Tag Archives: Tanya Harris

Preparing for the Fall in the Winter

22 Feb

slipThere’s a longing for the spring as flowers die and leaves wither from trees. The anticipation for the summer builds as frigid temperatures freeze us to the core and pure white snow morphs into muddy slush, reflecting the depression some experience after days of cabin fever and darkness by 4 pm. If this is not enough, as much as we may try, we cannot always prepare for the fall in the winter. Too many of us take part in the dance where we flail our arms about with our feet slipping and sliding atop of ice patches that seem to randomly appear during our daily journeys.

This past Wednesday, I did a quick two step and took a dip that left me with a sprained wrist.  As I type this post primarily with my left hand, the less dominant one, I wonder how many more others are nursing their winter injuries that range from minor bumps and bruises to broken bones and even concussions. More importantly, as difficult as it may be, I hope those people are not allowing those injuries from the falls to take away their optimism. Put on a happy face; sunnier and warmer days are ahead. That’s my motto!

All the best,

Tanya

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Case #1: Judge versus the Jury

16 Nov

judge-orders-“Only God can judge me! People are always hating! No one asked for your opinion! It’s my life!” are phrases most people have uttered or at least heard uttered at some point in their lives. Lately, I’ve been scrutinizing my own actions and think a trial is in order.

Though I try my best to be positive, supportive and motivational, there have been times when I’ve been accused of judging and wonder if those accusations were valid and if I should be concerned with being perceived as a judge. Needless to say, I am apprehensive about being a judge, but how can I live life without judging? Just about everything involves it; from grading papers to taking time to evaluate my own actions, I cannot escape it.  Judging is one of the ways that we are able to improve ourselves and quality of life and to make sure we are on the right track.

I often wonder why it is acceptable and even welcomed when people are judged in a positive way such as a compliment about an outfit, hair, performance at work, parenting skills, etc..  Who ever stops people and questions why they are judging them when it is something positive? Of course,  when people point out any flaws or shortcomings, most would dismiss them as unwelcome judgments and suggest that these people mind their own business.

When it comes to the justification of judging, I think it is always important to consider the intention of the person who is playing the role of the judge and the significance this person has on your life.  Is the person trying to lift you up or tear you apart? Regardless if the judgment is negative or positive, is it being presented in a kind and caring way or cruel and insensitive?

It is important to consider if you are deflecting the real issue by focusing on this “so-called judge.” Why is it that whenever we are called out on something negative or counterproductive, like being procrastinators, habitually late or even harshly judging others with hurtful intentions, we are upset when somebody has the audacity to judge us? Why can’t it be that they love us and hold us accountable for our actions or to a higher standard than we may hold ourselves?  If everyone only provided positive judgments, would simply relying on how we judge ourselves be adequate? Sometimes, how we judge ourselves and see ourselves is way off base, and we need those “judges,” who God may place in our lives, to hold up those mirrors and reflect back what we refuse to see is really there.

As I take some time to deliberate further, please feel free to share your views on this touchy topic.

All the best,

Tanya

Habits to Factor

14 Sep

HabitWhen a person says, “I got a habit,” most automatically associate it with something negative?  “Habit Factor” by Martin Grunburg did an excellent job touching on how habits can be negative or positive in relation to achieving goals.  Ever since I can remember, I’ve always set forth goals to achieve.  A major reason I started this blog is actually to have a place to discuss my journey and share some of my musings and goals.  In an effort to live my best life while hopefully impacting the lives of others in a positive way, I decided to become more cognizant of my actions and daily routines. This allows me to make sure my actions (or habits) are in alignment with my goals and the person I claim to be.

For instance, one of my most recent goals was not just to reclaim my pre-pregnancy body (I just had a baby on May 3, 2013) but to have a healthy lifestyle.  So I first determined what habits would put me on the right path and began tracking how consistent I was. Rather than saying, I am not going to eat junk food, I thought about what I was going to do, such as meditating, drinking a minimum of eight cups of water a day, eating a minimum of seven servings of fruits and vegetables per day, and walking and exercising five to six days a week.

