Halfway through January already…

The next crazy quarter has begun. I went back to work and Senior Section last week, and it wasn’t the best start to the year ever. Knowing that university classes and Guides joined the timetable this week, I spent Sunday in preparation. Making sure all the laundry was done (though I stupidly forgot to do my bedsheets – doh!). Making a big pot of chilli and a loaf of chocolate banana teabread both to be divided into lunch-sized portions and frozen. By bedtime I had a raised temperature and a nasty headache which I figured was no big deal until I got up on Monday morning and realised that I was seeing dots and feeling sick and dizzy. Right back to bed I went (after phoning work and taking some paracetamol) and I didn’t wake up until 1 p.m. – thankfully feeling a good deal better.

But ugh, it wasn’t how I wanted to start the week.

I started a new course at university on Tuesday, learning about Educational Models for Community learning and development. It was like two worlds collided for me – counselling and education as we were given big pieces of paper to reflect on our ‘learning journeys’ with the barriers and facilitators to our learning along the way.

I’m terrible at drawing, but it was nice that I finally got to use ALL the contents of my pencil case from my Paperchase “I’m a student again” shopping spree back in September. All three of my recycled pencils got used. My pencil sharpener and the eraser. And the mini highlighter pens.

Yes. I’m easily pleased!

This is the course I’ve most been looking forward to, as it is all totally new to me and I’m intrigued to learn more about educational theories, models and practice.

Germany is edging closer too – my paper is due in on Monday (eek) and it’s less than a month until we leave. It’s come around super fast and I’ll admit I’m starting to get super nervous for the plane ride. I got myself into a right state the last time I had to fly and I already often feel like an idiot amongst my super intelligent, worldly experienced classmates quite a lot of the time (even though they are all so lovely!).

Now it is time for a work meeting. I’m typing this as I eat my tea in the office! So long for now…let me know how life is going (mine is going to be work, uni and guiding for a while again).

Totally off my trolley…

 

 

 

20131030-170538.jpgLast week didn’t quite go as planned. You know that week I took off work to catch up on university work? To be fair, I think some sleep was needed as I’ve felt soooo much better this week. It was also nice to have a day where I commuted to Glasgow where the trains weren’t cancelled last minute making for a much more pleasant and chilled out journey where I got some work done! Woo hoo!

What has been tough this week is fitting everything in. I missed smallgroup again, due to staying back to do work on my essay in the postgraduate study centre. An orange place that made me wish I lived near to the university to be able to utilise it more. I didn’t get home from work til well after 10 p.m. last night due to them interviewing a potential new employee and then having a team social at one of our trustee’s homes.

Juggling full-time study, part-time work, volunteering and soul surfers is a challenge that I’m not always succeeding at.

So just in case you didn’t already think I was totally off my trolley already, why don’t we add doing a 2-week intensive programme at another university in February?

In 2003, myself and my friend Gill decided to ditch our tutorial and head to the office of one of the Professors offices to investigate a potential trip to Andalucía, Spain we’d heard about. Gill was getting married that summer so we thought trying to get a tan at the same time as having something to add to our CVs after graduation sounded like a great idea. We were lucky to get picked with two other Geography students from our university to do an Intensive Programme funded by ERASMUS with students picked from universities in Lisbon, Seville, Innsbruck, Ljubljana and Vilnius. The tanning didn’t happen as it wasn’t quite so sunny – in fact we went to a desert part of Andalucia where it rained on us the whole day (lucky us for being there during two of the twelve days of the year where they’ll get rain!). But we made some great friendships and it’s where I got my label of ‘City Blossom’ because of my apparently obvious inner city upbringing!

A couple of weeks ago, I discovered that the University of Glasgow is taking part in a similar scheme to do a ‘Winter School’ at the University of Würzburg, Germany. The idea behind it to gather students and academics from 6 different countries to compare international and various strategies to lifelong learning in Europe.

