December 15, 2016

Thankful Thursday

It is another beautiful Thursday, here in sunny and mild, Phoenix. Yes, the winter is warm this year, and while I would prefer some chillier temps to keep things feeling more “Christmas like,” I will not complain. Several of my students were heading home to the cold — like the frigid cold of Minnesota and Wisconsin — and well, a 56 is a far cry from a minus 2 (or minus 12 with wind chill)! Yes, I am thanking the good Lord that I live in a moderate climate today.

In other news, I slept well. Fairly well, I mean. I woke up with a headache, but I think it was due to teeth clenching. I have been clenching my teeth at night, and whether I want to admit it or not, I think I need a mouth guard (ick!) I need to schedule a cleaning with my Dentist, so perhaps I will discuss this with him in January. My morning headaches go away (unless they are sinus) once I stretch my jaw out some. I have lived with tension in my jaw for years, and I know that this is a coping mechanism for stress. I need to find a better coping mechanism (LOL!), but until I do, I think a mouth guard would help alleviate some of the pain I feel on awakening.

It is early morning, and despite the initial pain, I am feeling better. I’ve had my first cup of coffee, and I am resting at the computer. My day is off to a good start. I have work to do, mostly dissertation work, and of course, residual grading. My online classes end on Saturday, so my students are finishing up assignments. I have some interaction with them, but other than that, I am in good shape right now. My campus classes are finishing essays, and so I don’t have to do anything until next Monday (PTL!) My prayer for today is to rest — really rest — and to begin to enjoy the blessed Christmas season some.

It feels good to finish the semester well, to have this “beast” off my back. Yes, this semester was difficult for me. I taught six classes, and while I didn’t feel confident in doing so, I gave it my best, and in the end, I think I did well. Yesterday, I received so much affirmation from my students. I was given lots of hugs and good byes along with some lovely comments about my teaching style. Most of my students told me that my class was their favorite class. I am humbled by my student’s outpouring of love for me. I cannot tell you what it feels like to be affirmed and encouraged this way. My heart nearly broke by the day’s end. It was the best way to end such a hard and long semester. God is so good to me. He is so amazingly good. He has enabled, equipped, and empowered me for this work, and after struggling through, messing up, and generally, feeling my way like a person left in the dark, I was able to overcome and to finish my semester with a measure of success. God be praised, I finished strong.

The next three weeks will fly by, I am sure, but I have to remain in “school mode,” in order to make the most of my research and to be in good shape for a mid-March defense. My prayer is to be able to finish my grading WHILE completing some analysis, but to be ready to write my next chapter sometime around Christmas or just thereafter. I believe I will finish on time, but the process, the very process of it all, is staggering to grasp. I am in such a difficult spot right now, and until I can actually make some progress, move forward a bit, I feel as though I am peering into a very long and very dark tunnel. God is good, though, and at the end of that tunnel is blessed and glorious light. I simply must trust the Lord to guide me through this present darkness and to lead me through to His marvelous fulfillment of His will for my life.

Changing Gears

I’ve been thinking more about remaking myself, sort of making myself into a better version, so to speak. I have been in this weird place now for several years. I am an adjunct, and while adjunct has been a great fit while I completed doctoral studies, it has not or will not provide for me long term. I need a full-time position, and with a full-time position, I need to present a professional appearance. I’ve been looking at hair styles on Pinterest, and while I have settled on letting my hair grow out, the truth be told, growing my hair out is not working for me right now. I spend so much time trying to look decent, that I end up just running a brush through my hair and rushing out the door. Nothing I try works, and while I pinned some adorable styles, when I look at the work involved in setting them — well — I know that I cannot devote an hour to a style. I just don’t have that much time to give to my hair or makeup routine. Thus, I have come to terms with my need for short and easy hair. I have always worn my hair either super short or super long. In between lengths have always caused me trouble — unless I had a perm — but even then, the mid-length simply had a mind of its own.

I was thinking about cutting my hair several weeks ago, but I hate to make a big change right in the middle of the semester. So, today, I am going to get my hair cut. I decided to go super short again, simply because I think it is youthful and active looking. I can wear short hair well. I like it, the ease of it, and the fact that all day long, my hair looks nice. I just hate looking straggly by mid-morning.

My hope is that my stylist does a good job for me. I am planning on keeping this next style for a while — like several years — so I want to make sure it fits me. I am notorious for cutting my hair right before school begins and then letting it grow out over the semester. This way, I cut my hair three times a year: in January, in May, and in August. It is true! I looked back at my pictures and I have had my hair cut in these three months for the past three-four years! LOL!

