Make it mutual: volunteering and the job search process


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To all my fans, (let’s be honest, I know there are thousands of you checking this daily for an update), apologies for the lack of posting in the past month.  School tends to morph my life into a black hole…causing me to lose sleep, lose my keys at least once a day, lose all touch with reality, bike farther than necessary, annnd get behind on posting.  Nevertheless, just a few of the things that have taken place over the last month along with, of course, an overarching realization: it’s mutual.  And if it’s not, it should be.

What exactly do I mean by ‘it’s mutual”? Well, to give the most vague, unhelpful answer ever – everything you do!  Ok, for some examples and clarification.

Helping others is a good thing, right? Well, I think that a lot of times, people understand this and use it as justification for not completely enjoying volunteer work.  Volunteering can lead to long hours and exhausting days, especially if the nature of the work is not something you find enjoyable.  But, I wanted to make the point that volunteering and giving back can be mutually beneficial.  You can be helping some person or some cause, but at the same time that cause can be helping you.

In case you haven’t heard, I’m a fan of cycling, and will do just about anything to get a long ride in.  That being said, I have found a whole new community of ‘biking for a cause’ – such as the Bike MS events.  In early October, I completed the Bike MS Louisiana by riding 150 miles from Hammond, La., to McComb, Ms. and back.

Lauren and I at the Bike MS 150 after day 1.

Taylor and I – done with 150 miles on day 2!

Just two weeks ago, I rode 60 miles in St. Francisville for Baton Rouge Bike Club’s fundraiser for the American Cancer Society.  This weekend, I’m headed to Lafayette to ride 65 miles for St. Judes’s in the Annual Pumpkin Ride.  These are the ways of giving back you should seek out! Then, you can truly incorporate service into your daily life and it never feels like a burden.  Make it mutual.

The second major thing I’ve been going through is the job search process.  Let’s just say that looking for a job is, in itself, a full-time job.  And if it’s not, it should be! Throughout the interviews, I learned just how much finding a company to work for and a position to work in must be a two-way street.  I know that for myself, and a lot of other college students, it is easy to get the notion that interviewing is one-way.  We get to thinking that it’s all about them picking us.  Well, it is…kind of.  We cannot forget that it’s about us picking them, too.  Be inquisitive in your interview, talk to people in the position you are applying for, visit the work site, etc.  You’re important, and you’ve worked hard to get where you are.  If you’re not looking for a job that’s mutual, you might be selling yourself and your talents short.  Make sure it’s mutual. 

Lastly, there’s been time for fun these past couple weeks – well, keep in mind I consider biking and looking for jobs fun haha – but, for fun in the traditional sense, there’s been everything from birthday parties to  football games.

Celebrating 90 years for Mrs. Wilma!

Unlimited satsumas at the Graham household. I’m a fan!

Started a new job – LSU Tour Guide. Come take a tour and see why I’m in love with my school.


Geaux Tigers__________

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an examplefor the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. 1 Timothy 4:12


Turning worrying into doing


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We all hear that worrying isn’t going to get us anywhere.  I always had a hard time taking this as advice because I would say, “No, when I worry something positive comes of it.  I convince myself what the next step is to make myself feel better.”  For example, if I did poorly on a test, I would worry about it affecting my grade that it would lead me to study harder for the next, and ‘learn my lesson’ from not doing so well on the first.

What I didn’t realize is that the ‘worrying’ I thought was making me feel better, or more at ease, was not in fact the worrying.  It was the doing that made me feel better; I was confusing it with the worrying.  The ‘studying harder for the next test’ was doing, it had long crossed crossed over the worrying line.

So, how have I been taking that stress and anxiety into action? Well, recall my being sad to leave friends upon graduation, and wanted to spend a LOT of time this semester nourishing those relationships.  That, I am happy to report, is going quite swimmingly.  Football games, BIRTHDAY celebrations, etc.

Allie and I, LSU vs. Washington

22nd birthday celebration, so happy for 22 years!