I thought perhaps it was annual thing like the Geography one I did as an undergraduate, but on the discovery that it was the first ever one, and that it may not ever happen again, I thought I should throw my hat into the ring as it were. It sounded like too exciting an opportunity to miss.

And so at 10 p.m. on Tuesday night I was on the phone to a Professor in Glasgow and being told ‘Book your flights now’!

**insert a freak out here** (I don’t usually do ‘spontaneous’ decisions).

And so that is how I came yesterday to be booking flights (have I mentioned that I’ve not had the courage to go on a plane since that awful flight back from London in 2010 when I thought that everyone was going to puke as we fell out of the sky and onto the A90 rather than landing at Edinburgh Airport?), working out dates for the Girlguiding meetings for mimimal absence on my part and so on.

Oh yeah. And I’m not even close to finishing my assignment that is due in on Monday.

**insert another freak out here**

I’ll confess, I know nothing of Würzburg. I may have passed by on some of my many train rides across Germany back in the summer of 2002 when I was doing an InterRail trip around Western Europe with some university friends, but I’ve certainly never been there before. I know very few words of German as I learned French and Spanish in high school (and I use the term ‘learned’ very loosely). I literally know the following words from that trip:

one, two, three, scoop, ice cream, chocolate, please, thank you, train, apple juice, apple strudel, butterfly.

I think I may to extend that vocabulary slightly.

I am however, quite chuffed to discover that the University of  Würzburg gave an honourary degree to Alexander Graham Bell who is a native of Edinburgh. That would suggest they like Edinburgers. And the flights to the nearest airport fly from Edinburgh rather than Glasgow (woo hoo!)

And so that is why I’ll be spending this December trying to learn as much about lifelong learning in the UK as I can so I can write a 5 page paper that I have to submit in January as part of the programme.

It will be my first time outside of the UK since I went to South Africa in 2009. I know 5 others from my postgraduate class also going and they are all a lovely bunch so I’m looking forward to experiencing this with them – though I’m nervous too.

 

Postgraduate Life…

Hi Everyone,

As you probably know already by now, last week I matriculated as a postgraduate student at the University of Glasgow. One of the websites that helps people looking into various types of postgraduate study from Postgraduate Diplomas to MBAs to PhDs, was looking for some ‘postgraduate bloggers’ to write regularly for them about postgraduate life. The idea behind it being that it gives people considering taking a step back into Higher Education a flavour of what’s involved.

I’m very honoured that they’ve allowed me to share on their website, and plan to write about the journey throughout the next couple of years.

You can see my first post for them – all about the application process – at the Postgraduate Search website.

Also, if you are also currently a postgraduate student in the UK, I think they are still looking for bloggers. You can get more information here.

Now, I better get back to studying! ;)

LA

Quote of the Week – Week 30

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Several years ago, I went on a training course to learn how to be a better trainer. One of the lessons that stayed with me that weekend was that there is a difference between teaching and learning.

All of us learn in a variety of ways, and all of us will have different approaches that will work better for us. For example, I’m very much a kinesthetic learner. I learn by doing. I have to do it over and over before I can achieve a skill, but once it’s in there – it’s stuck!

For example, some kids in my dance class were great at learning a dance routine on the spot. I had to practice it over and over. Break it down. Practice it. Break down the next part. Practice it. Put the two parts together. Practice it….and so on. The girls who learned the dance quickly would have forgotten it. Even more than 15 years on, I can still remember some of my exam and performance dance routines.

A lot of educators like to teach. Teaching is quite easy in a way. Pick your style, choose your material, share your information with the class and done!

It is a whole different thing to facilitate learning. Learning requires you to use a range of styles. It requires you to give space and time for people to process, and hand out a whole bunch of extra pointers for the people who speed through it. It means you have to let people make mistakes. You have to give people the opportunity to fail in order to let them succeed.

