Feeling Pretty. And Fat.

Last week I was sitting around at home working on those last papers and my hair was still a little damp from my morning shower and I had a great idea. Braids! Waves!

I used to do my hair like that all the time when I was a kid. Not so much anymore – I don’t have that much time to sit around. Well, I didn’t. But now I do!

It was fun. I felt pretty. I got compliments.

Ahhhh. It was so nice to take a breather today. It was the first day since I’ve been ‘done’ that I didn’t have work or general mayhem to attend to.

I visited with a friend, baked, completely overhauled my youngest daughter’s bedroom, hosted a kids after school Bible study (every Monday – so much fun!).

Oh, oh, oh. And I started C25K! Day one, week one. Success.

I’ve been feeling a little fat. I eat when I write papers. And it’s been four months of non stop papers. I made a pretty good effort to continue visiting the gym in the first half of the semester but pretty much fell off the wagon after midterms. It was hovering in the back of my mind. You’re going to regret this. I said to myself every time I skipped. And fast forward. Here we are. Regrets-ville.

We hauled out the summer clothes two weeks ago and I’ve noticed that things are a little – okay, a lot – tighter than they were last year. Uh oh.

So, I’ve been thinking the last few days that I should probably hunker down and focus on losing a little weight. I felt reluctant because I’ve been so full-on striving, pursuing goals and being disciplined (in other areas) that now that the insanity has ended, I kind of want to just take a break, and have no goals. And pursue nothing.

But. It’ll be good for me. I have all this time. I should probably do the work to re-set some healthy habits and priorities.

So, I began C25K today. I started it once before and fizzled out. I know several people who have completed it and are runners now. So proud of them.

Also, I would like to return to the routine I had this time last year of Monday – Friday trips to the gym focusing on a different muscle group each time. It was awesome. I felt so strong! I want to be there again.

Oh, and as soon scuba is over in May, dragon-boating begins. It’ll be my third year paddling. I can’t wait.

And I have a few eating strategies as well. Cough *drink less booze* cough. I have always been a pretty healthy eater and I love to cook. The problem is that I eat all the bad stuff on top of the healthy stuff. So I’ll need to address that.

I’ll keep you updated as I go. You guys have to keep me accountable.

A Break! An Update.

Shazam!

It is two days past my last exam and this is the first moment I could steal away to post about it all.

First, and update on this kid:

On Monday she saw the neurosurgeon. On Tuesday she saw her spine specialist. On Wednesday she saw the orthodontist. Phew! But guess what – all good news!

We can avoid surgery for now, and the curve in her spine has decreased by 6 degrees! The power of prayer never ceases to amaze. There was no change for a year, and then after the MRI two months ago we really began to press in. We prayed everyday. I put it out to you guys, and we put it out to our church prayer chain. And then, this. Just, Wow. Praise God.

I discovered last Friday that I was not going to be able to travel to Vancouver with my family to make her appointments because my last exam was Tuesday evening, and there was no way we would make it home in time. It was so hard to wave goodbye to them early Monday morning. But I did. And then I hit the books hard.

Monday afternoon, I looked at my final marks online. And this is what I saw:

What a confidence booster! I am still waiting on two more marks, but this just made me jump for joy. An A plus is a rare beast. I can’t believe I got two in one semester.

And then, I went down to the university to pick up a few papers that had been marked. In the hall I ran into the chair of the English department. She came running over to let me know I had won a book award for being the top student in upper-level English courses last semester, but they didn’t have the right contact information for me so I never received it. She’s tracking it down for me now.

It was sort of surreal. I dragged my fat head home and tried to study.

On Tuesday night I had my final exam in my Children’s Literature course. The exam was worth 35% of my grade and there was also a final paper due (all about the treasure plot motif) at the exam worth 30%. So even though I was feeling like the course was pretty easy and I was feeling confident because of the other ego-boosters, there was a lot of pressure to perform on Tuesday. But I printed my paper at the last minute, flew down to the school and handed it in and started writing the exam, which was more difficult than I anticipated. It was one of those instances where you studied everything that wasn’t on the test. There were such obscure questions. It was weird.

After two and a half hours of mad writing, I felt I did the best I could have, but uncertain of how I really did. On my way out, my prof, who is someone I’ve never had before, will not have again, and do not really know at all, pulled me aside. He had marked the essay I handed in while the exam was in progress. He said, “we have awards for the best third and fourth year papers. I’d like to nominate this one. Could you please e-mail me a clean copy?”

So my ego was re-inflated and I went home. Done. The semester is over.

But somehow, life hasn’t slowed down yet. 🙂

And look at those eyes. All of them.

 

 

Who You Are and Where You Belong.

