Monday, October 22, 2007

MOMMA's BIRTHDAY EXTRAVAGANZA

Well, my trip to Indiana was a lovely one! It was so fun to see family and friends. I got some good nephew time and twin-time and it was great that both of the twins were home! No, the nephews are not twins. I also got to see my college-roomie and her cute little girl! Oh, did I mention we celebrated my mom's birthday?

Nephew # 1 makes his favorite silly face!

Nephew # 2, intent upon his cheese.


I hit the state at the peak of it's fall color! On my way home, I was snapping blurry shots of gorgeous leaves through raindrops on the windshield, and I thought, rather than veer into a semi, I should get off the main drag for a bit. I wandered down some country roads in Putnam County and took pictures to my heart's content! Then back onto the main drag because I wanted to get home before Tuesday.

I feel festive for the season now, even if we get two yellow leaves and ten-thousand brown ones here. But maybe "the change" will come soon.

And now for another week...

Sunday, October 14, 2007

THE WAY THINGS ARE

The air is starting to hang with the sweet scent of decaying leaves. The weather outside is mild and dry. To celebrate fall, I hiked on a limestone trail for miles and miles today. (And it felt like a few more miles than it was, perhaps). The conversation was good. We stopped for pizza and ice cream on the way back...some much-needed victuals for the journey!

I look back on the last week. I made my little speech at the conference. We threw in lots of activities to break up the time, and it seemed to go over well for the majority, (though a few walked out towards the beginning... not what they were expecting?) We got some positive comments, made a few positive contacts, and most happily, completed the task. I’m so grateful to be done with it- and I felt that the gracious prayers of friends and family prevented me from having a panicky or nervous feeling the whole day, even up in front of the audience. So, thank you!

I feel like I’ve been getting into conflict with friends and I don’t know why. Maybe it’s just that the time is ripe, or maybe I’m just opening my big mouth too much lately. I don’t know. I don’t think any of it is fatal though, so if you are a part of it- hopefully we are on better footing again!

Maybe I just need to get away and clear my head. I’m heading home and the highway is definitely calling me. I’m looking forward to taking my little car on an extended journey. I’m looking forward to my homecoming. That is, coming home. It is actually the weekend for my college homecoming and I plan not to attend one activity, no not one! I will see plenty of folks as is.

Work is feeling a bit hopeful... administrators are making steps, noting what is happening around there, action is being taken at last, long after I had given up. It shows me that I gave up too soon, and that I must continue to pray. It’s a hard task not to get drawn into large-scale venting sessions and the general attitude of “burnout” that can prevail. It’s easier and at the moment can seem more fun to just complain with others, complete with impersonations and stories of everything WRONG with the place. In some ways, to be positive is to be isolated. But I must stay focused on my reason for being there.

Lately I have felt lacking in focus- like my time is a series of disjointed conversations, each flowing into the other but not connecting and not leading anywhere. It will be good to go home. Home, with my thoughts escaping; home, with my music playing...

Thursday, October 04, 2007

GLOSSOPHOBIA... a.k.a. The Fear of Public Speaking

Oh, I do hate public speaking... How did I get roped into this? Next Tuesday a colleague and I are presenting before an audience of professionals "in the field" (maximum of 150 people) on "Activities for Building Self Esteem!" In Kids! The only speeches I can remember that went really well both happened while I was a student.

Both times I had pulled an all-nighter to finish the project I was doing. Both times I was too tired to be nervous, and in a sleepy delirium, got up front and started telling my stories with the fervency of a true believer.

Part of the problem this time, is I’m already skeptical before I even start. No activity in and of itself is going to “build a kid’s self-esteem!” It’s a process over time, and maybe, just maybe if you build a relationship with a kid, you might help build their self-confidence. The relationship is really important, though. If they don’t believe you, it doesn’t matter what you say. Well, I guess I have to say that when I’m up there... on stage, at the podium, adjust the mike, ahem... ha ha- just trying to psych myself out.

Well, in no particular order, here some of the things that may go wrong:

Word-Stoppage: While reading a line from the notes, I start a sentence. Suddenly, my voice catches in my throat. It’s like Ariel against the Sea Witch, or one of those dreams where your legs don't work... I’m speechless. Milder versions are All-Choked-Up and Freudian Slip.

The Lone Dissenter: Things might be going along fairly well, and this person stands with a question. Usually the question attacks the entire premise of the speech. Maybe he would say “Kids need lower self-esteems. They are spoiled. That’s their problem. (I hate kids.)” and I find myself explaining why the topic is a topic at all, which everyone else thought was important enough to come to learn more about and now are bored as I repeat what they already know.

The Equipment Malfunction: Everyone gets silent as I cue the video, lights, music, whatever and nothing happens. Awkward silence. Five-minute delay and the crowd is getting antsy. Someone on staff has to be called and they aren’t in the room. I start telling stand-up comedy jokes and get a pie thrown at me. (All this is likely except for the pie).

The Rambler: Another attack disguised as a question. This person raises their hand. You call on them and they stand up and launch into a fifteen-minute rambling soliloquy about some strange incident that happened with a kid at their workplace, with, their speculations about why it happened and a hidden sermon on the dangers of {whatever}. At the front, we stand with smiles frozen on our faces and many listeners, after shifting awkwardly in their chairs awhile, take the opportunity to leave the room for a smoke break. The Rambler may disguise a sermonette with a fake-question,"What do you think about that?" at the end.

The Visibly Sweaty Armpit: My face, calm, smiley. My armpits, leaky faucets. Drip. Drip. Drip.

And the one that already happened:

Wrong handout printed up and put in the notebooks printed by the official printers and already on site. Oops, that was my rough draft. Definitely not the notes. heh heh heh. Oh, well, as least we caught it before we got there. "Class, rip out the papers in your notebook and replace them with these. Moving on..."