Emily sandwich

And you know what?  I can’t worry that I can’t cure Multiple Sclerosis and I can’t do research for it, so I don’t.  But I CAN ride my bicycle.  Really far and relatively fast.   So I do!  I am riding with 150 miles with Bike MS on Oct 6-7.  To ride, each participant must raise a minimum of $275  – and what’s really neat is that none of that money goes to rider’s meals, t-shirts, etc.  We pay a fee to cover that when we register.  ALL money goes directly to research and buying things like cooling vests and wheelchair batteries for victims.  Support me if you are able to!  Also, very excited to report that Taylor is doing this year’s ride, too.

Just another date morning…riding 50 miles to help cure MS.

Oh, and the whole job search/life plans, I’m just doing what I can do so that His plan can reveal itself as soon as possible.  I know it will eventually, but the more I am in touch with what He wants for my life, the sooner I can get on that path.  So for now, I apply, apply, apply.  All I can do is plant my seeds.  And boy, I am one tired gardner!  Check out my resume, and hire me? 🙂

“Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” Ephesians 3:20  

He can and WILL work within us, and accomplish things so that we may escape from worry.


Try saying worry fifty times out loud. Then you’ll see how silly it really sounds.

Setting the bar high for the semester


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Two weeks into school, and it would seem that a schedule has ensued and some kind of sense of normalcy…not so much in southeast Louisiana.  Hurricane Isaac decided to make his appearance last week, giving us three days off from school.  Needless to say, it shook everyone up a bit and changed around school things, but it also gave some much needed reflection time as to just what I want to accomplish this semester:

1.  As always, time with family.  Spent two days of the hurrication with sister Pamela (and of course my favorite niece Abby).  Since the first major theme of Louisiana – the shrinking coast – was taken care of by Isaac, we decided to take care of Louisiana’s second major theme – eating.  We cooked Southwest Turkey Meatballs with Creamy Cilantro Dipping Sauce.

The dipping sauce is fantastic – and I highly recommend the meatballs, too.  I’ve been putting the sauce on just about everything from chips to chicken.  If only I could brush my teeth with it…

2. Time with friends.  As this year begins, I am reminded (a little – ok, a lot – too much) of what next year brings.  I’m excited for the uncertainty, and I know that it’s out of my hands, but it is sad to think that all I’ve known for four years will be different.  Living within a half mile radius of majority of my best friends just cannot be beat.  In fact, I was surrounded by 92,000 of my closest friends at the first football game of the season.  Geaux tigers!

Elizabeth, Emily and I

Feeling sad, happy or just bored, I am so blessed to just be able to call my friends up and be over there in minutes to help me take care of the aforementioned feelings.  Emily Morgan, Allie Petit…thank you for letting me crash your apartments to talk most recently!

3. Keeping on top of my schoolwork, without senioritis setting in.  I have been able to balance schoolwork so far in college, so here’s hoping I can continue it. Also, planning on having all grad school applications done by finals week, so I can start figuring out this ‘after college’ thing people speak of – adulthood?

4. Relaxation.  Amidst all of the business, I’m also making it a priority to spend some time relaxing…just having fun without an agenda.  For me, staying up late in college has generally been from studying, but it doesn’t always have to be that way!

5. Running and adventuring.  I plan to keep up the running, train for some 20 milers, or even another marathon…AND, currently most excited about the next MS ride I get to do.  (Link to my past one).  I am very excited to get to ride with Lauren and her family in the Louisiana Bike MS 150 mile bike ride from Hammond, La. to McComb, Miss.  It takes place Oct 6-7, and more information from my fundraising letter is below.  I understand I just raised funds for a ride, so any support, monetarily or emotionally, is greatly appreciated.


Many adults peak athletically in their mid-20s; for Louisiana native Lauren Rolston Jacobs, this was no different.  By the age of 23, Lauren was already a half-ironwoman and had run three marathons.  However, unlike most adults, Lauren’s feet began to go numb as she biked and ran, and fatigue required her to take six hour ‘naps’ after her long runs. Each month, more than 800 Americans are diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS).  In January 2009 at 24 years old, Lauren became one of the 800.

