Tuesday, December 27, 2016

My Students in Doha

I Love Them to Pieces

I am wrapping up my third semester as a Clinical Professor of Law teaching at the Qatar University College of Law in Doha, Qatar.

I did not anticipate the challenge of teaching undergraduate law students while also addressing the language and cultural gaps between us. Those challenges have made me a better and more supportive teacher. I am so impressed with the students here and their effort to complete my demanding Legal Research and Writing course.

Last week, I shared with them four Facebook posts I had made about them over the second half of the semester. I don't think they 
get much praise like this. It really lit them up.

During Week 11 of the semester, I wrote:
This is the moment in the semester when all the work of the professor and the students begins to pay off in very clear ways. Students become self-sufficient learners. I love it.  
My students are showing up at office hours to work on the drafts of their memorandum of law. They are so sweet. Increasingly more playful with me. And, my gosh, strikingly smart.  I love them so. They really are the future of Qatar. I hope I live another 20 years to see what they accomplish.
Starting Week 13 in my 15 week semester. Students are working hard to meet my expectations. They are surprising themselves with their progress. Time to bring them safely to the end of the semester and ready to take on Legal Writing 2 with confidence.
During Week 13 again:
About 40 percent of my students are coming to my extended office hours to work on their legal memos. They are such a joy. Some plan to come on Saturday, even though it is a holiday week-end. Guess who is showing a growth mindset? 
Just love them to pieces.
And finally: 
Bringing the semester to an end. One more class, a legal research quiz, then two final exams next week. These lovely Arab ladies have mastered the CREAC in a second language. Go, them.

Living the Life My Mom Couldn't

Marking Time with A Marble a Week

My Mom, Jo Ann Young, died of colon cancer in October 1997.  I was 43 years old.  She was 61. This photo of us together was taken shortly before her diagnosis.

Shortly after her death, I filled a round glass vase with glass marbles.  Each marble represented one week of my life if I lived only to the age of 61.  I started with about 220 marbles. Each week, I would throw one of the marbles into my garden.

I was making a symbolic promise to myself to live my life at a run and with purpose, in loving memory of my Mom.  

When, I celebrated my 60th birthday, I was down to about 10 marbles.  I got my job offer for the Doha gig and threw the last of the marbles into the garden as an act of making way, moving on, and living larger.

I was now living longer than my Mom had lived.  

I remember Mom sitting at the kitchen table, just months away from her final days. She said she wanted to visit Hong Kong. My head snapped around to look at her.  What a surprise! I'd never heard this before.  But, for some reason, I did not ask her why. 

But, travel to Asia is high on my bucket list. This summer, I had a lovely two weeks in Thailand. In mid-January, I am off to Malaysia and Taiwan. Hong Kong is on the list, as is Cambodia, India, and Japan. 

By moving to Doha, I am doing things I never would have done had I stayed in the U.S. More importantly, I am meeting people from all over the world who teach me things daily.

I work with students whom I deeply love. More about that in my next post.

In a bittersweet way, my Mom's death was one of the best things that ever happened to me. Even so, I miss her everyday. I wish we were taking those Asian trips together. Instead, I travel with a young woman who lost her mom too soon, too.  

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Words that Made the Cut: Not Even Afraid

Goal Setting Words for 2017

When I announced that I planned to move to Qatar, I got one or the other responses.  Nothing in between.  The first response reflected fear: " I could never do that."  The second response looked beyond fear: "What a great adventure!"

In truth, how many 61-year old women sell all their stuff and move to an Arab country?  Admittedly, not many. But, never in that process -- something I blogged about in my 2015 "Countdown to Qatar" series -- was I afraid of the choice I was making.  In fact, I was running towards that new life.  Running.

At one point -- in the selling, moving, packing, storing, and pitching process -- I looked at my personal assistant, Brenda, and said: " All I have to do is just get there!"  Just get through the chaos of transition. Get there.  Everything would be fine. Better, in fact. Much better.

And, I was right.

The theme of this post is finding three words that remind me of my goals for 2017. My introduction has hinted at them.

Here they are.  French.  Defiantly so.  Defiantly post-terrorist attack on the Battaclan Theater and the promenade in Nice. Defiantly post-US election.

Meme pas peur.  The first "e" has a mark over it that I cannot reproduce on my English/Arabic keyboard.  But, here is what the phrase means: "Not even afraid."  Basically, a big French FU. They teach this concept to their kids!  Can you imagine how that influences a culture?

So, how will I apply these words this year?  

First, I am a member of a group of U.S. lawyers that has organized to hold the line on the values I hold dear,  Over 135,000 strong, we plan to face the new administration without fear and with collective smarts.  I will be fearless in the face of whatever the new administration throws our way.   I plan to use my lawyer super powers to protect folks who do not have power or privilege, especially women and people of color.

What other meaning do these three French words hold for me? Not even afraid of travel to interesting places, to write in a stronger voice, to teach with great love and passion, to create a legacy, to lead my tribes, to speak loudly about what is important to me, to push my physical limits, and to test myself against ambitious goals. -- All without fear. 

What do I have to lose?

In one way, I am living on borrowed time.  I will make the most of it.  More about that in a future post.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

In Search of Goal Setting Words for 2017

Starting in 2014, I began picking three words to remind me of my goals for the year.  Chris Brogan gave me the idea.  Here is his post on the topic. 

In 2014, I picked:  Robin, launch, and wealth.

In 2015, I picked:  Well-being, manifestation, and love. 

Last year, I must have completely forgotten about the goal-setting exercise in the midst of my hectic transition to Qatar.

But, now that I am settled and content in my new location, it is time to find three new words for 2017.

I first though about fierce, physical, and fire.  

These words reflected my response to the Trump election, but also recognized my commitment to health and well-being. 

This week, I started my 19th consecutive week of fitness training. My friend, Heidi, and I meet at 6:30 a.m. four times a week. I swim for 20 or 30 minutes in a 16 meter pool.  She runs.  Then, we lift for another 45 minutes.  

This emphasis on fitness came after a very good health report in July during my medical tourism experience in Thailand with my friend, Jessica.  

Looks like I will follow the path of the Drinkwater women (my maternal line) and live well into my 80s.  So, I better take care of myself!  I have always figured that if you can survive your 60s without dying of cancer, you will live into your 80s.  

Accordingly, any word I choose for 2017 has to reflect this dedication to my health.  Frankly, I've always been a little hard on myself about my fitness level.  This trip to Thailand made me realize that I have taken care of myself in many ways that pay off now. In other words, from now on, I give myself permission to enjoy more of the process of supporting good health.  The outcome does follow.  

Today, on Facebook, someone circulated a goal generator. You could take a screen shot as it flipped through a bunch of words to find the goal for you.  My screenshot words were: Strength. Balance. A cute body.

I like them.  

"Strength" covers many realms, including ethical, emotional, intellectual, relational, spiritual, physical . . . .   

"Balance" will remind me to work less and play more.  It also reminds me that I am looking at more bone fusion surgery some time soon, this time in my left foot.  Keeping physical balance after my life-changing leg break in 2005 has been an ongoing challenge. 

"A cute body" will help me reach Week 54 in my exercise program even if "cute" is way beyond the reach of a 62-year old woman.
But, in the end, these words did not make the cut.  In my next post, I'll tell you the three words that did.  You may be surprised.