Saturday, April 4, 2009

What was the highlight of your week?

A fellow blogger drew a blank today for a topic, so she invited questions from her readers. My question to her was, "What was the highlight of your week?"

I've used a variation of this question for the last 30 years with friends and family. Usually, I ask, "What was the highlight of your day?" This question usually eliminates a shallow, glib reply, and instead gives birth to meaningful interaction. (So don't use this question is you're not interested in conversing.)

The question also is uplifting. It makes the person reflect on the best, the good, the upbeat, the affirming parts of life that are often overshadowed by the other stuff.

The question, once posed, is often thrown back-at-ya! That's okay too. It's a good question.

The highlight of my past week, amidst the hustle and bustle of end-of-quarter grading, was an unexpected parent comment.

In educating youth, my aim is to make a 30-year impact on some of them. That means, 30 years from now, they'll look back on our classroom co-experience and say, "That changed my life for the better. That was a watershed experience in my life. Thank you Mr. Evans, wherever you are."

Because I aim for such a response, I get a few. This week a woman was snapping pictures around campus. I engaged her in conversation, partly for security reasons, and partly out of curiosity.

In the course of our conversation, she realized that I had been her daughter's math teacher two years ago. Her daughter loved my class. She talked about it at dinner. "Mr. Evans made math fun, and he helped me get it."

This mom has two children. She also mentioned her son's name which sounded familiar. Since I teach Special Education, I don't have a lot of students. My sphere of student interaction is somewhat small. But for two years at the junior high, I taught a class in creative problem solving. After mentioning that, the mom said, "Did you teach the class where they fixed wooden school benches and stuff?"

"Yeah, that was me."

"He loved that class."

That class was designed to teach kids to become CPSrs for life. (Creative Problem Solvers for life.)

Two children, one grateful mom: the highlight of my week.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Simple Pains: My Low Back

"Better living through pharmaceuticals!"
That's the battle cry of a friend of mine who exercises regularly and knows the anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving, over-the-counter remedies for "simple pains." My simple pain is an aching lower back.

It's all my fault. I felt the first twinge while I was riding a bike about a week ago. (This is a real-life bike, not a stationary one.) One of the disadvantages to a real bike, is a real bump. That's what I hit, and it jarred my back. It was just a little "ouch." I finished my ride.

That night I thought I'd work that soreness out with some back stretching. Hmmm...

I woke up with a somewhat tired back from too much stretching.

Later in my morning routine, I did the silliest thing: I bent over to put on my socks. Major ouch!

That "major ouch" had my attention for about three days. But "better living through pharmaceuticals" rescued me, and I was feeling better in a day or two.

So when last Sunday came, I pushed it a little: a little vacuuming, a little lawn mowing, a little car washing, and a little weeding.
It was all... a little too much. The fact that I couldn't hardly finish the weeding was my first clue.

Three days later I'm able to get up out of a chair, but verrrryyyyy slowly.

I couldn't roll over in bed, and in the morining I have to roll out of bed onto the floor.

I'm using my feet to do common chores, so I don't have to bend. I had my wife help me put on my socks and shoes this morning. Getting out of a car is a process.

I over did it. I'm paying for my self-abuse with some simple pain.

But the lawn looks nice, and so do the flower beds. The car was peppered with bird-poo within three hours! Grrrr...

Simple pain subsides; however...

I think I'm abandoning the real bike, so I can do my real chores without crippling myself for three days at a time. Besides, I had to cancel my racquetball because of my sore back. That's just not right!

I can't let simple pain rob me of my simple pleasures!

It simply wouldn't be right!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Simple Pleasures: Weekend Highlights

This was another laid-back So Cal weekend for Don.

When you’re a grateful guy, there’s plenty in life to be grateful for: taking a long walk with the wife (and our dog), time, energy, tools, and inclination to do some yard work – and then sit in the yard enjoying it. (Never mind the sore back.)

A trip to the beach and our favorite vitamin store (a great place to people watch), many games of Spades online (50-50 split with the wife). Out to dinner for delicious Mexican food (along with our favorite set of servers), plus a new set of electric hair clippers and a self-inflicted haircut and beard trim.

These are a few of my weekend highlights… But the prize goes to…

My fellow-bloggers!

I could list their names, but I don’t want to leave someone out accidentally. In my corner of the blog-o-sphere, the inhabitants are doing well. They are asking the right questions, discerning the paths marked out for them, and keeping their heads while others are losing theirs.

My weekend highlight was the delight I got in seeing my online friends doing well, enjoying the journey, and pondering their plights.

Maybe it’s spring? Maybe it’s blogging? Maybe it’s good people making the world a better place: one little sphere at a time.

Have a great week!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Simple Pleasures: Who knew?

On my daily drive home from work, I often ask myself, “Well, Don, what was the highlight of your day?”

It’s a good question, and I like those.

On Friday, my answer was simple: Root-beer Floats!

Towards the end of our lunch in the teachers’ break room, a fellow teacher ambled over to the refrigerator and pulled out a gallon container of vanilla ice cream and two liters of root-beer.

She teaches 5th grade, and she knows things! One thing she knows is the recipe to Instant Festivity and Happiness. It goes like this: two scoops of vanilla ice cream in a large glass, then slowly pour in root-beer. Add spoon and serve with a smile. (Napkins are optional.)

I had forgotten what a tasty treat can be had so simply. It was delicious and transported me to a Happy Place. Yum!

Rather than sit and curse the darkness, this co-worker took simple action, and in so doing, lightened the mood, restored tired psyches, and she created… the highlight of my day.

Who knew? Becky did.