The “Eternal Punchline”

Eternal Punchline

We all have had times when we felt like everyone was laughing at us (and not in a good way). It feels terrible. It alienates us. It is not what anyone deserves.

Jose and his smile definitely brighten the day.

In one of my Oral Communications classes, my student Jose shared a powerful statement based on the personal strength he discovered in himself after years of feeling like the “eternal punchline.”

Jose is Mexican-American, hard-working, and a super talented speaker. He is not a traditional student in that he is not “fresh” out of high school, but he is most definitely a refreshing addition to his program and to all those he encounters.

The Oral Communications course is designed to bring awareness to interpersonal differences and strengthen communication skills. With most of the chapters in our text, I ask students to write a personal reflection on the content or how it applies to their own experiences. Chapter 6 is on unfair judgement and bias. I asked my students to share their thoughts on a time when they experienced bias in their own personal lives and how it has affected the way they communicate with or view others.

Jose’s response was so honest and so powerful, I had to read it a few times to wrap my head around his pragmatic approach to the unfair way others (even his closest friends) have spoken to or of him. Continue reading “The “Eternal Punchline””

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Lunch was Lovely – Thank You Letter to Sue Gelven

Sue and me

Dear Sue,

Thank you so much for accepting my lunch invitation. Meeting with you was wonderful!

Before we had our lunch date, the only times I had met you were at random school and community events and with each encounter I have admired you more and more.

In listening to you talk about your family, it is obvious you are passionate about those in your brood (both blood relation and those by happenstance). Your willingness to share the memories of your husband Don and the experiences you had together is so wonderfully appreciated. I cannot imagine the lengths you went through to keep your family moving (literally across the country) and growing. I am in awe of the steps you took to become an educator. If you hadn’t been so diligent, there are thousands of students, parents, and fellow educators who would not have benefited from your awesomeness (myself included).

I was particularly inspired by your storytelling ability. The art of telling a story is one that is not lost on me and I could have listened to your stories for hours. (We MUST have another lunch date!) It was in the stories you shared about the strength and resilience of women in your life that you showed great exuberance. When asked if you had ever considered writing a book, your answer about wishing you could document the life of Emma Busch was so cool to me. There are so many stories that never get told because they are simply forgotten.

I expected your answer to the book writing question to be that you would first consider writing on teaching or faith but that you had such a specific and vivid subject in mind, makes me REALLY want to read her story (as told by you, of course).  The world would definitely benefit from the stories you have to share. Continue reading “Lunch was Lovely – Thank You Letter to Sue Gelven”

Lunch was Lovely – Thank You Letter to Dr. Deeken

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Dear Dr. Deeken,

I am so glad you accepted my invitation and am even happier that we made that lunch date happen!

I would like to apologize for taking so long to write this letter. Life just has a way of getting away from me. Before we met, I promised to limit my questions to 10. I hope I was able to keep that promise. There were just so many things I wanted to discuss.

When we sat down and I had a chance to tell you that my friends were all jealous of our lunch date, you said that you hoped, “We were not underwhelmed” by your responses. (Clearly you did not see how starstruck I was to be dining with THE Dr. Deeken.) 

As always you listened, shared, taught, and inspired me.

One of the questions I asked was “What was your favorite advice for parents?”

Your sweet and smart responses of “Enjoy each and every stage of childhood, (speaking from personal experience),” “Don’t sweat the small stuff”, and “Don’t let kids dictate; You’re the parent. You’re not the friend” were true to the doctrines of appointments heard by thousands of parents and still need to be shared daily.

The fact that you have 10 children of your own is still one that awes me. The fact that you carried a panel of about 2000 patients floored me. When asked how you managed, you gave tremendous credit to your husband and said something that too many of us feel in the healthcare and educational professions, “I short-changed my family. You can’t get time back.” In learning that you often took your charts home to finish each night, after making your hospital rounds and full days of check-ups and medical emergencies, it’s no wonder you felt spread too thin. I think it’s fair to say that you did a marvelous job of tackling some tough stuff. Continue reading “Lunch was Lovely – Thank You Letter to Dr. Deeken”

I Can Explain… – Wise Words Wednesday

I can explain it

“I can explain it to you, but I can’t understand it for you.”

The hardest part of communication is when the sender expresses the message to best of his or her ability but the receiver cannot wrap their brain around what is being shared.