I often hear stories of people making choices to protect their children – from peer pressure, from drugs, from boys, from ideas. I understand why they do it. But I worry how their kids will grow to be successful adults who learn how to make good choices and how to apply them to their life. Teaching is not enough – we all need the opportunity to learn to make that link between teaching and application.

Imagine if someone had just taught me driving theory, and asked me to sit a test telling them how to switch a car on, list the stages of parallel parking and changing gears. For sure, maybe I could tell them all about the mechanical engineering of gear changing and clutches and get an ‘A’. But would that mean I could just jump in the car and be an excellent driver?

The same goes for life. I can know that I should wear a condom when having sex if I don’t want an STI. I can know that it’s not good for my health or safety if I get drunk. I can know that it’s not good to marry a guy who is dishonest or abusive. I can know that different clothing styles are more flattering for different body shapes.

But it’s practice that helps me navigate how to bring up the topic of birth control with a sexual partner. It’s when I got drunk that I had to learn the lessons that just having one drink is what works best for me. It’s being in a relationship with a guy and watching examples of healthy relationships that helps me learn the skills to love and communication. And it’s trying on clothes and looking in a mirror that helps me discover what works and what looks awful. Oh, and it was going out in a car and trying it myself gradually taking more risk that helped me to learn the skill of driving. I wouldn’t have learned if I’d been sitting in the passenger seat all those lessons!

It’s tough to allow people the opportunity to learn and not just try to control people. Especially sometimes, when we care about someone. We want to protect them from mistakes – so we can try make decisions for them or manipulate them to influence their decision.  Or we try and ‘fix it’ for them. But how will they ever learn if we don’t let them make the decision and face up to the consequences?

I’d argue that they won’t learn.

What lessons did you have to learn that people couldn’t just teach you?

Quote of the Week – Week 29

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There are 2 reasons for choosing this quote this week. Firstly, yesterday Madiba (or Nelson Mandela as he is known to most of the world) turned 95 years old. And also, because a young lady named Malala has been living out these words this week.

You might have heard of Malala Yousafzai.  I hope you have. She’s a teenage girl from Pakistan who was writing a diary for the BBC about life under Taliban regime, and was targeted by the Taliban because of her actions ‘against them’. You see, Malala believes girls have a right to an education and has spoken out against the actions of the Taliban. A militant boarded her school bus and shot her in the head.

She was eventually flown to the UK for specialist surgery, and has since been given a scholarship at a private school so she can continue her education here in the UK.

In this last week, she turned 16. While some girls might have had a big fancy party for their ‘sweet sixteen’, Malala spent her birthday giving a speak in New York City to the United Nations.

The extremists were, and they are, afraid of books and pens,“…”Let us pick up our books and pens, they are our most powerful weapons.

And it’s clear she is right, seen as her speech, and her diary on BBC Urdu has made the Taliban take notice. They got scared of one single teenage girl with a pen.

It’s funny. So much prejudice, so much injustice – stems from lack of understanding. Fear of the unknown. And much of the solution lies in education. It’s when we travel, when we read, when we listen, when we share…that we widen our perspectives and we learn.

Malala, you are an inspiration. Thank you for your courage that took pen to paper when you were even younger than you are now. Thank you for your perseverence in not giving up in the face of adversity. And thank you for teaching the world, that yes. Girls can make a difference. Young people can make a difference. Education can make a difference.

And it’s worth battling for.

Quote of the Week – Week 16

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I’m not sure where this quote came from. I think I got it from a narration of an episode of One Tree Hill. It may have been written by one of their writers, in may have been used by them from a piece of literature as many of their narrations were.

There are times in life where I’ve lost my way on a journey. I’ve made poor choices. I’ve become overwhelmed. I’ve given up and found myself in a well of self pity. Sometimes, I get swept up in a wave of life and land somewhere without really knowing how I got there.