I can be quite competitive, especially with myself, so tracking my habits makes me want to push myself even further.  If I see that I had seven servings of fruits and vegetables all last week, I will try to make it eight for the following week.  Also, the accountability is there. Sometimes we all get so busy and do not realize how much time has passed since we have last worked out after we set forth the goal.  Logging the information gives me the data I need to have tangible evidence on why I have or have not achieved my goal.

Since I started tracking my habits with my healthy lifestyle back in July of this year, I lost 16 1/2 pounds, putting me about three pounds under my pre-pregnancy weight and lost a total of 18 inches from my waist, hips, thighs and arms. I feel more energized and am motivated to keep up these good habits.

Many of us question why our lives have or have not taken certain courses but do not always look at our habits (actions) to determine how significant they are in why we are where we are.  Even though there are instances where circumstances arise that are out of our control, our habits are not.  We typically control those.  The next time you question why you are struggling to reach your goal, consider your habits.  They truly can reveal a lot and certainly did for me.

All the best,

Tanya 

Do I Have to Spell it Out for You?

31 Aug
Misspelling

Where is the “Cutomer” Service Desk?

While many people, especially those forty and under say, “Why do I need to know how to spell? I got spell check and auto correct,” I am trying to come up with ways to get students under my “spell” stressing the importance of not only spelling correctly but proofreading for often confused words and grammar issues as I prepare for the fall 2013 semester. It really can impact one’s ability to communicate clearly and effectively.

Of coarse, sum people take it fir granite that spell check will catch there miss stakes. Than they submit there resumes wit misspellings and wander why they don’t be gettin called in for intervues. They might be gud at wat dey do and have a grate work ethic, but the resume screener ain’t gonna get past the spelling issues cuz ain’t nobody got time fa that!

Even if you get the job u mite confuse costumers with ur mis spellings, text language and confused wurds like dis photo of da advertised posting i snapped looking to hire people at the local supermarket. We all know that auto core (this was supposed to say’ “auto correct,”but that is what auto correct came up with ;-)) don’t be always sayin wat we wanna say, so why not proofread? or is it that people be bein lazie and say, “u no wat i mean!”

Is spelling correct a dying art along with grammer, mechanics and basic proofreading as moor and more people simply except misspellings as da nu standard? Admittedly, I think its cool to use slang and text language cuz it is a language in and of itself, but the ability to cold switch, composing documents free of misspellings, grammar an mechanical errors for professional purposes or even to git ya point a cross clearly, is essential.

i refuse to believe that i am a loan wit dis concern and dat standard english and spelling words correctly will one day be considered archaic and that I will than be come a english historian providing in cite on wat once wuz. u kno wat i mean?

Best,

Tanya

PS. I hope you noticed the plethora of misspellings and grammer issues in dis post. Wich ones did u spot? Were there times wen u paused to figure out wat i meant cuz of the misspellings?  Du i got u under my spell?

Please! Say Thank You for What?

24 Aug

Thank-you-post-it“Excuse me sir, sir…” He sped up his pace as though I was a criminal trying to accost him. Out of breath and panting a little as I hurriedly moved up the aisle on the Regional Rail Train, I gestured with his nearly $200 monthly trail pass in my hand, “Your trail pass sir, you left your trail pass!” Finally, he turned around upon reaching the exit of the train, took the pass out of my hand and headed off of the train without a smile, a thank you or even a head nod to suggest that he was grateful for my act of kindness.

Though this was a few years ago I still can recall how upset I was. Actually, I was angry; the nerve of this man not offering me a sincere thank you! But then I thought about one of the vocabulary words I learned from my sophomore year in high school: altruism, which is the act of giving and being kind for the sake of giving, not because you expect anything in return. I can’t do things, be they small or large, expecting gratitude from others but because it is in my heart and the right thing to do.

