Saturday, July 31, 2010

Pebbles, raindrops, unicorns, rainbows, and cotton candy clouds

Okay, maybe not the unicorns, rainbows, and cotton candy clouds, but the other two things? Yes.

So I’ve been thinking a lot recently about change, and believe there are two types of change. The first kind of change involves pebbles. One saying I really like is that “It takes a pebble to touch the ocean and move it.” If you think about it, it’s a true statement. Sure, maybe the pebble isn’t creating a tidal wave on the other side of the world, but the ocean needs to move to accommodate the volume of the pebble. And, if we remember our Aesop’s fables, we know what a thirsty crow can do with a bunch of pebbles. So, changes don’t have to be huge or life altering, because results will come whether they’re monumental or miniscule.

The other types of change are like raindrops. Whereas a pebble makes the environment around it change, a raindrop in an ocean becomes a part of that body of water. As the drop falls into the water it is becomes part of the ocean, but the ocean becomes part of the raindrop as well. There is a give and take with this type of change, which can alter both parties, not like the pebble which forces something else to change.

I’m not a huge advocate for just one type of change or the other, but think, like so much of life, a balance is needed. As change is one of the few constants in life, I think whether we allow them to become part of us or make us move to accommodate them is a large part of our personal attitude. I know that I can be a stubborn and feisty person who chafes against being told what to do, so having a pebble-type change doesn’t always work for me. While sometimes being knocked in the head by a stone is the only way to get through to me, I find myself happier and more at peace when I try to incorporate the change into my life, while allowing something of myself go as well -- like the raindrop.

I think that’s the take-away for me right now: to understand and allow change to come, but recognize that it doesn’t have to be hard, but many times it is necessary. And also to recognize that how I approach the change largely determines my happiness and the success of the change.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

My new morning mantra...

*Before you watch this video, scroll to the bottom of the blog and hit "pause" on the music player. You're gonna wanna hear this!*

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Evil Patty Rears her Ugly Head!

I’ve been anxiously awaiting the end of the summer, both because it signifies the end of the online English class I am teaching (yeah!) and the end of freedom summer represents (boo!). Although I am not a huge fan of teaching an online class, because, seriously, teaching three semesters of the same class limits the amount of variety in your life as well as vacation from school-type activities, I have noticed I have become more of a hard-nosed person.

I received an email from one of my students (ironically a football player – but not the one who will be failing my class…for the second time, after three attempts) and he asked me if it was possible to revise any of his papers for a higher grade since he’s worried about getting a passing grade in the course. Honestly, I’ve already allowed two students to revise failing papers for higher grades with great results, so normally I wouldn’t have a problem with it; however, this student had already received passing grades on his papers, he was just freaking out because he’d hardly been doing any homework all semester long and it was coming back to bite him.

My response to him?

“I highly recommend you revise, but not for a higher grade. Work on revising Essay #4 for your portfolio, as well as another essay of your choosing. Your portfolio matters A LOT. So work on fine tuning those.

"Your rough draft of Essay 4 looks good so far. You have some great arguments, just work on having a strong thesis, organization, and look at the handouts for Essay 4 available on Blackboard's home page. These will help a lot in making your paper more effective.

"I'm always willing to look at an essay more than once before the final draft is due. If you want me to look at a final essay other than #4 that you've revised for your portfolio I will look at that and give you feedback as well.

"Sorry I can't be of more help.“

Alright, so maybe I lied to my student. Could I have been of more help? Yes. Was I willing to help him out of his predicament? No. To tell the truth, I have grown weary of the number of “poor me” and “I didn’t know” excuses I hear from students. The sense of entitlement and lack of responsibility or accountability is shocking to me. [And here is when I start to sound like a crotchety old woman yelling at the dagnabit neighborhood kids from her porch to "stop playing so loud!"]. I know part of it is upbringing, and a number of students work hard and are responsible, but I have, and continue to work hard to make sure I meet school deadlines, do my best possible job for the assignments, and I don’t expect my teachers to cut me any slack. If they do, I appreciate it, but I don’t ask for it.

You may be arguing that I had let two previous students revise their papers for a higher grade. Yes, I did. How is the football player’s situation different from these two students? 1. These students has failing papers. They did not even score high enough to receive a D on their papers, 2. They had extenuating circumstances that precluded them from putting all of their time and effort into the class (one had a sick father while the other had her computer crash – lame, maybe, but she continued to complete all of her online homework…just a day late), and 3. Neither of them asked for the chance to rewrite for a higher grade. Because they didn’t ask for it, I was more willing to offer. I think that mentality plays into my dislike for lack of responsibility and entitlement. The football player had failed to do his homework in the past, and now wanted to make up the previous work? Sorry buddy, you reap what you sow.

Man, Patty. You’re harsh!

Maybe, but maybe this student will also learn that there is a reason why there are deadlines and that you better be aware of them now or you’re only hurting yourself later. In the adult business world, if you miss a deadline, you may miss/not be prepared for an important meeting; or it may be cause for you to be passed over for a promotion or fired. Harsh, yes. But that’s life in the big, bad non-academic world. Better a lesson learned here than there.

