20 juin, 2018 – Lost Language Arts. Dying arts, a piece of the past that can be shared in love, received with intrigue and recalled nostalgically.

Lost Arts –

Substitute teaching this year was an eye opening experience.  To say things have changed is the understatement of the YEAR!

However…ah hello…where did cursive go?

What Happened To Shorthand & Cursive – 

Cursive, it’s gone.  It seems to have died the same slow death dealt to shorthand.  Dead, like shorthand.  Gone, quietly and unceremoniously.

I remember when shorthand was retired from the public school system in the early 80’s (at least where I went to school).  Poor ole girl – she fought a tough battle, but ultimately lost.  I’m sure there are people who continue to learn to use shorthand to some extent, but gone are the days of steno pads, and shorthand drills.

I however, still recall those glory days.  A product of the 60’s, I was so excited to get to High School in the fall of 1979 and  have my shorthand book issued to me.  Hysterically, basically the same book that my mother had used some 20 years earlier.

Photo of my mom’s book from about 1963 –

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Mom’s Book – 1960’s

Being the language freak I am (note, I did not say language guru), I was and am still amazed and intrigued by shorthand which, I consider a language.  There were a couple of methods if I recall – Pittman used in the UK and Gregg used in the US.

According to the internet, there are countries that teach shorthand for those students / professions that might find it useful.  And I’m sure there are some careers / professionals that do or would find it an advantageous and useful tool.  However, if you asked someone under 40 what shorthand is / was they would be hard pressed to respond.

Cool stuff that shorthand / sometimes call stenography.  I thought of it (shorthand) as a code.  I imagined myself a WWII code breaker, transmitting and deciphering secret war time messages.  I can still write I love you – see below.

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I Love You

Cursive An Endangered Species –

“You wrote your name in cursive, who taught you that?”  I asked.  “My grandma,” the 4th grader responded.  “Great job buddy!”  I enthusiastically replied.  

As a substitute, I’ve learned not to write my name on the whiteboard (not to be confused with a blackboard) in cursive, because the students can not read it if I do.

Just a few short years ago my children were taught and learned to write in cursive, I remember hearing rumors of it’s decline, but really paid it no mind.  It’ll never happened I thought to myself.  But now as my grandchildren have entered school I realize, it’s pretty much a done deal.  It’s gone!

I understand the rhetoric.  Just like I understood the all to similar rhetoric when shorthand was enjoying her final days.  Yet – it still saddens me.  MY grandchildren WILL NEVER KNOW HOW TO WRITE CURSIVE.  It’s up to me to pass this on.  If I don’t – it’ll be too late…

There’s So Much To Learn These Days – 

There’s so much for children to learn these days – I don’t even know where the educators would find time in the school day to plug cursive back in to.  I’m not even sure of the actual status of cursive (state to state), but I’m pretty sure it’s not part of today’s standards in my state.  An internet search will leave you unsure and you’ll find it a very heated and debated subject.

I’ve been so impressed with today’s teachers and students.  The teachers teach some amazing concepts.  And the students absorb these concepts at an incredible rate.  Far more advanced at a given age than I remember being.

Today’s standards are just that – today’s standards.  They are for the NOW.  They are relevant and solid and I have faith in the education system I witnessed this year.

Vintage Themes And Remembering That Change Is Progress – 

As much as I like vintage, I’m a big advocate for change.  Believing that change is progress and always proclaiming publicly – change is growth – change is progress.

I keep in my pocket a picture of the past a memory of long, long last.

There are things that can and should be shared and cared for and passed on in our lifetime.  Recipes, prayers, memories, trinkets, skills, quilts, and last but not least, cursive and shorthand.

Like the cold war, the typewriter and the film camera, cursive and shorthand are memories I have.  Memories, that my children and grandchildren don’t have.  And like the memories of my parents (the draft, Elvis, and the 57 Chevy) and of my grandparents (the great depression, the jitterbug, and WWII), each set subjective.  They are relevant only to OUR unique time here on earth.

The Truth Of The Matter Is –

Things change, they evolve, they fade.  Many traditions, arts, languages, customs, ways etc… are lost to progress or simply to time.

It’s understandable, but none the less sad.

Cursive is to today’s elementary school student what shorthand was to me.

It’s not rocket science and saving it will not end world hunger.  It’s a dying art, a piece of the past that can be shared in love, received with intrigue and recalled nostalgically.

I hope you enjoyed this look back – I know I did.

Pass something on!

Suz

Mai 5, 2018. New Dots Emerging – Le Tri / To Sort. Learning To RUN Like No One Is Looking. Struggling With Old PRs.

Is that not the perfect picture?

Bonjour mes amies.  Comment allez vous!  Moi, ça va très bien.  Il fait chaud aujourd’hui ici et je cours finalement dans au soleil. J’aime le soleil.