Going to university was like that. I sacrificed an awful lot of things I loved to be ‘successful’. I was hardened by the words spoken over me, and even more so by the inactions that spoke louder than the words. The first step was going to a different high school from my peers of Primary 7. I chose my high school. It was a fight to get there. After being bullied for being smart throughout my final years of primary school, I hoped going to a school in a nicer area where there would be kids from ‘good families’ and encouraged uniform (no more snobbiness about my clothes?) would be a great fresh start. Somewhere I could do well. I was so, so wrong. I still remember the time in my first year I got the highest maths marks in the year. There was a girl from one of the catchment schools that had always been the top of the class. People came up to me constantly for days when they found out I’d done better than her. The girl was lovely and congratulated me. She’d done very well too, and I respected her. Her friends however, were disdainful as they believed I shouldn’t have been able to do better than her. Don’t you know she always gets top? they told me. I was dumb, and I badly wanted to fit in and make friends. I lost my reason for doing well, and decided to stop trying to do my best, and just be ‘good enough’ so I wouldn’t get teased or face any negativity. It was only really in my final year that I began to work hard again. By that time, I had enough confidence in myself as a person not to care what my peers thought. Plus I had a good bunch of friends I could count on both in and outside of school. Then I began to fight for marks more out of rebellion and anger than anything else. I may have found my way, but I’m not sure I found my reason for the journey. It became all about getting away from certain people, not about fulfilling ambition or doing the things I loved.

Perhaps that’s why, surrounded by wonderful new friends and grasped a fantastic opportunity, I sat in my university halls in November 2001 bawling my eyes out wondering if I’d made a big mistake. I’d lost my passion – dancing – out of my own choice after fighting so hard for it, and missed it awfully. I didn’t know why I was studying what I was studying and suddenly had no idea what I was doing!

When I surrendered to my stubborn ways, and began to believe in God, things began to change. Prayer (and listening for God’s answers to the things I talked to Him about) began to give me clarity. I began to see the gifts I had that I didn’t know about before. I also began to see my weaknesses more clearly too. My faith helped me find my reason for my journey again, and not to be afraid to take a road less travelled.

Suddenly my destination changed from Geography teacher….to…? (I only knew it was to more informal education and maybe a bit of counselling along the way).

There were confusing detours – like jobs in social care, receptionist in a sexual health clinic. A change from an MA degree to a BSc degree (despite having dropped all science subjects when I was 16) and a move to the medical school. I thought I’d made it to my destination when I met my last boyfriend, got a ‘proper full-time grown-up’ job in Community Education. But no, I was soon back on the journey again…to Australia and then returning to the place I’d ran away from at 17.

I’m still unsure that I know my way for the journey, but I know at this point, I haven’t lost my reason for it.

And as long as I don’t lose my reason, I’m ok with not knowing the way.

:)

How to get kids to hate sport & ruin an Olympic legacy

The olympics have been awesome. It’s been great to see triumph, it’s been heart wrenching to watch the disappointment. We’ve seen rowers being dragged to their feet by Sir Steve, people competing on fractured bones, crashes, near misses and the joy of simply competing.

There are some that sadly, have forgotten what the Olympics are about. It’s not just about winning. It’s about  your work being rewarded with the honour of representing your country and competing alongside athletes from across the globe.

To quote one of my favourite films “If you aren’t enough without it [a gold medal], you’ll never be enough with it“.

As a graduate of health science, I’m all for getting kids active. I’ve really done my best to get people excited about the Olympics, encouraging my parenting friends to watch it with their kids. At Guides, we combined the Amelia’s Challenge badge with the ‘On Your Marks’ programme that Girlguiding created to tie in with London 2012. I’m hoping they’ve been watching (I did tell them they all had to know who Beth Tweddle was by the end of the summer) and I’m hoping they’ve been inspired by it.

And then I heard the disappointing and frustrating news today that our Prime Minister is backing compulsory competitive sports in the school curriculum.

ARRRRGGGGHHHH!

