Project Thankful: Reason #208

Tomorrow is July.

I’m always thankful for the end of the month.  The end of June is something bittersweet, however.  On the one hand, June was a chaotic month, and one where I thought more things would happen.  An odd thing to say given that so much did happen in June.  The school year ended, I found an apartment, I got even more items for said apartment, I received my teaching materials for the fall, and more.  On the other hand, now that June is ending, the countdown is on for when I move and for when I need to have my syllabus ready for the fall. I’ll be balancing the roles of Instructor and Student come September which means I have to be prepared for both of those roles.  

I have a feeling I’ll be eating a lot of chocolate in July.


Happy Anniversary – Project Thankful: Reason #207

Apparently today is my Blogging Anniversary.  Two years ago today, I started this blog.  I remember thinking, “I have no idea what I’m going to blog about,” something I admit I still struggle with from time-to-time.  When I first began blogging, I didn’t really know how blogging worked.  What do bloggers write about?  Do I keep a narrow focus, or do I have a more generalized blog?  I knew I wanted this blog to be a way to talk about my writing, but I didn’t even know how I would do that.  

Here’s what I’ve found: blogging can be whatever you want it to be.

That’s why I kept the tagline for this blog simple: Spotlight: Writing.  Spotlight: Writing pretty much sums up what this blog is about.  It’s about writing.  Writing as in books, blogging, inspiration, and so much more.  

Project Thankful: Reason #206

Have a great weekend!

I’ve decided I’m taking the weekend off from blogging.  It’s going to be a beautiful, sunny weekend that is not going to be too hot.  The type of weekend meant to enjoyed doing any number of activities, none of which include being glued to the computer.

I think our culture emphasizes constantly being “connected” as in continually being online or technologically available via social media, text, even phone calls.  This weekend I will be connected, just not necessarily on social media.

My Summer Bucket List: Project Thankful: Reason #205

June is practically over which is sad because it’s a reminder of how fleeting summer is.  With that in mind, I’ve decided to create a Summer Bucket List to make sure I make the most of what’s left of the summer:

1. Go to Canobie Lake Park

2. Have a beach day

3. Read 5 books before the start of September

4. Put together great lesson plans for classes

5. Go somewhere I’ve never been before

What’s on your Summer Bucket List?

Happy Diagnosis Day! – Project Thankful: Reason #204

Happy Diagnosis Day!

Today, I am celebrating my Diagnosis Day.  Two years ago today, I underwent a colonoscopy and an endoscopy procedure, the results of which determined that I have Esophagitis and Celiac Disease.  The procedures were part of an ongoing “What is wrong with me?” health investigation that started with my primary care doctor sending me for an abdominal CT scan which showed that part of my intestine was distended.  From there, I met with my GI doctor who ordered a full work-up to get to the bottom of the severe, daily pains I was experiencing.  A lot of blood work, another CT scan, an ultrasound, and lastly the colonoscopy and endoscopy later, and it was finally revealed what had not only been causing my recent pain, but the symptoms I had been living with over the years.

With Esophagitis, I have to avoid/limit foods and drinks which will lead to acid reflux.  Spicy foods, salsas, alcohol, fried foods, rich foods…those I tend to avoid.  If I do consume any of those, I have to take precautions or I will be waking up during the wee hours of the morning with intense nausea and stomach pain.  

As much as Esophagitis is a concern, the larger focus is Celiac Disease.  The gluten-free diet has been in the news and media lately as more people are limiting, or eliminating, gluten from their diets.  Some have referred to the gluten-free diet as a “fad diet” and question the legitimacy of a gluten-free diet.  I think a person’s health is their business and their doctor’s business; not open for others to judge or to say what works.  While I appreciate the increased awareness of the gluten-free diet, Celiac Disease, gluten intolerance, and gluten sensitivity – conditions that require a gluten-free diet – are often not emphasized when people talk about the gluten-free diet.

Jimmy Kimmel recently did a segment where he poked fun at the gluten-free diet, filming people’s reactions when they were asked “What is gluten?”  Charlize Theron went on a rant about gluten-free baked goods on Chelsea Lately.  Basically, individuals feel that gluten-free is fair game for fodder.

It’s not funny.  It’s not entertaining.  It shows a lack of information and understanding.

What is gluten?  Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley, malt, and triticale (a cross between wheat and rye).  Individuals with Celiac Disease, gluten intolerance, or gluten sensitivity follow a gluten-free diet out of medical necessity.  Celiac Disease is a condition where, if gluten is ingested, the body’s immune system will attack the villi – small, finger-like projections in the small intestine that are responsible for absorbing nutrients from food – and damage the villi.  Symptoms of Celiac Disease are varied and are often misdiagnosed.  While a blood test exists to test for Celiac Disease, that blood test can produce a false negative, as it did with me.  The sure way to detect Celiac Disease is an endoscopy which looks for flattening of the villi.  Individuals with a gluten intolerance or a gluten sensitivity experience symptoms of Celiac Disease if they ingest gluten, but they do not damage the villi in their intestine.

