A few guidelines for Winter Quarter and beyond

In light of the drama of last quarter I’ve decided to set a few guidelines for Winter 2008 and try to create some good habits:

  • My Day Off – If I don’t have class, I don’t have to come to campus. With proper planning, I should be able to avoid schoolwork altogether on my day off. If, sometimes, I do need to do some schoolwork then it should be limited to a few hours and not take up the whole day. And if I do come to campus, it has to be for something good, like singing or working out.
  • Home Care – I need time to take care of myself and my house. This is evidenced by the fact that my house looks like crap. A crappy cluttered house is not a good study environment and its bad for my self-esteem. I like to throw parties and have company and this is keeping me from it. Sooo, there will be home care and me care on my day off.
  • Calendar time – I have to take time each week to update my calendar. This will keep me on top of school, church and life happenings which should help me reduce stress. This is work so I’m not doing it on my day off.
  • Cooking– I want (us) to lose weight and I want (us) to be healthier. If I want to do either of these, I need to control what I (we) eat and cooking ahead is the best way for me to do. I (we) weigh more than I’ve (we’ve) ever weighed in my (our) whole life and I’m not comfortable with that. It gives me no margin of error. I am not changing my clothing size because I am cute and I want to stay that way. Additionally, I’d like to get pregnant so losing 5 to 10lbs (15 max) would be great so I have baby room and (hopefully) don’t need to switch to a new size post partum. AND I’m a good cook so why not continue to hone my skills? How else will I ever become a cooking ninja?
  •  Exercise – Have Mercy! This is such a hard subject. I have so much trouble doing this. I just need get my heart rate up and do a little resistance training for heart health and bone density. Additionally, I really want my body tightened up. One of my girls told me that I made her sick because I had a baby and I’m still the same size. I informed her that I may be the same size but I am not the same shape. I want my muscles and I want my abs back. I’ve got to do something! FitTv, yoga and pilates dvd, abs video, running around with Lolo and dancing! Does dragging my backpack 3.5 blocks to campus everyday count? I sure hope so. So if I can just up my activity from backpack dragging then that should equate some kind of weight loss, I hope. Argh.
  • Me Care– I’ve been mentioning it but it needs its own bullet point. Quiet time, alone time, creative time, beauty…sheesh. I never get to soak in the tub. I need to get a massage at least quarterly (before finals). I want to get my hair did at least quarterly. Mani/pedi. Stuff to give me some time away and to also make me feel good! Going dancing.
  • Business  – This Avon thing was not working with school. Not much is but I want to keep at it a little longer and figure out how to tailor it to my schedule. Additionally, I want to start selling my art and my crafts. This is a dream for me and I really want to make it happen but I will not stress about it. One thing at a time.
  • Husband and Wife time – Gosh, this is a big deal. We need to try to get date night up to once per month. We’ve got some great restaurants on our list and we live in Chicago. There is plenty to do and many opportunities to enjoy some time alone. Making to most of this before we have another child is imperative.
  • Family time– Mr. Baby is now Mr. Toddler and is at the stage where we can start going to museums and other cool sites. I think this summer is really going to be big for him. He is going to be 3 and he’ll be entering Pre-School. I’m so excited and I want to expose him to as much fun, culture and activity as possible.
  • Bible Study/Prayer time – You’d think someone going to Divinity school would have this one on lock right? Nope. My church does one on Wednesdays at 7:15pm. My MDiv cohort is planning to do one on Fridays at 7pm.  I plan to attend both as much as I can and try to do some personal reading on my day off. Prayer time is weird. I mean I do a lot of talking but meditation and listening is an area where I am in need.
  • Grace – Give and get. I want to give as much grace to others as I would hope to get myself and I want to give myself more grace. I want to do great things, accomplish goals and be ‘super’ but I do not want to beat myself up when things don’t go well or when I screw up. That is where grace comes in. I think the previous one might help with that.
  • Ministry – Often ministry happens and often I go with it but I’d like to be more purposeful and aware. I want to see it and be conscious of it and I want to do it well. I also want to be more clear about what God really wants me to do. School is supposed to help me do ministry and give me some useful tools. I also hope to get some insights from God as I continue the M.Div program. I want to look at my classes with that in mind. I am in this program to gather some of the tools and skills to do what God has called me to. I want to pray and ask God what He wants to show me in each of the classes I’ve chosen. I want to be open and present and conscious and embrace what He has for me.

That’s enough for now.

Fall Quarter 2007

Well, I’ve made it through the Fall Qtr. Here is the verdict:

Summer Intensive, Biblical Hebrew (the language of the Old Testament) – B. I’ll have you know that she turned in a C in this class and I had to remind her that she had already advised me that I had earned a B. She corrected it. Amen. This class was amazingly hard. 26 chapters in 3 weeks (5 days per week and 4 hours per day).

Intro to Hebrew Lit aka Hebrew Bible – B. This professor is very benevolent. I still owe a paper in the class and somehow I got a B. God is good. I am still going to turn in the paper at some point, I wonder if that paper will bring my grade up or down. Maybe I should just leave well enough alone.

