Posted by: Terri | February 28, 2015

Moving on…

Much of my writing in this blog has been a way of processing my feelings of grief from losing people close to me. However, there are many forms of grief, as I was discussing in a twitter chat today (#SaturdaySchool).  In this instance I am leaving a university and city that I have loved and been deeply involved in, but this grief is combined with the excitement and joy of moving to the new position of Provost at Menlo College. This new position means a return to the San Francisco Bay area where we have many friends and family, and I will be very close to my alma mater, Stanford.

Austin and the University of Texas have been my home for the last twelve years, and they have been some of the most important and formative years of my career. My second son, Brandon, was born shortly after we arrived, and is proud to call himself the only real Texan in our household. We were warmly welcomed into an amazing community, Aldridge Place, where we have all made so many friends. But life goes on, and many of those friends have moved away over the years. My boys will be entering 6th and 9th grade next year, so they will be changing schools in any case. This doesn’t lessen the grief I know that they will feel at leaving their friends, but I know the move will also open new opportunities and horizons for them.

We are lucky that we have a few months to adjust to the prospect of change. There will be time for going away parties, in between house hunting trips. In the era of social media, staying in touch with friends in Austin will be easier than when we left Seattle 12 years ago. A new adventure is ahead of us, but I’m grateful for the times we have had and the friends we have made in this life’s journey.

Posted by: Terri | January 28, 2015

Realistic expectations: 3M Race Report 2015

In October 2013 I set a goal for myself – as I celebrated my 50th year (I turned 50 in October 2014) I would run one race per month for the next year. As of January 2015 I have run 15 races in 16 months including 5 half marathons. My streak ends here, although I will continue running, of course. It’s time to take a break, do some other types of exercise at least until the Capitol 10k.  So here’s the report from my most recent race, the 3M half marathon on Sunday.

I had high hopes for this race a few month ago, perhaps of even running close to my previous PR of under 1:45. However, December brought the flu and a sinus infection that slowed me down.  So I lowered my expectations, focused mainly on finishing and enjoying the journey. As always, I run with my angels, and they were definitely with me. It was a beautiful morning, cool and crisp as the sun rose in north Austin. It was great to connect with my girls from Black Girls Run before the race.

Black Girls (and guys) Run!

The first half of the race was fast, I stuck with the 1:45 group for a while, about through mile 3, then watched them move ahead – the 1:50 pace group didn’t catch me until about mile 7, and given that I’m planning to focus on 5 and 10ks in the spring, I figured it was a good workout to stay close to an 8 minute pace up to that point. The rest of the race was much slower, but I finished in about 1:54, a solid time for me.

This is not me – this woman won the race, she is young and fast!

As I was going up the hill on MLK I heard a voice behind me, it was Pam LeBlanc – we finished the hill together and then I had to do my trademark finish, striding it out to the end. Every race holds a lesson for me and this one was that it’s OK to stay within your limits. Sometimes just crossing the finish line is its own reward.

Made it! And even got to finish with Pam! Race report later...

Me with Pam LeBlanc

And with Superbowl Sunday just around the corner, must do a shout out to my ‘hawks!

Posted by: Terri | January 1, 2015

New year, new resolve

A year later, the heartache remains, but as with all loss, life must go on, and I know that is what my loved ones would want in any case. Every day I feel the presence of my parents, my brother Rick, my niece Melissa who we lost a year ago today, Uncle Clarence, and little Madeline. Hearts break and hearts eventually mend, and I have tried to focus on the love that was shared and that is still an integral part of who I am.  There are so many people who have touched my life and helped me move forward, I can’t begin to mention them all — from my high school friends, many of whom I have been able to reconnect with in the last few years, to my friends in Austin who have made our 11 years here so amazing.

I don’t like New Year’s resolutions because they tend to be short-sighted and hard to keep. What I prefer is to look at what I found to be most helpful over the past few years, and how I can focus on those things going forward. I have always been very disciplined about running, it is an integral part of my life that will continue, with some help from my chiropractor (Dan Powers) and massage therapist (Marshall Williams). For me it is about self-care, taking the time to be sure that I am healthy, but I also just love the feeling of running and working out, feeling my strength (kicking some butt along the way!) and reaching my goals. I feel truly blessed to be 50 years old and still out there competing as an athlete.