On Friday I was reading The Silver Chair, a book from CS Lewis’ Narnia series. There is a scene where the children, Eustace and Jill, have descended into Underworld and found Prince Rillian who the Great Lion Aslan has sent them to rescue. They have freed Rillian from the silver chair, but the witch who has been holding him captive for ten years shows up to prevent their escape.

The witch’s tactic is simple. She creates an enchantment that changes the atmosphere to one where the others are susceptible to forget all they know and heed her deceptive whispers. This is how she has kept Rillian captive for so long. She aims to alter their perception of reality.

She very calmly and reasonably presents the idea to them that Underworld is the only world there is, and there is no reality, no world up above. The lamp hanging from the cavernous ceiling is the only light, and they have only used their imaginations to change this idea into a fantasy the call the sun. They have seen cats in Underworld and through the same process have imagined a Great Lion. She says, “and look how you can put nothing into your make-believe without copying it from the real world, this world of mine, which is the only world.”

They almost fall into her trap, but their Narnian companion, Puddleglum, takes action to temporarily lessen the influence of the magic, wounding himself in the process, and in that tiny moment that he has everyone’s attention he declares,

“Suppose we have only dreamed up, or made up, all those things – trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself … Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one … We’re just babies making up a game, if you’re right. But four babies playing a game can make a play world which licks your real world hollow. That’s why I’m going to stand by the play world.

I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan to lead it. I’m going to live as like a Narnian as I can even of there isn’t any Narnia.”

Puddleglum, the children, and the prince waste no time by allowing the witch to voice a reply. They defeat her, and make the journey home to the world above they know is waiting for them.

We all have moment of doubt as to the nature of reality. But remember where you came from and who you belong to. And act like it.

Dreams Come True

I love having those dreams that you are going about the mundaneness of whatever is happening in your dream life and you suddenly discover that you can do something you previously had assumed was impossible. Like flying. Or running at super-speed. One of my favorites when I was a kid is that I would be playing with the other children in the field at school, and suddenly found that I could jump several stories into the air.

I grew up on a lake, and love visiting the ocean, and swimming is one of my favorite activities (though I don’t go to the pool that often. Natural, open water or bust.) One recurring dream that I’ve had all my life is that I am swimming around and suddenly realize that if I’m am careful and steady and calm, I can somehow breathe underwater. Such a joyous and free feeling.

Well, on Wednesday night, I had my first SCUBA lesson with my good friend Liz. We had two hours of classroom time, learning how to put our equipment together and do all the safety checks (and about things that can go wrong – eek) and then we headed to the local pool for snorkeling practice. Finally, we donned our masks and vests and tanks and down we sank, to the bottom of the pool, to swim around and explore the bottom. The equipment was cumbersome, but through the course of the evening we got used it. Breathing underwater took some getting used to, but there were a few moments where everything worked somoothly and in those moments, it felt just like my old dreams. And that was exciting.

This is not me:

But soon, it will be.

We have another month of weekly classes, and then we get to take a trip to the coast for our open water test. I am so pumped! I never considered SCUBA until Liz decided to get certified and she invited me along. I’m so glad she asked me. I can hardly wait for our next class, not to mention a lifetime of trips undersea and under-lake. Maybe I’ll learn how to do some underwater photography. Now that would be fun. Thanks Liz!

I’m Standing on the Edge of Me

I needed a change of scenery this morning so I went for a drive. Our landscape has a particular kind of beauty, I think.

And now I’ve got my tea and I’m going to finish up this Plato paper (I finished the Metaphysics one yesterday and in the end I felt it was pretty strong, even though I didn’t even have a thesis two days ago.) (So. Yay.)

On my drive I had the music on my iPhone (it holds ALL the songs) on shuffle in the car and one of my favorite songs of all time came on near the end of the ride. I don’t think I’ve even heard it in a few years. It mellowed me out. I hope you enjoy it. An oldie but a goodie:

 

The Home Stretch

Classes are over. I am so very happy about that, because even though my brain does not feel as tired and panicked as it did at mid-term time, it does feel like it is ready for a break.

The Easter long weekend was lovely. I’m at school during the weekdays and I work evenings and weekends, so I don’t usually get a break. But on the Easter weekend I got all my work done on Friday, allowing me to take Saturday with my family. We lounged around in the morning and drove to Kelowna for a wedding in the afternoon and simply enjoyed one another’s company. We bought a trampoline! And my husband got started on fixing our front dirt heap yard! Sunday was a busy but fun family day. We did the easter-egg hunt, went to church to Celebrate!!! and drove across town to visit my Nana and my Dad. But again, I purposely put the books aside and avoided work at all costs. Monday was a return to the crazy with grocery shopping, janitorial work, homework, and hosting a family dinner to celebrate Easter and my father-in-law’s birthday. It was a joyful day, and it felt good to be productive and happy after a nice relaxing weekend.