Fall Biblical Hebrew – C+. I have to retake the Final at some point. But I figure if I can get a C the same quarter I have a miscarriage and a cancer scare that I’m not doing half bad. Plus this class is at 8 a.m. and I am not the morning girl. I have devised a plan to meet with a classmate weekly and study to catch me up enough to retake the final and attend the reading group in the Spring.

Public Church, Part 1 – Incomplete. Yes, the dreaded ‘I’ which all U of C Divinity students have warned me against. Thank God they exist. I still owe Dr. G a critical review of a MLK speech and a final paper on Public Theology. 

What I learned is that I really can psyche myself out. Not good. I really do have the ability to immobilize myself with fear and that I just push too hard. Life was rough last quarter and that’s about it.

Strange Fruit & James H. Cone

I am taking a Black Theology class this quarter and one of the books we are reading is by James H. Cone. Dr. Cone is one of the foremost Black theologians.

Take a look at his Bill Moyers interview from November 23, 2007:
http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/11232007/watch.html

“With the noose and the lynching tree entering the national discussion in the wake of recent news events, Bill Moyers interviews theologian James Cone about how these powerful images relate to the symbol of the cross and how they signify both tragedy and triumph.”
Click the title below to hear Billie Holiday sing the song.

Strange Fruit by Billie Holiday

Southern trees bear strange fruit,
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,
Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze,
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.

Pastoral scene of the gallant south,
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth,
Scent of magnolias, sweet and fresh,
Then the sudden smell of burning flesh.

Here is fruit for the crows to pluck,
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck,
For the sun to rot, for the trees to drop,
Here is a strange and bitter crop.

Awesome Post from Craig’s List: Cancer Rant

I love this post! As a Cancer survivor, I feel this person so much!

Cancer Rant


Original Post Date: 2007-10-31, 9:31AM PDT

 In February of this year I was diagnosed with advanced Hodgkins Lymphoma. I went through eight months of chemotherapy, everything looks really good, and now I am just waiting my post-chemo scans to indicate remission. I am finally done with chemo. Woop woop. This is very good news for me. I’m real happy about it and I am excited to get on with my life.I was a good cancer patient…no, a great cancer patient. I was tough. I didn’t curl up in a ball and hide, I faced it, I sucked it up, and got through it. I’m not looking for a medal, I just want to preface what I am going to say with the fact that I am not whiney or self-pitying, and that I realize that I am not the only one who’s had to deal with this crap, and that there’s worse things that could have happened to me. I have a wonderful family and caring friends that have formed a very lovely support system for me. I cannot thank them enough for all their help and love.That said, here’s my rant…This goes out to everyone I know – friends, family, co-workers, doctors, nurses, radiologists, technicians, friends of friends, exes, and others…

1. There is no “good” kind of cancer. Yes, this kind of cancer at my stage has an 80-85% survival rate. That’s great, I am happy about that – really, I am, but that doesn’t make it “good” or any “better” than any other kind of cancer. Cancer is a scary thing, the treatment is excruciating, and at the end of the day, if you happen to get “lucky” and be one of the 15-20% that don’t survive, that statistic turns from a “good” one to a not-so-great one. Really. That’s like one out of five. Can you think of five friends? Picture them. If one of them up and died would you consider it a “good” number of them? I didn’t think so. So please, don’t tell me I got the “good” kind of cancer – don’t even suggest it. Don’t even say, “Well, at least you didn’t get _________ cancer, that would really suck.” Uh, hello, this pretty much REALLY sucks. Next time you get cancer I’ll ask you if you think the kind you got is “good”.

2. Don’t tell me things I don’t want to hear. For some reason, it occurred several times that when I told someone what I was going through (which is kinda awkward anyway), they would say something to the effect of “OH, my (mother, sister, aunt, grandmother, insert any other relative or even remote acquaintance here) just died last year of cancer.” Or “Right, my (insert distant relative here) died of Hodgkin’s.” What the hell?? I have been diagnosed with a terrible disease and am undergoing intensive and debilitating treatment, and you’re going to tell me about someone dying? What? Seriously? It’s better just to not chime in here. Again, next time you get cancer, I’ll try this line out on you and you can let me know what you think.

3. DO NOT ask me about my hair. With the kind of chemo I had, my hair started falling out around treatment #3, slowly at first, then lots at a time until I finally, and very sadly, shaved my head. THAT WAS REALLY HARD TO DO. It’s about a lot of things…it’s about vanity and feeling ugly, it’s about the stigma of being sick and that being obvious to the world, it’s about knowing or not who you are without your hair/eyelashes/eyebrows, it’s complicated. And, I take ownership of the fact that some of that is really superficial shit – but it’s very real and it’s emotional. So, comments like “How’s your hair doing?” “Wow, it’s really thinning out!” “So is your hair just coming out in handfuls?” and “Is that a wig?” are not helpful and WILL make me cry. If you think this is stupid or oversensitive, let me say it again: next time you get cancer let me know how this goes.