Besides, the student can always retake this class for a passing grade if he fails…without hurting his GPA. So there – all you bleeding hearts! Sheesh.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Albert Einstein and me, we're like that!

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.” ~ Albert Einstein

I’m one of those people who imagines … the best of people, life, situations, etc. So I imagine I’m a good teacher, good aunt to my 20+ nieces and nephews, good sister, daughter, friend, co-worker, etc. When I stumble, fumble, or all-around ‘bite it’ while walking up the stairs (trust me people, it’s possible) I laugh out loud. I imagine if I were watching “me” fall up the stairs, how ridiculous it would look and that causes the crazy laughter that I expel as I lay splayed on the steps leading up. All actions that don’t necessarily promote the idea that I’m a “sane,” adult person. I’m one of those people who laugh first and then, realizing I may appear heartless and maniacally evil, do the quick gasp intake and, “oh!”, and THEN rush to make sure the person who was hurt, embarrassed, or stunned, isn’t going to have any lasting ill effects. Of course, if you’re awkwardly looking around hoping no one saw you, I will oblige and pretend like I didn’t see you make a semi-fool out of yourself. I’m nice like that.

I’m also one of those awkward laugh-out-louders in the movie theater during films. My younger sister, Becca, will attest to the shame she feels as she sits next to me and I laugh “inappropriately” during a comedy. She either: 1. smacks me and quietly shushes me with all the venom within her (which isn’t a lot because, honestly, I love her and she’s a great person), 2. Turn turtle and slink down in her seat hoping fellow theatre patrons think I’m a psychiatric patient who has escaped my “safe room” and somehow was lucid enough to wander to a movie theatre, purchase a ticket for a comedy, and be “respectable” up until the spasm of laughter that escaped me, 3. Ignore me, but quietly seethe inside until, after the movie is over and we are walking out to the car, she can vent her frustration and disappointment on me, which subsequently sends me down into a spiral of shame from which I never fully recover, or 4. Rolls her eyes and ignores me, never to mention – again – how I laughed out loud in the movie theater and embarrassed her.

What can I say, I have a pretty good imagination and I tend to easily lose myself in things. I can get so wrapped up when reading that I literally forget where I am and am not aware of my surroundings. People can talk to me, but I don’t listen. They have to physically shake my arm in order to “wake me up” and realize there is a world outside of the words found on a page. (Note: This doesn’t just apply to books, but has also occurred with newspapers, poems, the backs of cereal boxes, and telephone books. Oh the wonder of the name Mike Smith. My imagination just tingles as I read that name on my screen. ;).

Movies aren’t really all that different for me. I willfully suspend my disbelief while watching movies. Yes, I know what is real and what isn’t, and I understand that the monsters on the screen, or futuristic robots, or people getting killed aren’t real – but try telling THAT to my imagination as it does business in the currency of “what if”. This easy immersion of my mind into what is happening on the screen is why I don’t watch scary movies. As was previously mentioned before, I realize that Chucky isn’t real, but what if? I also understand that Chewbacca isn’t flying around in space somewhere, but what if he was? I also know that what is being played out on the screen is done by people paid to act, emote, and present their characters in a specific light; however, please don’t ask me to be comfortable with someone being embarrassed. I have a weird thing about unintentional and malicious embarrassment in movies – I hate it! I’m sure there’s some link to an earlier incident in my childhood which has resulted in scars I attempt to deal with as the fully functional adult that stands before you now, but that doesn’t change the fact of the matter that embarrassing someone isn’t cool. When I know someone is about to be humiliated or embarrassed on the screen I either get up and leave the room (especially if someone else is watching the movie with me) because I don’t think the character needs another witness to their shame, or I cover my eyes and/or look away from the screen for the same reason as stated earlier.

Does all of this imagination make me weird and odd? Um, probably, but I embrace my weirdness since it’s not really hurting anyone. I also believe that my active imagination allows me to better understand and have fun with those younger than me: my students, nieces and nephews, children of co-workers or friends, etc. This ability to imagine serves a dual purpose of easily relating to kids (as I learned yesterday when I took four of my nieces and nephews, ranging in ages from 14 to 3 years-old, to the movie “Despicable Me” and Chucky Cheese (Chucky Jesus if you’re a three year-old) and enjoyed their unique imagination and perspective toward life) as well as seeing the possibilities and what if’s of life and actions. I honestly think it helps me, as a teacher, see the potential within my student’s writing and help to encourage them as they work to better their written communication skills and learn that Spot, the dog, doesn’t just run, but he leaps, bounds, wriggles his butt when he wags his tail, licks, slobbers, and does so many more evocative and interesting things than a single, one-dimensional world would have us believe. Digging beneath the surface and seeing what else is possible or being said is what I hope my students learn – all things which live in the realm of imagination and what if.

So that’s the mindset I try to inhabit as I go forward and attempt to finally read and grade my student’s papers today. Serenity now!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

I don't wanna grow up...