With the diagnosis, Lauren was welcomed into a new family: the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.  The Society contributes to MS research, advocacy, education and helping those suffering with MS.  One major source of funding for the society is Bike MS – there are more than 100 rides nationwide.  A key component of the rides is that riders must raise a certain amount to participate.

Through generous donations in 2009, I was able to ride 75 miles in the Louisiana Bike MS event.  With a cause and friend so dear to me, I wanted to take Lauren’s story across the nation.  In June 2012, I rode 150 miles from Williamsburg to Richmond and back with Bike MS Ride Virginia.

Day 2 of the Ride Virginia 2012

Now that I am back in Louisiana, I want to partake in the Louisiana Ride this October.  For that, I need your help!

To make a tax-deductible donation online, visit here.  Make sure to put my name in!  You can also send a check made out to the National MS Society with my name in the memo line. Mail to: 2012 Bike MS: Louisiana Ride, NMSS, P.O. Box 4125, Houston, TX 77210-4125.

Lauren completed the 2009 and 2011 Louisiana Ride, and she plans to do the 2012 ride, too.  I have had the pleasure to go on many training rides with Lauren, and her positivity and fun-loving spirit never cease to make me realize just how strong she is.  I’ll never forget one ride I was on with her and her family.  When I mentioned my feet were losing sensation from riding so long, Lauren laughed, “Mine have been numb the whole time!”

Team Lauren Rocks at the 2009 Louisiana Ride

Thank you so much for your time, consideration and donation.



For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.  2 Timothy 1:7

That in-between space: from Duke TIP to LSU senior year beginnings



I seem to have fallen into a black hole since I’ve returned from Duke…but, I come to update this here site to wrap up the summer’s activities and describe what’s ahead. One thing’s for certain, this summer left its mark in more ways than one. Thanks for coming on the journey with me!

Ingredients: feet, Chaco’s and sunshine

With the end of July came the end of my work with Duke TIP. We spent the last few days doing as much hands-on activities with the kids, as their attention spans shrunk by the second. For example, one topological surface we dealt with was a torus…aka a donut, or an innertube.

Neil immersed in the tori


The tori were also useful for the teachers on break time… 🙂

Ms. Munch and I brought the beach to Duke.

Also, in the last week there, Brock and I took a kayak clinic. Duke’s rec center hosts classes throughout out the summer, like rock climbing trips and things. I saw a kayak clinic advertised and decided to take part, why not? No idea what to expect, I asked Brock to come since I knew he had a gym membership as well. So, we showed up at the pool and had a personalized lesson in learning to roll. Rolling is the process of flipping yourself up in a kayak if you’ve fallen over. We mastered hip snapping, wet-exits and buddy rolls. I’d like to get my hands on a kayak again so I can master the roll! Being adventurous is getting pricey!


I had the 5 AM airport duty on the last day to bring three kids to the airport. Then, since I was all packed and had permission to leave early, I started my drive to Atlanta where I met my mom to continue the rest of the journey with me. We made it all in one day thankfully! It was so, so nice to see her and get to come back home. I appreciate each struggle and happy moment that TIP brought, but the main thing I got from being there is that I get most of my joy from the people in my life. I can move wherever, but ‘home’ will always be where my family and closest friends are. I was surrounded by outdoor enthusiasts, a very advanced and clean city, and many other great, promising opportunities. However, I never quite felt home or ready to stay, (a lot of that due to the fact I was only there two months and worked most of the time) but also because Durham didn’t have my family and friends. I wouldn’t have enjoyed Pilot Mountain nor ENO park if I hadn’t gotten to explore it with Taylor, and I didn’t really enjoy the city’s shopping until I was doing it with my parents. I’m going to continue soaking up every drop of Baton Rouge and southeast LA for the year I’ve got left here…I’m obsessed with my school and what it’s allowed me to do: academics, friends, and being near family. GEAUX TIGERS. Speaking of which, LSU media picked up the Honors College write-up from this summer, so I made the home page!

