Tag Archives: School

Final Weeks of School. Half Ironman and Nutrition. Thoughts on Boston.

We’re quickly closing in on the end of the school year here in good ol’ east central Indiana. My students are antsy, and so am I. My colleague Abbie and I are getting ready to begin a really cool project with our students. For the entire month of May, our students will complete a self-directed project based on those topics, writers, texts, or themes that we were unable to cover throughout the school year, but the important part of the project is that they will not only choose their topics, they will also design their final essay/project based on their research. We’re really excited to do something that we think is pretty cutting edge for high schoolers. Of course, we’re requiring them to complete certain things during their course of study, but for the most part, it’s up to them to carry out the study while meeting with us once a week to discuss their work. I’m sure this project will beat the pants off of the ECA (end of course assessment) they’re required to take for the state.

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The Muncie 70.3 is twelve weeks away. I’ve been training, but this next week I put the pedal to the metal as the miles increase from here on out. I need some help with accountability, and I know that it’ll be obvious if I don’t train well, but I tend to skip workouts because of exhaustion from work. I’m hoping if I post MyTrainingSchedule here, some of you who read this and who correspond with me on Facebook or Twitter will help keep me honest. Seriously, I’d love it if you ask me once a week or so whether I am sticking to my training or not. I am generally pretty disciplined, but every little bit helps!

I’m also working on moving back to a mostly paleo diet for the fueling of this adventure. I’ve been “cheating” a lot and drinking beer, eating wheat products, and snacking on ice cream. None of these help me accomplish my goals: the alcohol makes me tired, the wheat makes me bloated and gaseous, and the ice cream makes my joints ache. When I eat paleo, I feel so much more energetic and clean. I am sure the food I eat will make or break my venture.

I’m also in need of losing a few more pounds so I don’t look like a sausage in my new Muncie Area Fun Squad tri-kit. If I train consistently and eat properly, I have no doubt that I’ll lose the 15 pounds I need to lose by July 13. Incidentally, I am pretty proud to be finishing this Half Ironman the week before my 39th birthday. Now I just need to finish a marathon by next July, and I will have accomplished both of my “before 40” goals. Maybe my “before 50” goals will be an ultra-marathon and a full Ironman! Haha!

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When I heard the news about the Boston Marathon bombing, I had several reactions, none of which I believe were any different than those reactions had by others: shock, dismay, fear, compassion, anger, love, and pretty much every other emotion a person can have, all rolled into one. I feel this way every time I hear of a tragic event like this one.

Now, a few days later, I just want us (humans) come together to provide healing for the victims, healing for the family of the two young men, a legitmate (not hate-influenced punishment) for the remaining bomber, grace to those people who can’t get past their hate, and safety for those folks who are part of big, un(or poorly)guarded sporting events like marathons. I don’t want people to be scared. I don’t want people to be angry. I don’t want people to seek revenge. I want peace. I want justice. And I want grace. I want to imagine.

Blessed: Cleansing. Teaching. Dissertating.

For eleven days now I have been getting up at around 4:30 or 5:00 in the morning to run, and for eleven days now I have been eating only meats, vegetables, eggs, nuts, and some fruits and drinking a hell of a lot of tea and water. I am almost halfway through my first real Whole 30 and my first real Run Streak. Yesterday and today I feel almost euphoric. My mood is excellent, my body feels fast and alert, and my intellect seems to be firing rapidly. Yes, it has taken some adjustment to run while also cleansing my body, and I am sure my little cells are probably thinking I’ve gone mad, but the trade offs are worth it. While doing a Whole 30, weighing yourself is frowned upon, but my clothes are fitting so much better, I just had to know. I’ve lost ten pounds in eleven days. Crazy really.

I finally got my new Altras in the mail. I’ve worn them twice for a total of four miles. After those first four miles, I will say I don’t think they’re exceptional. Maybe I just need to get used to them, but they seem heavy compared to my Vibram Five Fingers or my New Balance Minimus. They also seem to constrain my feet in a way that neither of those pairs of shoes do. Maybe it’s just because I am not used to them. I did order them for longer mileage, so maybe on Saturdays when I start doing my longer runs again, I will see the benefits of the cushioning. Right now the taller, though flat, sole is awkward. And, honestly, they are some of the ugliest running shoes I’ve ever seen. Unless, of course, you count Hokas.