Je aussi aime dire les mots en français commes –  tous les jours et finalement.

Le temps passe trop vite! L’annee derniere en France:

paris
Is that not the perfect picture?
charente maritime

Ile d’Oleron – Charente Maritime.  Deep tides mesmerize.

Emergent –

I see the new dots brightly flashing on the horizon. Each one enthusiastically waving “pick me, pick me.”

See previous post for more on these dots.

Mais, lequel choisir? Je ne sais pas!

Pour moi, pour la première fois, je suis arrêté et je sens les roses.

And it feels amazing!  I’ve never paused like this and once this pause ceases I most likely won’t pause again for another 10 years.

Est-ce que beaucoup de stress? Un peu. Parce que je n’ai jamais arrêté comme ça avant.

Donc, j’écris. L’écriture m’aide à faire le tri dans ma tête.

It’s actually quite euphoric, this pausing, once you let go and just be.  I’m excited for the future and what is yet to be.  Today, I live each day fully, slowly and with intention.

Forming new mental muscles, routines and habits.

Le Tri –

As I often do when I read, write, study French I once again stumble amongst the words.  This  time it’s the French word le tri that holds my gaze.  Le Tri, means to sort and I am suddenly reminded of my younger days as a army medic and the word triage.  I google triage and le tri and am once again lost in time – lost in reading – lost in discovery.

I use the word lost here in a positive way.  J’aime lire, mais – it is a time sucker.

Then I realize I am triaging my life right now. Sorting out what I want to keep and what I no longer need.

Determining what is most important – most vital.

Unconventional methods of learning French (writing) serve me best.  A planned vacation to Quebec this summer (super, super excited) should provide some much needed conversational / verbal practice.

And then it will be time for me to un-pause – peut être

Still holding out for that chance encounter and cool opportunity to travel and work abroad.  

Until then, to the emerging dots I say, “I see you and I am sorting through you, be patient.”  Smelling the roses, realigning  priorities, and triaging.

Courir-

Returning to my beloved running is also serving me well.  After a long winter, I am finally feeling half way decent about running.

I’m a solid month behind in training, but am running with a new sense of peace.

Still struggling with my speed after a few years of long distance running and now finding myself forgoing events because I don’t want others to see this slow down.

C’est la vie! C’est la vie! C’est vrai! C’est ce que c’est et c’est fantastique – cette vie!

The first half-marathon of the season (for me) is in two weeks.  I so want to be able to keep the pace under 9 minutes per mile.  I’m afraid of this pace for 13.1 miles – so starting today, it’s all visualization “I can run 13.1 miles at a 9 minute per mile pace!”

Oui je peux! Avec du café!

Gauging my strength at the moment I would say that I am too slow for an age group award 5K, not quite strong enough for a half marathon distance under 2 hours, but feeling 10K ready (where you can better balance the speed with the distance).  There is a 10K near by tomorrow, but I really need to run 12 to 13 miles so my body and my mind remembers what this particular distance feels like.

I’m also not ready for others to see me run.  I’m learning to run like no one is looking – with peace in my breath and joy in my heart.

I’m learning…I have not yet learned this.

Does anyone else struggle with keeping up with old PRs (Personal Records)? 

Au revoir pour maintenant mes amies.

Suz.

 

Novembre 13, 2017. J’ai Couru 50 Miles! C’est Fini. I Did It!

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I ran 50 miles in 11 hours and 30 minutes –

C’est fini!  Je suis très heureux.  Mais, je ne peux pas parler français.

Intesting enough, I could not remember much of anything while I was running let alone French.  I actually resorted to singing 99 bottles of beer on the wall, which actually worked quite well.

The first 5 miles I ran with two friends.  Then both of my knees started to hurt.  Thinking that maybe I was not relaxed enough, I decided to run on my own so I could run at a more relaxed natural gait (not adjusting to their rhythms and cadence).

For the next 32 miles I stuck to a 4 minute run, 1 minute walk routine.  I had a lot of knee pain. On a scale of 1 to 10, it was at a 7.

Luckily, I would see my husband (sweetest, most supportive guy ever) about every 10 miles while filling up my water bottle and grabbing pretzels and oranges from the aide stations.  His gentle kisses and encouraging words helped so much.  Oh and popping a few pain relievers – didn’t hurt either.

At mile 37 I knew I could finish but I was in a lot of pain, but still a level 7.  The pain was bad but it was not getting worse.  Each mile I would say “ok, it’s not worsening – keep moving.”

I walked the last 13 miles!  Oddly enough, at that point, I was able to walk faster than I could run.  I walked the last 13 miles at a 15:30 minute per mile pace singing 99, 98, 97, 96 etc…bottles of beer on the wall.

As the sun set I put on my headlamp to light the now dark trail, and focused all my energy into a driven march forward.  I knew I’d finish the race and I couldn’t wait to do so.

