heart days

I know Valentine's Day is a commercialized, ridiculous, excuse of a holiday but it's a good excuse, I think, to acknowledge that I'm lucky. I was lucky when I was single and had girl's nights out, cursing Cupid and the idea of a Love Holiday. I was lucky because I was surrounded by people who got me, who weren't afraid of my passion or intensity. I was lucky when I was dating to be an object of someone's affection, to get chocolate hearts and flowers, but mostly to be told "I love you," or some romantic equivalent.

My first V Day with M 5 years ago was sweet and low key. She gave me a really cute red bear, one that I still have, not knowing that I'd never been given a bear before as a romantic gesture. We made t-shirts for one another with iron-on stickers and watched the premiere of the L Word. Last year we were snowed in and begged our friends to help us dig out of our parking lot so we could eat McDonald's and buy a shovel. The year before (2 years ago) we went to Peoria and had an awesome time just being together. And so I planned our Valentine's weekend for another trip to Peoria. At first, when I thought of doing something I considered going to Indianapolis because it's a place we haven't really explored. But I didn't want to go for Valentine's Day because my friend from grad school lives there and I wouldn't want to be in her neck of the woods and not see her but then it's Valentine's Day and it might be weird so... I decided to go back to Peoria for a fun weekend.

But most of all, I wanted to spend time with M. Our lives have been so busy lately, there's not a lot of time to just hang out. Any free time is usually filled with something. As far as Valentine's days go, I think just getting away and being together was worth it. But then again, we would have fun no matter what we did. And that is just one of many reasons I'm in love with M. I feel no pressure to plan some big to do and we don't compete when we plan trips or romantic nights out. Just setting time aside for us is enough of a gesture for me. And so when I saw the heart shaped box of chocolates with a card with a message inside that said, "Happy Heart Day," I felt incredibly and absolutely lucky.

I hope that no matter what you did to celebrate heart day that you felt lucky, too.

Chocolate truffles...yummy Chocolate truffles...yummy

things I want to do in 2009

So much of my energy in 2008 was spent getting used to completely new places, roles, and expectations, particularly in the last half of the year that most of my goals stayed focused on the academic not the personal. My hopes for 2009 are more about things I want to do and learn personally and professionally. A friend and colleague, S, (and many other bloggers, etc. ) frames her goals with a word with which she lives for the year. I think it's a good way to focus energy and when I think about looking forward to this year there is one word that sums up my goals:



I want 2009 to be full of things that make my life more rich. I want to learn more and do more but only if it adds something to my life. I am tired of wasting energy on things that ultimately don't create possibilities or potential. After all of the upheaval of 2008, success and challenges, I feel compelled to begin enriching my life where I am right now, in this moment. 

I want to deepen my relationships and concentrate on creating small, appreciative moments with friends and family. While the word 'enrich' helps me on the meta-level, it also lends itself to specific, everyday, typical goals such as the following:

I want to cook more. I want to bake pies (like pecan and apple) and make soups and learn the kinds of tacit things in the kitchen my grandmother knows.

I want to read more. I want to unpack my office boxes, get my library organized and figure out which books need reading, re-reading or donating. And I want to discover a new author, a new style of writing I enjoy, get outside my comfort zone of non-fiction books and read something odd or heartbreaking or soaring. (Suggestions welcome!)

I'd like to travel, visit Chicago again, perhaps take in the upcoming Harry Potter exhibit. And I'd also like to do more around town, especially when it warms up. I'd like to go to the apple orchard and pick apples from the tree and bake them into a crisp or a pie.

Do something completely unlikely, something that surprises me.

Write more frequently.

Professionally, my goals seem more material:
-finish webtext for publication
-observe others' teaching for strategies that might work in my classroom
-meet one-on-one with students more often
-create better evaluative methods for design classes (yeah, I think big)
-complete IRB for research project that's brewing

I think enrich is a great word to remind me of the why of my goals and not just the what, particularly when it comes to teaching and of course, to food.