April 24, 2015

The Semester is Over!

It is a glorious Friday is not-so-sunny Phoenix. I woke up to the sound of rain hitting my window. As I peered out the window, all I saw were clouds and a constant stream of rain drops. It was a nice change of pace from our normally sunny and warm late spring days, and the sound of the rain as it hit the surface of the glass was soothing to me. In some ways, the rain signaled a change of pace, a different approach, and a new way of thinking for me. Let me explain...

I have just finished one of the hardest semesters so far in my college teaching career and in my doctoral studies program. It was the combination, I think, of applied research and theory along with three English literature and composition courses. The combination was the killer simply because of the amount of time required to achieve in each discipline. Even though, I purposely chose classes that I had taught before, I still knew that the time required to complete class prep, teaching lessons, and grading would get the best of me. In truth, this is exactly what happened. I got behind on my grading, and I ended up having to push quite a bit of student work off a couple extra days. I don't like to do that, of course, but I couldn't give up sleep (not at 50 plus years of age). In the end, it all worked out well, but still I was disappointed that I chose that route this semester. Oh well.

My courses are Regent were excellent, and I found that I enjoyed the content and the assignments. I didn't like the stress that arrives at the end of each advanced writing assignment, but overall, I felt that I learn many new things, all of which, will help me prepare for my upcoming exams. I feel good going into the summer 2015, and I look forward to my summer course schedule.

I found this quote by Nelson Mandela today. The words ring so true, and they remind me that every time I am in the midst of a major project, I always feel overwhelmed and believe (yes, I do) that the task at hand is impossible. However, once the project is completed, there is this amazing sense of relief. On reflection, it becomes clear that the task wasn't so insurmountable because in the end, the job was completed on time and with good effort and results.

This is exactly how I feel this morning -- relieved, relaxed, and rested. I have that sweet sense of satisfaction that says to me "I'm done! I did it all!" I love the feeling of completion, of finishing strong, and of making great strides toward the completion of my PhD program.

This past week was a bear for me. I completed two major papers, one in Applied Communication, and one that focused on Mega church Mediated Communication. The first was a theory paper for my COM theory class. The second was a combined effort of original research conducted through a content analysis of mega church websites. It was a great effort by two of my colleagues, and we are so hopeful that it will be well-received. The theory paper is to be submitted to a conference or journal, and I am hopeful that it is good enough (aka, the instructor likes it) to be submitted.

On top of my scholarly work, I also had three classes to teach and bring to a close. I learned a lot in my courses at GCU this semester, mostly once again, what not to do. I have some new ideas for content, and for how to teach product writing (yes, I figured out my composition pedagogy, whoohoo!) I hope to spend part of my summer getting myself ready for my courses in the fall. God is good, so very good to provide me with the summer off. In all, I am relieved and ready for my summer break!

I slept like a rock last night. I had stayed up quite late to have a conversation with my friend, and well, that always seems to mean that we talk until the wee hours of the morning. I haven't done that since high school! LOL! In some ways, it is fun to behave like a teenager again. It has been such a long time since I enjoyed such a wonderful and warm friendship. I digress...

I had one of those weird dreams, you know, the ones where I dream about my old house in San Jose. I think I tend to go back to my childhood home whenever I need something or want something that is "safe." I was in that home for about 6 years. Not really a long time, in comparison to my previous homes, but still it was the place where I retreat because of the memories and attachments I formed while living there. In truth, I think it was the first home where I felt safe, as in SAFE from harm, so I have a special fondness for the house. Moreover, I loved that home, and I can remember when we first found it (my Mom and I). We had been tasked with finding a home while my Dad completed his work in IL. My Dad was being transferred with his company, but he was in the middle of a project and wasn't able to go house shopping. He sent me and my Mom out to CA to look for houses. Our job was to find a couple good options, and then Dad would fly out and make the decision. In the end, we only found one suitable house (the one we bought), but the process of looking for houses took us two weeks of absolute despair and disappointment.

Of course, this is a more recent picture. My folks sold this house back in 2000. Still it looks similar to when we lived in it. It was a great home, perfect for me and my folks.

Back to my dream...so I was in my house (the one pictured above), and I was in my old room. It looked similar to my old room, but it wasn't exactly like it. Plus my son was there (grown), and my parents (as now). Plus there was a young black man, like a high school or college age young man, and he was there too. I remember waking up in my room, and pulling the blind up. The sun was shining, and I thought it was pretty outside. Then this young man walked into my room and started to have a conversation with me. He helped me make my bed (weird, I know), and then I saw my son walk past in the hallway toward the hall bath. Next thing I remember is seeing my cat, Snowball, and then my parents in the kitchen/family room area. I can remember thinking that all this was strange, sort of out of order or not normal. I mean, I don't know who the young man was at all, but in my dream, I did seem to know him. I had a conversation with him as though he was a friend or a family member. I do remember that he was an athlete because he was dressed wearing basketball clothing (like those long shorts and a tank). Anyway, for a moment, I thought about the light coming into my room, and the way the room was situated. It was my room, but it was different. The bed was different, the walls and window coverings, and the furniture. It was like I was there, but in the wrong time and place.

I love to analyze dreams. I know that dreams are just random images that appear in our minds, mostly when we are under stress or facing anxiety about some particular situation. I find that thinking about them sometimes, though, does cast a bit of light on what might be causes the worry, the stress or the anxiety. On reflection, often the truth comes through, and with some careful consideration, it is possible to pinpoint the cause, and then determine a path to resolve the tension.

In my dream, several things seem clear to me:

  1. Location - San Jose
  2. Home - structure 
  3. People - family
This tells me that I am concerned about three things, namely where I live, what house I will live in, and whom will live with me. This aligns with my stress of recent months, specifically living with my parents here in Phoenix. I have blogged about moving lately, about seeking full-time work, and about changes to my current situation (single versus married, etc.) I guess these thoughts are on mind even when I am focused on other more important tasks like finishing my papers. I know this is true because even though I push these thoughts away, they are still there, still in the back of my mind, and still a part of my desire to know or my need to know what will be down the road.

Today, I am beat, really exhausted. I have had a long hard semester, and I am tired. In fact, I am sitting here blogging when I feel the need to lay down. I haven't even gotten myself dressed yet, and I already want to lay down and take a nap. I am thinking that right now, perhaps that is what I will do. I am thinking that I will get dressed (in sweats and a tee), brush my teeth, and then lay down for a rest. I feel like I need it, my brain needs it, and I want it. I don't have anything that I have to do today, so I think this is exactly what I will do.

My window is opened right now. The air is moist from the rain today, and the sky looks overcast and gray. My cat, Ike, is lounging in the open window, and something about the window being opened is making me want to fall asleep. Perhaps this is what I am meant to do today...

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