“That’s How He Changed My Life.”

Bb-glowing-gift-openSigh…we’re approaching the end of our holiday break. With most of the annual frenzy behind us, it’s a good time to grab a cup of coffee or hot chocolate and finish off the last of the now-slightly-stale Christmas cookies. We usually restrict our video selections to those can be watched in two or three minutes during a busy work day, but today we’re making an exception. If you don’t find this one worth 12 minutes and change of your time, you’re assigned to remedial Christmas and need to do the entire season over again.

Today we say thanks for a gift from Dr. Jason Warren and the Advising Workgroup at our college. Just before the holiday break, this team put together a bang-up day of professional development, reminding us that helping students involves a lot more than just spewing information in our classrooms. Given the time that has passed since some of us started college, it’s easy to forget what it’s like to feel confused and intimidated by the academic milieu. We forget, too, how having one caring person in our corner can make a world of difference.

So grab your hankie and enjoy this clip. Pay special attention at 5:15 to Owen’s description of how he felt when he first went out in his wheelchair.

What if we welcomed each new advisee as the lady at the beginning of the clip greets Owen: “Can I first say what a proud honor it is to meet you?” A little over-the-top, but quite true for the soldiers, veterans, and dependants who make up the bulk of my clients.

I hope to always be mindful that, as the narrator points out, “A friend doesn’t judge.”


Rescued by a Friend

Bb-glowing-gift-openToday I’m grateful for another gift that I’ve already unwrapped this year…the very special helping hand offered…and offered repeatedly…by Anne and Brian, aka World’s Best Office Mates. Maybe it’s happened to you: You return from a class that didn’t go anything like you’d hoped. Or a meeting that went south in the worst possible way. Or you’ve picked up the phone to receive unwelcome news about a friend or family member. Whatever the precipitating event, we’ve all had days that were simply nightmarish.

When dealing with that “surely this is all a bad dream” situation, it’s good to have friends who wake you from the terror and then reassure you that you are still loved and valued. That’s what Brian and Anne do.

So Merry Christmas, my cubicle buddies. These pups are for you:


Who would YOU nominate for Santa’s “nice” list this year? Share with our readers, please!

Please…Swallow Your Pride

Bb-glowing-gift-openWe’re reflecting on the gifts that we have already unwrapped this year, especially those helping hands that made our lives more pleasurable. First up: Our college’s IT department. Kathy, Tony, Paula, and Chris-the-IT-Superhero have been endlessly patient, continuing to respond to my ridiculous and usually self-imposed techno-crises, despite the fact that my name is clearly visible on their caller ID. So thanks, HCC IT Team. Learning is a lot more pleasurable for teachers and students when the technology works! These turtles are for you:


Log in tomorrow to read about another gift…and don’t forget to share the ones you’ve received.

The Gift of a Little Hand

“Why are we here, if not to help each other?”

—William R. “Rusty” Nunn, Hopkinsville pedodontist extraordinaire.

Rusty almost certainly doesn’t remember saying those words, but I’ll never forget them. He had graciously agreed yet again to care for a child whose family could never have afforded desperately needed attention. As I apologized for imposing (yet again!) on his generous nature, he replied with the words written above.  They stuck. What a gift, not only to that child, but to me.

And so, during this season of getting gifts wrapped in bright paper, pleasureinlearning plans to reflect on the gifts that we’ve received all year long. Please feel free to chime in…just send me your thoughts by email or reply in the comments.

As we walked along the beach this morning searching for sea glass, we found this little plastic hand. My husband found it creepy, but to me it seemed an affirmation of the plan to acknowledge all the helping hands who’ve helped others this year. Tune in tomorrow for Part 1.

Little Hand, found 12/21/14 on Melbourne Beach, with sea glass. collection.

Little Hand, found 12/21/14 on Melbourne Beach, with sea glass. collection.

R2: Mouse Christmas

ReadingthuRsday-R2Every year, I lug out a festive holiday container filled with Christmas books I have collected over the years. I bought the container when my daughter was small, and each year I added a Christmas book or two to the collection. Of course, I am past the capacity of the festive holiday container, so a rather plain paper box contains the rest of my collection. Each year, long after my daughter is young enough to really want to do so, I read aloud from that stash of books. indexWhen I read aloud one of the books, I feel all her childhood Christmases rush back at me. The one book that says Christmas to me is The Mouse’s Christmas. I am afraid an English professor might not consider it a classic, but it withstands time for me.