So many emotions to explore and so much time alone to do so.  Yet as I marched, all I thought about were those darn bottles of beer on the wall.  All the while asking God over and over to help me finish the run.  Quite the mental contrast.

I tried to speak French dans ma tête. Mais, c’était trop difficile.  I can never remember how to say the number 14 in French.

Oh – quick side note…remember my period that was due on Saturday, the day of the race, It held off till Sunday morning – is that luck or what!  And drum roll please, NO STOMACH ISSUES.

Today, aside from being unable to bend my knees fully, I am fine.  I have a few blisters on the tips of my toes – but otherwise, I feel great.

I will honestly say that my French studies suffered over the last 3 months.  I’m not sure learning French while running works for me.

I want to thank you.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!  Thank you for the encouragement and support!  I thought about you while I was running – and how I did not want to let you down.  You kept me accountable and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

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50.47 miles in 11 hours 30 minutes and 47 seconds.  Average pace of 13:41 minutes per mile.  5167 calories used.

It was quite the adventure.  It was a beautiful day, about 47 degrees Fahrenheit and sunny.  No rain, no wind.  A perfect day, full of happiness and friendship. The trail was amazing, rock walls and fallen leaves, wooden bridges and old train tunnels.

Now, I need to put some energy into French.  Not sure where I’ll go from here – probably the 100 K.  But for the next few weeks – I’ll be working on the knees and dreaming of returning to France late next year.

Life is beautiful.

Merci Beaucoup Mes Amis.

Suz

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

August 22, 2017. LOOPS… Is this an 8 hour endurance race or another rond point? It’s a 3.25 mile rond point. Rond points, roundabouts and traffic circles oh my.

IMG_3499Speaking of loops, this past weekend I ran an eight hour endurance race, the Backyard Classic. It was a 3.25 mile trail loop that reminded me of a giant rond point (traffic circle or roundabout).

J’ai une ampoule, une grande ampoule.  I have a blister, a big blister.

The goal of the race was to complete as many loops as you could in eight hours.  I’d consider the trail moderate to hard.  Each 3.25 mile loop consisted of two technical sections, two decent hills and two water crossings. The remainder was a mostly uphill meadow like trail with little shade.  Sounds fun huh?

Nineteen.” “There are nineteen rond points from mom’s house to the super marche, two of which are doubles.”  My husband said sarcastically from the back seat.

It doesn’t sound like a huge number, until you consider how close le super marché / the supermarket actually is à la maison / to the house (4 kilometers or about 2.48 miles).

Over the years, across France, I’ve seen the gradual conversion of four way stops into rond points.  When I see a four way stop in France these days, to me, it appears out of place. The four way stop no longer seems to belong or to even fit into the French landscape.  Traffic is halted at these seemingly archaic stops and you can sense the frustration as drivers are slowed on their commutes in their charming, energy efficient voitures / cars and scooters. But come on already nineteen of them over 2.48 miles.

This year as we vacationed, I paid extra attention to the theme of each major rond point. I noticed how each town tried to represent the flavor of their community to the visitor. Often highlighting historical aspects associated with the area. In the center of the larger roundabouts you might find une ancre, un bateau ou un mémorial de guerre / an anchor, a ship, or a war memorial.  Each one carefully crafted to represent the area and the people.  Some are weird, some are cool, some are relevant, and some are confusing.

Home now in the U.S., I miss the way we whipped around the rond point.  I miss the dance of cars between lanes. I miss the way the cars flowed in and out of the rond point. I miss the rhythmic movement. I miss it all so much that last week, I found myself doing a few loops around the lone traffic circle in my town.

Back to the 3.25 mile trail loop and 8 hour endurance race.

How did I do?  I realized my personal goal of 8 loops (in 6 hours and 21 minutes) for a total of 26 trail miles.  After 16 water crossings, my toes were extrêmement / extremely blistered.

I elected to stop with 1.5 hours to go. Of course now I have remorse as I feel I should have made one more pass through the giant rond point.  I had enough time for another loop.

Did I give up or did I make the right decision?  In the grand scheme of today’s world – does it really matter?  Running is not life or death.  This was a gathering of like minded individuals out to challenge their minds and bodies.  But the things that will drive a person crazy…

As this was not my 2017 focus race, I convinced myself during the 8th lap that it was okay to stop.  My knees held up and I did not hit the famous reputed WALL.  I made the smart decision, and although I wish I had done the 9th loop (just cuz), I know I made the right choice in stopping.  My 50 mile race is in November and I have a long way to go to get there – risking injury was not an option.

Mais, c’était une bonne journée.  Le soleil était brillant!  Et maintenant, j’ai une grande ampoule. Fantastique!

What did I learn:  Foot health is très important / very important (blisters will take you down).  I’ll need to get actual trail shoes, and to find better socks.  I also need to do more long runs on the weekends.

