Nips & Glugs

Nips & Glugs
Long time since my last post; and this update is just a sampling of “this n’ that”, which is why it’s titled Nips n’ Glugs. For the first nip, winter stunts outdoor recreation, and it reminds me of the story of Persephone. This mythological character was one of my favorites as a child, and although I may better resemble her mother Demeter, strongly identified as Mother Nature, the blithe image of Persephone is who I fantasize to be. If you are unfamiliar with the tale, Persephone was youthful, feminine, and beautiful. One day though, she happened to eat six seeds from a pomegranate and was abducted by Hades, the god of the Underworld, who captured her and made her his wife. Because of this, Persephone stays with him for a time each year, and Demeter in her grief covers the land with a blanket of white until her daughter’s spirited return when Demeter celebrates her arrival with the graces of spring. But while it is not spring yet, I try to endure the long stretch from December until nearly April when I can once again revel in the outdoors without suffering from the elements that restrict my favorite sports.

Today, I am exhilarated to have done a little cross country skiing—alone in a local park—before being pummeled by the next blast of super cold. Expecting a high temperature for the day of -12 on Monday, I was pleased when finally my youngest son acquiesced to shop for a winter coat…on sale. God bless my kids, for doing all they can to keep costs low in some areas like textbooks and shopping clearance sales.

Skiing brought a burst of energy unexpected. The folks at the post office were chatting and informed me that this is the most snow we’ve had in 20 years, and it is reminiscent of the snows of my childhood, though that was more than 2x twenty years. Upon my return from trail blazing and working up a sweat, I tidied up the breakfast dishes— left behind leftovers for my sleepy gang—did some laundry, and made pickled turnips with beets that dye the concoction a lovely magenta color. One can’t underestimate the value of their probiotics. Soon I aspire to make a homemade giardiniera with cauliflower, celery, garlic, jalapeno pepper, and carrots, an exquisite condiment to many dishes. For you see, while believing in hibernating as much as possible in winter, I also succumb to my instinct to eat well.

As I trade apples, salads and spinach-protein shakes for heavier fare and dessert (eating caramel gourmet popcorn from my sister now) in this season, I have coined the term “winter body.” Provided I stay within about 5 pounds, I’m going to enjoy the holiday trimmings and indulge. Strong faith in the “set point” and years of knowing that I just have to contend with “winter skin,” allay stress. For the first time I am treating dry limbs with grape seed oil after the shower. My only hesitation is that I recently thought about what happens to all grapes…eventually. Well, can’t win either way!

Some days just make one feel strong, and this is mine. After skiing, I went with my daughter to the gym. The glute buster program on the stepper machine was a breeze, and I lifted like Wonder Woman. Examining callouses on the joints adjacent to my palms, I feel younger and optimistic.

Getting my driver’s license renewed recently brought a certain excitement, like getting it for the first time. Along with the fee, I had to take a vision test to be recertified. Mind you that I’ve had slight myopia for about 30 years, and I did tell the middle-aged lady behind the counter that some days my vision is better and some days a bit worse. That particular day was not my best, buy somehow even though I stated that the last letter in the second set was “a C, or maybe it’s a D.” And for the last letter of the third set, “Ugh…I think it’s an O, but it could be a C.” She said brightly, “You passed! You don’t need your glasses to drive!” I thought she was insane, but I was grateful for deleting the restriction I’ve held like a bit of shame on my license for so long. Now, I keep my glasses with me and usually wear them; but on a clear vision day, I drive around my town with no problem without their glare. Hopefully, I can resume wearing my circa 1980’s Vuarnet sunglasses this summer…while playing golf. Now that’s a happy thought.

Lately, hounding thoughts about my children becoming too spoiled and used to me being home have prompted me to look at local college employment ads; and while there were a few prospects, I usually found something disagreeable that made me hesitant to apply. With three children in college, the strain has been significant as we—and they—sacrifice in order to help them succeed. Often I have recited to myself and in my prayers from the Qur’an, “With every difficulty comes relief.” (94:5)

Even though I am constantly busy either with family, self-care, or professional activities, I really have not had a stable income for over 4 years. Furthermore, there are always goals I keep to self-improve. My last blog was about speed reading, and I leveled around 475 words per minute at 90% comprehension at final testing. A few of the books I intended to read have been completed; but then I found a new one to add and realized that another book was part of a trilogy, so I chose to start Palace Walk by Naguib Mahfouz.

Also, along the area of self-improvement, I became aware that it had been a few years since I attended a local conference featuring education professionals who are adept at technology. The ICE Conference has always provided me with new tools to make teaching more interesting and interactive. Staying on top of trends in Education, even in international settings, interests me. That is why I was invited to reconnect to an education institution this week.

Now for the “Glug”: Beginning Monday, I will commence a new project—while still developing my own company and volunteering with the American Halal Association—as director of admissions and administration for Northwest Suburban College. A critical accreditation visit comes in two weeks which could qualify this young institution for FAFSA. It offers 7 allied health curriculums and 3 in basic sciences. One of its unique features is that successful completion of its pre-med program guarantees acceptance to Avalon University Medical School in Curacao. As with any new job I have a lot to learn, but the school’s list of needs matches well to my qualifications. Although initially it will be only on a part-time basis until enrollment grows, it is perfect and flexible to allow my personal businesses to continue as well. The only caveat though is that now my kids have to at least do the dishes!

Not a bad New Year’s resolution!

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