Sunday, April 05, 2009
Talking Small
I’ve had this lifelong dilemma. Picture yourself amongst a group of people you’ve never met. You’re sitting in a circle, or meeting someone for the first time. Everyone’s trying to make small talk, but no one is particularly good at it. Someone asks where you’re from, what you do, and then a certain amount of dread washes over you. You know what’ s next. You can feel it. It is the question that only 10% of the population knows how to answer. Time freezes and you hear the words spoken in slow motion like the scene in “A Christmas Story” where Ralphie says the f-word.

“What’s your hobby?”

At that moment, I would rather be bitten by a rattler than answer. At least then I would have something interesting to talk about. “Um…I don’t know. I guess I work a lot.” All hope of being labeled “Cool” is gone. “Lame” is most likely how someone would describe me upon hearing my response. My insides curl up and instead of throwing the question back at them, I retreat, “Um…I’m gonna check out the food table.”

I’m sharing this with you to let you know that I’ve entered a new era. Yes, friends, be encouraged! I have an answer to the most loathed question in the history of small talk. Are you ready?

“As a matter of fact, I like to garden.”

Big sigh of relief! Now, before you label me “Grandma” just relish in the fact that I’ve joined the elite 10%. It may not be the hippest hobby; maybe it’s nothing to write home about. But it’s a better answer than the first 25 years. Hooray.

This is how Allie feels about it.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Jessica Schmale Photography
I think these pictures pretty much speak for themselves. Jess, my roommate, is a talented photographer and was gracious enough to take pictures of Allie and I. This was a Christmas present for my mom, and I was literally expecting tears to start streaming down her face. I thought for sure these gifts would be followed by, "This is by far the best gift I've ever received." Instead, these pics were met with hysteric laughter. It wasn't quite what I expected, but positive none-the-less! I hope you enjoy.

Check out Jess' blog: Website coming soon!

Monday, December 22, 2008
Swiss Miss

The purpose of this entry is to encourage you to read "The Last Lecture" by Randy Pausch. I know that it's popular but it's popular for a reason. I live to be inspired! It has done that.

If I was writing a book like "The Last Lecture" I would entitle it "The Last Mini-Lesson" because I'm a teacher and also because most important things I have to say last only a minute or two. I would then have a chapter entitled "Swiss Miss Packets" and it would go something like this:

Swiss Miss Packets

When I was in fourth grade, I was in Mrs. Lott's class. She took it upon herself starting in January to make warm water for us everyday of the winter so we could bring our own hot chocolate and enjoy that sweet drink while we worked. It is a warm memory in my mind. Fourth grade for my family was a difficult time and due to numerous circumstances I just couldn't get it together enough to bring the coveted Swiss Miss packets and mug to school.
One day I didn't have hot chocolate and my friend Courtney Blackwell felt sad for me. She didn't tell me she felt sad, but I could tell because every sip she took of her own hot chocolate was far from enjoyable. She would shift her eyes towards me and frown a little bit. It was like she felt guilty for drinking it. The next day, it was time for hot chocolate. I again didn't have any, but Courtney did. She had two packets of chocolate and two mugs. She gave one to me. Everyday that winter Courtney brought me Swiss Miss and a mug. She would take the mug home every night, wash it, and bring it back the next day (why didn't I offer to do that??).
I appreciated that act of generosity then, but now to think of a 9-year-old loving a friend enough to provide for her causes overwhelming emotions of gratitude. That gets me thinking. If I have any compassion in me, it's because I was shown compassion.

You too can dig up small, sweet stories from your childhood! Read this book and it's sure to do that among other encouraging things.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Rental Car #573

There are a few people and places that one would hate to be on a first name basis with: tow lots, parole officers, Time Warner Cable (that company is horrible), and Enterprise Rent a Car to name a few. It’s not that Enterprise isn’t a good company. I’ve only received fabulous service and flexibility. It’s that I hate I know them so well. I have the routine down to a fine art: fifty dollar down payment, bring a bill with your current address, driver’s license, two references. It’s sad, really.

