept much this week; that I'd just spent 8 days with my family; that I'd been to a memorial service the day before; and that I was sad to be leaving my parents. Just be quiet.

A few pieces of humble pie and 63 minutes later I arrived at the check-in counter. My plane was going to take off in 22 minutes. The attendant told me that three full flights had been cancelled that morning, then the day got worse. It began to sink in that other people were having way worse days than I.

Security wasn't nearly as long, but it moved slowly.  My anxiousness about missing my flight spewed out a few times, but I learned a few people behind me were on my same flight. Again I recognized that I was not alone, that other people were also "suffering". My anxiety was going through the roof. All I could think about was staying in the airport for 5 more hours waiting to get on the next flight out. I called Southwest but when the automated system answered I hung up, surrendering to my powerlessness over everything.

At 11:25, my departure time, I was taking off my shoes for security. At least I'm not the only one, I told myself.

I grabbed my stuff off the belt and ran to Gate 10, where there were about 6 people in line to board the plane!! I was huffing and puffing and so grateful that I made it. The couple in front of me were huffing and puffing and had been in back of me in security.

Turns out we all made it.

And while I did do a fair amount of fretting and working myself up into quite an anxious state, I am proud that I did manage to keep my mouth shut and didn't make it worse for the people around me.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

#363: Holiday tour of Austin

Last night a friend from high school and I went on a "Christmas Tour of Austin" of sorts.

First there was dinner at 24 Diner at 6th and Lamar where the old Waterloo Ice House used to be.

Next to the Whole Foods Mothership across the street for dessert, where we stumbled upon ice skating on the roof! Unfortunately it ended at 9 and we got there at 8:58.

Full from burgers and dessert, a visit to the Zilker Holiday Tree! I haven't been there in years.

The best thing to do is to spin underneath it while you look up...then try not to throw up!

Our tour ended at Mozart's Coffee Roasters on Lake Austin Blvd. Here's why (try to overlook my singing; I got excited!):

There were five songs total. Here's part of another one:

And some random stills from the rest of the show:

#362: Cousin Bob 1941-2015

Meet Cousin Bob, who passed away just before Christmas. I was able to extend my trip to attend the memorial service, and though the circumstances were not good, I got to see family members I haven't seen in years, and some I've never met. I wore my new "Joy" socks (see #333) because Cousin Bob would have thought they were fun! 

 Dr. Robert L. Wynne
Dr. Robert L. (“Bob”) Wynne, age 74, beloved husband of Diana Jones Wynne and noted Houston dentist for over forty years, entered into the eternal reward earned for him by his Savior, Jesus Christ on December 18, 2015.   
Bob was born in Galveston, Texas to David and Willa Grace Wynne, reared in West University Place in Houston, and graduated from Lamar High School. After attending the University of Texas where he was a member of the Delta Tau Delta fraternity, he received his D.D.S. degree in 1967. He served as a Captain in the United States Army and then opened his private dental practice in 1969. He soon became dentist of choice for many patients, all of whom he loved and served with excellence. Bob served as President of both the Houston and Texas Academies of General Dentistry, was a Fellow in the American College of Dentistry, was nominated for Dentist of the Year of Texas, and was voted “Super Dentist” for four years by his peers.
As a churchman, Bob served for several years on the Missions Committee of Christ Evangelical Presbyterian Church, of which he and Diana were founding members, and participated in multiple foreign mission trips to India, Kazakhstan, and Guatemala where he shared both his faith and his dental services to indigent patients.
Bob loved water sports and was a competitive swimmer in high school and a water polo player in college. His passion for boating, SCUBA diving, and waterskiing continued throughout his retirement years at his home on Lake Travis and in Cozumel, Mexico.  Bob and Diana literally travelled the world together, and he was content that he had been everywhere in the world he wanted to go.  
Bob was preceded in death by his parents, and is survived by Diana, their sons, Brendon Wynne and Cameron Wynne (Dorothy), and their children, Nicole and Mason. He is also survived by his brother, Kenneth R. Wynne (Gay), niece and nephews and their spouses, Gracia Wynne Duncan, M.D. (Robert), K. Reed Wynne, Jr., David E. Wynne (Sarah), Rev. Dr. Robert Carlton Wynne (Linley), and Nathan M. Wynne, and their children, Trip, Jody, Wynne, Lawson, Anna Cate, Ross, Robert, Connor, and Anderson.  He is also survived by his brother-in-law, Don Jones (Bettye), their children, Angela (Jamie) and Bobby (Franny), and grandchildren, Pate, Allison, Ellie, and Paige.
Memorial services will be held at Spicewood Baptist Church in Spicewood, Texas on Monday, December 28 at 1:00, and at Christ Evangelical Presbyterian Church, located at 8300 Katy Freeway in Houston, Texas on Wednesday, December 30 at 1:00.  Both services will be times of rejoicing.  As Bob said to Diana in a letter he left for her, “It’s been fun.”