Check out the bottom of!

Moving along, being home has been anything but restful! I’ve divided my time between moving into a new apartment, taking the GRE, helping with Honors College Orientation, meeting with professors, getting ready for LSU Cross Country and seeing lots of friends.

Pool time? I’ll take it!

Boat time with the family and Taylor

Eating well after biking and running with Taylor. And he brought flowers for the new apartment!

Annnd, the apartment-breaking party was a success.




Ackles and Font not! We’ve endured many strange places, from Chinese subways to the Roadhouse. A strange, wonderful bond of jealousy and pride in each other, two years in the making.


Why do you (or do you not) get up in the morning? Something motivates you. Get in touch with it.

No need to cross a border: becoming more open minded isn’t limited to traditional study abroad


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TIP term two may not be very different in my daily routine, or my interactions with the staff and kids, but you better believe it has still been serving a purpose for my life.  I didn’t realize it would, but I should have known better! Mainly it’s served to open my mind up to new things. Of course I did the study abroad thing two years ago, and that aided the open-mindedness, but not quite the same way as Duke TIP is.  For starters, there is a good amount of time towards the end of a TIP session where the kids begin to work on their projects.  This means there is time where I can’t exactly work on whatever I want, but I can do something that I can easily stop and pick back up with as the kids need my attention.  That being said, I’ve gotten to read a lot of TIME magazine and The Economist.  Finally feeling like I am no longer living under a rock when it comes to world news.  What did I retain the most of from my reading? Haha, here’s a snapshot:

From The Economist

The last sentence is my personal favorite, especially since it is from a British magazine. They are known for their dry humor, so I guess this is no exception – poking fun at their own lack of sunshine and other things…

Second, I’ve come to have a love/hate relationship with these hills.  It used to be all hate, but now there is a tad bit of love mixed in.  As for my knees and other joints, they haven’t quite joined the love bandwagon yet.  I really enjoy having elevation to break up a run, and provide an additional challenge (mentally and physically), BUT I also cannot wait to have a flat, fast, long run around the lakes once I am back.

Third, FOOOOD. In addition to trying all of Durham’s frozen yogurt places, and I mean ALL, Durham has broadened my palate, too.  The Duke East Campus dining hall has, well, opened my taste buds up to a variety of things.  It never ceases to amaze me what  dining halls can concoct with their resources.  They’ve done some traditional things in the sense of cafeterias, such as making rice krispie treats with fruit loops, but it is in the picture below where they really stepped up their game.  Ladies and gents, I present you with glop.  Glop is still a neologism…Merriam-Webster hasn’t picked up on it yet…but as soon as I saw and tasted its wonder, I had no other words but, ‘glop,’ and so it was named.

I apologize that glop is not photogenic…let me proceed to attempt and describe it before you judge its ability to taste delicious based on the visual.  Glop is any type of pudding mixed with layers of another, equally delicious dessert usually eaten in solid form.  For example, you see pictured above: chocolate pudding with bits of sugar cookies and vanilla pudding with bits of sugar cookies. Sometimes it’s banana pudding with bananas and Nilla wafers, or banana pudding with sugar cookie bits.  We even have had pudding mixed with cake pieces.  Whatever is mixed with the pudding has been softened overnight due to soaking in the pudding…  Ohhh the options, all equally tastey.

Fourth, my mind has been opened to the various ways one can celebrate a birthday.  Duncan, an RC (Residential Counselor) at TIP, had a birthday last week.  His parents, naturally, wanted to send him a gift. Well, in typical TIP fashion, they sent….something unique, different, unprecedented.  A bagpipe player came to dinner.

Fourth, I really appreciate how hard it’s been being up here, because it’s caused me to reflect a lot and learn to truly get my strength from the ultimate source. I love the church I’ve found, The Summit, and thank Seth Reich for suggesting it!  Also, check out the article on Ryan Hall, the fastest distance runner in America.  When asked for his coach on some Olympic forms, he put God.  Not surprisingly, a lot of commentary followed from the media and the public.

