Thursday, March 31, 2005

Why do we give up on people?

I passed a young man on the way to school this morning. I pass many young men on my way onto the campus of UNC, but usually they have a purpose--ususally they are going to class or are hanging out with friends between classes. This young man had no purpose--he was sitting in a doorway, asking for spare change. NPR had a moving story this morning about a single mother who found herself homeless for one summer, so I suppose I found myself more "wide open" than usual, but I noticed him and yes, I did give him money. I wanted to stop and tell him that he should be going to class. I wanted to tell him that if it is not too late for me to begin a new direction in my life, that it is not too late for him. I wanted to ask him who had given up on him, but I did not. I gave him the money and smiled. I know that I will look for him tomorrow. I also know that I will pray for him today.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Clean and Crisp, thanks to Tim...

I was inspired by tvjunior's comments last night at the Triangle-wide Meet-up about preferring a serene looking blog, so I'm trying out a new template. My husband was not fond of the messiness of my previous blog, either, so this is my attempt at calm and cool.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Meet-Up questions...

When the Chapel Hill Blog Meet-up group gets together on April 6th, this is the list of questions I'd like to start with (since they were on my IRB proposal). I'm sure you all will have much better questions for us to talk about. I look forward to our time together. Let's plan to meet again at Tyler's Speakeasy--there is plenty of space and it is quite comfortable--plus they have pizza, which will be on me!

1. Tell me about your background, both professional and personal.
2. How did you get into blogging?
3. What was your reason for starting your own blog?
4. Do you have a specific blogging audience that you serve?
5. Are you an independent blogger or do you work for a company or association?
6. Is there a specific blogging topic that you focus on, or do you maintain a personal blog?
7. There seems to be a blogging community, or several communities that have emerged. Which one or ones, do you feel a part of?
8. How did you select your blog name?
9. How did you select your blog structure (e.g., did you use type pad software to begin your blog?).
10. Is there a blog language that your readers understand that a new reader might not understand?
11. What event triggered the beginning of your blog?
12. How often do you update your blog?
13. Do you allow users to comment on your blogs?
14. How many links coming in and out do you have on your blog?
15. What is your favorite part about writing a blog?
16. Is there anything you dread about writing a blog? Is it ever difficult to find something new and clever to say?
17. Why do you enjoy attending the weekly blogging meet-ups?
18. Is there anything I have not asked about blogging that you feel is critical for me to know?

I'll also be bringing consent forms for you to sign before we can begin.
Thanks a million!

Saturday, March 26, 2005

It is not easy being an "other"...

My org comm professor, Patricia Parker, just returned from presenting at a symposium called "Women and Others." The idea that women could also be responsible for "othering" ourselves (such as "you are a soccer mom" or "you are a working mom") is intriguing to me and helps me figure out how I have felt different as an older student. At first, I was not sure what to make of being older. Despite my semi-advanced age of 41, my entire life I have been told I was always 16 going on 40, or 25 going on 40. I'm not quite sure what that meant, but I never really felt as old as my age until now. One "other", I quickly discover, is that I am a mother and my colleagues are not. Despite the many topics we could discuss on a daily basis, for me, it quickly turns to, "how are your kids?" Now, I love my children dearly, but I do not necessarily feel defined by them. I have an MBA, I have taught marketing at the college level for 13 years while running my own consulting business, and I have even been the Board President of a homeless shelter. I feel that my identity is more than just a "soccer mom" (not that there is anything wrong with that), but that is where my colleagues seemed to peg me. But with the arrival of the new prospective colleagues, me as the "other" became even more pronounced. They didn't even have to say a thing...their distance said it all.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Forgiveness is the best gift on Good Friday...