I hope I can lose this last 40 pounds, so I can just run “barefoot” all the time!

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Teaching is going well right now. I have one class that is difficult. They don’t listen, they talk constantly, and several of them are just straight up disrespectful. Working at a school like Burris has caused me to forget about how to deal with students like that. There are so few seriously disrespectful students there, that when I have one, it’s as if I lose my damn mind and forget how to deal with it. There are some students in there who want to learn. There are so few that I had almost written off the entire class, until I saw a quote on a friend’s Facebook wall. The quote said, “When you say a situation or a person is hopeless, you are slamming the door in the face of God” (Charles Allen). As soon as I read it, I realized that was my problem. I had given up hope, which is something I had always promised myself I wouldn’t do in education. No matter how difficult some students can be, losing hope really does nothing except make the situation worse. I spent yesterday asking myself, How can you motivate these students? How can you be someone who challenges them into making something of themselves, whatever that may be? Who are you to slam the door in the face of God? Yesterday was pretty humbling for me, and I hope I can continue to follow hope and, above all, to give grace.

I will confess that I am struggling to keep up with all of the paperwork that I have to keep for the State of Indiana. I have to keep several binders worth of papers from parent communication to extra-curricular activities to data to blah blah blah in order to prove that I am actually doing my job. What I think is totally absurd about the paperwork is that (1) there goes a hell of a lot of trees, (2) anyone who knows me knows I go above and beyond both in the classroom and out, and (3) I feel as if I spend some of the time I used to spend on planning and grading (you know, being effective) on pushing paper around on my desk and into binders. I’m literally making myself less effective to prove how effective I am. Grrr.

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With all of the blessed craziness with paperwork for school, I am still finding time to work on my dissertation almost every morning. I have read a lot of new information about food, foodways, cutlural understandings of food, commodification, exchanges, and various other related topics. I’ve read Paradise, Bastard Out of Carolina, and The Antelope Wife to start with, and I think those my be my three different chapters. Paradise will be the basis for a chapter about the Eucharistic food exchange, Bastard Out of Carolina will the basis for commodified food exchange, and The Antelope Wife will be the basis for the third chapter about proper food exchange. The overarching idea is consumption of the Other and how people exchange food for identity, sex, and spirituality. Those are the foggy bits of how this dissertation is going to go down.

Tomorrow is my first writing instead of researching day, and I am pretty nervous about it. I’m not sure why, but I get paranoid when I am required to put my fingers to the keyboard, instead of putting my pen to the page to take notes. I know what I see happening in these novels, but I always get nervous that I won’t be able to prove it well enough or write about in a way that others can understand. I have to take a step back and remind myself that I write every day. People understand what I write every day. I can do this.

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I do have to say that I am blessed with many friends. I am blessed with a good body and a good mind. I am blessed with a loving family and an amazing partner. I am blessed with a job and a home and food to eat. Simply put, I am blessed.

I Still Have a Long Way to Go

“Dissimulation, half answers, vindictive attitudes, a false presentation of self are all barbs in the soul of the monastic. Holiness, this ancient rule says to a culture that has made crafty packaging high art, has something to do with being who we say we are, claiming our truths, opening our hearts, giving ourselves to the other pure and unglossed.” —Joan Chittister from The Rule of Benedict

Just when I think I am moving in a good direction with my life and my attitudes, I get this reminder that I am really just clay, water, and some divine breath. There are a few things that set me off in a really bad, fast, almost flashpoint-anger way. Being called out about things in front of other people is one of those things that sets me off, and there is nothing worse than my unrighteous anger. There is no dignity in responding with the same behavior that angers me to start with.

Yesterday during our faculty meeting, there were several things said that I took personally. Whether they were personally directed at me, or whether they simply felt directed at me, I will never know, but what I do know is that I got angry enough to raise my voice at a colleague and then leave the room. All of this after I just had a conversation with Andy about how I felt that this Lent, studying and writing and making big decisions, had really changed me. I was as angry with myself as I was with my colleagues.

