Thursday, December 31, 2015

New Year's Resolutions

So I shared this great video produced by Dr. Mike Evans on the effectiveness of New Year's resolutions exactly a couple of years ago, but it deserves to be seen again: "You are 10 times more likely to stick with a change made at the New Year." There may be a couple of reasons for this. The video is quick and informative, so give it a (re-)watch.

It seems that every time I make New Year's resolutions (serious ones that I write down rather than just tell people about offhandedly), I actually do stick to them for at least 6 months. And yes, changing habits a little at a time makes a difference.

This coming year, my resolutions focus on practicing and improving my writing. I've spent the past year helping students work on their writing skills. It's my turn to level up.
  1. I'm planning to start this Jane-a-Day 5-year daily journal that uses Jane Austen's writings as prompts for very brief daily musings. I received it as a present a couple of years ago, but I could never get my act together. I start it in 2016. It requires just a quick sentence per day, so it shouldn't be too difficult to keep up (and yet I'm still probably going to miss days here and there).
  2. I've also decided that November is a bad time to write a novel when you're teaching three classes, hence NaNoWriMo is not going to happen for me during their official month. But I'm happy to start a daily 30-minute writing habit, whether it's writing something new or revising/editing. But the writing habit has to be focused on a creative work rather than my journal, blog, or academic work.
  3. However, it wouldn't be good to ignore my academic work. I have an essay that was accepted for publication (!!) so I'll be working on revising that once I get the readers' notes from the editors. I also want to write at least one essay on my new long-term project that I can submit for publication somewhere.
  4. I've asked my significant other to get the writer's app Scrivener for me as a present so that I can revise my writing in a more orderly manner.
Looking at this list, I'm excited. For #2, I don't expect to write anything publishable. I just need the practice so that I can improve. (I tell my students this all the time -- writing is recursive. So you need to write, revise, revise again, get feedback, write some more, revise again, get more feedback, revise again, get even more feedback, and, if you're lucky, finally edit.) I'll need to ask someone to read a draft, which will be scary, but I'll cross that bridge when I get there.

I also have to add a #5: the usual resolution to improve my health. In my case, I've gained quite a bit of uncomfortable weight, which I'll blame on teaching. I'm not a freak about becoming skinny, but teaching really screws up my daily life. For one thing, it's crazy how sedentary it all is. I stand for hours at a time when I'm teaching. However, my campus is not only super small but it's completely flat. There are no acres of hills for me to run across just to make it to my next class or appointment. Also, I can't tell you how much time I spend sitting so that I can grade all the writing I have to assign. Whew.

For another thing, I'm always up super late working on my class prep. I've mentioned before that I need to work on not changing up so much of my syllabi. In any case, when I don't get enough sleep, it causes a cascade of problems: I get hungry when I should be sleeping, I'm more likely to choose poorly (sugary and/or carb-y things), and my body doesn't have enough time to repair itself which leads to bloating and inflammation. Long story short, I'm not healthy at the end of a semester. It's definitely time to harness the power of a New Year's resolution to change things!

Anyway, good luck on crafting your own resolutions! Here's to an amazing new year. May it be peaceful, kind, and righteous.

xo, Gladys

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Another Semester Done

I just finished another semester of teaching three courses. I have to say, practice does lead to improvement, if not perfection. While I once again hit some snags and irritations that I will have to figure out how to get around (a significant one being the students' inability to afford their books), I felt much more confident this semester. I definitely made things harder for myself by switching up the books and other content (thus necessitating new prep and some sleepless nights), but I can't help it; I strive to improve my craft as much as I can because I am responsible for the well-being, at least to an extent, of my students. That trust is sacred to me, cheesy as that sounds.

I will be changing things up again next semester, although hopefully not as drastically as before -- we will see. Classes don't start for at least a month so I have some time to decide how to retool my syllabi.

One thing I learned is that I shouldn't be afraid to rant when it's warranted (in this case, I was really angry about the Islamophobia that is happening everywhere). I actually had to stop myself because I realized I was yelling in the classroom. But it was the ranting that made a real difference for some of the students, and I know this because they said/wrote so. They felt that I really cared about the world, about them, and about our shared future. They called it being "passionate." Like last semester, I received some kind thank-yous from students, but this time around a few students gave me gifts and others wrote really thoughtful reflection papers on their progress as writers and thinkers.