As much as I try to embrace this line of thinking, it is not always easy to abide by it. Yes, it makes me feel good to help someone out, but it makes me feel even better when the person acknowledges it. I wonder, am I the only one who gets a little annoyed when I hold open a door for several people, and not one person says thank you. What about when there’s a lot of traffic, but I slow down to let that one car in as traffic is merging and do not get the “thank-you-for-letting-me-get-in-hand-wave?”

Sadly, I am finding that more and more people are far from gracious or do not deem it necessary to offer a thank you. Some people have the, “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” mentality and choose to meet rudeness with rudeness. I understand this take, but instead I have chosen to be even more gracious and come up with ways to demonstrate it and be a shining example for my daughter and anyone with whom I may come in contact because I want her to learn that please and thank you can go a long way.

Thanks for reading 😉

All the best,

Tanya

We’re All Made to Matter: Tribute to My Dear Friend Sandy

23 Aug

Four_Fundamental_States_of_MatterEverything around us, regardless of how large or small it may be, truly matters.  To demonstrate this, if you take the preposition in the title of this post “to” and change it to “of,” it completely changes the meaning of the sentence. Even the definition of matter depends upon the context of the sentence.

Matter can be a solid, liquid, gas or plasma; this of course includes humans. However, I am intrigued with the idea of matter mattering. Let me explain. I have seen how my actions, be they simple or complex, can impact someone’s life in a positive or maybe even a negative way (of course this is never my intention) and how people can do the same for me.  This is especially true when it comes to family, friends and coworkers.

Sandy and Me

Sandy and Me at her Son’s First Birthday Party

Someone who mattered to me was my dear friend and office mate Sandy.  Sadly, she lost her two year battle with colon cancer late yesterday evening, and when I think about how she lived her life and how she impacted the lives of others, I find it hard to believe that we, as well as our actions, do not all matter.  She was such a caring person who willingly showed me the ropes when I was first hired as a full-time tenure track professor and welcomed me to the office, literally, with open arms (she gave me a big hug) saying, “It’s so wonderful to meet you Tanya.”  That interaction alone mattered as I was feeling anxious and intimidated as a tenure track faculty member and trying to find my way. Inviting me into her home to meet her family and to even film the first birthday parties of her two little boys also mattered.  Coming into the office to a surprise box of marshmallow peeps (one of my guilty pleasures) courtesy of Sandy made me feel like I matter. There are many more instances, but I will keep it at these three.

She, being the selfless, humble and giving person that she was, never thought twice about helping me or anyone else out. How brave she was as she fought the great fight, never complained and always looked on the bright side!  I often told her how inspirational she was and how I admired her positive outlook on life.  It breaks my heart that I will be starting this semester without my friend and office mate and that her husband will be left without his wife and her two little boys will be left without their mommy, but I am grateful that I was able to tell her how much she mattered to me while she was still here. Please be sure to tell those you care about how much they matter to you. Though I am certain that you, along with your actions, matter to someone too, if no one has told you how much you matter, then allow me to say, “You do matter!”

All the best,

Tanya

Baby I Got This: Watch Me Handle My Goals!

17 Aug

Quinn V. Franklin

“Sometimes you’ve got to think outside of the box,” people say.  This especially applies to achieving difficult, new or what seems to be unattainable goals that require a steadfast approach, but many of us do not actually apply this concept.  Is this because the ability to “think outside of the box” is innate; either you are adept in this area or not?

Watching my baby girl Quinn tackle one of her first goals of getting her pacifier back in her mouth is what got me pondering about this.  Though she is three and a half months now (15 weeks and one day to be exact), rather than just put the pacifier in her mouth when she cries and screams for it, I will guide her hand to put it in her mouth or put her hand on the pacifier while it is in her mouth to hold it there, which is something I observed her doing for the first time when she was just a little over a month old.  I will say, “You hold” or “Use your hand” to help her make the association with words. The idea is to give her a chance to figure it out on her own and to see what she is capable of doing.