After that, it was really hard to go back for the final four days of classes. Well, three, technically, since I don’t have classes on Thursdays. My brain felt like Easter was the ending point. I went to class, but I was certainly not focused. I just felt so laid back. Despite feeling laid back however, these last few days have been some of the most productive in my entire university career. No procrastinating! Maybe I feel a bit of resignation I’ve done better in my studies overall that I was ever expecting to, and even though I still have a few final assignments to wrap up I have a sense that I will probably do well, and that even if I don’t, it probably won’t matter in the grand scheme anyway. Finally. The pressure is off.

Well, not completely off. I still have these last papers to write. The kids are home from school today (three short weeks in a row!). I usually love having them around to spend some extra time, but I have found it frustrating today. I didn’t realize until last night that the kids had the day off, so I had been planning to have the day to focus. The kids are being really good, but they still are loud, and have questions (they miss their mother!) and want to visit, and need feeding and so on. I’m not able to focus as much as I was counting on. My husband has a commitment tonight so I can’t take off and go somewhere later either.

I have to submit three papers this week – two on Wednesday and one on Thursday. I finished one last night. The other two are each double the size of the essays that I usually write and they are feeling a little daunting to me. Especially because they are worth 40% each for their respective courses. Even though I have good marks so far, these could really make or break my semester. I made outlines for both this morning, and then started writing the easier of the two. I am making decent progress, despite all the distractions. I feel like I’m going to be okay to meet my deadlines. I just hope I do a good job.

The one I finished last night was my final paper for my Philosophy of Science class. It was about the Underdetermination theory of Quine and Duhem who suggest that the process of falsification is not as cut and dried as we like to think, and that, consequently, theory choice in the sciences is less of a rational process than we assume. That was an interesting paper to write. I quite like it.

The one I’m working on today is an in-depth analysis of Plato’s conception of soul. It is the easiest to write because I have done the most work ahead of time. It is my only paper for the course. This was my directed studies course, that I did on my own. I covered five of Plato’s major works, including one that people don’t really read anymore but that was one of his most influential books during the middle ages. Every week I had to give an hour-long presentation to my prof on what I learned that week. It was pretty intense. I knew all along that I was going to have one big paper at the end and had to keep in mind what would be a good topic. Around mid-term time we were talking about some of the problems with Plato’s soul. It is complicated. So we discussed the possibility of this being a good topic to write on. I wasn’t sure. I thought it might be a tad too complicated. But, now that I have 42 pages of my own typed notes (yes, I counted) complete with references (easy to find now – yay for being organized!) and a pretty clear picture in my head of what Plato conceptualized, I’m finding that now the writing is a breeze. I already have all of the information in my brain. I just have to get it out. I’m doing it first, even though it is the last one due, just to get it out of the way.

The really difficult one, and the one that will probably have me pulling an all-nighter tomorrow, is for Metaphysics. Again, I had to choose my own topic, and again it is twice the length as a standard essay, and again it is worth 40%. I wound up choosing a similar topic to write on as the one I chose for my Plato course. I’ve done all the readings and have an outline, but I feel far less confident about what I’m going to be saying. I do not have a clear thesis. It will be one of those things that I figure out as I go along. I will basically be contrasting the rational soul, or separate intellect of Aristotle (and Plato, and Spinoza and others) to the existential living being of Fondane (and Kierkegaard and Shestov and Deluze and others). Yeah. Don’t even know what I’m going to say. I have a general grasp – but enough to write a detailed paper? We shall see…

My Ethics course is already completely done. I submitted my last paper (my Walking Dead analysis) on Friday. Woot! Feels like an A.

And after this week’s papers I have one more easy English paper for Children’s Lit – I’m going to write on the plot motif of treasure! That’ll be a nice low-key switch. And one last exam, also for Children’s Lit, on the 24th and I’m DONE.

Woo-hoo!

An Empty Threat

A while ago I shared my fantasies, dreams and tentative plans to move somewhere – possibly Oregon. And then I shared some about my daughter’s spinal condition, which was a big fat reminder of why we cannot realistically leave. A great healthcare system and easy access to some of the best doctors is no small thing.

Anyway, I’ve been enjoying this song on the radio a lot of the last few weeks. I hope you enjoy it too.

Now, back to the zombie-pocalyse I go. Almost done!

Without a Map

It’s the last week of classes!

I have an insane amount of work to do but I’m feeling good. The extra long Easter weekend, and all that it represents, really helped me out.

No time for a real post, and I know the last time I shared music is was Sam Roberts and I should probably mix it up, but I really like this video.

Enjoy.