Monday, December 28, 2015

#361: Visiting my second parents

I got to visit my second parents today for the first time in years and years! They are the parents of my long time best friend and next-door neighbor for 20+ years.

My best friend, Amy (who lives elsewhere), with my brother:

Her parents and I, today:
My family moved in next door to them when I was 7. They know me as well as my own parents do; I think that just happens when you know someone day after day, month after month, year after year. What a treat to get to catch up and feel as comfortable with them as I did when they lived next door!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

#360: Authentic Tex-Mex with an authentic friend

What is a not-to-miss when visiting Austin? TEX-MEX!!

And seeing this guy...whom I've known since high school. What's more amazing to me is that he knows me—the good, the bad, the wonderful—since I was 15 years old. I haven't seen him in years but for me, it was if no time had past. He is still the same funny, lighthearted, caring guy who always picks some obscure, awesome hole-in-the-wall restaurant he's always been. I'm so lucky to have a lifetime friend in him! Thank you, Josh!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

#359: Christmas in Austin: Unplugged

It wasn't white, it was actually rather warm. We sat around and watched Christmas movies and a documentary on Walt Disney. There were a couple of minutes of NBA basketball. There were presents and laughter and food and lots of gingerbread [vegan, by the way]. Oh, and Grandma's chocolate pie. My dad and I walked around Town Lake.

But the best part of the day?  Being disconnected for most of the day! My phone sat downstairs not touched; my computer was closed. Notwithstanding Pandora and a few moves on Words with Friends, my nervous system put the "hyperawareness" model on standby and I relaxed. I heard myself think. I heard my intuition talk to me. I gave my full attention to the people right in front of me. I watched 4 hours about Walt Disney with undivided attention.

It was amazing! Give yourself a gift this new year, and vacation from your electronics!

Friday, December 25, 2015

#358: Brother Wars

My brother and I went to see Star Wars The Force Awakens this afternoon! What is so amazing about this is not the movie, though it was fantastic, but that this is the first time I have spent time with my brother in years.

I'm not kidding, years. Lots of them. I can't even remember the last time we went out together...perhaps five years ago when we went out to dinner in South Austin?

We went to the theatre at the mall and the traffic was so bad I parked quickly. The entire walk to the mall he yelled at me for parking so far away and I was pretty sure that this was a bad idea.

But we got our tickets, popcorn, beverages and 3D glasses and set ourselves up in great seats and waited for the show to start. And waited. And waited some more. My brother kept asking when the show would start approximately every 43 seconds, and I again thought this was not the best idea I ever had. Shortly thereafter a teenage girl in an AMC uniform announced that there had been projector problems and the movie would start soon, which it did.

Here's where everything changed for me, however: the movie that played was Star Wars but was not in 3D. A low murmur went through the crowd. We looked around and half the people had their glasses on, half didn't.

I felt like someone should go tell the staff but hoped somebody else would do it. My brother said, "this is NOT in 3D." My stomach felt anxious. He said it again. More anxiety.

"I'm gonna go tell 'em." And then my brother was gone! He returned about 6 minutes later, concurrent with the movie screen going black. He said to the theatre, "They didn't know it wasn't in 3D." People cheered. I pulled my jaw off the floor and said thank you to this man whom I have known my whole life but have been entirely underestimating. Where did he get the courage to advocate for himself so effectively? It's taken me years of work to be able to ask the driver on a road trip to stop so I can use the facilities, and here he is, without any problem, getting a problem fixed for a bunch of people he doesn't know!

All this time I've been full of judgment and criticism of him and his life choices and his behavior [okay, pretty much his everything]. I hadn't seen until today how judgmental and arrogant I have been when it comes to him and my immediately family. I hadn't realized I've been just as close-minded and critical of them as I've believed they were of me.

As far as I'm concerned, I've already received my Christmas gift: not just that I got to spend time with my brother, but that I learned something about him and from him today. 

Thursday, December 24, 2015

#357: Christmas card moments

My parents took me to a Christmas party with them tonight, and we literally stood around a piano with a bunch of other people singing Christmas carols!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

#356: The Trail of Lights

Back in Austin for the Christmas holiday and we went directly from the airport to the Trail of Lights!

The Bat Cave
Thunderclouds- BOO!
Rainbow comes out- YAY!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

#355: Merry Christmas to me!

I bought myself new skis today, then used them all morning at Bogus!  WooHoo!  Who knew better skis could change everything?

Monday, December 21, 2015

#354: Oh, the places you'll go--down the hill!

My friend Liz and I went skiing at Bogus this morning, and I drove, and it was magnificent.