Quinn V. Franklin

Quinn holding in her pacifier all by herself

However, in the past few weeks, I noticed that Quinn was not simply using her hand to retrieve the pacifier, but she was using her bib or receiving blanket to assist her with pushing it back in her mouth, which is something she has been doing more and more frequently on our morning stroller walks.  How creative is that!?  If I automatically just put the pacifier back in her mouth, I would not have witnessed Quinn’s innate ability to “think outside of the box.”    No one taught her this technique she uses to retrieve the pacifier, and she certainly did not see another baby do it.  She just reached a point where she either did not want to wait patiently for someone else to put it back in, was acting out of frustration or just said, you know what, let me see if I can do this on my own.

When it comes to achieving goals, regardless of how small or large, I typically follow what I was taught to do.  Even though this is not necessarily a bad thing, I wonder how much more successful I would be at achieving my goals if I went more with instincts and what comes natural?  There truly are some benefits to being new to the world and seeing everything with fresh eyes.  Come to think of it, babies do not have to think outside of the box because they do not even know that this “box” exists!  Thanks so much baby Quinn for helping me consider new, innovative ways to achieve my goals!  I just had to share this epiphany with others and hope this idea has you (potential readers of this entry) thinking outside of the box too!

Best,

Tanya

Relax Her? She’s Just a Baby!

10 Aug

2013-08-05 10.35.50

“I see Quinn’s hair has turned from straight to a curly little afro. She’s going to need a relaxer soon” is what I was told most recently in a joking way.  Though I laughed it off in an effort to not be overly sensitive, I did not see the humor in this person’s observation, just the implications that come along with such a statement.

Was this person suggesting that straight hair is beautiful, but curly hair is ugly? It made me think about Chris Rock’s 2009 documentary “Good Hair” and how much of an impact this obsession with not just hair but looks in general has on all people, but definitely females. I mean, even a three month old baby girl does not get a pass!

Almost fifteen years ago, I decided to stop getting relaxers to straighten my hair because I like the versatility of being able to wear it curly or straight if I wish. Plus it is much healthier. Initially I struggled with feeling comfortable wearing my hair in whatever “natural” style I wanted in certain settings for some time, but I am finally able to appreciate my natural beauty and not as caught up in how I am perceived by mainstream society.

It is up to me to lead by example. My hope is to teach my little girl to embrace her natural beauty and to not develop a complex or be apprehensive about rocking an afro, twist out, even dread locks or straight if she prefers.  Should she choose to apply chemicals to her hair to make it straight or a different color, I want it to be because she wants to do it, not because it is necessary in order to be considered attractive or to fit in with what is considered acceptable.

How would you or did you address this issue with your child. Please feel free to share.

All the best,

Tanya

Smile? I’m a Natural Born Frowner:

3 Aug
Baby Quinn Smiling

Baby Quinn Smiling

Hurry, grab the camera! The baby is smiling again! I have been obsessed with seeing my baby smile for the first time and every time after that. Interestingly, little Quinn had absolutely no problem frowning or making a face to display discomfort immediately after birth accompanied with a piercing cry. But with eager anticipation, I waited about two months for that first “real” smile (Not from gas or in her sleep).

Why aren’t we natural born smilers? Is it that we have nothing to smile about at birth and are miserable? My husband and I discussed this, and he deduced that it is all about survival instincts, and smiling and laughing will not get a baby fed, but frowning and crying will. I’m sure he’s onto something because feral children who were severely neglected and had little to no human contact typically do not know how to smile and must be taught through human interaction.

Seeing my baby smile for the first time and now smiling each day has me thinking about what a major milestone it is. Imagine going through life and never smiling or not even knowing how to smile. I’m sure we all know someone (Hopefully you are not that someone) who always has a frown or sour look on his or her face or might even have a permanent frown upon reaching a certain age from constantly putting a frown on his or her face in the past. When you were a little baby, someone’s face lit up upon seeing you smile or hearing you giggle, so why not make a more conscious effort to smile as adults? Some people may say, “I don’t have anything to smile about.” But having the ability to smile should be reason enough.

