Monthly Archives: August 2017

Sunset Hill 10K

This ditty got me through my personal panic on the winding trails of yesterday’s 10K:

Come and listen to my story about a gal named Nance, a past marathoner, now prefers to dance. And then one day she lined up to run a race – previous night’s dinner wrecked havoc on her face. 

Cramps that is, jabbed gut, urge to pee.

Well the first thing you know ole Nance is gettin’ scared. Inner voice said, “Nance, you’ll need new underwear!” Said, “Portajohny is the place you ought to be.” So she darted in the woods and she got her reverie.

Relief, that is. Bubblin’ bowels, coffee grounds.  

Editor’s note: This did not happen. I made it through the 6.2 miles without a pit stop. But let me tell you – the night before a race, skip the corn on the cob.

The First Week

Classes started this week at Valparaiso University, and we have a lively bunch of freshman. With 1060 new freshman and transfer students, the energy is tangible. Combine that with the solar eclipse on Monday and you get a zany start. Never before have new friends bonded through sharing glasses from Amazon or cardboard boxes with pinholes.

On Monday during the college welcome, we bolted from the Chapel at 1:15 to look at the sky – with protection, of course. Clusters of faculty, students and staff gathered to look up and ooh and aah at the passing of the moon over the sun. Strangers connected and exclaimed, “So cool!” “You gotta see this!” The shared experience will make the class of 2017 special.

I have 55 freshman in my two sections of Exploratory Studies, and this year, each class stood in a large circle and introduced themselves. On round one, they were asked to say their names and what they love to do. I started – I’m Nancy Scannell and I love to read to  my granddaughter Eileen. She is almost two and a half, and she is so so cute.

A new student to my left then turned to me and said, “This is Dean Scannell, and she likes to play with her granddaugther. My name is Sam, and I like to play guitar.” And so it went with each student introducing the neighbor to the right before introducing him or herself. Responses included swim, bike, run (a complete triathlete row), sing; play basketball, volleyball, baseball, football, lacrosse (we love our athletes); run, read, eat, savor Jolly Ranchers, apply make-up (yep), study space, and follow fantasy football.

More intriguing were Round Two’s responses to the question – “What do you do to help make the world a better place?” These students had no inhibitions about being real – “I help run a fund raiser for Diabetes research” and “I try to be a good friend to everyone” and “I take part in an annual Dance Marathon for Riley’s Children’s Hospital” and “I take care of my little brother” and “I listen” and “I love.”

After Tuesday’s classes, the freshman filed through a cheering line of administrators and faculty dressed in academic regalia as they entered the Chapel of the Resurrection for the Opening Convocation.  As I clapped and smiled, I searched for my new fifty-five faces and saw groups of three and four clustered together in the flow of fresh anticipation.

Yesterday after class, freshman Bryce approached me with a huge grin and an outstretched hand. As I fumbled with packing up my things, Bryce’s joy caught me off guard. He said, “I just want to thank you. In class on Tuesday, I knew no one. Not a single friend. Then you asked us to introduce ourselves with what we love to do, and I met Austen because he likes computers, too. And then we met two more friends.”

He was so happy that I almost cried. We forget. It’s rough to be new.

This is going to be a great semester. It always is.


The Wise Woman’s Stone

A few years ago, I was asked to give the invocation at the Porter County Community Foundation’s Annual Impact Tea for the Women’s Fund of Porter County.  I searched scripture, Rumi,  and quotes from great leaders for inspiration that captures the essence of the group. I stumbled across this story credited to an unknown author:

The Wise Woman’s Stone

A wise woman who was traveling in the mountains found a precious stone in a stream. The next day she met another traveler who was hungry, and the wise woman opened her bag to share her food with him. The hungry traveler saw the precious stone in her bag and asked the woman to give it to him. She did so without hesitation. The traveler left, rejoicing in his good forture. He knew the stone was worth enough to give him security for the rest of his life. But a few days later he came back to return the stone to the wise woman.

“I’ve been thinking,” he said. “I know how valuable the stone is, but I give it back in the hope that you can give me something even more precious. Please give me what you have within you that enabled you to give me something so precious. Please share with me what you have within you that enabled you to give me the stone.”



Monday Deadlines

It has been a full week since my last post. As a typical goal-oriented American, I pledged to post every day in July 2017, and once August hit, I was done. Whew. No more thinking about what to write about today.

Today is August 7th, and I miss the guantlet. Without the pressure of a daily deadline, my writing is just that – dead. Or at least sound asleep, snoring its head off.

I’m taking an Intercultural Communication course this summer at Valparaiso University, and we’ve been assigned a final research paper due this week. I opted to research cultural differences in concepts of self-worth in the United States, South Africa, and Tibet.

It’s no surprise that I am a product of my culture – independent, desiring my own sense of personal power, accomplishment-driven, freely seeking, and often lost in a muddle of to-do lists. Without the pressure of a charge, I flounder.

So I create tasks. It boosts my sense of self-worth, even if the challenge is top secret and nobody cares but me.  In the old days, I’d sign up for marathons; now I enroll in classes. Or tackle the Whole 30 (with red wine). Sometimes I get Tim wrapped up in the duty – like washing windows. He hates that.

I’m going to update this blog every Monday for the next few months. The goal is pretty ambiguous, but like I said, I need to have a sense of personal power. I’m not letting anybody, including myself, tell me what to do.