Category Archives: NaBloPoMo

Serving is Not My Love Language

“Five more minutes, everyone.  Will that be good enough to wrap up your work?”

General agreement murmured across the classroom by way of a visual cue from approximately twenty percent of my graduate students. Looking up from their group work, they made eye contact with me and affirmatively nodded.

I had been asked by a friend to teach “Family and Developmental Theories” because at the last minute the instructor had to resign.  And when she asked, it was the last-last minute.  Four days before the class began I was running from building to building across campus: checking out room keys from security, filling out a stack of paper for human resources, and furiously absorbing the previous instructor’s syllabus because there was no time to build my own.

So there we were, two weeks into the class and the stranger’s syllabus had scheduled a “Movie Night” wherein my students were to take all their previous knowledge and analyze the movie we watched in class…

All their previous knowledge?  Wait, what?  For some students this was their first graduate course.  Others had graduated in business or other bachelor’s degree areas having nothing to do with the social sciences.  Their brows were furrowed and they were searching through the introductory section of Chapter 1 trying to take any concept they had absorbed and apply it to an interaction they’d just witnessed.

When the final call came, chairs turned toward the class, the group re-settled, and a quiet came over the class.  Once again, I assured them that ‘I understood if they had no previous family or developmental theory education, and that we would take this slowly.’

“So, who would like to go first?”

After three or four seconds passed, an older student in the front of the class raised her hand, “I guess we will…”

“Great,” I replied.  “What would you like to share?”

“Well, we didn’t know any theory, but all four of our group members have learned about Gary Chapman’s Love Languages, so we analyzed the following scenes using them.  First, we noticed that the mother must have ‘Acts of Service’ as her primary Love Language based upon the scene where she was fixing the dishwasher, refereeing the children, talking with her husband on the phone, and cooking dinner…”

The group identified each of the main characters, hypothesized which of the Love Languages might be their primary focus, and backed it up with the “why” analysis that graduate lecturer’s love.

Love…did I just write that?  Yes, I did.  I LOVE that the students were trying to stretch their scholarly wings by spending time in thought as well as time in discussion with our class. Why?  Because Gifts of TIME is my love language…not Acts of Service.

All six groups presented in six different ways, but they all performed higher than the bar their facial expressions had set prior to the assignment time. Continue reading Serving is Not My Love Language

My Heart Was a Moth, Flying Too Close to the Flame

My neck was curved slightly backward, my face lit up by the screen and my razor sharp, rapt attention was completely committed to Amelie.

I sat on the front row, center seat, next to one of my dearest friends and as soon as I saw the effect I reached over and grabbed her hand.

The femme’ protagonist who was terribly shy had arranged an intricate plan to finally meet the person she had pined over from afar. She was inches from his youthful body sitting in a cafe booth, waiting to meet her…but she couldn’t find the courage to say, “it’s me.”

But that wasn’t why I was clutching the hand of my friend, gripping her bones as if I were in labor. It was because of the cinematic effect of what happened as Amelie’s love exited their rendezvous point…

She melted.  From the top of her head to the bottom of her toes, crafty special effects artists led the viewer’s eye down, down, down to the floor where her emotions splashed across the black and white tile.  All that remained was her soul puddled up for the next customer to step over on their way to use the restroom.

I was completely undone.

And I told you that story to tell you this one.

My husband and I purchased his and hers cordovan recliners trimmed in nailhead detail for Mother’s and Father’s Day this past year.  Late at night we sit in them. He watches various television shows, and I read or write.  I’m on the left (stage left), he sits on the right.

Through the fog of reading NaBloPoMo posts about a dreamy English soup, a way to craft snowflakes, thrifty ideas for frugal minds, and someone dreaming about gardening, my brain proved to my skeptical self that it can indeed monitor the world around me even if I DO have it tuned out.

The channel surfing had paused, and I heard this dialogue:

Tiny, young girl who visually makes you want to give money to whatever she’s selling says: “Can I live with you when my mom dies?”