Though I was not always a smiler, especially during that awkward adolescent stage from preteens to early adulthood, I have learned the significance of smiling, and seeing my little girl smile has reinforced that lesson. I always greet her by happily saying, “Good Morning,” and she usually responds with a big smile. This has confirmed for me that how we start off the day and how we greet others is very important for us as well as the people with whom we come in contact. Whether it is a big teethy smile at my students in the morning, a small one at a passerby during a morning walk or at the cashier as I pay for my items, my smile just might brighten up someone else’s day. Have you smiled today? If so, how many times? The more the better is my philosophy.

All the best,

Tanya

P.S.  Keep Smiling : – )

Baby’s Got Nursery Designing Skills: DIY Tips

2 Aug

2013-06-03 06.55.47Putting together a baby nursery, especially for your first baby, can be a lot of fun, a bit overwhelming at times and potentially costly.  For me, I was eager to put my crafty DIY skills to work to save a little money. After completing my baby’s nursery, I received many compliments and figured I share some of what I did to help anyone out who is currently working on a baby nursery or will be in the future. For more longevity, I decided to select colors (cream, taupe and green with pink as the accent color) instead of a character, animal, alphabet theme, etc. Also, I chose many items that will grow with her and that I can get more use out of even once they are no longer a part of her room.

Many people want to personalize their baby’s nursery, but how personal is it really if it has been mass produced, and your child’s name is just inserted in a blank space? Even though I have no aversions towards mass produced items, I decided to do something simple yet different for baby Quinn’s nursery especially since I just could not find what I wanted for wall art.

2013-04-21 12.17.18

Canvas Project

I purchased blank white canvases from AC Moore, that were not only on sale but I was able to use a coupon too, acrylic green paint, a few small paint brushes and white wooden letters with her initials.  Then I applied thin painters tape to create the stripes.  I also did this with a paintable light switch I purchased through Amazon. (click photo to make larger)

2013-05-01 18.58.43

Bookcase Gift Wrap

Gift wrapping paper can be used for more than presents.  Just take a look at what I did with this bookcase spending just $3 at Home Goods and a little patience with precisely cutting the paper.(click photo to make larger)

2013-05-01 18.57.09

Crib with Handcrafted Green Bows

I decided against bumpers because some medical professionals stated that they can be dangerous, but most bumpers have those pretty bows I wanted for Quinn’s crib. So I created my own after watching a few Youtube videos and then used velcro to attach them so that they would not damage the crib. Click the  image to not only see the bows better but the stripe canvas wall art  and light switch too.

With one of the larger canvases I purchased for under $10, I added some fabric and ribbons diagonally for a few dollars to create a one of a kind photo board over the glider as seen in the photo below. (click photo to make larger)

2013-05-01 19.04.42

Fabric Canvas

As an English Professor, I could not resist including something in Quinn’s nursery to provide that solid foundation for reading and writing: the alphabet.  So using Adobe Photoshop, (I am sure other programs can be used) I created this wall art at 30 x 40 and sent away for it through easycanvasprints.com at 50% off of course.  (click photo to make larger)

2013-05-01 19.00.52

Personalized Alphabet Wall Art

Even though I enjoyed designing the nursery and made it a huge production, when Quinn was born, and I excitedly brought her to her nursery, I realized that none of what I did matters to her, at least not yet.  But my hope is that she will come to enjoy spending time in her nursery and that it will be a welcoming environment for her.  If you have any questions or feedback on what I did for Quinn’s nursery or on any items in the nursery, please let me know.  Part of my journey is not only trying to figure this motherhood thing out but helping other mothers (and fathers too) along the way if I can.

All the best,

Tanya