As a part of each week’s lessons, I include an article or example for my students to evaluate. They are then to respond to a prompt about the excerpt. In a recent journal assignment, I shared an article about research writing and the fact that your words should be the star of the paper and the sources are your supporting characters. I was very surprised to read the response of one student in particular.

Their response said that they had not understood their thoughts and words were to be the star. The student only thought they were supposed to use the words of others as they developed their paper.

Even though our first SIX weeks had been about what interested the students and what their potential thesis and counterarguments would be, that particular student failed to understand that it is the author’s words, thoughts, and opinions that make a paper relevant.

I started to reply to the journal entry with an apology for not being clear on the intent behind their research, but then I asked myself,

“Can I make them understand with an apology?”

Continue reading “I Can Explain… – Wise Words Wednesday”

Sue Gelven, will you have lunch with me? – Sincerely, Intentergy

Dear Sue,

15 years ago I began teaching at Linn High School, and so frequently was my teaching style compared to yours, that I was scared to tell others what I was doing in the classroom for fear of failing the very high expectations set by your example.

Sue Gelven 1

Sue just hanging out in Egypt.

As time has gone by, I have had the honor of not only getting to meet you but to teach some of your grandchildren and to enjoy the stories of your travels via your fabulous Facebook posts. I have watched you bounce back from the loss of your amazing husband and become a Renaissance woman with your hunting and handy-woman skills. (You use a chain saw!)

 

Sue, I would love to have a lunch with you because I believe you have some seriously powerful messages to share.

What is it that inspires you to choose the destinations of your trips? What do you remember or miss most from teaching? What lesson did you hope ALL of your students would learn from your classes? What do you hope to teach those you encounter today? Where do you get the ammunition for all the rodents you exterminate? What is your next handy-woman project?Have you written a book? Are you going to write a book? Coffee or tea?

These are just a few of the things I would love to speak about with you. My goal with Intentergy is to bring positive purpose to the day, and I know you will be a wonderful resource for me to tap into and charge some ideas for inspiration and ingenuity.

So, it is with extreme trepidation and excitement that I ask, Sue Gelven, will you please have lunch with me?

Sincerely,

Melanie A. Peters

Sue Gelven 3

Lara and Sue

P.S. Sue’s beautiful daughter (and my friend) Lara graciously let me use her photos for this post. Thank you, Lara!

 

 

Making Your Imprint Tonight!

I hope you can come out to join me for “You in Print = Your Imprint” at the Missouri River Regional Library in Jefferson City, Mo 6:30-8:00 p.m.
in the Art Gallery.

 

You in Print = Your Imprint – Blogger Melanie Peters of Intentergy.com shares strategies for adding productivity and positivity to your life through writing. With ideas for blogging, social media practices, and journaling this presentation is geared to helping individuals make a positive digital footprint through the development of composition practices. Traditional writers and composers of the digital age alike will find Peters’ approach to positive methods insightful and inspiring. Individuals who are looking to add positive energy and organization to their lives, as well as writers who are looking for ways to develop their craft, will find this presentation helpful and entertaining.

By: Melanie A. Peters

You in Print = Your Imprint

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Strategies for being the most positive and productive person you can be through writing in blogs, social media, and journaling

Sharing ideas for added positivity is what Intenergy is all about. I hope you will join me for You in Print = Your Imprint.

There are few ways that I can think of that allow a person to put their energy and efforts out there for others to witness more effectively than in writing.

In this presentation, I am going to talk about how to foster organization and promote positivity in your life through simple practices for journaling, social media usage, and maybe even blogging.

You in Print = Your Imprint

Tuesday, February 12th
at the Missouri River Regional Library in Jefferson City, Mo 

6:30-8:00 p.m.

Tuesday, March 5th
at the Osage County Library in Linn, Mo

5:30 p.m.-7:00 p.m.

You in Print = Your Imprint – Blogger Melanie Peters of Intentergy.com shares strategies for adding productivity and positivity to your life through writing. With ideas for blogging, social media practices, and journaling this presentation is geared toward helping individuals make a positive digital footprint through the development of composition practices. Traditional writers and composers of the digital age alike will find Peters’ approach to positive methods insightful and inspiring. Individuals who are looking to add positive energy and organization to their lives, as well as writers who are looking for ways to develop their craft, will find this presentation helpful and entertaining.