When I was a kid – be-boppin’ around on my bike; walking a mile to school in the rain, snow (gasp!), sunshine, wind, etc.; sliding down the “hill” on cardboard boxes; walking with my imagination through the woods; climbing trees with greedy thoughts of grabbing the first apple/plum of the year; “practicing” fire drills while jumping from our second-story window; wandering aimlessly, but safely, through the neighborhood – I didn’t know how good I had it. As a kid I remember my mom warning me that the older I get, the fast time goes…and she was right! Of course, I also remember my dad telling us that whoever got the pickle in their pancake would win a prize – they got to wash the dishes! Um, yippe … two strikes and he’s winding up for the third pitch … lay it on us Dad -- “they’re not burned, they’re licorice!” – OUT! The next batter steps up to the plate…

As I sit at my computer typing into this blog rather than doing the responsible “adult” things I should be doing, I long for those carefree days. I don’t want to grade student papers. I don’t want to pay bills. I don’t want to go to work in the morning. As a kid, being an adult looked easy. In the rosy-haze of my childhood eyes no one told parents what to do. They got to drive, date, stay up late, and do whatever they wanted. Man was I deluded. None of it is easy.

That’s what the inner-child in me wants – EASY! But HARD is what I NEED. Easy is for those unwilling to evolve and improve themselves. Easy is for those that are lazy. Easy means anyone can do it … and usually poorly at that. Hard is where I have to exert myself. Hard is where my muscles (physically, emotionally, spiritually, mentally, etc.) are built. Hard is where I become the kind of person I want to be. Hard is where the slovenly me, impurities, and weaknesses are left behind and the worthwhile comes forward.

Intellectually I know this and understand it, but sometimes it just seems to get too hard. Then what? Do I just whine and complain and annoy everyone around me, or do I pick myself up off the floor after my internal temper tantrum, dust off the last vestiges of self-pity and go back to work? Because that’s what life is…work. If you guess the latter, that’s what I try to do. Just suck it up, fake it ‘til I make it, and decide to change my attitude. Realizing that some things aren’t “in my boat” (thanks Heather!) and I can only control and change certain things; attempting to make like a duck and let all other things roll off my back like water.

Hopefully the forecast is for blue skies...

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

No One to Blame but Myself

Can I just say how much I wanted to stay in bed this morning? SOOOOOoooo much! 4:30 AM rolls around pretty quickly, especially if you’ve gone to bed later than normal. However, I managed to get up, go running, and have no regrets!

Last night, after an early morning run, long day at work, and hour-long rollerblading spree on the Lewiston Levee with friends, I went to another friend’s house and had some fun. Met new people, snacked on good food (love me some watermelon!), and played games. It was great to just sit on the back patio and relax as I sipped on water and the others drank pop, sangria, or jell-o shots (I have to ask: do you drink or do you eat jell-o shots?). Admittedly I didn’t stay too late (was on the road by 8:45PM), but I still had my commute, do odds and ends at home, and get ready for the next day.

So as the alarm went off and I slammed my hand down on it to silence it into sweet submission, I seriously considered rolling over and going back to sleep. One thing about me; however, is that once I’m up, it usually takes awhile for me to get back to sleep, so I knew I wouldn’t be returning to la-la-land anytime soon. And to be honest, I didn’t want to revisit the dream I was having.

SIDENOTE: If a police department asks you to read through old case files that aren’t in their computer system, organize each case, and scan them into their database as PDF’s, just say no. I am sick and tired of reading about missing people, found bodies, murders, sex offenses – especially those against kids, and all other facets of mankind’s worst nature. I only have two weeks left and this is one aspect of the job I won’t miss. All of these, wrapped up together, was the dream I was having – and the bad guys were winning.

As I got my running gear on, stumbled my way to the track, and tried to focus my bleary eyes, I kept on asking myself why I was getting up so early to do something I don’t like. The thing is, I don’t hate running. I will admit, due to sports I played though school, I am more of a short distance person (volleyball, basketball, softball, soccer [when you’re the goalie or full-back, you aren’t running as much as the strikers/forwards]). Yes, running a track is hard for me, and not a pretty picture, but I’m accomplishing something. I feel and see my distances improving and it’s getting easier to round each turn in the track in my quest to run just a little bit farther/faster each time. I may not have the graceful, long-legged lope of some runners, but my legs (again with the legs?) keep on moving and pushing me closer to my goal or destination. The pain, gasping for air, and pseudo-sunburned face after I exert myself don’t add up to the most ideal “rewards,” but the payoffs are coming. Some of the things I most treasure are those I have worked hardest for – and hopefully one day I can, with confidence, say that I am a runner. Ummm….just don’t wait for that anytime soon. ;-)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Sink Eating

I am sooooo single. How do I know this, you might ask? Well, my eating habits tell no lies. What did I have for dinner Friday night? A blizzard from Dairy Queen. Yep, ate it on my commute home from Lewiston at 5pm and that’s it. Dinner tonight? Chicken tenderloins and peaches. Hey, that sounds kinda non-single-ish, you may say…but not really. The kicker for me was where I ate it. I ate the chicken over the sink so I wouldn’t have to dirty a dish and the peaches were directly out of a can – also standing over same said sink. –sigh –