Another thing I learned is that, along the same vein as the ranting, students really like to see my personality and glimpses of the real me. I have this problem with self-presentation, where I have two main professional personas that I default to. One is the more fun one that likes to talk "real" and sometimes gossip, and the other is my formal lecturer/interview persona. I need to fix the second version to make her more like the first, which is more the real me, anyway. But obviously I'd prefer a middle ground between the two when I relate to my students. Oversharing and being buddy-buddy could lead to misunderstandings and hurt feelings when grading time comes around. At the end of the day, the power differential between me and my students is much too great for true friendship to develop during a class. It's sad but that's how academia is structured here.

Finally, I also learned that young students really love their music. On the last day of one of my classes, we had a potluck and it turned into an impromptu dance and lip-sync party! I didn't perform (um, no way), but I enjoyed how comfortable they were with each other. Students in that particular class have made friends with each other, to the point where they hang out and study with each other for other classes, too, and I actually think that's one good way to gauge the success of a semester of teaching.

Next time, I'll talk a bit about my upcoming New Year resolutions. If you celebrate a holiday this time of year, I hope your holiday celebrations and preparations are going well!

xo, Gladys

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Happy Snapshots: Summer 2015

I went to Western Europe for the first time this past summer. I went with one of my sisters to London (with brief visits to Bath and Cardiff, Wales), Edinburgh, and Paris. It was a very quick but lovely trip. Here are some photos!

Requisite tourist-y photo with the London Eye in the background (on the Jubilee Bridge)

My younger sister and I got lost while trying to walk to London's West End, and we managed to run into the little cul-de-sac where part of the Philippine Embassy was. Of course we had to take a dorky pic.

I met my friend B at the Tate Modern Museum and afterward we walked across the Millennium Bridge toward St. Paul's Cathedral.

A "street" performance in front of the British National Museum (not an actual street there)

Are you surprised that we made it to Cardiff, Wales, to check out the Doctor Who Experience/Museum? Loved seeing a life-size police box in person.

This was the site of so many great Doctor Who episodes (the Russell Davies years).

This was taken outside the Roman Baths in Bath. The walls activated my trypophobia a bit, but I made sure not to look too closely!

Lovely Fluevogs (Arabella) by the bath

Tea time at the famous Pump Room

More tea, this time in Edinburgh, Scotland

Walking up the Granny Steps towards the Edinburgh Castle

Taking selfies in front Notre Dame just to show we were there. There was no way we were going to wait in those huge lines to get inside. I know. We made really bad tourists.

Posing at one of the many bridges in central Paris. Check out the locks.

Sorry this was basically just a photo dump. I don't have much time to write a longer reflection on the trip, though, to be honest, I probably need to take the time to reflect on it more. I came back from the trip and had to start teaching less than a week later. I was pretty jet-lagged for the first few weeks of the fall semester and I'm not sure that I've quite recovered yet! But it was great to be there. I even saved my sister from getting pick-pocketed/mugged. I want to return with my husband next time.

xo, Gladys

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Happy Snapshots: Spring 2015

This past June and July have been a little busier for me than in past years. I was able to meet a writing deadline this week, so I'm feeling pretty happy with myself. Note that I don't expect anything to come out of it; I did submit something for publication (academic), but it's the completion of a writing project that is always a victory for me, even if it's minor.

As I sorta promised, here are some pics from our Colorado vacation. We stayed at a rented guest house on a crazy-beautiful 17-acre place in Durango. This was the yard, you know, where a herd of deer would just hang out and eat the grass and gallop into the forest when they heard a car coming down the long driveway:

Herd of deer

Me on a horse for the first time ever! My companion was named Cielo and he LOOOOOVED to eat. He was big and slow. (Btw, I wish I'd worn a better hat, but I don't have any cowboy hats.)

My little guy (waving) on his horse named Burrito

I love that he's still so cuddly.

It was a nice vacation, although I was scrambling to finish grading during a good chunk of the week. I did finish grading on time, though. And it was a nice place to relax outside of reading student papers.