I have many writing projects (besides my blogs) that I hope to build on, and my students who I hope to get to the next level, whether it is an academic job or some other endeavor. I will be taking the next step in my career, whatever that may be, and I plan to focus on what is best not only for me, but for my family.

Music has always been a part of my life, and my son Brandon inspires me as he progresses in learning classical guitar (you can see him playing here). I bought myself a mandolin for my birthday and I plan to carve out time to play and enjoy making music, again it’s about self-care.

I’m looking forward to sharing new experiences with my boys, I’ll be heading to Italy with Andrew on his class trip for Spring break, and both boys will be changing schools as Brandon moves to middle school and Andrew move  to high school (!). Finally, I plan to carve out time with my wonderful husband, Mike, who celebrated his birthday yesterday. We focus so much on our kids but we always manage to squeeze in time alone together, going to see the symphony or a jazz show.

I have an amazing life, and I thank all of you who are a part of it, you are loved.

IMG_2522

The Givens Family -- All 9 of us!

The Givens Family — All 9 of us!

Hanging out at the tailgater with friends from my freshman dorm

Hanging out at the tailgater with friends from my freshman dorm

tln-black-girls-run-03

Black Girls Run!

Melissa Marsh

Melissa Marsh

Posted by: Terri | December 30, 2014

2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 3,000 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 50 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Posted by: Terri | December 16, 2014

Holiday traditions – new and old

Thanks to Patience Brewster, an artist of ornaments and holiday designs, who helped inspire me to share my holiday traditions. As the holiday season springs into full gear, I’m reminded of those wintery mornings growing up in Spokane, Washington with my family. Christmas often started off with midnight mass at Sacred Heart parish, one of the few times I was allowed to stay up so late. We didn’t always have a white Christmas, but I remember very clearly one Christmas morning when it had snowed nearly 2 feet the night before. Being the youngest (of 7 kids), I was always the one who woke up first, full of excitement to see what Santa had brought during the night. That particular morning, I was struck by the moonlight on the snow, so clean and crisp, like a blanket had been laid on our yard and trees. We would always wait until everyone was up before opening presents, but Santa always left a few unwrapped presents under the tree. As I got older, I knew it was my father who would always go out and buy a few more presents on Christmas eve. Christmas was his holiday – he loved putting the lights up on the house, and he always decorated the Christmas tree, we weren’t allowed to help. He had his special technique for putting tinsel on the tree, it brings a smile to my face even now, remembering watching him being so careful to make sure everything was just to his specifications. His engineer’s mind demanded perfection. We always had a beautiful tree.

Once my teenage sisters had been rousted out of bed, we would gather around the tree, opening our presents together. They may have been modest, but they were like treasure to me. Whether it was an EZ-Bake oven, or a new Barbie Doll, I would spend the next few days in new toy heaven. After all the presents were opened, my mother, sisters and I would gather in the kitchen to prepare the holiday meal. I always loved being part of a big family, although I may romanticize it now, I treasure the moments we had together, gathered around the table to enjoy a Christmas turkey, or maybe even crab gumbo in honor of my mother’s creole background.

My husband and I have created our own Christmas traditions, drawing on our families’ experiences. Since he only had one sister, Mike’s family would take turns opening presents, so we do that today with our boys. There was no way we could have done that with my family, it would have taken all day to open presents! We also let the boys help us decorate the tree, but they haven’t shown much interest in helping to put the lights on the house. Every year I get a new ornament from wherever we may have traveled, particularly from some of the national parks. We often spend the holidays with our respective families, and now that we all have our own families, it has been fun watching the traditions evolve and grow over time. Christmas traditions keep us in touch with our past, but it has been very rewarding creating new traditions with our boys.

Wishing you and yours a wonderful holiday season!

