Fortitude

I’ve been teaching The Canterbury Tales this week. We began with the Prologue in which Chaucer describes the different travelers on the pilgrimage to Canterbury. Chaucer tells both the virtues and the faults of these people. So, I created a table with columns for the characters’ names and rows denoting the seven deadly sins and the seven cardinal virtues. One of the virtues is fortitude. I certainly don’t use this word on a daily basis, but after two weeks of struggling with procrastination, mild “It’s-after-the-holidays-and-I’m-alone-again” depression, fortitude became meaningful to me. It means “never giving up” or if you want the dictionary definition–courage in pain or adversity.

It’s not that I was actually dealing with physical pain or even situations at school that were adverse. It’s that I was struggling against one of the other most meaningful terms I’ve encountered in my Chaucer teaching–sloth. Sloth is the deadly sin that means laziness. “A reluctance to work.” Yep, that was certainly me for two weeks! Had I used my time more wisely, I could have written a few papers in two weeks. I truly had the free time to do it.

Last weekend was the last straw. I kicked slothfulness in the butt! All my prep work for this week was finished by Friday morning, and I wrote another paper Saturday and Sunday. I sent that paper off, after lots of revision, on Wednesday. And, my week has been less stressful since I’d so carefully planned the weekend before.

So, back to fortitude. I could have given up on writing papers, preparing Chaucer so closely, and being meticulous about my writing. But, I didn’t. I could still give up on finishing my Masters and being the best teacher I can be. But, I won’t. Fortitude will overcome slothfulness every time. All it takes is recognition of the problem, prayer, and active movement in the forward direction. Even if it’s only a little movement, like reading one article!  : )

On another note, due to my fortitude while working on a paper, I fell in love with an 82-year-old man named Robert Butler. This guy is amazing! He is a pioneer in geriatrics (medical care for the elderly), started the nation’s first geriatric division at a medical school in New York, and was one of the first to use the term “ageism” and predict the ginormous age wave that is hitting our nation as I type. “Every day, 12,000 boomers turn 62” (Megan McIntyre, Media Takes: On Aging). Here is a video in which Butler discusses issues facing our nation concerning the elderly. This man doesn’t sound a bit over 50, to me. :)  Enjoy!

<http://www.pbs.org/lifepart2/watch/season-1/pioneer-aging-dr-robert-butler>

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Three Things

Today was the first day back to school. After finally getting my lessons prepared over the weekend, I was excited to begin a new semester, with even more for the kids to learn than last year. But, I was greeted in nearly every class with a very negative attitude. Comments like, “I wish this were my senior year” and “I’m going to drop out” were the order of the day. I guess one thing they don’t tell you in education training is that you might be going to a pretty negative place some days. Par for the course. I’m not going to let it dampen my enthusiasm for teaching kids how to read and write. And teaching BEOWULF!!! We start that tomorrow. YAY!

Is it bad to have eaten an entire box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch (12 oz. Kroger kind, which I highly recommend even over the original) in just four days? I bought it on Thursday evening and finished it on Sunday evening–oh, that’s only three days!  I guess I just love having cereal for breakfast and supper . . . and lunch?

As I was preparing supper I noticed my height again and thought of Julie & Julia. Julia Child was 6’2″, just like me. Many of the shots of Streep in the film hilariously reminded me of myself in my kitchen. You see, the counter comes up to just above my mid-thigh. It is ridiculously short! The vanity in the bathroom is the same way! I’ve told mom several times that when I get married, I want to have custom built counters and sinks! Oh, that would be wonderful!

Okay, off to review the facts of the history of the English language and Beowulf! :)

Random Thoughts

I’ve read a few articles recently that encourage single women to go ahead and buy themselves nice dishes and furniture (instead of waiting for marriage to get those things). I confess I have been waiting for marriage for those things. However, I will never again buy the cheapest silverware at Wal-Mart. It’s terrible! I am saving money for a nice couch, but it will be awhile since I’m also saving for a car and paying off my college debt first. The couch I have is terrible, really. Another reason I haven’t paid much attention to homemaking is because I’m working on my Master’s. That’s a significant amount of money and time right there. See, I’m full of excuses! But, I welcome any great ideas for couches and chairs for my table. I only have two chairs that go with my table. Ah, who cares? It doesn’t matter to me AT ALL that I don’t have matching dishes and matching chairs around my table. Does it really matter?