For me it brought back memories of being forced to do certain sports at PE in school. I was terrible. It became that being good at team sports made you popular. It wasn’t about taking part. If you screwed up, your team moaned and shouted at you. Even if you did your best. It was humiliating and horrible. By the time high school came around, it turned into bullying and I used to skive school on days I had PE.

Here’s the flip side. Was I an inactive kid  because I was the one who got picked almost to last or preferred to sit and sunbathe on the sidelines that take part in a game of rounders or tennis?

No.

I used to take part in dance classes – 2 a week going into high school. When we were getting ready for exams or a show, sometimes I might be dancing for 5 hours a day. I’d come home with a bag of sweaty leotards, feet blistered and cut and next day my muscles would hurt so bad in school.

I remember my friend Emily feeling ill one day in PE as our teacher made us run round the playing field. She looked white. I stopped to sit with her (our teacher wasn’t really doing anything to help her and I was concerned). He shouted at me and I’ve never forgotten the words “Get moving! This is probably the only exercise you’ll have done this week“.

Red rag to a teenage bull.

I lost no time in setting him straight. The PE teacher at least had nothing to respond with.

The problem with PE, was that you never got a chance to get good at anything. The sporty kids got held back by kids like me who had no talent (or desire) for whatever sport had been forced upon us.And it was mostly team sports. Basketball, hockey, rugby… and PE teachers didn’t necessarily know much about the sport they were teaching. I would have loved the opportunity to improve on my swimming. I had a good breaststroke – my leg stroke (?) was great. My arm stroke sucked (I have no upper body strength). We spent one day on breaststroke in the 4 years I did compulsory high school PE! 2 weeks later I was being made to play rugby without my glasses on. 4 weeks after that hockey.

It is not the way to get kids into sport.

I’m now going to quote Olympic champion, Shawn Johnson. In her book Winning Balance she talks about her work with a US congressman to get kids more active.

“In a traditional PE class, kids might be drilled in the fundamentals of volleyball one day and then lined up and ordered to do push ups the next. It’s an approach many kids hate. And if they dread physical activity at this age, they’re much less likely to be concerned about staying fit later on”

When Jessica Ennis was asked her opinion on plans to get sports more competitive for kids she said it was more important to make it fun, the competitive side should come much later.

I agree.

I also love the idea of what Shawn Johnson Fitness for Life Act bill is doing. The idea is that pupils are given choices about how to spend their PE time. It might be lifting weights, playing a team sport or doing a Dance game on the Nintendo Wii. Whatever they choose the pupils wear heart rate monitors and know what their individual target heart rate is. And once they’ve reached their target, they’ve met their goal for the day and after that they can do what they want. Those who are less fit, or perhaps overweight will reach their target more easily. Those who are aspiring sports stars will have to work harder. The programme gives small successes – and achievable goals to kids who usually feel inferior to the sporty kids.

The real goal“, Shawn Johnson writes “is to help kids discover that exercise is fun“.

In the USA there seems to be much more incentive for sport – sports schloarships, extra curricular sport with decent coaches who know that sport well. Perhaps that’s why they are top of the Olympic table.

And then, you’ve got to look at the sports we have a great legacy in. Cycling was not an option at school. Neither was gymnastics. Or canoeing. Or rowing. Or athletics (other than running 100m races). I was appalled at my PE teacher’s idea of “dance”. Maybe it’s time we think outside of the box. Maybe we let the kids pick a sport to be involved in, the same as they get to pick an instrument to learn to play in music if they want to. Maybe we join forces with local colleges, universities, sports clubs and other schools so that resources can be brought together to give kids opportunity to learn a sport properly and have fun doing it.

Because really…if you don’t love the sport, you’re never going to want to push through the bad times and injuries to keep going towards the chance of Olympic medals.

And Politicians…you might want to think about that.

Community Blog Party: Scott’s take

Scott finds writing about himself in the third person odd but enjoys other types of writing. He frequently wishes his brain had a brain.