Starting the trek home this weekend….then moving again to a new apartment! Living the nomadic lifestyle can be exciting, but I am ready to settle in.  Currently taking offers for couches, large pillows, coffee tables…and the like. I must say, I can’t wait to make my own peanut butter again! And of course, I miss LSU. The years have only gotten better and better since the start, and this year will be no exception.


There’s a difference between happiness and joy.

Call me Ms. Derbins: taking a different approach for Duke TIP term two


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After 21 years of my ears hearing and my mind responding to, “Christine,” I decided to mix it up…Ms. Derbins is no longer a name reserved for my mother.  I am Ms. Derbins.  Week one (of three) for Duke TIP term two came to a close today.  And what a different week one it has been (compared to that of last term).  Not making a judgment call on better or worse, just go with me as I label it ‘different.’ Let’s not get carried away with connotations.

I am helping teach Mobius Strips, Klein Bottles and Fractals: The Mathematics of Distortion (basically topology) with Liz Munch, a PhD. student at Duke.  Before the students came, Liz and I decided to go by Ms. Munch and Ms. Derbins.  Why? Two reasons: 1) to help establish respect in the classroom and 2) to make the students more comfortable.  At first glance, those reasons may seem to contradict each other, but in reality I have seen that they go hand-in-hand at TIP.  Giving people rules at first makes them tense up and feel uncomfortable…but you must ask yourself, are these people your ‘equals’ or are they looking to you as an authority figure?  You wouldn’t tell your friends to call you Ms./Mr. or have them ask permission to go to the restroom.  But, you should tell kids that you are teaching to do these things.  This is one lesson I have already learned from this term, because last term I said, “Sure, call me Christine!” Then for this term, I remembered that these are indeed kids (jealous!), and it is not only my job to teach them math, but to make them comfortable.  They are more comfortable when given rules in a classroom.  Put yourself in their position and it makes sense!  I realized that they felt weird calling me Christine, leading to half of them never calling for my help, etc.  All that being said, I am Ms. Derbins, and I absolutely love the effect.  I have such a great relationship with these kids already, and I love interacting with them, watching and helping them learn new things! Also, I don’t half mind being called by my mom’s name – she’s a fantastic woman anyways! Very excited to report (after three years of being named Substitute of the Year) she is an official employee at Mandeville High 🙂 as the Distance Learning Coordinator.

Mom, me and my grandmother at the College of Science awards

I’m also in a very different classroom this term.  We have blinds that raise and lower automatically, endless whiteboards, a working projector, individual desks and doc cam…lots of things that help us to do more! Last term I had chalk, non functional blinds, no projector and long tables. It’s really interesting how the physical dynamics of a classroom can go toward impacting learning.

Our schedules are the same as term one, but this time that 4-5 period has actually served as – dare I say it – a semi-break!  I have been able to leave the classroom and either do weights or study for the  GRE.  Still work, but not the same that I do all day.  That one hour may as well be gold.

And yes, Thursdays still mean froyo.

We turn TIP exhaustion into happiness at the expense of frozen yogurt.

We went to Menchies this week, so I felt a little closer to home since that’s the place at which I was introduced to this greatness.  I should mention though that the drive was about 10 miles, and this has been typical for froyo ventures.  There are 4 within walking distance from my apartment at LSU!  Duke students, where are your priorities?

Speaking of home – I’m coming soon! …home being the land of loving parents, missed friendships, bike routes, tigers and so much more.  Oh, and the K-9 friends in my life…miss you, too.

I will miss the berries we get in the dining hall though.  They. Had. Raspberries. Last week.  But only for one day!  I think I took too many, and they realized their costs were about to rise exponentially…

Berries at breakfast!