The story is simple, a Mother Mouse is trying to make Christmas for her children. Of course, being children, they want the impossible….a Christmas tree of their very own in their small mouse house. The Mother, after hearing a lot of gloomy lamenting, promises to do her best to find her children a Christmas tree. The mother tries to come up with something that kind of looks like a tree, a small leafless branch that she decorates. Of course, it does not look like a real Christmas tree, so her children are disappointed. reading-book1Then a wonderful series of events happens, the tree a farmer has chosen is too big, so he trims it. A fox came along and takes part of the trimmings, but it is too big, so she drops a part, a rabbit comes along and takes part, and then a bird comes along, and takes a part, until all is left is just one tiny little part that looks like a small Christmas tree. Ah, now we all know what happens. Mother Mouse takes this small part home and decorates it, and her children have a much wanted and much loved Christmas tree.

christmas book tree

Tree of books!

I read this book aloud to my daughter over and over again. I related to that poor Mother who was trying to make Christmas special. I felt I was wholly responsible for my child having a wonderful Christmas with fond childhood memories. My daughter just liked the story, but I felt a connection to Mother Mouse. So every Christmas, whether my daughter wants to hear the story or not, I bring out a much battered copy of Mouse Christmas.

My collection of Christmas books are a testimony to all the holidays of her childhood. My Christmas really begins with the tradition of bringing those books out of storage. This year, our Christmas books have a new home, as we begin a new set of Christmas memories. All the characters in all the books will once again come to life in the glow of a decorated Christmas tree. I will continue to feel blessed as we share a collection of much loved and much read Christmas books.




Party Full of Pleasures

karenThis post is a belated thanks to the Hospitality Committee here at our college. These dear folks recently pulled off The Best Holiday Luncheon Ever. This is high praise from a no-thanks-on-the-parties girl. (One of my favorite contemporary Christmas songs is 1981’s “Christmas Wrapping” by The Waitresses. The opening lines are: “Bah, humbug, no that’s too strong. ‘Cause it is my favorite holiday…” My students hadn’t heard it but asked for a replay. The link includes the lyrics, since the pace is brisk.)

Do you suppose Derek and the Elves have been taking notes from our blog? They seem to have hit every last one of our pleasures:

  • Sensual pleasure: Catering from the Four Seasons, including the best carbs ever—potato casserole and corn pudding–yum. Music from Dan on the grand at the buffet line. More music from Greg in the dining area. Laughter.Beautiful decorations. Warm hugs from colleagues. Sensory overload.

    Anne and Brian sporting their impromptu tinsel

    Anne and Brian sporting their impromptu tinsel

  • Surprise: Too often the games portion at these affairs is just painful. Props to Derek and the Elves for creating two games that incorporated delightful surprises as well as….
  • Humor: The first game was a variation of the old To Tell the Truth TV show. Several colleagues had responded to the team’s request for a unique and little-known fact about themselves. The team collected and distributed the clues, and the attendees guessed which pal had done what. All the contributors gathered for a reading of the clues with a big reveal after each one. The second game offered an…
  • Achievable challenge as each table was asked to choose one member to “play.” The chosen member was then designated the team Christmas tree, to be decorated with random items that attendees had been asked to bring from home or office.
    Chris the IT Superguy is the champ

    Chris the IT Superguy is the champ

    Anne garnered second place. We might have grumbled, but the winner was our IT Superhero Chris.

  • Belonging to a group: It was fun to sit back and watch staff and faculty mingle, sharing hugs and back-slaps as friends who don’t see each other every day exchanged holiday greetings.
  • Autonomy: Bring your own stuff; fill your own plate; have two–or three–desserts; choose your own table; stay as long as you like. No bosses, no ranks, just friends.
  • Owning something of value: A place in the best community college crew around. Now THAT is something precious.

If Derek and the Elves can do it for a party, we can do it in our classes. Thanks again, Friends, for a great time.