Am I lamenting my singleness? Honestly, it ebbs and flows, but not right now. I’ve made a conscious decision to focus on me for the last four to five years as I’ve finished up my education. After returning to school at the age of 29, I haven’t wanted anything to distract me from completing my Masters. Now, with only months left of my self-imposed selfishness how do I feel? Again, I’m pretty much fine. I wouldn’t change any of the “me” time I’ve had as I’ve gotten to know what I like, dislike, makes me happy, ticks me off, and so forth. Will I ever get married? I don’t know – but what I do know is that I’m not really worried about it. I am fully confident that I can take care and provide for myself (have for the last 10+ years anyway), and there are many things out there that make me happy: my dog, my bazillion nieces and nephews who allow me to hang out with them and spoil them, early mornings before everything wakes up, silence, long drives in my car, reading a book in absolute silence, etc.

Those are my musings for tonight as I prepare for another week at the police department (only two left!) and hit the sack early so I can start the day anew and fresh. Sweet dreams my minions!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

This is a Judgment Free Zone

As you can tell, I’ve been experimenting with my blog: pictures, music, books I’ve read, etc. The thing I’m battling right now is the “followers” section. I don’t know why, but I think this blog hates me…or maybe it’s my computer (it better not be because it’s less than a year old). For those of you who have “followed” me in the past, but are no longer listed because of my stupid computer, my apologies. Let’s see if we can beat this widget and sign up again in the right hand column. I just have to say that I love the term “follower”, because that means I’m a leader and all y’all are just along for the crazy ride!

It’s amazing to me how technology feeds into our need for validation. I feel like I don’t completely suck as a blogger/writer when I get a follower and I feel like “I’m good enough. I’m smart enough. And, gosh darn it, people like me!” (-Stuart Smalley from SNL) when I get friend requests on Facebook. Shallow, I know, but this is a blog of no judgment – so don’t judge me!

More tomorrow…

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Considering the Dash


That is the span of years I have been living on the earth (and I hope to keep living on this planet for quite a few more, thank you very much). As I've been flexing my introspective muscles lately I've been considering the dash. That little punctuation mark that symbolizes sooooo much. The dash is where I have been, where I am now, and where I will be until the 2010 becomes a 2011 and so forth.

Within the span of that dash I have loved, said good-bye to loved ones, laughed, cried, learned, been hurt & done some hurting, spoken in anger, comforted, listened, smiled, prayed, danced, jumped in puddles, made mud pies, tattled on siblings, cut my own hair, skinned my elbows and knees (and somehow managed to NEVER break a bone), experienced highs and lows, conquered fears, and so much more than I can express or mention in this blog.

All of that, and days not yet lived and experienced to come. How I've filled that dash and am using it matter, but what matters most is how I will use it in the future. Will I be selfish? Giving? Raise my voice in anger or temper it with love? Will I achieve goals I have now or realize new and better ones? I don't know. Talking with a friend today, talking about life in general, I said, "You can make plans, but you can't really plan for life." I can try to create contingency plans for a wide range of scenarios, but life is unexpected and unpredictable and can quickly lay waste to any well laid plans. Scary, yes, but also exciting -- at least that's what I'm trying to convince myself of.

Would I like to have someone tell me what choices to make alone each step of my journey? Absolutely! However, I also know that would quickly get old and I'd begin to chafe against the bonds deciding my fate. My Father in Heaven is really good about nudging and leading me in the direction best for me...he let's me think I'm in control, which I am, to a certain extent. But He's the master planner who paves the paths for each of us that enables us to grow, learn, and best serve others.

So as I consider the dash, I also consider those that have influenced and touched me during that span -- both lovingly and hurtfullly. I was going to say, "both postively and negatively," but I think each contact, whether clothed in love or pain, is ultimately positive. Without some of the hurt and pain I have gone through I wouldn't be the person I am now. I wouldn't erase any of my tears or pain. Hopefully my loving influences on others outweigh the hurtful.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Doggy Blinders

In case you haven't heard...or I haven't written about it enough...I have a dog. She's a beautiful 80 pound, eight--almost nine year-old chocolate lab named Sage. Some of Sage's favorite things are fetch (she would play it for hours if I didn't get tired of it before her), all forms of water except for baths -- I can't understand that one, and squirrels. You just need to say the word "squirrel" and her ears perk up and she runs outside whining and runs to all of the places in the backyard she has seen the little critters. It's not that she wants to catch them, I honestly think she's just curious.

Another one of Sage's favorite things are treats. She has me, her human, so well trained that instead of a spare change compartment  in my car, I have a treat compartment that, if I leave her in the car and forget to close the lid all the way, she'll nose it open and gorge herself on the tasty vittles -- that's right, I just used the word vittles. I think that's the first time I've ever been able to write that word...and I did it twice! Annnnd we're back! I'm so well trained by my dog that I've learned to have blinders on in one area that Sage is concerned. I've gotten in the habit of putting a treat on my bed before we head downstairs in the morning to finish my preparations for the day. Sage has learned that when I go into the bathroom off the kitchen, I'll be a little bit as I put my hair up, put on makeup, and brush my teeth. Due to this extended period of time when she doesn't have to worry about me leaving without her knowing, Sage has also gotten into the habit of sneaking upstairs and eating the treat off the bed, then coming back downstairs and looking all innocent by the back door. This whole situation cracks me up because she pretends like she hasn't already had a treat and I pretend I don't know she's eating the treat before I leave the house.