John 11:35 tells us that Jesus will bring peace and comfort to us in whatever way we need it: crying with us, rejoicing with us, working out with us, leading us to friends, etc.  Think about what you put your identity in, and it’s likely that that is actually how Jesus is comforting you, and the root of your identity is/can be in Christ. I always knew running is how I found peace amongst chaos, in fact,  I used to put my identity in running…until I found my identity in Christ, and realized that I am not bringing peace to my life by running…rather, running is how Jesus brings peace to my life. He’s been doing it since day one, it just took a while for me to realize the connection.

What defines you?

In between Duke TIP sessions: giving and receiving lots of love


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If you were to say that I had a ‘break’ between TIP sessions, I may just call you crazy.  It was simply a time without TIPsters, but break? Not so much.  Refer to the title of this blog: never stationary… Let us leave semantics out of it though, call it what you will.  I say it was a blessing (but what isn’t?).  I got to give lots of love to people in my life and places on this earth, and get loved on back by said people and the aforementioned wonders of nature.  Vague? Yeah, my apologies.  Here’s a play-by-play!

Taylor came in right on time on Saturday evening, not without a close call! He nearly missed his flight, but conquered the challenge by cradling his carry on and running sans flip flops through the Charlotte airport.  I do believe he said, “It can’t be that big of an airport,” as I sounded uncertain about the 40 minute layover he had when we talked before his flight. Famous last words haha.  40 turned into 5 minutes though because the first plane didn’t have a place to park.  Once he got in, we enjoyed dinner at a local place I had yet to go to, Satisfactions, and then met up with some TIP staff.

Carman, Alpana and I – gonna miss Carman!

Oh, and he came bearing gifts! He brought me a book, chocolate from his parents trip to San Fran, annnd snacks his mom made.  The main ingredient? Peanut butter.  She knows the way to my heart!

Sunday. Now, THAT was a day! We went to Pilot Mountain.

I’ve climbed a mountain in England and one in China, but I have never been on one in the states.  The views were so humbling, calming, all the while still adrenaline producing.  At one point we encountered a storm – it was actually pretty exciting.  We hid under a rock a bit for cover from the drops, and I learned that the chance of being struck by lightening was far greater than I thought…oops.

All in all it was a 9.5 mile hike – elevation was a key component! Pretty sure my heart rate went as high as it does during a track workout. I love moving my body and pushing it to its limits. It leads to greater visions of what life has; added benefit is having to work hard for it. I want to go back, and I can’t wait to see more of this country and its landscapes.  Still have yet to go to a national park..that is next on the list.  It’s been on the list for a while, though, since I have less chances to get to one. But I’m holding out!

Monday, Taylor and I went to the mall and the REI store in Durham, and left our mark on a bridge. I would say it was the only delinquent act I’ve ever done. However, this bridge is dubbed free speech tunnel.  Hence, it’s legal…

It was going to be a day ‘off’ from physical activities. But I should have known better! We just can’t say no to a state park within driving distance. We went to ENO River state park and ran a 4 mile loop.  I asked the lady at the office which trail was best for running and she said the one that was the widest.  Then she said, “It’s also our most strenuous.” And she smiled.  Uhh, yeah our legs felt that for sure! Such a great venture though! Maybe one day we will settle for dinner and a movie?…nahhh.

We met up with my parents for dinner that night.  So nice to have everyone in one place!

Tuesday and Wednesday my parents continued upping the dosage of the medicine I needed: good company and soul-satisfying conversation. Activities were minimal – shopping, food, movie and touring campus.  I’m so glad I got to see them! Taking a week to drive for three days and see me for three…I don’t deserve it but they bless me with it anyway.  Love you mom and dad!

TIP term 2 begins tomorrow, and the kids come Sunday.  BRING IT TIP. I know you’ll surprise me no matter how prepared I feel.


forbearance = patient endurance

TIP term one: check! over and out.