I am going to go for a pixie cut again. It works for me, but the key is to get my stylist to cut my hair correctly. Sometimes I end up scalped. Other times, I end up with too long of hair, and with my fast growing locks, well, I waste money because in two weeks, my hair will have grown out.

I really like the short sides and back. I think the back of my hair is what I want to be chopped off. With menopause approaching, my hot flashes are getting more and more intense. I need to have my hair off my neck because when the flash happens, I find I am drenched with sweat on my forehead and neck. It is a horrible feeling, but with shorter hair, perhaps I won’t feel so overheated (my prayer, my prayer!)

In all, I am excited to get a new hair style for Christmas, and I am excited to create a new “professional” look for my next job (whenever the Lord opens that door).  So with a new hair style, comes the need for a new “look” in my attire. I been looking over ideas about changing my clothing to suit my new status as professor. I already dress semi-professional on my teaching days, but I think I need to ramp my style up a bit. Not with suits, per se, but rather with accessories. I can dress fashionably at work without wearing a suit. However, I feel frumpy when I dress for work. Maybe it is my shoes (most definitely), but it is also my overall appearance. I need to replace some old items with some new ones, and generally create a more polished and professional look.

This past week, in order to spiff up my style, I ordered several scarves from Kohls. I see students wearing these scarves at school, and I have decided to embrace the fashion trend. I also bought some boots to wear with skirts or slacks, and so far I love them. My next investment will be for some tops and sweaters and perhaps a sweater dress. Most of my tops and sweaters are looking a bit shabby after four years of teaching. My knit jackets also look a bit sad. In truth, I need some new clothes.

Right now, my plan is to make use of what I have for the time being, but I want to add some new items to spruce up my existing wardrobe. I have some good pieces already, like this denim jacket. I have black jeans as well, but I never really pull the look off. I ordered a similar scarf from Kohls, so perhaps I will finally get my “look” in order in time for the holidays.

In all, I realize that as I grow older, I need to make the most of what the good Lord has given to me. This means dressing with my natural look, and not against it. I cannot wear size four jeans like Cindy Spivey (above). I am not a petite girl. I am a solid size 10 right now, perhaps a size 8, depending on the brand. This is just who I am, and no matter how much I wish I were small again (like before my son was born), I doubt it will happen unless I really, really workout and diet. My prayer is to accept my body, warts and all (and no, I don’t have any warts on my body), and to dress up in clothes that make me feel good about my appearance. I will never be a fashionista, a girl with long painted nails and glam makeup. I am too Midwestern for that look. I like t-shirts and jeans. I wear Sketchers. I do like to dress nice, to get dressed up, but my go-to outfit is jeans and a t-shirt with a sweater over top. I prefer comfy clothes to tight ones, and while I don’t like to wear tight things (because I have put on 20 pounds), I also don’t want to look sloppy or shabby. I need a new polished look, one that is semi-casual, yet still put together.

My goal for 2017 is to lose the extra weight, to get into better shape, and to refashion myself to look more professorial in my appearance. I can do it. I know I can. In fact, I have remade myself once before, back in the mid 1980s. I needed to recreate my work style for a new job, so I started by finding a style I liked (Ralph Lauren), and then I simply copied it. I did the whole Lauren look — tortoiseshell rimmed glasses, layers of clothing, long straight hair. I did it, and I pulled it off. It was the first time where I felt good about my appearance. I really liked my “look.” Of course, once my son was born, I struggled to stick with this style because my shape had changed from tall and thin to more rounded and curvy. I ended up resorting to “Mom” styles for most of my son’s elementary years. I didn’t really change styles again until I started to work as a designer and meet with clients. I purchased some “work” clothes, and pretty much wore black pants and a t-shirt top to every appointment (with jewelry and nice shoes). My black pants and t-shirt top look has served me well, but after 20 years, it is time to spice it up a bit. I need a new look, a teacher-look, and that means embracing my profession and a look that suits my profession well.

Pinterest, here I come!

In Closing

Today is my first day off for winter break, and I am embracing the rest and relaxation. I am thinking all things “holiday,” and praise be to God, I am thanking the Lord for His marvelous provision of grace and mercy. He is good to me, so very good to me. My next couple weeks will be hectic, but I know that I must go through this difficult part of the journey to get to the blessed end. I thank the Lord and I give Him praise for His kindness, His goodness, and His faithfulness toward me. Whatever happens today, I know He has me well-covered, and with that knowledge, I can truly rest. I can rest.

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