A Small, Unnoticed Beauty.

Today I took my Desktop Publishing classes outside for “Photo Friday.” This is a recurring plan I have, these Photo Fridays, where I give them a theme and remind them of photo composition rules and let them loose. Then we come back to the classroom, they make minor edits to their best photo, and we look at all of them as a class.

It was a gorgeous day, so today’s theme was “Take a photo of a small, unnoticed beauty.”

Most of the photos were of leaves beginning to bud on tree branches, flowers peeking out from bushes, messages written in chalk on the cement in the courtyard, or dandelions sprouting in sidewalk cracks or through bright red mulch.

But then there was this photo.


And I am not a fan of this photo. I look at it and see a lot of flaws. When this photo popped up the big screen, the class giggled, and the student who took it said something about me and beauty that I can’t remember now, but sometimes I can’t tell when kids are being serious and when they are being sneakily mean.

But with this particular student, I am choosing to believe she was serious. I may not look my most traditionally beautiful in this photo, but I hope what she sees in this photo is a teacher who advocates for her, a teacher who worries about her, a teacher who believes in her.

And if that’s what she sees in this photo, then I think she nailed the assignment.

Spring Break By The Numbers

18 waffles (two every morning for breakfast)
7 episodes of Jane the Virgin (My DVR can breathe now)
5 Jazzercise classes (including my first-ever two-classes-back-to-back try)
4 outings with friends (movie, gyros, Starbucks, sushi)
4 movies (“Love, Simon,” “Blade Runner,” “Thor: Ragnarok” (twice), “Logan Lucky”)
2 nights with family (hadn’t seen most of them since January)
2 books (“By My Side,” “Book of Laman”)
1 coding class completed (I still can’t believe it)
0 vegetables (not really. But kind of.)

Not bad.

Coding Hope.

Wednesday night, I finished the coding class, and now I wait to find out if I made it to phase two. My second project bothered me, though. We had to create an card about an animal, and the only specs we were given was the size and what basic info the text needed to contain. I didn’t like how it looked when I finished it in February, but I moved on anyway.

Screen Shot 2018-01-14 at 8.45.59 PM

See the design problems? There’s a weird line at the bottom, and a weird drop shadow and the text is too close to the left border, and I really don’t like the font…ugh.

So tonight I went back to it, and guess what?

I knew how to fix it.

I looked at the code and knew right away what I needed to play around with to bring it closer to my design standards. In less than five minutes, I had this:

Screen Shot 2018-03-30 at 8.47.04 PM

This gave me such hope. At some point in the past six weeks, something clicked, and I knew how to use code to improve a web design. Now, I still struggle with how to use code for a website’s functionality, but I no longer think I won’t figure that out someday.

I just might be able to do this.

Stupid (for a short time) (I hope).

In January I was notified of my acceptance to the initial phase of the Grow with Google Scholarship program. I have until April 11 to complete 20 lessons and three major projects.

I’m on the final project right now, and I’ve never felt dumber.

Wait–that’s not true. I have felt this dumb before. 


I carried feeling that dumb that with me for years–to the point where I tapped out of math courses after my junior year of high school, and when BYU told me I could take four semesters of a world language instead of two semesters of math, j’ai dit, “d’accord, je les prends.”

So as I have been working through these programming lessons the past two months, most of the time I feel pretty stupid. And in this past week as I’ve worked on the final project, the level of stupid I feel far exceeds what I remember feeling in advanced geometry.

But one thing I’ve learned in this course is how open many in the coding world are. The forums for the class are supportive, and people often post tips or hints for how to best complete quizzes and projects. Two weeks ago, the program directors offered to pair up people who were struggling with people who were really good programmers. So I signed up.

Tonight, someone I’ve never met face to face spent two hours walking me through different pieces of the code I’d tried to build. He asked questions and sometimes I answered them wrong, so he would give me hints, and a couple of times, he gave me the answers but then asked me to tell him why those answers were correct (and I could at least do that). When I finally signed off, he said, “Good work tonight!”

Screen Shot 2018-03-27 at 11.10.36 PM

This is part of what took two hours to fix and clean up tonight.

My first thought was “Good work? I barely understood what I was doing and you gave me A LOT of help! How is that good work?”

With his help, I am confident I’ll complete this course. I am zero confident that I’ll be selected for the next round, because I just haven’t truly learned the skills I need to be successful and I doubt I’m in the top 1500 students. I’m probably (definitely) helping him get into the next round just by having to suffer my inane questions and sloppy syntax.

And that’s okay. Really, really okay.

Because I have learned that there’s so many resources available for me to continue learning and practicing. I’ve learned that while taking courses at the local community college might be nice, it’s not necessary for what I want my second act to be.

This course has humbled me quite a bit; so much of what I’ve done in my life has come pretty easy to me, even the things that felt difficult at the time.

It’s been a long time since I felt motivated to become better at something I was really, really bad at. (And I am really, really, really bad at programming right now).

In fact, this might be the first time that’s happened. Sounds like a bucket list item to me.

We Interrupt These Six Word Stories…

This school year, I’ve composed a six word story about each day. While at school, I am on the lookout for the funny, the inspiring, the poignant. Some days I have too many six word stories to choose from. Some days, there’s nothing.

And then there are the days when the six word stories I could compose would invite speculation or questions. Today was one of those days. The only things I could think to write must exist in my personal journal, and most likely will live only in my memories and perhaps an occasional conversation.

It didn’t help that I woke up sad, so some of today’s events just augmented that sadness. I started to panic a little because spring break has started, and breaks are notoriously difficult for me.

And then this post popped up in my Facebook memories.

I can’t quite articulate how much work it is to keep my depression in line. Work I often do not want to do.

Here’s a scene: at 3:00 p.m. today, I’m sitting in our office with Stueve, and students are milling in and out of our office, grabbing equipment and asking questions. I know I should eat my yogurt and granola, because I know I should go to Jazzercise at 4. But I don’t want to do any of those things. And I say it out loud, I don’t want to eat my yogurt and I don’t want to go to Jazzercise.

I want Cheetos and Ding Dongs and an 8-hour escape to Stars Hollow.

And the student sitting in a chair in our office said, “You should eat your yogurt and you should go to Jazzercise because you know you’ll feel better if you do.”

She’s right. I know I’ll feel even marginally better if I do. So I eat my yogurt and I go to Jazzercise, and I feel marginally better.

It’s the first night of spring break, and here’s what I know: writing will help, and scheduling time with friends will help, and working a little will help, and watching movies will help and of course, yogurt and Jazzercise will help make sure the next ten days won’t send me into a spiral.

So here’s today’s six word story: Some days, you do what’s necessary. #EvenWhenYouDontWantTo.