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Usually at the end of an experience that teaches you a lot, or at the end of one that’s tied to a lot of memories, I’d say, “Can’t believe it’s over!” Well, this time, I can.  And in no way do I mean that negatively.  I’ll try my best to elaborate…

I left home pretty much exactly one month ago, and in that month, I’ve experienced more than I ever have in such a short amount of time.  a) Months of training paid off as I biked from Williamsburg to Richmond, Va., and back.

b) Roadtripping with my mom means I got some quality mommy-daughter time, which hasn’t happened in that capacity in quite a while!

c) Packing for two months away from home got me to think about the material items I have vs. the items I (don’t) need and (shouldn’t) want.

d) Continuing a (relatively new) relationship long-distance means I’ve realized how important communication is, and  I’ve seen that communication is certainly a strongpoint in what we’ve got 🙂 … I think it’s also helped to clarify that there is a solid basis for my feelings, meaning my heart and mind are in the right place.  I’ve felt a whole new level of missing, too…

e) My legs have felt elevation like never before. Hills? I live on a pancake back home.  Legs, meet waffle.

Elevation map around LSU lakes – a typical run at home. Note the scale on the left…

Elevation map from Durham – a typical run for my summer. Note the scale on the left once again….

f) I’ve spent 108 instructional hours with 18 gifted high school students.  Patience practice at its best. It’s also led to an overwhelming addition to the ‘what do I want to do with my life’ cloud. While at the same time, it’s helped clarify some things I don’t want to do.

g) I’ve bonded with the staff quicker than at any other program.  Lots of new friends, and people and places I’m comfortable with.

For the sake of brevity, I’ll leave it at this: it comes down to dealing with a lot of emotions in a short time…and no breaks during which I can meditate on any of them.  The closest I get to that kind of time is church on Sundays – the main reason being that I believe everything happens for a reason thanks to what He’s promised us.  So I may not understand anything that’s happening or why I am here, but I don’t need to.  I’m content with knowing that as long as it’s happening for a specific purpose (which is is), I can roll with it.

“So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.” 1 Corinthians 15:58

Thus…with all that’s been going on. I CAN believe tomorrow is the end of Term 1.  Next Thursday starts Term 2! More to come later on that one!

Now for a switch to some concrete things that have occurred in the last week. Last Saturday the dance was themed Ninjas vs. Pirates.  As my kids were taking their second test, I brainstormed for what costume apparel I could muster up.  That lasted two seconds, when the idea of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles came into my head.  Brilliant? I thought so.  So I shared the idea at break with Carman and Katie….SOLD.  Absolute hit doesn’t even begin to describe the response we received from the students and the other staff members.  But that feeling of accomplishment was second to the fun we had because we were dressed like sewer-dwelling turtles. I needed no other motivation to dance and act a fool.  I had a blast, and even got some bruises on my hips.  Don’t worry, everything was kept TIP-propriate, I just decided it’d be a good idea to swim like a turtle on the concrete ground at one point.


Gearing up

Alpana and I

Leonardo never looked so good.

And they say that pirates have the most booty.

Katie, me, Julie, Carman and Alpana

Good times were had by all!  Wednesday night, Carman, Katie and I drove a group skating.  I’m used to two wheels, but managed to hold my own on eight as well!  Annd with Thursday came froyo (duh, it’s a tradition by now). We tried Sweet Frog this time…it’s still no Yogurt Land. Friday, today, brings the talent show.  The staff will be performing Thriller…this was Carman, Katie, Alpana and I’s doing. Think we’re earning some creativity points up here at Duke 😉

And. Saturday.  Airport duty in the AM to drop off the kiddies. Airport duty in the PM to pick up that Taylor Graham fella! Then I get three days of acting like a kid…not a care in the world but spending time playing and enjoying every second as it comes….until my mom calls me in for dinner. Ha, but really. The day Taylor leaves is when momma and papa Derbins make their appearance.  And they better be taking me to dinner…hint, hint!

Also, thanks to Liz Clausen for a great write-up on the LSU Honors site. I can honestly say I love my school and am so content there.  It’s done so, so much for me!  Check it out!


Time’s just a man made thing, but we sure do let it grab a hold of us.