4. Don’t tell me it’s going to be ok. Bottom line is this – I know I want everything to be ok, and I know you want everything to be ok – you wouldn’t be my friend/involved family member if that weren’t the case. Unfortunately, we BOTH know that it just might not be ok. We BOTH know that there exists the possibility that it’s not going to be ok and that the disease isn’t going to respond, or is going to come back, and that even if I am tough and brave, it could kill me. I have had to deal with that idea since the word “cancer” came out of the doctor’s mouth. In that moment, and in the hours and days to come, I knew that it could happen that everything was not going to be ok. If I didn’t know that, cancer wouldn’t be such a big deal. If that weren’t a possibility, we wouldn’t have shed tears when we heard the news. So, for my sake, don’t say that line. I know it’s the first thing that comes to mind, and I know you mean it well, but try something else that actually means something, like: “Whenever you need anything I’ll be there” or “This is going to be rough but I’m here for you” or “I’m on my way over with a last season’s Top Model” or even just “Give ’em hell, sista”. I know you may not get it, but next time you get cancer we’ll share profound understanding when I tell you that I know it may not be ok and that I know that’s real scary.

5. Don’t comment about my weight. Ok, here’s something that I didn’t know before I started this. Chemotherapy is NOT a weight loss plan – YES, they have indeed discontinued all the fringe benefits from the cancer card membership. Turns out, they give you steroids that make you hungry all the damned time. And, you feel like complete shit and don’t even have enough energy to walk up the stairs, much less to exercise. In the beginning when I was still trying to figure out how to deal with shitty side effects like constant vomiting, painful mouth sores, etc, I lost weight because I just literally couldn’t eat. But once I got that under control, the hunger would come on, and man, I can eat a lot. I was in pretty good shape (at the gym five days a week, healthy foods, etc) when all this started and now I have gained weight and am up a pants size. The once-muscle has turned into mushy fat and I’m not happy about it, but during treatment there was just no fix. So, the “wow, you’ve put a couple on, haven’t you?” or “I thought you lose weight on chemo” comments are not helpful and again, will make me cry. Next time you get cancer, see how you feel when I tell you to “hit the gym.”

6. Chemotherapy sucks. I think everyone knows that – I don’t know what the first thing is that pops into your head when you read that word, but I would venture to guess that it’s not something warm and smiley. It sucks, it really sucks. You vomit, are nauseated (which is so much worse than vomiting) all the time, you get terrible headaches, you can’t sleep, you get sores in your mouth and chronic yeast infections, you get seriously seriously constipated, your brain malfunctions and you can’t remember how to get to the bus stop or where you normally leave the toothpaste, your whole body hurts, your toenails fall off (wtf? Yeah) and now they give you shots to stimulate white blood cell production (at least in my case) that cause relentless, incapacitating pain that made you simply want to give up on living just to make it stop. Ok, I said it, chemotherapy sucks – and I am really good at being tough and not letting everyone know all the shitty stuff that’s happening to me at once, but you know it sucks. So, no, I am not interested in hearing you whine about a cold you think you’re getting, your scratchy throat, your eye/ear/sinus infection, your sleepiness, your headache, etc. I know you really don’t feel good, but c’mon man, suck it up – or at least go tell someone else who doesn’t have cancer. Next time you get it, you’ll drop kick the asshole that spends ten minutes talking about how bad their hangover is.

7. It’s a REALLY long road. Eight months is a long time to be sick. It just is, and I KNOW (I really know) that it gets old. In the beginning everyone called all the time, offered to go to chemo with me, sent lots of e-mails, came over to visit when I was sick….but after the months drag on it’s like people get sick of it. I understand that – ’cause I got pretty sick of it too. I got sick of calling in to work, not doing anything fun, not seeing anyone….even just answering the damned “How are you feeling?” question….I felt like it was better to lie and say “fine” than to say how I really felt because people kind of don’t know how to react or don’t want to hear it. I have a wonderful husband and mother who took exceptional care of me, even when they needed a break, even when it got old, even when they got sick of hearing me say I felt like shit. They did that because they knew I needed them. I needed other people too, I needed girlfriends to just come over with a movie or a dvd of a funny tv show, or to call me on the days they knew I had treatment, or to just call when they hadn’t heard from me in days. Some did and some didn’t. You know who you are and why you didn’t. Maybe you didn’t feel comfortable or maybe you were too “busy.” Regardless, I love you, and I will do it for you the next time you get cancer.

I really, really hope you never get cancer. I mean that for everyone – even if you’re a jerk, even if you write to me and rant meaningless bullshit about my rant, even if you really deserve to have something nasty happen to you – I hope you don’t get cancer. It’s awful. I’m not one of those “I’m a survivor!” types, I’m not one of those in-your-face super tough post-cancer freaks, I’m really normal and I will get over this. That said, if you do get cancer or if your friend or (insert any relative here) gets cancer, you can bet your bottom dollar that if/when I hear about it I’ll be on your/their doorstep with a big teary welcome to the cancer club hug and a mop and bucket to clean the floors, or popcorn and a dvd for the kids, or dinner so you/they don’t have to make it, or whatever it takes, for as long as it takes – and you won’t have to ask for it, and you won’t have to say thanks, because we’ll both just know. It’s a special club and we take care of our own.

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Amen, Craig’s Lister, Amen.