I know that people have bad days, and I know my Wesleyan theology well enough to know that I must keep striving for perfection/sanctification. I know that’s why it’s called sanctifying grace, because it isn’t something that just happens—of course the grace to long for sanctification is a gift—but actually getting there is something that we must strive toward, giving ourself opportunities to learn along the way. Sometimes the learning of these lessons is hard, though, and I end up eating a lot of crow.

I feel like that at some point, I should be able to put away my childlike things and behave like an adult. If you’ve read any other posts in this blog, you’ll know that I don’t really want to be an adult, and I covet those moments when I can recapture some bits of childlike innocence in play or thought. Maybe, in fact, this “dissimulation, half answers, vindictive attitudes, a false presentation of self” is really adult behavior. Maybe this is what happens to us when we become adults: we get mean. I don’t know many children who behave as badly as many of the adults I know.

I want to be one of those people I love to be around. I want to bring peace and light to every conversation. I want people to leave being with me, like I feel when I leave being with some of my friends. I want people to leave a conversation with me feeling like both of us were changed by the encounter, like we were real and present with each other, paying attention only to the moment between us. Right now, I feel really self-absorbed, distracted, aloof. I want my life to look like this: “being who we say we are, claiming our truths, opening our hearts, giving ourselves to the other pure and unglossed.” I want to exude Christ and him crucified and raised from the dead. I want to offer grace, not condemnation. Basically, I want to live in the image of God, so that I can forget I am simply clay and water, by focusing more and more on the divine breath and the way it breathes through me.

Lent Day 2: Miseducation and Common Prayer

I’m sitting in Bracken Library, taking a break from scanning pictures into the computer for my students most recent project, and it’s a little bit eerie in here. There are probably only 25 or 30 people at the computers, if that, and it’s very quiet, even here on the first floor. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the library quiet like this. Today has been strange all around, though, so I am not sure I should be surprised about the library.

Today was the last day of Istep for the 8th graders, so tomorrow we move back to doing our regular classroom stuff, instead of being broken up and spread around for testing, so my stress level will surely go back down. The students told me they thought the test was easy, which either means they did really well or really poorly. I think they were trying to tell me that, so I would feel like they had done super well. One student even said, “It’s because you taught us so well.” I have no doubts I teach well, but I will see in a few months how well they did on this stupid test, which is all that really matters now isn’t it? Two days makes or breaks a student. And his or her teacher.

Anyway, I did receive another blessing today. When I got home, I had yet another book that I purchased with my Amazon points waiting in my mailbox: The Miseducation of Cameron Post. I made the mistake of starting to read it, and now I don’t really want to do anything else. Obviously, if you clicked the link, you notice the secular nature of the text, but to me, the subject is so intimately intertwined with my spirituality, I can’t see a difference.

Church people insist that our sexuality reflects our spirituality by encouraging people to remain virgins until marriage for the sake of religious purity, so it only makes sense to me that our sexuality is somehow an act of worship. Maybe this is why I nearly weep when I find a book that speaks to my soul like this one. I keep finding myself thinking, Where was this book in 1987? My life would’ve been so different if literature like this had existed then. I might have realized at a much earlier age who I really am. I might not have been so lost for so much of adolescence. But I can’t go back, nor do I want to!

As I am reading this book it makes me think about how intricately woven we are as human beings, how delicately God put us together, but yet how hardy we are. I mean let’s face it: humans are fragile but resilient. We can crack or break, but we can take a lot of shit before we do. In a strange way, I think that’s what Lent is about. God wants us to recognize that we are fragile, but that we are designed to weather the storm, whatever that entails. Jesus wants us to follow him to that cross, where our resilience meets our obedience meets our fragility.

For the first time, today I tried to pray the various prayers throughout the day from Common Prayer, and I think it went well. I noticed that it made me think through the day about who I am in Christ. I love that the midday prayers are the same every day and I love that one of those prayers is St. Francis’s: “Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.” And of course he goes on: “For it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.” How beautiful. And if we really pray it and believe it, how can we not be transformed?

Through these ritual prayers, I realized that I was more conscious on some levels about how I conducted myself in the classroom and with colleagues, but praying through the hours also drew attention to the fact that I am so far from where I want to be spiritually. However, praying so frequently and with a specific prodding to pray for others really made me think hard about those around me who need prayer, love, grace, and my action. And so I continue to learn.

Peace.