My Sweet Experience, re-visit

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Yes, it’s gushy, but since I just saw Dr. Sugar yesterday, and since he rescued me when I had a significant flare while I was in Utah last week, I decided it was time to polish this post from March 2018 and share the gushing one more time, in June 2019.

As a new volunteer for Patient and Family Centered Care at the University of Michigan, I have been asked to share part of my story at Kellogg Eye Center to a group of new Kellogg employees.What has my patient experience been like? Since I am more accustomed to writing than to speaking, I thought I’d share what I plan to say here.

In the summer of 2012, while my family and I were living in St. Louis, MO, I started experiencing joint pain.I had been, up until that time, a full-time teacher, school administrator, mother of four, and…

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Can we talk?

Would you be willing to join me for some tea? (Black, green, chai, or oolong?)

Where should we meet? (Your place? mine? someplace else?)

Can we chat? (Or are you worried that I have an agenda, an ulterior motive, a covert plan?)

What would you be willing to discuss? The weather? Your family? Faith? Politics? (Even if if it’s threatening rain, divorce, doubt, or scandal?)

Do any of those topics make you uncomfortable? Why? (Is it because life is messy and fragile and broken and complicated?)

Are you willing to discuss them anyway? (Even the stuff that makes your chest tight, your eyes brim, your pits sweat?)

What are you afraid of? Aren’t we just humans sitting at a table? Aren’t we merely considering the exchange of words? Do my questions have the power to cause you to reconsider your stance, dismantle your ideology, or change your heart? (Is it possible that I might judge you or disagree with you or find even more ways to question you?)

Is that frightening to consider? (What’s the worst that could happen?)

Shall we pause so that we can both imagine the worst?

How bad could it be?

That bad?

Or is it possible that it might actually turn out well? (That we might connect, agree, learn, or grow?)

Is it it possible that I’ve been where you are or that you’ve been where I am? (Could it be that we might find communion in the sharing of our tears?)

Might we find solace, compassion, confirmation, or challenge? (Can I picture your hand on my shoulder? Our heads bowed to think? to pray?)

If I ask you to explain the way you think or what you believe, don’t I provide you an opportunity to articulate your why? Isn’t that a chance for you to find clarity? Isn’t it a way for you to speak into my thoughts? My beliefs? Isn’t it an avenue for you to draw closer to me and shape my course?

Should I be afraid? Will your words push against my words? will they stick out their elbows and struggle to find room? Or will I clear a space on the couch, reposition some pillows, and invite them to take up space? (Will I draw back? Will I lean in? Will I do both? Will I run away?)

Am I too afraid of the impact you might have on me? Am I scared I might lose my way? Do I trust enough that I invite you to walk beside me? (Or am I more comfortable walking alone, protecting myself from your questions, your statements, your judgments?)

Will we meander? Will we get off course? Will we find our way back? (Or will we discover a mountain path, a sandy beach, a patch of shade?)

Would you be willing to join me and find out?

Can you see us — you and I? As we pour our tea, take a sip, and linger? as we pause and hear our thoughts?

Who will speak first? Will you? Will I?

Will we start off safe? (How’s work going? Do you have summer plans?)

Or will we dive right in? (What should we do about the environment? How can we improve the experience of people of color in America? Are you feeling secure about your retirement planning?)

What if we discover that we disagree? (about guns or education or gay marriage or abortion or immigration?)

Is your pulse racing? Did I go to far?

Should we stick to grocery prices? favorite books? or family trips?

Or can I ask how your health is since your recent diagnosis? if the divorce is final? if your kid is still sober?

Can we go there?

Are you willing?

Can I pour you a cup of tea?

Can we come out of our corners, put down our arguments, open our hearts, and listen to one another? Can we consider our thoughts, weigh our words, and speak in ways that are kind?

Can we begin to see that even though we have differences, we are not enemies, but fellow sojourners, companions, friends?

What difference could that make?

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.

Proverbs 27:27

Confessions of an English Teacher, numero uno, revisit

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I am dusting off this post from August 2014in celebration of the 1000 English teachers I’m reading with now — June 2019.

My students have helped me keep my secret for years — I’m not really the best English teacher. It’s true. They correct my grammar almost as much as I correct theirs. I misspell words, even on the board! And, to be honest, I always have to look up the correct usage of lie and lay.  

I mean I have the credentials and everything — a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in English. I was even magna cum whatever both times. I love English. I love literature. I love words. I’m just not a big fan of rules. 

(I know, I know — obviously.)

What I love about language, actually, is its fluidity, its malleability. I love the way meaning changes over time and according to circumstance. I…

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Sorbet before Lunch, revisit

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This post, written in June of 2017, is being edited in June 2019, on the heels of a week away with my husband, as I sit in a hotel room I’m sharing with the roomie I met two years ago. This is a pattern I’ve enjoyed repeating.

So much is jangling around inside my head this morning. Over three weeks ago my husband and I left on a two-week vacation — we slipped away to an undisclosed location where no one recognizes us so we could begin to recognize one another again. We spent hours together, just the two of us. It was quiet; it was restful; it was lovely. At the end of the two weeks, I jetted off, instead of coming straight home, to a week of AP English Literature Exam scoring with hundreds of strangers. Inside of those three weeks, I read a couple of books and…

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