The moral of the story? I don't have one, you can apply it however you'd like. Just thought I'd share!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Nature + Me = Love

This weekend I’ve done a lot of driving around the great state of Washington. On Friday night I drove from Moscow, ID (which is only about 5-10 miles from the WA border [ a.k.a Pullman, WA], so it can swing either way state-wise), across the great wasteland – ahem, I mean farmland – that contains Othello, WA and into Ellensburg. Sunday morning I left Ellensburg and drove, on a different interstate, back across the state to Spokane, WA so I could see my sister Susan before bopping 1 ½ hours south back home to Moscow. So what’s my point? I know you’re waiting on pins and needles to hear what I’m thinking, so here it is…I have done some travelling in my 3+ decades and am amazed by the variety of scenery and landscape God has created for us to enjoy.

I’ve paddled a kayak in the midst of icebergs, watched waves crash against various beaches, seen mountains rise to meet the sky, travelled mile upon mile of farmlands growing everything from wheat to potatoes to canola (love the bright yellow flowers! It’s like pure happiness on the ground.), driven past fruit orchards and vineyards, dune-buggied through sand dunes, hiked forest trails, pulled up crab pots and shrimp pots in ocean waters, rafted whitewater and floated calm rivers, climbed rocks, witnessed the thrumming pounding of waterfalls, watched bald eagles dance in the sky, and been captivated by all of that, and can’t wait to witness so much more of the world I haven’t seen yet.

I am humbled by the beauty and attention to detail found in nature. Frost patterns on a winter window, spider webs, the veins in a leaf, clouds in the sky…EVERYTHING! I find it hard to believe that all of the beauty we are surrounded by, and ourselves included, is all one cosmic happenstance wherein all the stars aligned to create the world we live on today. Nope, not gonna buy it. If I ever question if my Father in Heaven loves me I just need to watch a sunset or sunrise, pick a dandelion (or a flower), or just anything in nature, and I’m reassured that someone who is mindful of all that is aware of me…as miniscule as I may feel in the world at that moment.

Insights from a Four Year-Old

As I’ve been spending time in Ellensburg, WA this weekend I’ve been dazzled by my sister in the community theatre presentation of “The Pirates of Penzance,” and I’ve spent a lot of time with my four year-old niece Tiffany.

Tiffany is an interesting story in and of herself, but this precocious child is also one of the most articulate kids I know. Driving home from dinner Saturday she was having major self-recrimination issues because she couldn’t think of the word she wanted to use. If you’ve seen the YouTube video of the three year-old girl who is Justin Bieber’s biggest fan ( than you have a bit of an idea of the scene in the car – minus the tears. The word she couldn’t remember? RECOGNIZE. That’s right. We asked her to describe the word and she wouldn’t. We asked her what a synonym for the phantom word was and all she would say was, “Oh man! What is that word? Oh man!” My four year-old niece was beating herself up because she couldn’t remember the word RECOGNIZE so she could use it properly in a sentence.

Maybe you’re laughing at this story, because I know the adults in the car were during this experience, but how many times do we beat ourselves up over such miniscule and things that aren’t really important? To us, they are life and death, but in the big picture…do they really matter? To Tiffany, she was upset because she couldn’t remember the right word, albeit a pretty impressive word for a four year-old – but in the grand scheme of things it really wasn’t that big a deal.

Hanging out with this adorable little girl also reminded me how special kids are. A bundle of energy who talks a mile a minute, her positive perspective about life and unique viewpoint is a nice contrast to my sometimes pessimistic. She loves to pretend: Pretend I’m wearing purple, pretend I’m a dog, pretend you’re my mom, pretend I’m a raccoon, pretend I stole all your jewelry and you’re chasing me, etc. Usually happy and smiling, her ability to choose her outlook humbles me and reminds me that we are, ultimately, the deciders of our attitude. I decide if I’m happy, sad, mad, etc. No one else can make me feel that way unless I allow them. If I’m in a bad mood and I want to be happy, I have to pretend I am until it’s true.

Those are just a few of the many lessons I learned from a four year-old this weekend…and I also learned that a hug and kiss from a child is one of the sweetest you can get. Thanks Tiffany!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

It's a Jungle Out There!

I just found this posting in my "Draft" Box and thought I'd share it with you. I wrote it back at the end of May 2009.

Okay, I'll admit that as I'm writing this I'm working at my office (temp) job...but I really need a break from folding 500+ statements and stuffing them in envelopes. As I've been working I happen to look out the window and saw the mailman (or mailperson if you want to be Politically Correct) drive up. As I was voyeristically watching I realized that the mailman (because he is a man) was wearing a pith helmet. Um, when did delivering the mail get so dangerous you have to wear a pith helmet? Are rabid cats chasing you down the street in an effort to thwart your delivery of the mail? Is the danger of paper cuts so prevalent that head armor is needed? Is the threat of not being able to open a mailbox door so likely that personal head protection is needed?
Sheesh! What's the world coming to? Next thing you know, office building cleaning crews will be wearing Haz-Mat suits whenever they enter a bathroom...though that one I can understand.

