Giving Yourself

Today I began teaching my new advanced writing classes. I remember what a mentor told me nearly two decades ago: Great teaching is love of subject, love of student. 

I am so thankful for this wise advice.

I also remembered all the terrible advice I received in the early days of learning to teach well. The words echoed in my mind as I walked in the rain to my new classroom.

Terrible piece of advice #1: Never go early. Whatever you do, don’t go to class early. You’ll just sit there looking at students. You’ll have nothing to say to one another. Never go early. 

I go early. I talk to students. That’s when I learn about their lives.

Terrible piece of advice #2: Develop a teaching persona. Teaching is a performance. Find the persona. It’s not you, it’s the teaching persona. 

I bring myself. There’s no persona. There’s no act.

I heard from an instructor who told me that he was told to “turn himself off” to be a good instructor. He could be anyone else, just not himself.

I realized that so much of our teacher training, at least at the college level, involves distancing the professor from the student; you create professional business transactions where you hide yourself, never share your life, and perform the task of transferring information.

And, whatever you do, you never go early.


A Comforting Proverb When You’re Confused

Lately I’ve been thinking about this statement of wisdom from Proverbs 20:24: “A person’s steps are directed by the Lord. How then can anyone understand their own way?” In other words, God ordains the path we’re on, so when we’re confused or misunderstanding what’s happening, our faith grows as we realize God is directing.

He ordains! He directs! He is fulfilling His purpose for us. When we don’t understand, we rest in this wisdom.


The Farmer’s Market

Today I enjoyed the most wonderful time with my daughter at a farmer’s market in a nearby parking lot in our town. I loved running into neighbors and feeling part of a small community as we all stood in line for the coveted peaches. I also bought the sweetest watermelon and a butternut squash. We learned about local honey, ate a mushroom cheese, and tried a blue carrot and blueberry kombucha.

With the sun on our backs and a light breeze promising autumn days just around the corner, we wandered around the market. I thought about the butternut squash we’d have with dinner and the fresh cut peaches for dessert, and it felt so simple and perfect.



Little Benches Under the Shade of Big Trees

This morning I visited my new classrooms at Penn State. Classes start next week! Eeek! It’s a prayerful, reflective time to imagine the new students sitting in their seats and all that will happen in the weeks to come.

I walked back to my office as the summer heat rose. I noticed all the little benches under the beautiful Pennsylvania trees. All empty. All inviting.

So I sat and prayed some more.


A Paw Covering the Face

I love when I come upon a sleeping cat with a paw covering her face. This paw gesture of blocking out the whole world, of curling tightly in upon oneself, and of signaling do not disturb, warms my heart for some reason and beckons me to go ahead and curl up right beside this little cat who sleeps mid-day with no problem at all.

I think about resting like this and the necessary blocking out of all distractions. Sometimes, we need to tuck into ourselves, spend time resting, and only then return to the mayhem of the day.



New Foods I’ve Added to My Diet

On my health journey these days, I’ve added in some new foods that I’m loving. I manage migraines and fatigue with nutrition as much as I can. These foods have made a difference in energy levels and have eased joint pain, too. Unbelievable!

Quinoa with Black Beans and Kale: So nutritious and filling. Cook 1 cup of quinoa, add a can of rinsed black beans, and then stir into the same pot a big handful of chopped kale (it will wilt down). Then, mix 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, two or three mined garlic cloves, some salt, and some pepper. Add your dressing to your quinoa pot. Chill in the refrigerator. A great lunch or even breakfast!

Nuts: I’ve added in some walnuts or cashews (just 1/4 cup) to a bowl of cut fruit, and it’s delicious!

Almond milk: Replaces coffee creamer and can also make a great morning smoothie if you combine with your coffee a frozen banana, a splash of vanilla, and a teaspoon of peanut butter. Add in some cocoa powder for a chocolaty taste.

Kimchi: I love it. I know that’s odd for some of you, but it’s great for probiotics, fiber, vitamin A, and vitamin C. Eat a few bites of kimchi with lunch or dinner or just for a snack.

Flaxseed, chia seeds, oatmeal, cinnamon, and fruit: The night before, add in 1/2 cup oats, 1 tablespoon each of your seeds, a dash of cinnamon, some milk (almond), and a handful of chopped fruit (preferably frozen). In the morning, your refrigerator oats will be ready and delicious.

Chickpeas. Great protein and wonderful to combine with curry and tomatoes for a great pita sandwich.

As I talk to healthy people, more and more I find they eat these foods regularly. I joined in, and it feels great!


How to Boil Eggs for Easy Peeling

Whenever we have to boil eggs that we’ll peel for deviled eggs, egg salad, or just to enjoy by themselves, we always wonder why those eggs won’t peel well. We’ve grown so tired of tiny flakes of egg shell coming off with chunks of egg with it.

I’ve been researching exactly how to boil perfect eggs for perfect peeling. My conclusions:

  • Boil water with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and a teaspoon of salt.
  • Add your eggs to the boiling water carefully (with a spoon).
  • Boil for 13 minutes (you can turn down the heat if the boiling is too rambunctious)
  • Remove each egg with slotted spoon and place immediately into a bowl of ice and water.
  • Let the eggs cool in the ice bath for 5 minutes.

Peel! You won’t believe it! The eggs finally, finally, finally become easy to peel with the shells coming off smoothly, quickly, and often in large pieces fully detached from the egg.

Yeah! Yeah!

Now, the reasons:

  • Salt (increases temperature of water, prevents cracking, helps egg solidify faster). You can also use baking soda, but I have not tried this.
  • Vinegar (soften shells for easier peeling)
  • Adding to boiling water makes for an easier peel (according to the Pioneer Woman!)
  • The ice bath (stops the cooking)

I hope I’ve forever solved the problem of how to boil eggs for easy peeling.





Letting God Lead to Abundant Life

After all these years of trying to design my own life, and the lives of my children, I continue to learn to surrender my notion of “abundant life” to Jesus. He came so we might have life “to the full,” yet I often wonder what this life will look like. So I fret and compare and despair.

What I let Him choose, let Him lead, let Him design our lives?