Tuesday, May 2, 2017


So, I took the badger bus to Madison this week. In fact, I'm on it as I write this. (Thanks, free wi-fi)
The reason I took the bus?
Yep. My lower back hurts so much, with shooting pain down my right leg, I have to get into child's pose every time I'm standing for more than 15 minutes. Hope you don't mind, professors, when I get up to do that in the middle of your lectures. Yep. Just what I need. Another reason to look weirder than I already do.
Well, that's what happens, I guess, when you're suddenly sitting constantly. Sitting in the car to Madison and back, sitting in class, sitting to work on papers and presentations....and of course being the most elderly student in my cohort. Older than some of my professors even.
I've never been one to get hung up on age. I'll tell you how old I am.
Or am I 42?
What's 2017 minus 1975?
42. (Impressive, huh? I'm doing well in stats.)
So I'll be 42 this year.
So what!  I can't help the year I was born. Neither can you!
But this back pain and how long it's taking me to get back (back! ha!) on my feet out of child's pose is...

But, back to the bus.
Listening to music while gazing out the window at farms... it's reminding me of being on the bus in Estonia. (MY friend Harald deduced, of our two years in Estonia, we spent three full months aboard a bus.)
Which makes me think.
Well.. I've needed all 41 years and 11 months to get where I am now.
And I am bringing all that time with me...to my papers and presentations...to my presence in this program...my work and life and adventure experience. I couldn't be here...who I am...without it.
Even from on the dusty bus floor here in child's pose.
That's right. Nothing to see here.
Full circle, people.  Full circle.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Grad school, ice cream and belonging.

Image result for ice cream and belonging

I just returned from the conference of the National Council of Rehabilitation Educators in sunny Anaheim, California.  Going back to school after 14 years of work in your field is weird.  Going back to school and being well older than all of your classmates and even some of your professors is weirder.  But....I've always been a person who doesn't feel my age and so.
And so.

But walking up to the conference venue, after having spent years at conferences where everyone knew who I was...people grabbing me in for conversations and questions, advice and assistance in sessions...  It got comfy.  So walking up to the conference venue...not knowing anyone gathered around...  I felt my stomach clench.

Those of you who know me know I am loud and expressive, glad to be the center of attention.  But that's when I know the people around me.  When I show up and know no one..I get a little terrified.  I've been known to hide in the bathroom, arriving before friends at a gathering or a party, texting them to tell me when they get there so I can come out.

Walking up to the conference venue, I considered hiding in the bathroom for a split second.

and then.

"Hey! Where are you from?"

Immediately two women began to talk to me, ask me questions.  That happened throughout the entire conference; everyone was friendly, welcoming, and open.  And I thought.  What a wonderful new community I've joined.

And then I saw them--my cohort and those a year ahead of me, a ring of faces that I knew. And they called me over and looked glad to see me and I felt like I belonged.  I think, sometimes, that's the most important feeling we can have.

And in the evening, I snuck away with my friend and we got ice cream together, and talked about the funny feeling and awkwardness of not knowing people.

And I'm so glad I went.

So, friends, when you are at a conference or a party or a gathering of some kind, and if you see someone standing alone, looking like they  might go hide in the bathroom... Or perhaps someone who has a better game face than I..perhaps they're studying their conference agenda or cell phone, reach out.  Ask them where they're from.   Help them feel like they belong.

Grad school is challenging, but I am in love with the way my brain feels like its growing. And its made all the better, all the easier, by having people to go sneak away for ice cream with.  And people who open their circle and invite you in, telling you...

You belong.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Thoughts on time

Image result for time travel

Do you ever think about time? The way it works? The way it folds around us, falls behind us, stretches out before us in unimaginable length?

I keep a book journal. I started it at my husband's encouragement because I'm a "voracious reader"...I gulp down books like Gatorade at the end of a marathon...  And then I say, "I just read the greatest book!" And the person to whom I'm talking says, "Oh? What was it about?" And then I'm like, "Ummmmm...."  So now I keep a book journal and I write down the date I started, the date I finished and quotes from the books I read that jump out at me, that I don't want to forget.

So this morning, I finished a book: "Today will be different" by Maria Semple.  And wrote today's date in my book journal along with the book I am starting today: "The atomic weight of love" by Elizabeth Church.  And I thought...

Anything could happen between now and the time I finish this book.....

Somehow the expanse of time occurred to me as I wrote down a simple date and title and author.  Today is April 14th, 2017.  Today I start a new book. I will heat up leftover stir fry for dinner. I'll drink some coffee.  I'll look at my children who lay sprawled on my bed, even as I type this, waiting to have my attention...or a turn at my computer...hard to tell which.  And in a week or so, I'll write a new date down when I finish this book with the brick red hardcover.

What will have happened between now and then?   

Time just stretches out and who knows what will fill it...

Sometimes when I'm walking, I imagine myself at 21 or 26 and I pretend I'm getting the opportunity to see what my life is like in the future.

Here you are at 41, I say to myself.  And I look at my reflection in the mirror, at my surroundings, imagining realizing I'm in school now getting a PhD, hearing stories about my career, serving youth with disabilities.  And I come to my house and with anticipation, open the door.  Me at 26 is wondering: What will I find inside my life?

 And I'm always so grateful for what I find there.  And me at 26 zips back into my 41 year old self.  And I look up now as Tad walks in the room to ask what I'm typing, my kids are rolling around having a ridiculous argument on my bed.  It's a nice exercise in gratitude.

I wonder what I might remember about this time, when I'm 57 or 64 and looking back again and looking forward.  I wonder by then if I'll be better at staying in one place....  It's funny to imagine that time out there, just waiting for me.  However many books I read later. Stretching out and expanding and contracting.  Waiting to be reached only to be behind me again.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Adventures in statistics

Let me start by acknowledging how long it has been since last I blogged.  I have embarked upon, as you might know, a doctoral program in rehabilitation counselor education.  I've been busy, to say the least.  Anyway.  As a future educator and researcher I must, of course, take statistics.

Now. Statistics does not come easy to me.  I have to think in such a way that I can actually feel my brain.

So I have this statistics instructor who is really kind and earnest in his teaching, but also very mathematical and statistical minded...so he acknowledges that the mushy stuff doesn't come naturally to him.  One day in class he was openly talking to us about how he was concerned that he wasn't conveying the information to us in a helpful way. He was being vulnerable. He was being honest.  After he spoke, there was a moment of silence.

And then I leaned over to grab a pencil, somehow activating my phone, sitting on the chair under my leg.

A moment of silence after our teacher's honesty. And then.

The google lady:


Loud and clear as day.  Then another silence, a burst of laughter from the class.


So yesterday in class, we learned a new method of statistics.  It is called the Bonferroni method and allows the researcher to compare multiple means, measuring between groups. As our instructor talked through the method, my eyes widened in realization.  You see, I had looked ahead at our assignment for the weekend and it looked like this:

See where it says "substitute 'Bonferonni' for 'Tukey'"?

Well, I read it before class and thought that "Tukey" actually said "Turkey"

Tukey is, apparently, another statistical method.

But again, I thought it said 'Turkey'. So I assumed (naturally) that Bonfernonni was some kind of sausage.

And I was wondering....

Why are we doing a research assignment comparing turkey to some sort of Italian sausage?


Statistics does not come easy.