Save the Drama for Your Mama

Today as I was getting ready to put on my rollerblades for an exhilarating skate in the brisk 90+ degree weather in Lewiston, ID, I was looking at my legs and thinking about how banged up they are compared to those you see in women’s shaving ads and such. Growing up a tomboy, and being active throughout my life, I have my fair share of scars. One from a saw when, as a kid, I mistook my leg for a log; another scar from when I wrestled with a moving dolly and the dolly won; another from shaving; and still others from various raft trips, bike spills, and any other number of accidents and such. But as I looked at my none-too-pretty legs I appreciated the fact I have two and they work well enough for my needs.

With these two beat up and scarred appendages I am able to rollerblade, run, walk my dog, kick a soccer ball, paint my toe nails, dance, hang upside down on monkey bars, skip, jump in puddles, wear flip flops/Chuck Taylors (my two favorite kinds of shoes), leg wrestle, jump rope, do cartwheels, and any one of the other numerous things available. Some people don’t have both, or even one functioning pair.

My appreciation of the small blessings I do have was doubled when, on my daily commute home, I talked to a pregnant older sister and found there may be a medical problem with the baby she’s carrying. It’s still in the prepare-for-the-worst-and-pray-for-the-best stage, but after she explained to me what the dire possibilities may be she asked me how my life was. My answer…fine. I have no complaints. Everything is going as it should, because, really, in comparison what DO I have to complain about? I have two jobs I don’t dread going to work for, I’m almost done with school, I have a new roommate who seems normal -- so far, I have my health, and I have a wonderfully supportive family and group of true friends that I know love me and would do all they could to help me. So I ask again, what do I have to complain about?

Any perceived woe-is-me feelings have been pushed to the background and gratitude is gracing my perspective. Sure, things aren’t going exactly how I want them, but that’s not an altogether bad thing. I know myself and sometimes I don’t make the smartest decisions/choices. Maybe letting someone else lead is exactly what IS best for me.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

I'm going to get a little deeper than normal...

I've been thinking a lot lately about where my life is headed. For the first time in years, I don't have a safety net in my future. What I mean by that is that in ten months I will be done with school and, quite possibly, without a job or a place to call my own. My possibilities are endless and it scares me. I will be able to check "get an education" off my list of things to do, but the list of other things to do and experience still remains longer than my arm.

As I've been considering what I really want out of life and in my life, I've thought about prayer and my expectation regarding answers to prayer. If I have a Father in Heaven who loves me, and wants the best for me, why do I question His ability to give me everything I need to be happy? Since childhood I have been taught to pray for what I want, need, and/or desire, and an answer will always come. It may take longer than I'd like and be an answer different than one I hoped for, but God doesn't leave any prayers unanswered. Do I believe this? Yes, without a doubt. I suppose my spiritual hang-up comes in the understanding that my Father in Heaven knows my every thought and desire, so I've rationalized that, because he's omnipotent I don't need to voice my innermost wants, plans, and needs. He'll just give them to me if it's time. But I don't think that's really how it all works.

Yes, my Father in Heaven wants my happiness and all that's best for me, but he also won't impede my agency to choose and decide my life. Does that make any sense? Because he ultimately knows what's best for us, but also comprehends we need to make mistakes and suffer positive and negative consequences based on our desires and needs, even if it's a good desire, he won't give it to us unless we ask for it. And that's where I fumble. I fall back on the "He knows all, so he'll give me what I want and need," but He won't. He won't force his will on us. I need to show faith and trust in Him and his power by asking for his help, guidance, and counsel.

I freely admit I have problems asking for help. My parents worked hard at raising independent children, especially their daughters, and this is where my upbringing backfires on me. I need to learn to trust in the Lord in all things, not just the seemingly easy things I think he can help with, but everything. My private thoughts, deepest desires, greatest fears and hopes -- all of me. This is my struggle. I either have to believe him or I don't. There really are no two ways about it. Either he can do what he says he can, or he can't.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Constitutional Ammendment Proposition

I propose three day weekends become a Constitutional Amendment as I believe the longer weekends enable the citizens of this country to better pursue happiness. I know I'm happier with an extra day off!

I've been in a funk for the last week or so and haven't really been able to shake it. Thankfully this past week and long weekend helped to rejuvenate my batteries and spirits, thus helping me to face life with a more positive outlook.

To begin the "Great Rejuvenation" of Patty (thus I have decreed it will heretofore be called) I had a wonderful dinner Thursday night with friends I hadn't really spent time with for years, but it seemed like the years were just a few days (Natalie, Jodi, and Amanda). It was a girl's dinner and there was laughter all around. Cheeks hurt from laughing so much and there were even tears shed because of the happiness at the table. Two and a half hours later we finally left the restaurant and I was in the best mood I'd been in for months. My love and appreciation for these wonderful friends is unspeakable. Together we have done things no one (especially the police) need to know about and I have been a part of two of their far. They've witnessed "tired Patty" who doesn't need any alcohol to lose her inhibitions and try anything, including "borrowing" a ladder from someones garage to climb to the second story of a house...and any other number of other things that won't be divulged here. Needless to say, I love these women and am thankful they have been, and continue to be, a part of my life.

