Tuesday, November 10, 2015

November, Grateful November

Man, do I love November! Every where I turn there are just the most glorious of colors--even on these drab, gray Oregon days---the vivid trees are just incredible. And truthfully there's just a lot that I love about this month, especially as I look toward the coming months. It's such a great transition period.

Today I'm focusing on so much of what is making me happy this week:

This month also marks the downhill turn of my terms. Meaning that today I gave my last "new" lecture (we're heading toward a community event, a week off for Thanksgiving, and then student presentations in my new program and then it's the regular set of lectures for my old program). So my amount of prep work will be less and I should have a week or two to dig into new books (program research) and focus on a few other things. I'm excited to have more time to immerse in material myself and to plan out the coming terms.

This week I also was able to work ahead. I already have two out of the three courses I'm teaching winter term at my regular institution completely ready to go. I have one more course to work on for there. I also have most my courses at the new institution mapped out (one is done minus scheduling guest speakers). I'm brainstorming ideas for converting the course I taught this term into an online format for spring term...and truthfully the students are asking for a follow-up course to this one so we'll see what my bosses decide to do with that. (I also had a great meeting with my boss last week and there might be additional courses thrown onto my plate for spring...ones that I'm pretty excited about...as well as some potential other opportunities coming up....) I'm finalizing my mentee meetings for this term and getting all the students set to be moving toward their fieldwork placements for spring....and coming up with workshops for winter to help with that process. Altogether I'm feeling pretty happy with the work load for winter and the potential load for spring......and I'm so glad to be feeling more organized and on top of my game than I have in months....

In more work news....As an instructor you dream of those "Dead Poet Society moments" when the students are just so immersed in the concepts, making connections, and driven toward lives of authentic aim toward change....and the last half of today's class held exactly that. It made me beam inside to have the students still so passionate and engaged, and I'm really looking forward to seeing what they produce in their presentations. As I sat and listened to the exchange going on, I couldn't help but feel that change on a large scale CAN be possible if enough people get involved in the conversation.

Teaching this course on global and environmental food systems has also re-immersed me into so much of the material that I was so passionate about in grad school and during the years prior (when I first started blogging)....and it's re-exploded that passion (which you probably noticed if you're connected to me on FB). But the truth of the matter is that the planet's health, your health, global health is intricately connected to the environment and vice versa. There is no separation, and every choice that we make contributes toward improving, maintaining, or harming the greater system. I've been spending a lot of brain power thinking about my various choices of consumption and analyzing where additional improvements can be made. Right now I'm really trying to be aware of food and consumer packaging and trying to brainstorm additional changes to make. (Ie next up: purchasing loose leaf tea in bulk and steeping in the re-usable tea "bags", focusing more on farmer's markets for local less packaged produce).

In additional work related news, I also just purchased my plane ticket for Argentina and I couldn't be more stoked to finally return to this amazing country. It worked out that I could get a cheaper ticket if I left earlier in the month, so I'll also get to spend the first handful of days reconnecting with many of my friends and former host families (while still getting to be home here to celebrate Christmas). I haven't been to Argentina in fifteen years and I feel so much...awe at the opportunity to finally get back, while also being able to do so for work purposes. I'm really looking forward to exploring the prospect of a relationship with an established global partner down there, researching placement options for students, and discovering how we could potentially create a cultural immersion trip for students. It's a lot to pack into 2.5 weeks but I'm excited!

This time of year also leaves me daydreaming of trips on snowy trails with the dogs. By prepping so much in advance and being able to be back in time for Christmas, I should actually get a week or two of "down time" over December break. I truly cannot wait.

Have I mentioned that Reg D is potentially headed for Malawi (Africa) with the PeaceCorps in Feb? There's still a lot that has to finish lining up but I'm excited for this next potential venture for him. This also means that he'll be crashing here again from mid-December until he would leave in Feb, and I'm truthfully looking forward to sharing space with him again. Since he's been my best bud for over two years now, he knows what annoys me about sharing space with people and he's able to take steps to be an awesome housemate while he's here. I actually really enjoyed the time he was here in August and Sept and I hope that this next go with be just as fulfilling. (The other awesome thing about his potential PC location is that it's just south of Tanzania...depending on how things line up I could potentially get to visit him while he's on assignment....)

I just made a significant payment against my credit card and the last few months allowed me to make gains on not contributing to the credit card. Based on my calculations...I still should be on target to have the car AND the credit card paid off in full by April or May. I'm going to continue to rent out to L through March, but dependent on what I do with the house come spring/summer...I might see if she wants to stay (or rent to someone else) to start saving toward a potential down payment....like on a house :)

As in...I'm letting myself daydream about having property and even with the crazy prices in the greater Portland area, I'm trusting that it's going to be possible. (Although I'm not going to lie, this renewed enviro global passion is again pushing me toward exploring doctoral programs....and I don't know that I'm going to find one that is the best fit in the local area....) But I'm hoping that 2016 will bring me toward my goal of property...and also somehow present an opportunity to get to India...

And here's the crazy thing...I think both of those are totally possible. When I think of how many walls I was hitting three years ago...and yet everything that has happened in this year, it's such a contrast and totally has made me realize that when I get out of my own way and allow Greater plans to be put into motion, then the doors will open. If I'm supposed to buy property...it'll happen. If I'm supposed to get my PhD, I'll find the right program. If I'm supposed to go to India like I'm feeling like I'm supposed to...then the way will present itself. I feel renewed, my faith is restored, and I'm trusting that God is going to lead the way. Not all moments are fabulous nor wonderful, but I'm so glad to be back....here. If I'm honest, not a day goes by that I don't think of how life has evolved over the last 5-6 years especially, but when I think about this last year, I'm truly in awe....of everything that CAN happen. (Tanzania, Canada, Argentina all in one year? career change falls in my lap? new manfriend?! major debt reduction in motion?)

Couple more awesome things: 1) I'm totally stoked for monthly family dinners. It's been great to have a set time to catch up with my siblings and their families that live in Oregon and also spend some great time with the padres and Granny. 2) The Dude and I hit a rough couple weeks...as all relationships do, but we're seemingly back in a good space. It's not all going to be peachy but at the end of the day, I really just like and appreciate that I can trust and laugh with him. His smile just plain lights up my face. 3) Have I mentioned that I gathered a variety of my gal pals together and we're also doing monthly dinners? We're rotating different ethnic varieties in a couple quadrants of Portland...and it's so wonderful to try new foods AND get to catch up with so many incredible women. 4) I was able to spend some time thrifting last week....for $50 three totally awesome warm sweaters, black maxi skirt, a maxi dress and loose pants that will be great for various work travel locations, a great shirt, and a new scarf (wide enough to be a great travel cover). I'm working on creating more of a "capsule" wardrobe where things can work between multiple seasons and various locations. 5) I'd been feeling called to get my rear back to church....and I finally made it happen this last Sunday. SO rewarding and fulfilling to be back in a space with so many other believers...and this truly is my last goal to focus on for this year...finding spiritual community....

Truly...in this moment....life just feels nice....headed toward potential good things, preparing contingency plans, but trusting that things will keep evolving as they should. I also hope to be able to spend some time in the coming two weeks to do a few catch up posts....like finally recapping my BC/Alberta road trip :)

Much love to all of you and Happy November!