Hello

I like community.

It is difficult not to like community, the concept; it is a little easier to not like certain communities, I try not to. After all community is, in theory, all about something common providing unity, which is rather appealing. We all have hopes, fears, dreams and other sorts of conceptual nouns that we hope that others have or at least understand as well.

For me at least, and I suspect a lot of you, the first community I was a part of was a playgroup, maybe you went to nursery school. A few times a week I was left in the company of other like-minded four year olds and we’d play games and make things and get juice, you know that watery sweetner saturated squash particular to churches, at the same times each session. A community I was thrust into. I didn’t scope out all the local playgroups and settle on this particular one. Similarly I didn’t get a say in whether or not I went to school let alone which one.

Your schooling is full of communities, or I suppose communal identies; from top down you have school attended, year that you are in, class that you are in, group that you are in, and so on. The rivalry between the two classes of my year was pretty intense. It informed the default split for seven years; games of football, or netball, who with and where you sat with at lunch time, where you hung out at breaktime. If this seems off-point bear in mind community tends to be about enjoying similar activities, having something to share with others, and feeling like you have a place you belong.

Then high-school happens and the previously drawn lines of division get rubbed out and you mix classes. In my first year I was split two ways, academic classes and pratical classes. In third year it was split again by subject columns, by fifth year it was spilt again. A greater and greater division of our previously established communities happening alongside that most fun transitional period called being a teenager.

When I was a teenager things, like what was interesting or smart or funny, suddenly seemed more important, more personal. I have never met, whilst I was one or since, a teenger who wasn’t a little bit unsure of themselves, split between what they like and think is important, and between what they think others like and think is important. The difficulty is that as all our pre-established communities are getting diced up by bureaucracy and life we also are becoming unsure of who we are.

It takes time to shed that insecurity I think. There is an element of knowing who you are before you can be a useful part of a community, but communities can also help you figure that out – so it goes.

Communities just take time, the good ones happen organically, without force, when you aren’t paying attention – just like you or me.

Goodbye High School!

On this very day 10 years ago, I sat my Higher exams in Business Management.

A rare sight: me in school uniform. I was 13. And yes, I had braces & very large glasses. Classy.

And I waved goodbye to high school forever. Most of my friends were remaining for another year of Highers and doing some Advanced Highers.

Not me.

Pretty much all of my teachers thought I was making a huge mistake, and told me things like ‘you’ll never pass your highers first time’, ‘you’re too young to be going away from home’, ‘you’ll be home before the first semester is over’, ‘people who go to university a year early never last long’. 

I distinctly remember during one of our UCAS application seminars (the ones which my guidance teacher kept ‘forgetting’ to tell me about – just as well I  had friends in the year above!) our Rector turning to me and saying ‘Laurie, what are you going to do if you fail your Highers and you don’t get into university?’

My reply? ‘Well, I’ll certainly not be coming back here’.

I’ve never forgotten. The people who were meant to be supporting me, mentoring me and encouraging me in my learning failed BIG TIME. For the next few years I had such a low expectation of myself and my ability to learn. They made a teenage girl who loved to learn think ‘what’s the point?

Thankfully I had one teacher for 2 hrs 20 mins a week who told me that I COULD do it, and to aim for the highest marks in the subject he taught me. I’ll be forever grateful to his patience in having such a rebellious, angry teenage girl to have to teach & not prescribing to me the way in which I should learn in his class.

I’m also thankful that I had an incredible friend in my ex. After opening my Modern Studies paper 3 days before to realise that I could have aced it had I got my head out of my problems and revised, he spent that weekend with me helping me study for those last 2 exams. Every time I burst into tears weighed down by the negativity spoken over me by teachers, he encouraged me back into studying.

If you’re struggling after exams or studying for that final few papers before saying goodbye to high school – know that your teachers aren’t always right, and that you can do it if you are willing to put the extra work in.