Saturday was my "get everything done so I can enjoy the long weekend" day: mow yard, grade student papers, weed the garden, etc.. But that just prepared me for Sunday where I went for a great hike with Sage on "Moscow Mountain", communing with nature and God in some beautiful nature. There's nothing like getting away from everyone else and getting out of town. It's possible to be alone in a crowd, but it sure is noisy. The peace and silence experienced in nature afforded me the opportunity to talk some things out and get a little closer to acceptance of what I do and don't have control of in my life.

Blessedly, again, friends were a large part of my 4th of July celebrations. Eating BBQ with the Nielson clan and watching the city firework display, as well as the little kids' excitement over their own fireworks, lightened my own heart. The Nielson's are a great family and I count two of the members as my best friends. Jodi, who I went to dinner with on Thursday, and Kasey, her older brother. If I ever had a "brother from another mother," Kasey is him. The guy who can make me laugh with just one look or word and who's wife is just as wonderful as he is. Love 'ya Laura! I finally got to meet my "namesake" in their second daughter Ellie Patricia, and she's a cutie (that's her on the right doing her dance to Beyonce's "Single Ladies" song). But then, so are all of their girls.

After the culmination of little things that added up to my huge negative funk, I'm happy to say the clouds are clearing and my optimism is returning, all thanks to some great friends, communing with nature, and a three day weekend. So there's my argument for a Constitutional Amendment, anyone willing to sign my petition?

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy Birthday America

"It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews [Shows], Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.” ~ John Adams

Our nation’s birthday has been celebrated on every continent, even Antarctica in 1934, by Richard Byrd, when he was at his base Little America. This outpouring of patriotism around the globe makes me thankful to be a citizen of the United States of America. As I prepare for my holiday that is filled with tributes to our nation’s Independence Day, I just want to add my thanks. Thanks to the nameless and numberless many who have sacrificed of themselves so our nation can be who and what it is today. Not only thanks to my family members past, present, and future who have, are, and will serve, but a huge thank you to the people dedicated to the cause of freedom that have enabled me the rights, among a long list of others, to be who I want to be, say what I want to say, and believe what I choose to believe. My gratitude goes out to those who have, are, and will voluntarily give of their lives, time, and effort, in order to ensure my freedoms, and the freedoms of all United States citizens, are protected.

My debt to these people are incalculable and my meager thanks too little for all they have done. So to all those expressing their thanks, I want to add mine to the chorus and say “Thank You.” The words may seem too little and trite, but the emotion behind them is not.

Friday, July 2, 2010

If we're going to be friends, there's a few things you should know about me...

  1. I like speed: cars, boats, snowmobiles, rollerblades, talking fast...all of it.
  2. I find it absurd that a two-story building has an elevator. (I know, I know -- ADA requirements). That absurdity; however, doesn't keep me from giggling as I ride the elevator between the floors -- yep, I did that today.
  3. I love how certain words sound: majesty, fork, hypnopompic, ostensibly, and dumbhole are my current faves.
  4. I love how ruthless and warped the sense of humor of police officers and emergency personnel is(myself included). If a fellow employee does something stupid, or something stupid happens to them, typically a number of us jump at the chance to gang up and prank the helpless victim, like a pack of wild hyenas with a wounded antelope in our sights. If you run into the side of a building while dinking around on one of our department motorcycles, yes, we will photoshop your head onto a picture of a billboard about motorcycle safety and email it to everyone we can think of as well as posting it up around the station. If you are a male detective who is too much of a wussy to take the hook out of the mouth of a fish you caught, and make a fellow officer do it for you, we will print off instructions on how to remove a fish hook as well as numerous pictures of little girls who seem to have no qualms about touching, catching, and even gutting the fish. (just a few examples from this last week)
  5. No offense, but while I'm fine with listening to you explain your feelings and how you feel, please don't ask me to share mine. That does not come easy for me and if you nag me to do so, I will just become stubborn and shut down. That takes time for me to trust you's a defense mechanism.
  6. Although I have a lot of friends, I can count, on one hand, the true friends I have that I will talk about my feelings with, feel completely comfortable around, and don't feel self conscious about being the big dweeb and nerd that I inherently am.
  7. I have more feelings than just happiness. Although I may smile all the time and be willing to laugh at the drop of a hat, I do get angry, annoyed, sad, frustrated, embarrassed, and all the other gamut of emotions. But, unless you are one of my true friends -- or I'm really tired, you will only see the "happy" side of Patty. See #5 to better understand why.
  8. People slipping and falling down (preferably on slick surfaces) cracks me up...every time.
  9. While I can socialize with the best of them, I really am a homebody. Sure, I enjoy the occassional movie, dinner, game night, etc., but many times I would rather read a book or watch a movie at home than go to a party or meet up with friends. I like to be alone. Maybe part of it is because I grew up in a family of 10 children, and solitude was a rare commodity, but I look forward to going home, changing from my office clothes into jeans, t-shirt, and flip flops/slippers (depending on the weather), letting my hair down and just chilling.
I think that's a good start...still wanna apply for the position?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Whod've Thunk it. Did You Know I'm Brave?