There has been so much written and said about Terri Schiavo all week. My father-in-law died in the fall of 2003, and in the end, he was on a respirator. As my husband and his brother were on their way to remove life-support, their father died on his own before they arrived. I believe that this was a gift that he gave them. They agonized about the right thing to do for their father. He had been dying for over two years--they knew that his quality of life was nothing like it had been before, but they were still not prepared for that time when they would have to make such a gut-wrenching decision. I have compassion for both her parents and her husband--it is a terrible situation, but as Johann Christoph Arnold asks, "Whose will should prevail?" It gives you pause on this Good Friday. The one gift my husband did give his father before he died was the gift of forgiveness. Two weeks before having to make the life-support decision, my husband travelled to see his father and told him that he forgave him for any and all past wrongs and then asked his father for his forgiveness. I believe that it was this gift of forgiveness that they gave to each other that allowed God's will to be done.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Chapel Hill is a blog-friendly place...

As I read other people's blogs, especially about this issue of whether enough women blog or feel welcome by men in the blogging world, I do have to say that the male bloggers I have met in Chapel Hill have been extremely friendly and welcoming. The weekly Chapel Hill meet-up is mostly men, yet I have not felt as if I should not be there or that my voice was not valued. In fact, one of the young men (he will remain nameless until I ask his permission), actually bragged last week about how smart his girlfriend is and what a great and influential blogger she is. She was not there to hear his compliments, but I thought that it was cool for him to gush like that about her.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

I'm opinionated...

I've been keeping track of this conversation about the dearth of female opinion columnists and I've just got to offer my 2 cents worth. I do agree that there are not enough women writing opinion columns and that sexism is still alive in the newsroom as it is in the boardroom and other work places, but I have also read Deborah Tannen's book and I do agree that women do in fact "speak" differently than men. I was raised to be an agreeable person and avoid conflict, and so when I married an Indian-American who loves a good debate, the first year of our marriage, he tried to engage me in lively debates while I avoided him...just to be agreeable. This did not create a real dialogue between us, and so I soon found myself in lively debates with him, finally learning to assert my opinions, discovering, in the words of his former PSU colleague, Linda Trevino, that "conflict is about caring." Twenty years later, we carry on a lively dialogue in our home, and I am grateful to him for teaching me how to be more assertive in my opinions and beliefs. Our ten year old daughter has learned from the master. She will read this conversation someday and wonder what all the fuss was about. She thinks she is right about everything.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Thank you, Mary Pope Osborne...

I didn't learn about Mary Pope Osborne with my first child or even in grad school. I have enjoyed getting to know about her work, though, through the eyes and ears of my second child, my 7 year old son, Jack. Her heroes are Jack and Annie and my Jack thinks they are just great. Her Magic Tree House books keep us both on the edge of our seats and we have a hard time reading just one chapter at a time. I hope she would be pleased to know that her imagination and gift for storytelling encouraged my son to read a chapter book by himself. He has started her latest book, Carnival at Candlelight, all by himself. It is a joy for him to be able to read to me.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

She's got game...

My 7-year old son loves to play basketball. We usually play "pig", but in honor of the ACC tournament today, we played "heels"--he was a "heel" first. I think he was bummed (and surprised) to lose to his old mom.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Keeping in touch...

Just when I'm feeling "out of it", two former students email me today with their news and to say hello. They have become my good friends since they were my students. It is nice to hear how they are doing in their jobs and it is nice that we keep in touch. That is what I loved about my professors at Albion College. I still exchange Christmas cards with them (the ones that are still living-two have since died). I have always treasured those relationships. I guess I am carrying that tradition on, in a new e-mail sort of way.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Maturity is not an age, but a state of mind...

One of my favorite classes this semester is an undergraduate class in the J-School that I am taking because I just wanted to learn from Phil Meyer. He is just so smart that I wanted to absorb all I could, no matter what course he was teaching. The interesting thing about this class is that it is composed of students of all levels--undergrads, masters, and two of us PhD students. It is quite a mix of people and ages, yet we are all being challenged and engaged by Professor Meyer.

The undergrads who take this class are extremely bright. I find myself learning so much from them. Last week, one of them taught the class how to "do" a cross tab analysis. This week, she was showing me how to "do" a Scott's pi analysis. She is so bright and "on the ball." It was a good reminder to me that age has nothing to do with maturity, but is a state of mind.