I’m listening to my iPod Shuffle the Willards bought me for Christmas. It’s stinking amazing!! I can’t wait until the weather gets a bit warmer so I can go running with it! I wonder if I’ll find myself jamming out to it on my runs. That would look silly. Maybe I should practice somewhere privately before I go out where people can see me!

Today at church I found out that a young missionary who visited our church just two weeks ago died of a brain aneurism. Hugo and Sarah Liborio worked for Score International in the Dominican Republic. They came to our church with their two little kids (one just born in October!), and we were all instantly blessed by their enthusiasm for their work and their fire for the Lord. Hugo couldn’t stop smiling as he told us his testimony, and the story of how he and Sarah met, worked together, married, and started their family. The Liborios were set to return to the DR later this month, I think. It’s so sad to have lost a young father and husband. However, knowing the way he lived and the good work he has done, I can’t help but think that he is rejoicing in Heaven! Please remember Sarah and her two children. I’m sure her grief is tremendous. There is a  group open to all on facebook called “Remembering Hugo Liborio” where people tell wonderful stories of Hugo, and Sarah explains what happened with his death.

I helped Jon with the cattle a couple times over break. Christmas Eve was windy and cold, but we got it all done! I don’t know how he gets all that stuff done every day by himself! Amazing. And, I don’t know how Dad was able to do all that when Jon and I were just babies. Farmers rock. Period.

But, the reason I brought that up was that I can’t seem to get the manure smell out of my two pairs of jeans and coat! I’ve washed them twice and now they’re on the third washing! Whew! Any tips?

Motivation

Why is motivation so difficult to come by sometimes? I probably have more pressing projects to finish in the next few days than I’ve had in several months! But, I just can’t seem to get started on some of them. And, the ones I start, I can’t find the momentum to finish. Part of it is probably due to the end of the holidays. And, for once, this New Year’s wasn’t an exciting one. I usually get all reflective about the previous year and then begin to think, dream, and plan for the next year, but I haven’t had any epiphanies or bursts of motivation. I didn’t even celebrate on New Year’s Eve because I was too tired from driving home late and unloading my car. I think I’m just getting older. :)

So, I guess I’ll channel some of my lack of motivation into production by telling you about some interesting stories I found when I was trying to find motivation earlier today (read: avoiding work by surfing the Internet).

CNN holds voting for a Hero of the Year at the end of each year. People vote to pick one of the ten do-gooders for the award. One story that really touched me was that of Jorge Munoz. He’s a bus driver in Queens who makes about $700 a week, but spends $400 to $450 per week feeding the homeless homecooked meals in the evenings–every evening of the week! And, he’s been doing this for four years–hasn’t missed a day. You can read the article CNN did by going here: http://edition.cnn.com/2009/LIVING/03/19/cnnheroes.jorge.munoz/index.html

Another random story I found was that of Harvard basketball player, Jeremy Lin. He’s one of the .3% Asian college basketball players. His father immigrated from China in the 70s and taught his son how to play basketball at a very young age. Jeremy has been a stand out in the last few major games Harvard has had, and their season is going well. Lin has encountered quite a bit of racism from basketball fans, but he says he doesn’t let it bother him because he is used to it. That made me sad. I haven’t considered prejudices towards Asians due to my lack of interaction with them, but I now realize they also have to deal with racial issues. The article also pointed out that Lin is a Christian and will probably me going into the ministry after he graduates. This is the kind of news I like to hear about. Good people doing GREAT things!!

You can read more by clicking here: http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1951044,00.html

Over break, we did watch Julie and Julia (though I think that’s the only movie I was able to cross off the list!), and I found Julia Child to be very fascinating. However, it seemed like the film didn’t have very many close up shots of Child. I wonder if this was because examining her face too closely would have ruined the suspension of disbelief. Anyway, it was a very interesting movie, with lots to think about concerning both food and blogging. I was a bit annoyed at how Julie literally idolized Julia Child. It almost got too sappy at some points. But, I digress. My reason for bringing this up was to tell you I found another “foodie” book (yes, that’s what they’re called) that piqued my interest: The Sharper Your Knife, The Less You Cry. This one is about a thirtysomething who loses her corporate job and decides to take off to pursue her lifelong dream of earning her cooking degree from Le Cordon Bleu Culinary School in France (the same one that Julia Child attended).

Well, have I provided you with some deviations away from your work? You should probably get back to work now. I’m going to bed!