Christmas 2007

Christmas 2007

Posted by: Terri | November 25, 2014

From Ferguson to Austin – Many Questions, Fewer Answers

“What the people want is very simple – they want an America as good as its promise.”  Barbara Jordan

Barbara Jordan

     I feel like whatever I write tonight will be unsatisfying, but maybe these words will touch someone, somewhere. I happened to go running this morning in a different direction than my normal route, along Shoal creek and under 35th St. It only occurred to me on the way back that I was running past yet another location where an unarmed black man had been killed, Larry Eugene Jackson, Jr.  It was a beautiful morning, but I couldn’t escape the reality that is America today. In this case, the detective involved was indicted.
     It has been an interesting week, to say the least. I feel exhausted from the range of emotions that have come from the barrage of news from immigration, to sexual assault, to Ferguson. With the news that there would be no indictment in the case of Michael Brown Monday evening, I saw similar responses from most of my African American friends — we are all tired. We are tired because yet again we have to come to grips with an institutional structure that devalues the lives of black and brown people. We are tired because we have to explain to our children why people are so frustrated. We are tired of being angry. And yet we soldier on, we try to understand, we create communities online and in real life to try to learn, teach and share so that we can somehow chip away at the underlying issues that lead to these incomprehensible outcomes.
     I believe and hope that we are at a turning point because of the fact that so many African Americans, along with their allies, are in a position to be heard on these issues. We are professors at universities, speaking on radio and television. We are trying to find answers from our research and sharing it on social media. We are marching, taking care of our families, taking care of our careers.
     Today I have been reading the news, blog posts by friends, social media. I see calls for coming together as a community, maintaining hope for the future. I can’t help but be hopeful, it’s my nature. I have to believe that we can find answers to these vexing questions that make me fear for the future of minority communities, and even my own children. For at least the last year or so I have thought long and hard about the issue of social justice, what it means, and what I can do to promote it. I’m disappointed that I’m still trying to find the answer to that question, but I know that there are many of us out there in the same situation.
     So I proudly wore my shirt today, declaring myself “unapologetically black” and that is how I will continue to carry myself. I am cheered by the conversation I had with a friend last week, who will benefit from the President’s executive action on immigration. She is very excited by the fact that for the first time in over 20 years she may be able to go and visit her parents in Mexico with her son who was born here. We all have our struggles, and change is slow. The future is murky, and there are no guarantees that things will improve, but I often describe myself as a change agent and I will rest, rejuvenate and take that next step, hoping that those of us who believe in justice, despite being bloodied and bruised, will go on to fight another day.
things-to-be
Posted by: Terri | October 11, 2014

A Jazz Riff for a Woman Turning 50

Just saw Joshua Redman’s trio at Jazz Alley in Seattle last night. As the amazing music washed over me, thoughts began to fly – here’s a few words:

The woman with the perpetual smile – shining in the glare of the stage lights

Feeling the ache of every note

Memories colliding in the darkness

The. Woman. With. The. Perpetual. Smile.

What lies inside – pain and joy, a mix of all that makes us human

So many cliches, tomorrow is another day, God doesn’t give us more than we can handle

I claim my pain and my joy

I fight for my right to remember – all of it, not just the good times

And still, I choose to be happy

I choose to be

The woman with the perpetual smile

Joshua Redman

I will be 50 years old on October 30 (go Scorpio!) and I recently started acknowledging the fact that I’m getting old when I noticed that my feet had grown a half size, I need glasses for reading and distance, and my hormones were acting up so badly I had to buy a new facial wash. Apparently I’m not the only woman dealing with this issue, Neutrogena has a face wash that deals with pimples and wrinkles. So I decided that I would celebrate my birthday for the entire month of October, I have been posting old pictures of myself on Facebook, and we are taking a trip to Seattle this weekend to celebrate with my family (dancing will most definitely be involved) and see a Seahawks game. I haven’t been to the new stadium and I’m excited to see my team in person, even though we had to pay an arm and a leg for nosebleed seats. It’s all about the atmosphere.

The Givens Family -- All 9 of us!

The Givens Family — All 9 of us! I’m the cute baby in Mom’s arms.