Character played by Jessica Alba, presumably a teacher: “My apartment is small.” Her hand is knocking on the floor and lighted words are spelling outward where she’s striking with each rap of her knuckles. I think the words were “help me, help me, help me.” Continue reading My Heart Was a Moth, Flying Too Close to the Flame

The Gift of Taking It

The setting? Summer, 1970 in rural America.  Between the influence of several Looney Tunes scenes, Mary Poppins and some cockamamie scheming, my brother and I devised a childhood plan.

We would gather a bed sheet and an umbrella, climb to the top of the chicken house, leap off the roof and float down to the ground with the aid of our “flight tool” of choice.We both ended up with similar injuries.

We jumped off the twelve foot high roof at the same time, sped toward earth and landed with a thud. Upon impact our knees bent, our body continued toward the ground and then Quentin’s knees gave him a black eye while my knees knocked me silly by whacking the bottom of my jaw.

We laid there, stunned. Hurting. Exhilarated. Sheepish because we both realized the idea was ridiculous as soon as we jumped off the roof. And..laughing as hard as we could because it was SO MUCH FUN!

(This memory may be a bit distorted, but let’s just go with it for right now…)

My brother and I grew up on a farm and part of our social education was this: Don’t hesitate – Just Do It.

For example, if a neighbor called reporting one of our cows were out my mother could be occupied with the pressure cooker, while my father could have been out on the tractor cutting hay. So the message to us could have then been, “Go get the cow back into the pasture.” And we would go.

There wasn’t time to ask questions of “how” or “why.” We knew the why, and we were expected to figure out the how. This is just how things happened on farms – on ours and both my grandparents’. People had to problem solve, act, think for themselves and “go!”

I was reminded of this gift my family gave me tonight when I heard a sketch on an NPR story I hadn’t thought of in years.

I’ve found the video for you just for fun.  If you’ll watch at least the first forty-five seconds or so, you’ll understand the point. Actually, the whole song is pretty great. I present to you, The Smothers Brothers singing “Boil That Cabbage Down.”

In this particular sketch, the joke was all in the, “I don’t want to take it.”  The back and forth, give and take between the Smothers Brothers made them famous in a time when the U.S. was in social upheaval.  Much of the nation was fearful.  Fearful that the Vietnam war wouldn’t end. Fearful that too much change was happening too fast. And probably many of those watching that night laughed extra hard because they completely understood the feeling of “not wanting to take it.”

But, taking it is within me. And, it’s within you too.  Let me demonstrate that with a second video.  Please allow me to introduce you to the wonderful, the one and the only, Mr. Bobby McFerrin.

If you watched to the end, you heard McFerrin say that, “…no matter where [he] goes, people get [the pentatonic scale].”  Those in his audience, whether it’s scientists or children in various countries, are so intrigued by watching McFerrin’s body lead them into singing the next note they’re not thinking, “I can’t.”  They’re simply doing what came without a thought and enjoying the hell out of it.

So my point is this.  When I “take it,” I feel like I can fly even if I knock my jaw silly.  When I over think, hesitate, shrink within myself, or become fearful of risking a vulnerable moment in relation to those around me, I get locked down. I feel stuck, staid, stunted and trapped.

That’s why I am so grateful for the gift of “taking it” when I’m able to enjoy it, and hope to be reminded that the gift IS inside me and can flow freely if I’ll just enjoy the hell out of what I’m doing.

And, I hope that for you too.


Christmas Pipes: My Pick of the Top Female Christmas Recordings of the Last Half-Century

When my mind drifts to Christmas music, I’ll frequently hear Bing Crosby crooning, Nat King Cole smoothly balladeering, or perhaps Mark Lowrey’s “Mary Did You Know.”

But when I focus my thoughts on what female artists have contributed to the Christmas recording repertoire this past half-century, I’m truly amazed.

I’ve decided to open up a discussion about the most influential, powerful or classic female Christmas recordings. Below are my selections of true difference makers in the Christmas recording world. There are sixteen in all.

I’ve started with the ones I feel are relevant, but as you near the end of the list you’ll find the ones I feel “win” in incredibly amazing ways.