I've pretty much had a crappy week at work and in general. I feel as though I'm standing on a precipice and not sure if I'll soon be plunging headlong into a river that may tumble me head over feet or if I'll find a trail full of switchbacks down the same mountain, with twists and turns with the same eventual goal, but at a more moderate pace. I have only one year left of school and then I'm done. Friends ask if I'll be going on to get my PhD, but I really think that after this year I'm done. I don't see any need to work toward a doctorate since I no longer have a real desire to teach at a college, and that's essentially what a PhD would lead me toward (sorry Mom, looks like you're going to have to get a doctor into the family in another way -- marriage).

As I've begun to ponder what I'll be doing or where I'll be headed in about 10 months, I'm afraid I won't be brave enough to do what is necessary or make the right choice on my life's obscured path. I fear that when last seconds tick off the game clock that I won't beat the buzzer and just wind up throwing a Hail Mary shot at the basket...all to no avail. At this point I just want to say I'm so thankful for friends. As I voiced these concerns with a couple of them, their perspectives and viewpoints of life helped me to see myself from a different angle.

They both talked about how brave they consider me. One stated she thought that, if anything, I push the envelope. Examples both of them used were when I quit a reliable and secure job I loved to go back and complete my undergraduate degree, at the age of 29. When I decided I wanted to go back to Alaska and experience it as an adult, I decided to find a job online, move to a place where I knew no one, and work for five months with complete strangers and in an unfamiliar, but beautiful environment (as you can see from the picture at left). As I was faced with life after college upon my pending graduation from BYU-I, I decided Graduate School was for me and applied at six universities. After acceptance into all of them, the decision making process got harder as I had to decide which, of the six I had already deemed good programs, was the best for me. Ultimately the University of Idaho in Moscow won because it afforded me the opportunity to teach while taking classes, a closer proximity to friends and family, and a return back to an area I loved living in earlier near Lewiston and Clarkston.

To them, each of these direction changing decisions in my life's path were moments when I was brave. I guess they could be perceived as brave, but with each I was certain the decision I made was the best one. Because of my certainty and the seeming ease with which all of my plans fell into place, I'd never really considered them hard and, in fact, often felt I was taking the easy way out. When you're sure of something, there is no need to fear, and that's how I've felt. They always felt more like no-brainers than decisions.

Now, as I have no idea where my life is going, I'm filled with fear. I trust that I will again be presented with opportunities and decisions to be made, and I hope I'll have to choose between a number of good choices, just have to make the choice that is best for me, but I'm still afraid. I know that if I make a wrong decision I can change directions again, but I fear for the time that I may have lost due to poor decisions.

Right now this is all a viscious cycle of self-doubt and unsubstantiated fears. I hope that, when the times comes to decide what my life will be like after college, I will make the right one. Some may say, "Don't worry about it right now. You still have a whole year of school to get through." Yes, that's true, but I also don't want to spend too much time in the pocket and get sacked from my blind spot ( how I'm inserting all these sports metaphors?).

I guess this is just one of those instances where patience really comes into play. I can only plan so much before life begins to dismantle and toy with my seemingly concrete path. Unexpected weeds and cracks alter and change a path as time goes by, and sometimes, the course that was once paved and easy to travel, has become something different altogether.

I do not like Green Eggs and Spam. I do not like them Sam I Am.

What’s with all the spam? Now, I’m not talking about the food-ish thing people eat (and yes, I’ve eaten it too while on a weeklong hiking trip. You do what you have to in order to keep going), but rather the internet spam. I won’t bore you with the “subject” lines of the emails because I’m sure you have enough of your own. It constantly amazes me, though, how many times I get the email that asks me to help Mr. ____, in Africa, to get money out of the country before the government takes it over…and if I’m a kind and generous person, they’ll compensate me monetarily.

Seriously? Do I have a “stupid lives here” tattoo on my forehead – or my email address? Wait a minute! That could be an interesting email address…Hey, guess what? is available (because I checked). is NOT. Hmm…I think I already like the email owner of That person has got to have a great sense of humor.

Focus Patty. Annnnnnnnddddd…we’re back on track.

I especially like the “help-the-poor-African-guy-and-get-swindled act” when they fax their requests and send emails to police departments. Yep, they’re that stupid – or perseverant. I actually took the time to fax a response to the fax phone number that essentially said, “Seriously? Do you think we’re stupid? This fax number goes to the Lewiston, Idaho Police Department. Please refrain from contacting us in the future. If you fail to comply with our request, legal repercussions will result.” My email response was basically the same as well. Amazingly we haven't had any additional requests from Africa. Imagine that!

Spam, manna to the Hawaiian people and, on average, each inhabitant of Guam eats 16 cans of Spam each year. That’s a lot of spam – both mystery meat kind and mystery mail kind. Who am I to judge? The world needs all kinds!