Here are a couple of other photos from earlier this year. This one with M and E was a selfie taken after we watched the musical play, Pride and Prejudice, at the La Mirada Theatre. It was really well-done and really fun. The three of us went as a birthday celebration for me. What a great ladies' night out!

Do you notice that my front teeth look more prominent? I started wearing Invisalign braces back in February, and with the realignment, you can see that my teeth are wider than they used to look. Yes, I'm finally straightening my teeth in my thirties.

Finally, this photo is of a pair of cool socks that my older sister got for me as a thank-you. They're all titles of banned books. What a super cool way to celebrate such great books!

So you see, I have been taking photos and doing other stuff besides teaching and grading. I wish I had more time for the blog -- it's a good way to practice writing and journaling -- but I hope this will do for now. Have a great rest of the summer!


Saturday, June 20, 2015

Let's Catch Up

I've successfully completed my first semester teaching multiple classes. I'm sure it wasn't my best work (sorry, guys), and I can understand the reasons some students didn't put the class higher on their lists of priorities (though why they bothered to keep coming to class boggles my mind). However, I'm really proud of the students I was able to reach. Some of them were just wonderful, and I'd be happy to see them again sometime just to chat.

Also, there's nothing like teaching writing to make me realize how much writing means to me. I was asked to teach again this summer, but I had to decline. This summer is for writing (as well as for reading widely in my favorite genres) once again. I have inchoate ideas that need to be harnessed into new, better-articulated projects; and I have one actual writing deadline that I don't want to miss.

Since school let out a couple of weeks ago, I've spent a week in Colorado for vacation and another week recovering from the vacation (isn't that how it always works?). Some highlights of the trip: I rode a horse for the first time (and didn't fall off), I learned a bit about the fascinating history of the ancient Pueblan people (formerly known as the Anasazi), and I found out how scary altitude sickness can be: we were at about 8,000 feet and my son nearly fainted early on during the trip. I honestly thought he was dying, and I was torn between trying to keep up his spirits and breaking down completely. I'd never seen him looking so pale and bloodless before, except when he was first born. Suffice it to say, it was an incredible relief when he revived by the time we got him to emergency services. And I will hereon make sure he is completely hydrated during our travels.

Now that I'm back home for the rest of the summer (until my next trip, which will be right before the fall semester starts up), I'm focused not only on my professional goals but also on a couple of personal ones, one of which is getting healthy again. Finishing my dissertation last year really derailed my exercise schedule, and I'm afraid that teaching this past spring didn't help much, either; even worse, I returned to some bad eating habits because I didn't have much time to cook regularly. I've been most consistent with yoga, in part because I treat it like therapy, but I need to incorporate more cardio. I also need to eat more vegetables. This summer, it looks like swimming will be back on the schedule, and summer vegetables and fruit are always much more appetizing to me than the fall and winter ones. Hopefully, I can break the bad eating habits, at least most of the time. I think taking an 80/20 approach has been most successful for me in the past. We will see how it goes in the next couple of months.

Pictures next time.


Wednesday, April 1, 2015

More Fluevogs at Work

Happy April! I didn't get around to posting another time in March. Teaching is still kicking my butt, but I'm getting the hang of it. Some days are better than others. In the past few weeks, I've had the added stress of being observed (by the department chair, no less). The observation for the first class went really well, but I had a second one today, and let's just say it wasn't as stellar. I get massive stage fright sometimes, to the point where my brain completely blanks. And I don't know when it will strike. UGH, the things I was babbling -- well, now I wish I could shut off my brain....

Despite the stress and lack of sleep, I still manage to get dressed relatively decently and not be late for my 8am classes. Here are more teaching outfits featuring Fluevogs. I particularly love the Grace ankle boots -- they're so comfy! I wear them with skirts, dresses, and jeans because I like to put them on as much as I can. I went up a full size in them just so I could wear thick socks for maximum comfort. The Arabellas are also fantastic.

