Monday, September 10, 2012

Things I am not

Something you might not know: While I share my regular goings-on of my art education adventures, I concurrently have been trying and complete my graduate studies program for a masters of arts in teaching (in a full-time capacity) while also investing myself trying to be a true Proverbs 31 type of woman.

Does all of this seem impossible? I'll go ahead and give you the right answer to that question and confirm for you that YES. It is impossible.

Now, while I would like to think of myself as a bit of a modern-day superwoman, I am constantly reminded that I am not. And you know what? I am FINE with this. I am just fine with it!!! Just the same, it never stops me from trying to be a modern-day superwoman in any given moment. The problem with that is most of the time I can sort of come close to feeling like I'm really doing it all and then I get all high up on myself and forget what the real truth is. And then I am smacked upside the back of my head with the reality or (even worse but nearly so often as probably I should) I find myself wedged in between the biggest rock and the hardest place you could ever imagine.

Superman himself had his kryptonite and as it turns out, I do too. And that is? It's reading.

If you have only just become acquainted with me/this blog then you might not know that I am dyslexic when it comes to reading. As dyslexia exists for me, it affects my reading fluency. This means that while I might be able to speak and write like I am not dyslexic (although sometimes you can tell when I am writing), I am very VERY challenged if you ever ask me to read most things. I have an incredibly difficult time pick words up off a page in order to even be able to understand what they mean. When a normal person might be able to just look at words on a page and have a pretty solid understanding (almost immediately) of what they say, I don't have that "luxury" (as I like to think of it). The reason being? Well, this is the process I sometimes have to go through to even get to the point of being able to start figuring out the meaning of what I read...
  1. See the words on a page but see them as thin black stripes on a white background (especially if the typeface is stylized with serifs)
  2. Adjust my eyes/focus/vision by telling my brain to tell my eyes that what I am seeing IS a string of words and try to recognize them as such
  3. Finally see the words/sentences/paragraphs as they were intended to be seen by the author/publisher because I am concentrating hard to see them as such
  4. Start to separate each of the elements on the page to be able to decode what they mean so I can attempt to connect them to each other and I can start to understand meaning of what is being presented
  5. Start to have my eyes/focus/vision revert to seeing everything written as thin black stripes on a white background because I am not concentrating on seeing them as words/sentences/paragraphs anymore and then have to (pretty much) start from step #1 again
I have to go through this every time I read. The only way I can avoid it is if the following conditions are able to be met:
  • I can adjust the contrast of the printed words and the background so that they are sepia toned or even white print on black background
  • I can change the font so that it is a sans serif font and also change the size of the font
  • I can adjust the spacing between the lines of text
  • The book is available in audio version (meaning: book on tape) that doesn't take a ridiculous amount of time for me to listen to for the purposes of me reading it. This means, if I only need to read/listen to a passage from a written piece, it is difficult for me to do this since I have to comb through the poorly organized audio version of it to even find the right passage
To say that I have major issues with reading would be putting it offensively mildly. To say that reading is not an enjoyable experience for me would be a ridiculous understatement.  Here's the thing though: I don't really hate reading so much as I hate the act of it. And why would I feel anything but that? I mean, especially when you consider what I have to go through in order to actual read.

And where am I going with all of this? Well... how about this because I do much better with expressing myself visually...

Isaiah 9:1-7
I took the above on Saturday evening when I was out with my husband and our daughter. Our area had just been hit by a derecho and it knocked out our power which meant that I had to stop struggling through my grad work and (if we wanted to eat dinner) we had to go out for dinner because we didn't have a way to make it at home - our stove is electric and we didn't want to have to go into the refrigerator/freezer in order to not lose all of our food.

We ended up in a local neighborhood trying to go to a restaurant that ended up having at least an hour's waiting list (everyone else had the same idea as us!) and then leaving that restaurant to go some place we never heard of that did have good food but had an 86 list that got longer and longer as the night wore on so much that by the time we were seated, they were out of a ton of things that should have been available as their menu promised. You know what though? I was not upset about what I couldn't have. Why? Because I had already gotten what I REALLY wanted to begin with which was a legitimate reason that made it impossible for me to not do any grad work.

Prior to all of this - and I mean earlier that day and extending back into two weeks before then - I had started this (what I know call horrid) project that required me to read and evaluate textbooks for my current course - Reading in the Content Area. My progress with this class has incredibly slow (at best) and largely because of all of the reading that is required of me in order to do any of the assignments. As it stands? I am almost two weeks behind on my coursework. I might even be close to being able to finish with a C in the course if I am lucky. Before this class I had a B and low A average. Welcome to my whole entire academic career of struggling and working myself to the bone only to churn out average grades. Welcome to me feeling like nothing I ever do will be good enough.

But here's the thing: Amidst all of this, the Lord has been faithful to me and reminding me of the fact that I am not the failure I might feel like in all of the moments of FAILure that I feel like I have been enduring. His reminders have come in all different ways too
  • They have come by way of the refrigerator door gallery, they have come by way of two distant friends who have reached out to me and affirmed me when I have needed it most of the things I AM good at
  • They have come by way of my students telling me that I should be a motivational speaker and that they are learning A LOT from me already and we aren't even a month into school
  • They have come by way of the parents of the students I teach telling me that I am a blessing to be a part of their students' learning experiences and their student artist was SO excited to be able to finally be in my class OR be in my class again
  • They have come every time my sweet daughter has looked at me and said, "I love you, Mama! I love you bigger than the sky and faster than the buzzoogle guy!" (Don't ask me what the buzzoogle guy is - I have no clue)
  • They have come with me just sitting around and looking at the life I do have, the things that are fully present in my life, and taking it all in and realizing that I am not here because I have failed but rather because the Lord has blessed me and kept me in a place of providence, comfort, and safety
Two nights ago when I was out with my family for an impromptu meal that we could afford to partake in, I saw that picture of the sky in front of me and I was awestruck and reminded of what the rainbow means as per scripture. Did you notice that the entire rainbow spectrum is in the picture? Seriously. Look again...

Yes. The sky is pretty with all of that texture and the contrast of the lights and darks are magnificent to behold but you know what I see more than all of that? I see all of the colors of the rainbow within the frame of that image. And why is that important? Well, because it is just one more way that the Lord is reminding me of His goodness, faithfulness, and mercy. It's one more piece of evidence that He will NEVER forsake me or leave me no matter what. And while I cannot seem to read all of my ridiculous texts in order to complete any of my grad work? I certainly can read His promises in His word and I never have any issue understanding what it says OR what it means.

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