So posting all those old photos got me reminiscing about the past. I actually contacted my old high school principal, to let him know how successful I’ve been and the impact he had on my life (as noted in this column for Inside Higher Ed: https://www.insidehighered.com/advice/running/givens3). It’s a good time to reflect on how far I have come in life. I know I have many years ahead of me, but I never could have imagined how life would play out for me. I have been a successful academic, which is a huge accomplishment in this day and age of higher ed under fire. Given where I come from (see this blog post http://blog.terrigivens.com/2013/04/06/how-much-is-enough/), it’s amazing that I beat the odds in so many different ways.

My son Andrew (just turned 14) recently asked me a very interesting question “do you ever have any free time” — he was asking because he is already thinking about what he wants to do as a job. My response was that I’m usually working or spending time with him and his brother, but I love my work, so that’s why I don’t mind it. I told him I appreciate the fact that my job is flexible so I can take time during the day to pick him up from school, or go to his sporting events, and then work in the evenings. I’ve certainly been busy with all the writing I have been doing lately (one example is in Politico Magazine) as well as interviews on TV and radio. It still hurts that I can’t call my parents on the phone to tell them about my latest exploits, but as I age, I also am gaining more perspective on the rhythms of life. Nobody gets out of here alive, and this is the prime of my life, when I’m supposed to be out there sharing my gifts. As my mother always told me, “don’t keep your light under a bushel!”

So turning 50 is not so bad, I’m still in great physical shape (except for my sore achilles tendons), I have a beautiful family, a great job, and there’s so much more to look forward to…including the Seahawks making it to the Superbowl again! I’ll have more thoughts on turning 50 in the coming weeks, consider this just another step in the journey…

 

 

Posted by: Terri | October 7, 2014

Preview: State of the City

Terri:

Shelley Seale has written an article on the State of Austin – including my thoughts on Austin’s present and future.

Originally posted on The Austinite Magazine:

With our city growing and changing  around us, we take a closer look at the issues shaping Austin today.

By Shelley Seale

Austin is the country’s current “it” city. All of the things we love about this place,
find quirky and unusual and even a little rebellious, seem to have been discovered by
the rest of the world. The 11th largest city in the U.S. has seen a lot of changes recently,
yet remains home to many beloved long-time institutions. Here we take a look at Austin today,
in a snapshot of many different facets of the State Capital of Texas.
SOTC OPENER

Growth
The speed with which Austin is growing seems to be the hottest topic of conversation around the city these days. An explosion of “Don’t move here” t-shirts and “We hear Houston is nice” bumper stickers proliferate amid the buzz about how many thousands of people move to the…

View original 640 more words

Posted by: Terri | August 13, 2014

The war at home…

The juxtaposition of the passing of Robin Williams with the death of Michael Brown, shot by the police in Ferguson, Missouri, was a stunning example of the disconnect we have in this country. So many posts on social media about depression, suicide and reaching out for help. It made me wonder how many people ever think about the never-ending impact of discrimination that ultimately leads to the deaths of African-Americans, Latinos and so many others in this country, at the hands of the people who have pledged to protect us as citizens.

America has been sleep-walking into a situation where the police have become the occupiers in some neighborhoods.  Dressed in fatigues, carrying weapons that belong on a battlefield, not in a residential neighborhood, and seeing those who they have sworn to protect as “the enemy.” As noted by the ACLU (https://www.aclu.org/war-comes-home-excessive-militarization-american-policing), the excessive militarization of the police has become more than a ticking time bomb, it is now exploding in the deaths of people across the country.

Police wearing riot gear try to disperse a crowd Monday, Aug. 11, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo. Authorities in Ferguson used tear gas and rubber bullets to try to disperse a large crowd Monday night. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

How do we de-escalate this situation?  Ferguson, Missouri looks like a war zone, with the frustration of so many years finally boiling over.  But it’s not just in Ferguson, people across the country are venting their frustrations and standing with the people of Ferguson, like these students from Howard University:

I don’t have any answers, I just know that it seems like we have reached a tipping point. I know that I will continue doing what I can to educate people and try to work on changing the tide. But it has an impact on all of us, the sleepless nights, the anger, the micro- and macro-aggressions that we have to deal with on a daily basis. Worrying about what might happen to our children, our husbands, ourselves…it ultimately damages the psyche, not just of an individual, but of an entire country.

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