Celiac Disease is also considered a disability as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  Although Celiac Disease does fall under the ADA, the ADA does not require public places that serve food, such as restaurants, to provide gluten-free food (  

I choose to celebrate my diagnosis today.  Since being diagnosed and going gluten-free, my life has drastically changed.  For years, I didn’t know what healthy felt like.  Looking back, my symptoms began when I was in high school.  I now have a closer understanding of my health and my body, and I now know what healthy feels like.



If I Ever Needed a Reason Why I Study Gender Studies…

I was on my way back from a field trip.  I was sitting at the front of the bus next to a one-on-one aide who I worked with in classes.  Somewhere during our conversation, the issue was raised about having kids.

“I don’t want to have kids.”

The aide looked at me with a mixture of confusion and amusement.

“I just don’t,” I added.

She smiled smugly.  “You never know,” she said, chuckling to herself as though she knew something I did not.

“No, I’m content without kids.  I like kids.  It’s just, when I look to the future and what I want in my future, kids are just not part of that.  For a lot of people, kids are.  For me, they just aren’t.”

“Well, you never know,” she repeated the phrase.  “You could change your mind.  You find the right guy and decide you want ’em.”

“No,” I answered.  “See, when I look at dating, I know that if a guy definitely wants kids, then it’s not going to work between us.  I know if I meet someone and we do start to get serious, that if the issue comes up and he wants kids, then it’s not fair to either of us to continue to stay in the relationship.”

Her expression turned serious.  “Yeah, but even if you do meet someone who says they don’t want kids either, they could change their mind.  That’s what happened to a girlfriend of mine.  She was in love with this guy, they were married, and he decided he wanted to have kids and she didn’t.  So, he went and had them with someone else.”  She shook her head.  “I don’t think she ever got over him.”

I had the feeling the rest of the ride back to school was going to be this woman’s version of Tales from the Childless: Heartbreak, Regret, and Longing, her attempt to influence my thinking.

“Then I had this other girlfriend who, like you, said she didn’t want to have children.  She and her husband both said they didn’t.  Then, one day, she found out she was pregnant.  She ended up losing the baby.  That made her realize she really did want kids.  She and her husband kept trying, but she kept losing the babies.  Finally, she had one.  But, you know, she started out thinking she didn’t want kids either.  Realized she did.  You know, never know what you want until you think it’s gone.”

I didn’t know how this woman thought I would react to her narrative.  Perhaps she underestimated my intelligence, believing that I would not pick up on the placement of her stories with my statement “I don’t want kids.”  Or maybe she felt that as my senior, she was sharing her presumably greater life experience with me.  Either way, she was talking to the wrong person if she thought her words could have any impact on my decision to not have children.  

I’m an English major.  I study language.  I examine how individuals choose to compose their works and the effects and implications those choices have on the audience.  The area I am choosing to specialize in?  Gender Studies.

As for the implication that because this woman is older than me and could therefore advise me on my life decision, I remember my grandmother.  My grandmother was one of the most important people in my life.  Years ago, I was over my grandmother’s apartment, talking about my future, and I said, “Of course I’d want to get married and have a family,” because before I better understood about a woman’s choices in life, to say I wanted to get married and have kids seemed like the socially correct, appropriate response to what I wanted in my future.  My grandmother stared at me in one of her ‘I mean business’ expressions that made me sit up stiffer and straighter, and she said to me, “Don’t worry about those things.  Focus on your career.”

I was raised by remarkably strong women who always encouraged me to make my own decisions, regardless of what others think.  More than that, they instilled in me the knowledge that I do not have to justify my decisions to anyone.

Including the woman sitting next to me on the bus.  As I sat there, looking at her as she belittled my decision, I was tempted to be angry with her.  But, no.  Her reaction to my statement, “I don’t want to have kids,” speaks to larger issues within culture and society about women and self-autonomy.  The restrictive norms regarding women and motherhood that have existed for years still persist today.  We must continue to better improve our understanding so that when a woman says “I don’t want kids,” she will not be demeaned or looked at like an ignorant child.

Everyday Feminism has an excellent article called “5 Things You Shouldn’t Say to Women Who Don’t Want Children.”  Before people judge a woman for not wanting children, they should read this article: 



Anatomy of Word Count

Whenever I write, there is a certain progression that occurs with each increasing word count value.

1,000 words

I can conquer the world!  This book is going to be great!  I have so many ideas, it will be a breeze to write!

10,000 words

I’m only at 10,000 words?!  Are you freaking serious?!  Is it too late to abandon this ship?

20,000 words

Alright, things are starting to get interesting!  Now that a lot of the background is out of the way, I can really start to speed up the action.  I’m basically at the halfway point.  Kind of.  Sort of?  Okay, not really, but I’m still at a good point.

30,000 words

Right.  Okay.  I need to start adding more plot points or else this book is going to end right here.  Where did all my ideas go?  *Looks through notebooks where wrote down possible ideas at various points*  Crap!  These are all crap!  They won’t work!  *Comes across one that has that glimmer of “Oooh, I didn’t see that coming!”*

40,000+ words

At this stage, I’m golden.  I have all these ideas again!  I know how the book is going to end!

The end?

Finished!  Take that, self-doubt!

Now, I just have to edit what I just finished writing.  *Bangs head against wall*