I’d love to hear your own opinions as well, so please feel free to keep the discussion going as we near our Christmas Holiday. All the best, Red Dirt Kelly


Noted by some as “the best voice in the world,” Sissel sings an arrangement of “In the Bleak MidWinter.” She’s backed up by the Mormon Tabernacle choir. Her simplicity is where her power lies.

At a time when it was extremely rare to see African American women highlighted on T.V., Mahalia Jackson’s 1961 performance of “Sweet Little Jesus Boy” is indeed music to my ears. I wish the quality was better, but at the same time, perhaps it helps us realize that we’re traveling back in time to be at her side as we listen.

Noted for her unusually creative videos and simple, sweet voice, Regina Spektor’s “Because its Christmas” is trendy and pure. Continue reading Christmas Pipes: My Pick of the Top Female Christmas Recordings of the Last Half-Century

The Gift of My Dear Friend’s Catch Phrases

If I were a tree and beneath my branches lay gifts adorned in lovely holiday fare, I would hide the small collection wrapped in gilded sheets of friendship tied with bows of years together.

They are from my friend Cathy, and I would hide them because I know the contents. They fall into the priceless category; not for sale.  Only to be distributed at the perfect times, and with Love’s careful delivery.

The contents are no secret, however, because they have been shared among her family and friends all her adult life.  They are the gifts of her prolific and perfect catchphrases.  Let’s open one, shall we?

Her Exclamations

If we were a comedy team, I would normally play the straight man and she the comic relief.  Cathy wears her emotions on the frayed ends of her sleeves and they are generally punctuated with exclamations such as…

“Coo-Coo for CoCo Puffs!”

“Cripes!,” or “Ye GADS!”

Sometimes she’ll see something, pick it up and exclaim,

“Gad zooks!”

Other times some mission has been foiled and it’s, “Arrrrg!”  Or, perhaps a mission has been accomplished and in her sing-song, deadpan tone I’ll hear, “Yippee Skippy”  or  “Oh joy, oh rapture.”  These exclamations, delivered in perfect monotone, then make said accomplished mission all the richer.

“Hali-Tosis!” makes me giggle. And,

“Groovy, Marcia”

is one of her favorites. I’ve heard it in a hundred different versions.  Go ahead try it. GROO-vy, Marcia.  Groovy, MAR-cia…see?  It works. Continue reading The Gift of My Dear Friend’s Catch Phrases

University FAQs About the World of S-E-X

Photo and project by Kate Dollarhyde

Note – the content in this post is consistent with a PG-13 rating.  Thanks.

I’ve been teaching “Human Sexuality and the Family” for four years and I still find myself surprised about what seems to surprise my students.

Thinking back to my predisposed assumptions regarding what students would, or would not, think through out loud in the classroom now seems ridiculous to me.

For some reason, I honestly believed college students were more sexually savvy than what I now know them to be.  Perhaps this was because of the overt and raucous behavior I would occasionally witness among groups hanging out together on campus, cracking jokes, talking about remote vibrator reviews and making continuous, “That’s what she said” interjections.

Perhaps, my misconceptions were because of insecurities on my own part.  It could be that I was intimidated by their attempts to be intimidating…attempts to set up defenses so strongly reinforced that my own fears would keep me at bay from helping them learn what they were afraid to discover. If you want to discover yourself, you might want  considert getting some toys from your local sex shop first.

This group behavior I mentioned, however, tended toward simply masking the struggles and insecurities of thousands of young academics finding their way to adulthood – the majority of whom have little ease or comfort when it comes to really processing their own learning about human sexuality.

I thought it might be helpful to pass along some of the most tangential questions students tend to dwell on over and over.  Understanding what students in their early 20s think about, find curious to discover, or debate about in the classroom could be helpful for our society to continue a dialogue that students seem willing to have.  Therefore, I’ve prepared a few points drawn only from my single perspective in one classroom about who, what, and how sexuality is deconstructed and then reconstructed throughout a semester.

Students are highly curious about the “next life stage” and what that might mean for them and an intimate partner.

The idea of being in a committed relationship and what that might mean sexually is a curious thing for students.  They wonder how they will negotiate long-term birth control decisions.  They wonder what is fair and not fair about Continue reading University FAQs About the World of S-E-X