There will always be the teachers who are quick to critique, control and try and put you into a box.

Don’t let them predict your future for you.

I got to the university I wanted to go to, found myself in a job at 19 where I got to encourage and mentor the kids who teachers squashed down in school and saw many of them flourish, and thankfully got a brilliant opportunity to change degree and learn under people who encouraged me to aim higher than most of my high school teachers had told me I could go.

My Mum always told me ‘High school days will be the best days of your life‘. I can tell you guys that they were the WORST of mine so far, and it got soooooo much better after high school! And the icing on the cake was that school may have sucked, but I did make some fab friends thanks to going there day in, day out for 5 years and I did get the education I needed for university.

And thank you to the good teachers out there.

The ones who respect their colleagues and pupils. Who don’t abuse their authority. Who don’t judge kids on what they’ve heard about them from others but on who they are with them.

(I wish there were more like you!)

The next 10 months…

**update: and Ruth is doing it too!! I’m not going to be alone in this…yay!**

I can now reveal what some of the plans are for the next year which I sort of vaguely referred to last month.

I’m going to be working part-time running a pregnancy crisis centre. (oh wait…I do that already…)

Difficult to believe that this Friday it marks exactly 3 years since my first official day working at the local PCC. It started off with some bizarre obstacles that almost prevented me from making it to my first day too!

But what is new? I’m going to be doing a part-time course called Inter:act at my church.

Why?

Because I really suck at studying and reading my bible since I moved down here. Back in the ‘deen we had a number of interactive sermons and study times in the evenings at our church, we had lots of short-term and one-off courses and seminars I attended. Plus friends I studied the bible and prayed with regularly.

Because I realise that there is a pastoral and spiritual element to the role I have in my work…and in the last few years I have been reluctant to step into leadership. Well, I’m here now, and it’s time I stepped up to the plate.

And because there’s a slim chance that I may be returning to South Africa to work there in the future.

It’s going to be a challenge.

Firstly, I haven’t worked full-time in about ?2? years. I got very ill while working full-time after graduating. Apparently having glandular fever, chronic fatigue syndrome and then mumps really screws over your immune system. Plus until April last year, I regularly bed/sofa/floor ridden and on the maximum doses of painkillers I could take.

So to say I’m nervous about not being able to do this (particularly with a 9 a.m. start every Tuesday morning) is a mild understatement. I  hope that people will be understanding of my need for rest and the fact that over winter months it’s sometimes best for me to avoid church services because of all the winter bugs floating amongst the congregation. Most people can push on through a cold (and I used to be one of those people and wish I still was) but I will be taken out of action for weeks.

Secondly, It means I have to live at my mother’s house for at least another year. One of us may have killed the other by 2011.

Thirdly, I have no idea how all of this will be funded. They do suggest writing to people to help support you, but I’m not sure I feel comfortable doing that. Prayer support = yes please. Financial support = me feeling bad.

Fourthly, I’ve seen the reading list. It’s going to take a whole lot of Starbucks to get me reading some of those books. I am happy that I’ve already read some of them.

Fifthly, I’m trying to picture me reading the bible in a year. I’ve tried to do this several times, and the furthest I got was Exodus (and not very far in either). The up side is at least this time I know not to follow the advice of older, wiser Christians who tell you to get up early so you can read your bible first thing. I know better now…I’m a night owl, and will take more in if I read it at nighttime!

I’m excited for the coming year, though I doubt I’ll find it easy. Though I’ve always enjoyed learning, I don’t have good memories of the ‘studying’ part of university – I still shudder when I hear the words Geomorphology or Health Economics. Or Feminist Sociology. Just reading the name ‘Wayne Grudem’ is already sending shivers down my spine. Then again, I loved it when I got to study things like medical sociology, Health Promotion, Nutrition and read up on maternal and child health.

I guess we’ll just dive in and see what happens. :)