To my great surprise, these were the words that rolled off the tongue of the Enterprise representative in Abilene, Michael… I think, “So, how about a PT Cruiser?” How could I pass up such a rare opportunity?? “Perfect,” I replied firmly. There was an understanding between the two of us that few would grasp. You see, I know that my Jetta counts as a “compact” in the car world. According to rental car companies I should only receive a rental car that is truly compact. But on that sunny day Michael was feeling generous. He gave me a standard. Everyone that has seen a PT Cruiser knows that it is hardly “standard”. It is essentially an SUV that rides two inches off the ground.

It boils down to this: Michael took pity on a poor girl from Austin that has trouble driving defensively. Thanks, you are too kind. Just for that, I’ll always choose Enterprise no matter what city a deer is lying dead in the road, or if a pizza guy runs into me while stopped at a stop sign, or if the person in front of me brakes during the car wash, or if the lady I am babysitting for backs into me, or if I run into a truck at Sonic, etc…

Enterprise was far from the only positive experience in Abilene. I was able to see sweet friends from college. Although most of us live so far away, they are the friends that when you see each other nothing has changed. It’s so nice to be known well and know others well. I miss them already.

Monday, October 13, 2008
Thoughts on the Economic Crisis: as told by a 25 year old, middle class, single, female
Did my groceries really just cost $80? Looks like I'll be eating and driving this month...not much more.

Isn't the number on my investment statement (singular) supposed to be rising? Yikes.

Carpool? Brilliant.

Somehow, I went through 16 years of education with only a semester of economics. I don't remember much about the class. I remember my teacher was a creepy man who was about 80. It was rumored that he gave good grades to flirty girls. I intentionally wore trashy clothes and acted apathetic the day I had class. It was my way of protesting unfair and illegal treatment. The simplest concepts boggled my mind! Supply and Demand: when supply goes up demand goes down? When demand goes up, shouldn't supply, but then supply goes back down? Shouldn't they both be rising? Help.

Needless to say, I don't know much about the technicalities of economics and money. I do know a few things from life experiences. We have the ability to make smart choices with our money, and we should. But when it comes right down to it, we don't have much control. Yes, we can work hard. But isn't the ability to work a gift in and of itself? Even when we have "nothing" we will still be provided for.

When I graduated from college, I had like a billion dollars of loans taken out. When I found out (because I didn't exactly know what I was doing), it was like I had been hit by a train. To my great surprise, I wouldn't take the experience back. Why? Because I learned.

This is how I want to approach all seasons of personal and national economics: keep working, be thankful, and give up control.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008
What I know.
I went to a writer's workshop last summer. I'm one of those people who loves teacher workshops. I'm pretty sure I cry every time, "(insert shaky voice) I'm so glad I'm a teacher. I get to love kids." Anyway...they said, "Write about what you know." That makes a lot of sense. I'm not going to write about quantum physics or something ridiculously out of my league.

Here's a few things I know to date:
-work=tired, but boredom is worse
-you will not be successful in life without help (i.e. moving into a classroom in 2 days)
-relationships are the best and hardest things around
-choose roommates wisely
-sweet tea isn't nearly as satisfying as Dr. Pepper
-if you have friends, swallow your pride and plan to meet them.
Example: All four years of college, I NEVER planned to meet friends for chapel. Everyday, I sat in a new spot around people I didn't know. If only Jen and I had planned a meeting place! I think it would have saved us much anxiety and multiple chapel probations that resulted in suspension from school (or worse).

There's more, I think. If I learn anything else, I'll write another post entitled, "What I know that I didn't".

This is the small project that just happens to have consumed (happily) the last month and a half of my life.



All aboard the reading boat! I cannot take credit for this fun addition to my classroom this year. Annalee so graciously donated it. Don't you wish you were a kid again?

Friday, August 08, 2008
I saw an old friend this past week. I'm not sure how we've stayed friends. Do you have friends like that? You know without a doubt this person is in your life for a specific purpose, but you don't know what that purpose is.

I met Nicki when I moved to Mexico and though we are very different (yet similar) she quickly became a friend that I will always have. Yes, she lives in Canada. I doubt I will see her many times in my life. It makes me wonder what really keeps a friendship intact. It's not close proximity, how much time is spent together, or even how often you speak. When I think about my friendship with Nicki, I know the Lord is at work. He works even when we don't. That's good news.