However, the long version of the story is like this:

  1. I wanted to ski today all week long.
  2. I'm afraid of driving on the road, particularly the down part.
  3. This has been worrying me all week. Really, keeping me up at night because I've been so scared to drive. I could drive by myself. I could ask someone to go with me. What if no one wants to come back at noon?....blah blah blah...
  4. Last night in church, with no solution that calmed my fears, I realized I could, in fact, ask God to help with this. [sidebar: I do think that God has bigger things to worry about, but this is the problem of the day. My God
    is big enough to handle world hunger, war, suffering, and driving on hazardous roads]
  5. I asked God for help.
  6. At a party last night I mentioned to Liz that I wanted to ski today, just in the morning. She was game! I was so happy!
  7. She asked if I would drive. I was so sad.
  8. We decided to meet at 7:30 and that I would drive. I believed that this was a way God was telling me to get over my fear, drive responsibly, and go ski.
  9. I prayed my way to sleep last night to calm my mind down from dwelling on the impending
  10. This morning I Googled tire pressure then realized I don't have snow tires then texted Liz and asked her to drive.
  11. She reported she doesn't have snow tires either, but she was willing to drive.
  12. We met. 
  13. I drove. What an awesome experience! With Liz in the car I was extra-self conscious about the ever-growing line of cars behind me going up the road. However, she kept assuring me that she, at least, had no problem with my granny speed (not more than 20 mph). She also put up with my anxious outbursts every 5 miles or so. We made it just fine!
  14. Downhill was the same exact way! I went no more than 20, pulled over in just about every turnout to let cars pass me, and we made it down just fine.
The moral(s) of the story:
  • Anxiety on steals the right now.
  • When I can't stop my own anxiety, I can pray like hell.
  • I thought I had been going slowly down the hill, but with another person accompanying me I realized this isn't true; I've been trying to keep up with the speed demons on the road on the straightaways which causes me to break which raises my anxiety level and to slide. Going slow, like everyone has been telling me, really does get me down safe and sound!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

#353: The Annual Christmas Run

Once again, the running ladies all got together for the annual YMCA Christmas Run! Lots of husbands and children this year...
The entire gang!
I running into a fellow Sailtoad 

Saturday, December 19, 2015

#352: Best last day

This has by far been the most enjoyable last-day-before-winter-break of my 5 fall semesters thus far!  Since I realized my students aren't out to get me (see yesterday) I have had tons of fun [we will ignore here the five people that have pointed out that my "relaxing" from yesterday may be due to break coming up]!

I am amazed and grateful for the appreciation
from my students and their parents!  Look at this bling!

During my prep, a posse of girls came caroling. The song choice? Joy to the World!

This is the first year I had everything--I mean everything--graded before I left for the break.

My room was clean and the date of Monday, January 4, 2016 is on the board, ready for the new year.

Friday, December 18, 2015

#351: They aren't out to get me!!!

I have taken things personally pretty much my entire life. I suspect this is one of the main reasons I didn't become a teacher straight out of college: something inside of me knew that my lack of healthy boundaries and a very soft skin would destroy me.

Working 4 years at the alternative school forced me to get a tough skin, which was really good for me. However, an unintentional byproduct of my time there was an attitude of cynicism towards my students. Or maybe it was distrust. All I can say about it is that although I really loved the students and teaching, at then end of my four years I felt exhausted at the end of each day and felt like I was going into battle every day. A colleague of mine always reminds me that teaching is supposed to be fun. It was not fun anymore.

As this year at a new, non-alternative, school has progressed, I have really had to take a look at my attitudes towards myself, teaching and the students. I've found myself at various times feeling like all teachers feel at some point: tense, frustrated, joyful, inadequate, excited, exhausted. But what I didn't ever experience was relaxed or trusting. When a student came up to ask me a math question, I felt attacked and found myself snarky. Or when a student asked me to help them find an assignment I felt put out, like they were trying to get away with something.

And guess what? The last month I found myself feeling frustrated and tense and exhausted and not having fun.

Then today, I was walking across my classroom and all the sudden, I realized that I didn't feel threatened. I reflected that this entire day I hadn't sniped at a student because I didn't feel like they were trying to take anything from me or out to get me. In fact, a couple of students even gave me Christmas cards.

I suddenly got it: these kids, even the kids at my former school, aren't out to get me. They are just figuring out how to act and what to do and they don't know how to do all the things for themselves I used to think they should. What I didn't see before is that they really do want to learn. They are not out to get me.  I felt my whole body relax for the first time all school year.

This changes everything. It's a whole new job! Now I am free to become the teacher I know I can be!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

#346: Christmas music!

Three of my favorite things: listening to beautiful music, singing Christmas carols, and my good friend Meggan.