Explaining Dr. King to My Children

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My two older kiddos have read the I Am Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. book and have had numerous lessons about the way he changed the world, but my 5-year-old had some questions about why he didn’t go to school today.

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A terrific book on the life and times of Dr. King

The simple answer was we didn’t go to school today because we are remembering and honoring the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

His question in return, “Why?”

Well, where do I start?

I told my son about how African-Americans were not treated equally in America and how Martin Luther King Jr. was a smart and kind man, who tried to get people to work together so that everyone was treated equally. He wanted his children to grow up to have the opportunities all others had. He didn’t want people to have to live in fear of being beaten or left out because of how they looked. Dr. King preached about how peace could and would bring about change if only everyone would open their hearts to its healing powers. He asked people to respond with kindness and understanding instead of anger and hitting. His ideas gave us wonderful guidance as to the ways we should treat one another and resolve our issues.

“Oh, okay,” was my son’s simple reply.

Later my two older kiddos were fighting and my youngest son yelled, “Hey, we are out of school because Marting Luther King says we have to stop fighting! So stop fighting” Continue reading “Explaining Dr. King to My Children”

The Power of Silence – Wise Words Wednesday

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The Silent Treatment can be one of the most painful treatments known to man or woman. Nothing hurts more than when we do not receive a response after asking a question or requesting an answer.

Recently my son tried to tell me a joke (It was actually like 300 hundred jokes and by joke 301 I was done.) After politely telling him I was tired of “laughing so much” and that I needed some quiet time, the jokes kept coming.

I would also like to interject that they were the jokes of a 5-year-old and revolved mostly around farts, butts, and “dummy heads.” So instead of replying to his 301st joke, I ignored him and focused solely on driving home, while he drove me crazy.

Well, this did not stop his attempts. In fact, it made him shout the desperate and increasingly unfunny jokes. With no response from me, anger took over his humor and he began kicking my seat. There was clearly nothing funny about this show on the road.

We were almost home when the kicking started. As soon as we hit the driveway, I put the car in park. I turned around and asked my now-fuming 5-year-old, “Why are you kicking my seat?”

“You didn’t listen to my jokes,” was his angry answer.

“I listened to your jokes for the last 45 minutes. You didn’t listen to me when I asked for some quiet time. What gives you the right to kick my seat?”

“You didn’t listen to my jokes,” he repeated, losing steam.

“I listened to each and every one of them. You didn’t give me a choice not to. Now I am asking you to make the choice to stop kicking my seat and give the jokes a rest,” I snipped back at him.

“But you didn’t say anything when I told you jokes,” he whined.

“I was giving you the silent treatment so I could have some silence,” I explained.

“You’re mean, Mommy,” was all he said in reply.

Silence followed (for about 1 minute). Continue reading “The Power of Silence – Wise Words Wednesday”

What Would Your Things Say About You? – The Narrative Assignment

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My sister and I in our rocking chairs. Circa 1982

What would your things say about you?

The narrative assignment for my COM 101 class is not an easy essay. And I LOVE it! It is my favorite assignment to give and to grade.

In this assignment students are to compose a narrative of their life story as told by one object from their life. They are to personify one thing, and, from the perspective of that stuffed animal, tree, table, or whatever item they choose, the students are to share their defining moments from birth to present day.

This is a daunting task for students because some don’t have any one item that has been present for their entire life. Some claim that they haven’t done anything worth remembering. And still others whine that they can’t even remember what they had for breakfast, how are they supposed to remember what they did in grade school?

My response: It’s your story to tell. You better do the research. Your stuffed animal isn’t going to do it for you.

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My childhood rocking chair today

To help them get started, I share a roughly drafted intro to my life, as told by my childhood rocking chair. I give them a glimpse into what my life was like in the beginning and how to narrate using an item that arrived after my birth. Many find the example helpful.  Some try to copy my words and plagiarize by changing the item and dates. Whatever their approach might be, they all have the same task: Tell their own story while bringing to life a special object.

Have you ever tried to tell your story?

At 19, 39, or 89 it is not an easy task. I have to say, the particular group of students I have now moved me with the tales they told. The stories of self-discovery, loss of loved ones, and the ways they conveyed hope for the future exposed me to raw talent, emotion, and understanding for who they are as individuals.  Continue reading “What Would Your Things Say About You? – The Narrative Assignment”