Top: Effie's Heart | Cardi: ModCloth | Jeans: Calvin Klein | Cat socks: Kohl's? Target? | Shoes: Fluevog Arabella (Integrity family)

Top: ModCloth | Jeans: a.n.a. (JC Penney) | Shoes: Fluevog Grace (also on sweet sale at Amazon)

Dress: eShakti | Leggings: Sockdreams | Shoes: Fluevog Grace (Enneagram family)

Top and skirt: Effie's Heart | Shoes: Fluevog Baskerville (GetUp family)

Top: Kohl's | Cardi: Banana Republic | Skirt: Effie's Heart | Shoes: Fluevog Grace (Enneagram family)

I'm sooooo looking forward to spring break next week. I'm not going to Cancun; I'm going to sleep! I might also get a haircut. :-)

xo, Gladys

P.S. Now that it's April, I'm dreaming of summertime. I need to get new bathing suits! I haven't gotten a new suit in a few years. I looked at ModCloth's selection -- they have a lot in my size -- but they don't look like they'd fit me well. I'm getting old, ha! I think I might try Land's End this year. The idea of tummy control is so soothing to me.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Fluevog Outfits Working It

Work is kicking my butt! I mentioned a couple of posts ago that I'd start teaching at the local community college in February. Well, it's been four weeks since my start date, and here's what I've figured out so far:
  • Class prep for three completely-new classes is ROUGH.
  • Navigating a new campus, especially at a college level that's different than where I went as an undergrad and grad myself, is also rough.
  • Nevertheless, I still enjoy meeting the students and learning about their lives.
  • This is my first time teaching lower-division courses, and I have to recognize and accept that not everyone is going to do well, no matter what I do.
  • The students who are doing well, however, make me really happy.
One personal perk of doing this job is that I get to dress up a little. I gave away a significant chunk of my closet in January and February -- in part because I gained weight last year and couldn't fit a lot of my clothes anymore -- and then I bought other clothes that fit me better and were more appropriate for work. So far, I've been loving Effie's Heart clothing; their jersey stretch fabrics are forgiving and flattering but also come in some wonderful patterns. I have a few items from eShakti but the fit and fabric have been iffy, and while some are gorgeous, they're not especially appropriate for work (or at least I'm not comfortable yet with wearing the fit-and-flare/pinup style dresses and tops that I bought, even with a sensible cardigan). They've got some really nice items this season, however, so I might give them another try.

And of course, I've been wearing my Fluevogs to work! (Yay, they're finally getting more circulation outside my closet!) Here are some photos from the past month:

FIRST DAY OF SCOOL: Dress with fabric belt: Effie's Heart | Cardigan: Banana Republic | Shoes: Fluevog Qtee (Mini family)

Top: ModCloth | Belt: consignment store | Skirt: Effie's Heart | Shoes: Fluevog Barkerville (GetUp family)

Cardigan: Banana Republic | Tee (not shown): Doctor Who shirt via TeeFury :-) | Bracelet: handmade from this fabulous Etsy shopSkirt: Effie's Heart | Shoes: Fluevog Barkerville (GetUp family)

ON A REALLY COLD DAY: Top and cardigan: ModCloth | Jeans: JC Penney | Boots: Fluevog Stella (LoFs family)

Skirt: Effie's Heart | Tights: Foot Traffic | Shoes: Fluevog Masarek (Mini family)

Dress: Effie's Heart | Tights: via Sock Dreams | Boots: Fluevog PRI (Radio family)

I've worn more outfits than these, of course, but these were the ones that worked. The others are not shown for a reason! It's been a learning experience for me in more ways than one. :-)

Wish me luck on the rest of the semester, although I hope I'll be able to post again before June!

xo, Gladys

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Fluevog Visit

Yesterday I visited the Fluevog store in L.A. with dear friends Joanne, Mae, and Cheryl to try on the new Spring line ... and the new styles did not disappoint! It's especially fun this year. And there's a new shoe style called Gladice (the French version of my name) that I think is awesome, cute and striking with a kitten heel! I'll post a pic of the shoes here sometime. Here's a pic of me trying on a different but also cute pair of shoes:

Dress: Effie's Heart | Cardi: Banana Republic | Belt: unknown | Shoes: Fluevog Sam (KKBB family)

Btw, there are still some amazing shoes from last season on sale. (I visited with Mae in early January.) It's totally worth checking them out at the same time as the new line. Get 'em before they're gone!

xo, Gladys
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