This weekend was the annual Holiday Pops Concert by the Boise Philharmonic; we went again this year and it was spectacular!

#345: Lounging under the Christmas tree

My Christmas spirit really sinks in once the tree is up and decorated and the debris from the installation is put away. Now I can sit in the living room with no lights but the tree...and it is wonderful!

Where it ended
Where it began

Saturday, December 12, 2015

#344: I won!

I got a call today from Boise Public Radio telling me won a $500 gift cards from an online retailer!

What's even more awesome about this is that I have wanted to get a nice starter camera for myself and now I know how I'll pay for it!

Friday, December 11, 2015

#343: The power of social media for good....please pray for this friend from church

A family at church is undergoing a terrible hardship, and thanks to the power of social media we are all able to pray for Allison's recovery. Please join us.

Finally, there was good news today:

And then...

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

#341: Being Powerless

Today I was disappointed by someone. I had expectations that didn't get met and I was very hurt and angry. And I had done everything "right". I had reminded, I had texted, I had prayed, I had dropped hints, given gifts and been kind. I kept waiting and waiting, but my friend didn't "come through" for me.

I finally called another friend to talk me down from the cliff of anger and anxiety I had climbed. Our conversation went like this:

Me: I can hear myself thinking "if he really cared about me he would have..." and I suspect that's not correct thinking but I'm not sure why.
Friend: When I say that, it's about control. I think I can make someone do something. 
Me: You mean I have no control over whether he does this or not?
Friend: Nope.
Me: I have no control over whether he even calls or says hello or even enjoys my company? None? Nothing I do can make him think, feel or do anything?
Friend: No. And when I figured this out, the sense of relief was astonishing. No more worry, fretting or trying to figure out the right thing to do.

Suddenly I knew why I was so mad. I'm powerless. Absolutely powerless over whether or not my friend follows through. Or does anything, actually. I'm powerless over what anyone does. But I didn't really get that before tonight.

Most of my life has been run on the assumption that people only wanted to be around me is because of something I did; maybe I gave them presents or I was cute or I was funny or I said the right thing or I was available when they wanted to go do something. This has been especially true with men—I thought that men would only want to be with me because I did or said the right thing at the right time. Or reminded them at regular intervals that I am still here. Whatever the details, I've thought that something I was doing was the reason anybody wanted, or remembered, to have me in their life.

Tonight, then, I was so angry because I was facing head on my own powerlessness over my friend that I thought failed me, over the men in the past, over everyone. 

It was a devastating yet freeing blow. No control means I can stop trying so hard to get people to remember me. This frees up lots and lots of mental and emotional space that has previously been devoted to trying to manage and interpret other people's reactions to me. Devastating because no control means there is the real possibility that people may not actually want to be around me if I stop trying to manipulate.

But for tonight, I'm going with the freedom idea!

Monday, December 7, 2015

#340: First turns of the season!

I may not be a Bogus Basin Mountain Host anymore, but I still love to ski!  We are so lucky to have such a wonderful place so close to town.

Great company, great snow, great morning!

#339: Michigan State University

I'm not gonna lie...I WAS motivated to post about MSU because of their win last night over Iowa in the Big 10 Championship.

Being a Michigan State student is so much more than I ever thought it would be when I started my Master's degree [which I found by Googling "Educational Technology Masters degree overseas]. I've organized the perks below, in no particular order:
  • A very cool tagline: Spartans Will.
  • A very cool app you can download to make your own pictures like this:

  • BIG TIME college football! My first Alma Mater, Trinity University, is a fantastic school, but the football stadium, at least when I was there, held less people than my high school stadium. 
  • MSU's football team just made it to the playoffs!
  • MSU's football team will be playing in the Cotton Bowl (aka JerryWorld) in Dallas, where there is a slight chance I can go to the game
  • I heard rumors that the School of Education is the #1 or #2 in the country. I believe it.
  • Fantastic, professional professors.
  • Rigorous—I meanRIGOROUS—curriculum.
  • An education that is above and beyond any I have received to date.
  • The MAET program.
  • The MAET program in IRELAND.
  • 3 summers in IRELAND.
  • Fantastic fellow students.
  • A worldwide alumni network.
  • Being a part of. The first year of my Master's program, the dean of the college of education came to Ireland to speak at the recognition ceremony for the 3rd years. Last year, the Alumni Association made a video that featured MSU students congratulating all of the Year 3's by name at various places on campus in East Lansing.
  • A very cool mascot that can be found everywhere, like when I was in Austin, TX for Thanksgiving:

Saturday, December 5, 2015

#338: Music & Merriment

Then sometimes, you get to spend the evening with friends, having fabulous conversation, eating delicious food, listening to beautiful music...

Dinner at the Boise Co-op
Waiting for the Boise Philharmonic and Master Chorale to being at St. John's Cathedral