Lessons Learned & Random Ramblings

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Making a choice to count my blessings…. November 23, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kate @ 1:15 pm

For me things in life often aren’t completely real until I write about them. Sometimes that is through a quick facebook post, sometimes through an email to a friend, sometimes on a piece of paper that I immediately throw away and sometimes through this blog.

This particular blog post has been forming in my mind for a little more than a month now. I wasn’t totally ready to share my story and make it all real. It took me a while to decide exactly what to say and it took me a while to feel positive enough to avoid writing in a way that was depressing to me and to others. I think that now, in this season of gratitude, I am able to put it out there. I am able to choose to count my blessings and keep life and the challenges we face in perspective.

My husband and I have been trying to get pregnant for about six months or so. Six weeks ago, thanks to two over the counter tests and a very friendly nurse at my gynecologists office, I found out I was pregnant and due in June. I was approximately six weeks along. Five weeks ago I headed back to the doctor pretty sure I was having a miscarriage. A few hours later I was in emergency laparoscopic surgery to remove an ectopic pregnancy. I woke up from surgery in pain, no longer pregnant and feeling pretty damn sad. But I also woke up to an incredibly supportive husband, caring family and friends and good pain killers.

As far as timing, I guess it could have been much worse. I won’t lie and say I hadn’t already started picturing the nursery or considering baby names but in truth the news was so new  – and I knew the statistics about miscarriage – so I hadn’t really given myself the opportunity to be overly excited. I had only told a few select people and had sworn them to secrecy. The week of being pregnant was a busy one and my brain was a bit preoccupied which helped to tone down my enthusiasm. It was a Monday afternoon when I thought I was having a miscarriage. I went to the doctor at 10am on Tuesday to confirm my suspicions with an ultrasound. By 12:30pm I was hooked up to an IV awaiting information about the time of the surgery. It all happened so quickly that I didn’t have time to dwell on it. I cried of course — thank goodness for my mom and my husband – and I was angry (why me?!) but I suppose the speed with which everything happened kept me from having too much time to think about it. It also kept me from getting too scared about having surgery.

A week later I saw my doctor for a follow-up and thankfully she had only positive news about our chances of having another baby. She even made a prediction that I would be pregnant by spring. Nice to hear but I am trying to keep my expectations in check. I was very grateful for the positive news and certainly relieved but that didn’t erase my sadness or diminish the physical pain I was still dealing with.

Today – at the six-week mark – I am finally feeling more like myself. I see my scars going away and think about the positives. I am choosing to count my blessings. I am choosing to focus on the good things. I am not stupid – I know it doesn’t get fixed overnight. I know that sometimes I will still ask why me or what if and I know that when my “due date” arrives I will probably feel pretty awful. But I also know that those are moments and they don’t last forever.

Life challenges us. It makes us grateful, it makes us laugh, it makes us cry, scream and stomp our feet. Life reminds us sometimes of how fragile it can be but often follows up with a reminder of how strong we are capable of being. I try to remind myself that all of it – the good and the bad — helps to define who we are.

I am a very lucky woman. I have a wonderful husband, a supportive and loving family, I have friends who send emails and flowers and text messages and who drop everything to come over just to say hello. The people in my life never cease to amaze me with their love, generosity, sense of humor and compassion. I have a career I love and students who inspired me. I have my writing. I have my health and positive news about what lies ahead. Most importantly, I have hope and even in those moments of frustration I always look forward to what comes next.



A question of truth… November 3, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kate @ 1:26 pm

I’ve been teaching writing at several colleges for the last few years. It is always both challenging and inspiring. At Mitchell College I teach almost all classes that fall under the First Year College – courses designed specifically for college freshman that are grouped together as a cohort that remains connected for all of their core courses under set themes.

One of the themes assigned to my writing class this semester was CSI. I was incredibly uninspired by this theme at first and I was really unsure as to how to implement the ideas, connect to the students and encourage creativity. At first I wondered if I could just show the first season of CSI: NY and call it a day. However, thanks to support from another professor and a fantastic group of students willing to figure it out as we went along this course has been one of my very favorites.

Ultimately, I decided to take the position that the entire course would address the idea of “truth”: What is truth? How do we find the truth? What types of “investigation” do we need to do to uncover it? How does truth shape us? How do we connect conflicting truths?

We have explored these questions in a variety of ways. We did numerous readings on crime in society, discussed our own beliefs and experiences, watched movies like Mystic River and The Dark Knight and analyzed episodes of The Whole Truth. My students have looked at the ways we are impacted by our personal experiences and how we affect others with our own assumptions, stereotypes and preconceived notions. On many occasions my students have really impressed me with their empathy and compassion and their ability to understand the “gray” area in instances when black and white does not give issues or situations the depth they deserve or require.

Ultimately what I have found the most interesting is the way that they define “truth”. For some of my students it is simply what you can make others believe. For others it comes down to what you can prove happened. For a few “truth” is simply what you personally believe has happened in any given situation. Who knew there were so many ways to interpret a fairly simply word?!

I tend to agree with them. Without a doubt “truth” is subjective – it is often colored by our own history, our own experiences, our own bias and our own opinions. I can’t even count the number of times that my friends and I have sat around and taken a trip down memory lane. During the course of an evening we may have totally different memories of our shared experiences and for each of us our version is “truth”. In each case we believe our memories are accurate. Is one version more real than the others? Is one ultimately the truth?

I love that my students are inspired to find the truth – however subjective – and I love that they are more willing to be open-minded about people and issues. They are willing to ask the tough questions, willing to do the work to examine the evidence and the situation at hand, evaluate the information and ultimately create fair conclusions.

I’ve taught a lot of writing classes. I often see improvement on paper but I also often wonder how what they learn translates into real world skills beyond the classroom. This semester, I don’t have to wonder. My students have improved their writing but also increased their willingness to put in the effort to determine “truth” – both in academics and in real life. For me, that validates exactly why I teach.