My nutrition plan was sufficient but as much fluid as I took in, I didn’t use the bathroom from 8 a.m. till about 6 p.m.  Probably need to consume more fliuids.

As far as practicing my French: HAH – that didn’t go at all as planned.  I had designated a theme for each loop.  However, on the first loop I tried to count my steps in French and I couldn’t remember the difference between treize / thirteen and trente / thirty.  Brain fog.

During the second loop I tried to run through the basic French greetings dans ma tête, but found myself dazed and confused.

Sadly, loops 3 – 8 contained no French.

Sérieusement / Seriosuly, I think I made the right choice stopping at 8 loops.  I hope I’ll have the mental fortitude needed to push through the 50 miler.

Ne panique pas – Reste forte! / Don’t panic – Stay strong!

Suz

Hand painted medals – each one was different.  Several different artists painted them.  Very unique.

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July 8, 2017. Don’t drink the wine…Lost in Translation – juste a typical afternoon avec ma belle-mère en France.

IMG_2899It’s one thing to learn French but the whole French culture issue is another story.  I love our bi-cultural family and all the experiences it has afforded.  However, Being an American married to a man whose Mom is French can be both a challenge and a blessing.

Moments that offended my 20 year old self now endear my 50 year old heart.  We are the best of friends but some of the humorous things that have occurred over the years – oh my…

Here’s a snapshot of an afternoon from our recent visit to France.

When ma belle-mère told me this summer “Don’t order a wine,” I just smiled. I should start by saying that over the last 30 plus years, I’ve said to my husband a thousand times “I know that your mom didn’t mean to be rude, but…”

I can’t tell you how many times, she has said things to me that if someone else heard them they would cringe. But, I’ve learned that it’s just – what I’ve come to call lost in translation or LIT.  Over the years I’ve watched for this in other non-native English speakers, and it really exists. It’s hard to describe, but in a nutshell as good as her English is, the little subtleties that occur in a language are LIT. You can translate words, but trying to translate a subtlety is extremely difficult if not impossible. I’m sure I’d have the same issue if I spoke French or another language, but I don’t – cause oh –  I can’t – but I’m trying.

“Don’t order a wine,” she said as we walked out of the house one afternoon heading downtown to people watch. “Quoi?” I said. “Don’t order a wine, they’ll think you’re a drunk,” she responded. I’m sure the look on my face prompted her follow-up. “French people don’t drink wine in the afternoon – they’ll think you’re a drunk,” she grinned. “Okay… then what should I order?” I said, laughing dans ma tête. “A Panache,” she grinned.

Now, this was not my first or second or even third trip to France. I’ve been to France many times; I’ve been to French gatherings, restaurants, homes, etc… It’s different but it’s not that different. I’ve never been uncomfortable and I don’t ever recall anyone ever being rude to me. I usually just follow along and I’ve never had any problems. So, as I explain this, I don’t want it to sound like she was trying to school me in French etiquette. She wasn’t. She was really just trying to say, have a great time.  No for real, that’s all she meant. Don’t read into it. There was no sarcasm intended. She just wanted us to have a nice time and of course to subtly remind us that the French don’t drink wine in the afternoon while people watching.  LIT at its finest.

When I was pregnant with my daughter, I planned on naming her Danielle. Until the day I got a letter in the mail from Ma belle-mère that said “I guess a name like Jennifer just wouldn’t be good enough for you guys.”  What she really meant was – she liked the name Jennifer and she was tossing it out there as an option. My daughter’s name is Jennifer.

Just so you know, I personally would not have ordered a wine in the afternoon. Normally I would have ordered a grand crème to wake me up and my husband would have had a Belgian beer. But, this day I ordered a Panache.

Believe me there have been times that I’ve shaken my head thinking – wow that did not come out very nice. But there’s never any ill intent. It’s merely LIT.

I’ve learned to listen for what she is not saying – rather than to what she is saying. And it’s always with love and good intentions.

Bisous ma belle-mere.

Originally written as a guest blog for one of my favorite travel sites.  Edited here to shorten.

Suz

 

June 30, 2017. It’s only been 33 years…

My name is Suz and I’m addicted to France!

It’s only been 33 years.  I’ve been trying to learn French for 33 years.  Yeah…I got nothing.

Thirty-three years is a long time.  And what do I have to show for it.  I have 15 words.  Yep – just 15 words, give or take a few.

My mission is to finally learn French.  In the days, weeks, and months to come, I will share my journey with you…while I run.

Yep, I’m going to teach myself French while I run.

To further complicate the matter, I am married to a man who is half French.  His Mother, my mother in law (ma belle-mère) lives in France.  It’s been an interesting 33 years.  I’ll share some of these “interesting” stories as well.

Watch for my updates and please share with me your thoughts and any language learning techniques you’ve found to work for you.

Suz