Thursday, September 15, 2011

What?! It's the Middle of September?!



(the picture above is from the recent Sunset Hills Triathlon -- easily the hardest tri I have done EVER -- the bike course was hilly beyond description!)


For some reason, I am just swamped and I have no idea when I will be able to climb out of this mess of essays, paperwork, and projects!

So here is an update on the busy life of Dianna :

1. I have 5 full classes of ENG 101 and ENG 102 students this semester -- and I am experimenting with some new ways of assessing their writing in an effort to make the courses more relevant -- and fun! But ... it appears I might be making even more work for myself.

2. In addition, I have one full class of LIT 205: Non-Western Literature -- which is my literature specialty but I am using a bunch of new novels (again, in an effort to make more connections with my students!). My students are fabulous in all of these classes (at least, so far!) but I feel like I am only a day or two ahead of them in terms of the workload and the reading. I am experimenting with letting them have my cell phone number this semester so they can call and/ or text. And they have been taking me up on it! Nothing major but I am finding myself using and checking my phone more often.

3. I am forcing myself to write 750 words a day on this fantastic web site, www.750words.org. At the moment I am on a 10 day writing streak (you get badges for certain milestones which totally fits in to Dianna's whole competitive streak!). Anyway, on a few of the days (since Sept 1) I have written nothing of any significance but I have had some breakthroughs with writing for the dissertation and so, obviously, I hope that continues! And when I don't write early enough in the day, I get emails from the web site reminding me to write! I need this kind of pressure!

4. I just started working with a swimming coach this past week (on Monday nights). I actually signed up for a lap swimming class with this coach but I am the only person who signed up so it's sort of like having a private lesson. In just 20 minutes of lesson #1 she already had me swimming way better than I have ever swam in my entire life! Since I have never really had a swimming lesson, I think this will go a long way in getting me more prepared for kicking butt in triathlons! And it's fun -- something I never thought I would ever say about swimming! (if you don't know, I have been slightly afraid of water since I have been an adult)

5. I attended my last support group meeting for folks with cancer last week. This was a tough moment for me as I have grown close to so many of the people in this fabulous group. If there has been any silver lining to cancer, I suppose this was it -- the chance to meet wonderful, kind folks I would have never met. Thankfully, several of them I can still talk to on Facebook and I have started sending weekly cards and letters to one of the great people there who is dealing with a cancer recurrence (I know my Chemo angels were so great to me -- now it's my chance to give back a little!).

But group is not quite over for me -- I just started a "Cancer Transitions" group that will meet for the next 5 weeks (three hours on Thursday nights). This group has a specific focus each week (i.e. nutrition, exercise post-cancer) and meets, oddly enough, at the very same place I had my radiation treatments (St Louis Cancer and Breast Institute out in West County). So far, I like the group -- almost all breast cancer survivors and friendly folks. And to make me feel a teeny better -- I am one of the youngest so that makes me feel pretty good! (and these women are super sweet so it's sort of like having 15 adopted grandmothers!)

6. I still work almost every Saturday morning at the women's clinic in Granite City. It's not getting any easier for women to walk into an abortion clinic and so I find working there (helping the staff and the clients) to be something that I just feel compelled to do. I respect every one's opinion on this matter but I still think it's important to have a choice. (anyway, I have been at the clinic for about 4 years now!).

7. I am participating in a Learning Circle at work that is devoted to the topic of white privilege -- and I will be leading one myself soon (one that will be devoted to the book, What's Liberal about the Liberal Arts: Classroom Politics and 'Bias' in Higher Education .by Michael Berube). Both of these discussion opportunities are related to my dissertation and I am just simply delighted to get the opportunity to talk and expand my own thinking on these subjects. But ... there is a bunch of reading and thinking to do!

8. I am trying to get back to my "normal" 5 AM workouts in the morning. Pre-cancer, these were generally not a problem but perhaps my body is not back to 100% and/ or perhaps the medications I am taking are causing problems but ... getting up is not an easy task in the morning. However, I made it work twice this week so that's at least a step in the right direction. (and our pooch Stella enjoyed our run this morning! It was even a little chilly! Yeah! Fall is here!)

9. I am trying to clean my office -- which is just plain messy. I hate not being able to find anything and students have to push things out of the way just to sit down and talk with me. Not good.

10. I am not happy just sitting still, so it seems like my schedule quickly fills up with running and tri activities, dinner out with friends, and scholastic meetings and conferences. Sometimes I wish I were better at just being bored but I know that is not me. It's just not the way that my brain works.

Anyhoo -- I am hoping that the prospectus meeting for my dissertation is soon (early Oct) and I really, really, really, really need to use this blog more often to talk through the crazy mind of me!

PS: I just added a widget (on the right) for my Daily Mile account so I have a place to share what I am doing exercise-wise. I figure it might make me more ambitious!

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