Let’s take this outside – learning must go beyond the classroom walls


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It’s saturday.  In the language of the modern American worker, that means TGIF for TIP staff!  It also means nap time and a much needed mental recess.  You know that point in school when you work so hard and take in so much information (on little sleep) that you physically cannot absorb any more information?  I do believe there comes a point when the brain says “enough,” as if it’s saturated for a while, and the only way to become productive again is to let it rest. Saturday afternoon and Sunday represent just that in TIP world. Of course there is some planning to do, but having an entire day to do it is glorious!  Tomorrow’s my off day with running, too, so beginning tonight I turn my room into a cave that I only plan to come out of tomorrow for meals and church.  Ohh, happy day!

For the first time at TIP, this week is when I really feel like I hit my stride.  I taught a lesson Thursday on permutations and combinations, and everything fell into place.  I knew how to answer all of the questions the students had; I was confident in my abilities and in the material; I was able to control the classroom and not feel bad about asking them to be quiet, and showing my disappointment when they weren’t; and I spoke with Lou, my boss, to check in on things – which went well!

SPY 101 Duke TIP East Term 1

Also, throughout this week as a whole, I’ve gotten to experience more with the staff.  It’s as if I were joining clubs and the like at school!  I’m a huge fan of experiential learning, and I think that is the key to why this week (and the ones to come) will just keep getting better.  A lot happens in the classroom, but you can learn and experience just as much outside of the classroom.  Further, the value of combining classroom experiences with those non classroom ones is immeasurable.  Katie, Corinne, Carman and I drove a group of kids to the mall one night, and as tired as we were, we actually enjoyed ourselves.  Just being off campus was nice, and it meant a lot that we could help take the kids out to something they were really excited for.

Headed to the mall. Game faces ensued as we prepped to drive the Disney villian vehicles (I had Gaston).

After celebrating one week of evening sessions (Thursday, June 14), Katie, Carman, Corinne and I dubbed Thursdays as froyo nights.  Naturally, we went again this week, and the group grew! Matt, Mike, Brock and Alpana came, too.  I’ll tell ya what though, it’s tough love here in Durham at the froyo shops.  The first one we went to was LoYo (Local Yogurt).  Not only are there zero sample cups, but they serve you everything! It’s an ice cream shop, just froyo instead.  No deciding proportions for yourself.  Where is the fun in that? Yep, none.  So this week we tried Tutti Frutti. This time, we had to ask for sample cups, and we were limited to two.  There is a Menchie’s here I think, but it’s pretty far so I doubt we’ll venture.  Every opportunity is a chance to learn something, so I think the moral of this story is to take nothing for granted.  Haha, Baton Rouge, I anxiously await your variety of froyo options.  (Never though I’d say that!)

Continuing the extracurriculars this week, Corinne, Carman, Katie, Alpana and I went to the Durham Bulls baseball game Friday (minor league team).  It clearly wasn’t Tiger Stadium…the chance of rain was 100%.  And rain, it did.

As for news from home, there’s quite a bit to share!  The U.S. Track and Field Olympic Trials are underway, and we’ve got a lot of Lady Tigers competing!  The full TV schedule for the trials is here, and the schedule particular to the Tigers is here.  The LSU Women’s Cross Country team was honored for their academic success – with a big award! The award is “intended to highlight teams that demonstrate a commitment to academic progress and retention of student-athletes by achieving the top APRs within their respective sports.  Specifically, these teams posted multiyear APRs in the top 10 percent of all squads in each sport.”  Top 10 perent is a pretty slim amount – GEAUX LSU. Full details are here.  I am so blessed to be a part of this program, and I really look forward to where it will take me next year.  It’s a completely different world than I expected, and balancing it with academics is even more unique than most realize.  Major congrats to all of the student-athletes at LSU, including club/intramural, as they continue to score high in the classroom AND on the field.

More from the homefront – visitors in one week! Taylor will be flying in to Durham, and my parents are driving to be here around the Fourth.  I’d convey my excitement in words, but then this post runs the risk of never ending.  Thanks to everyone for the continued support, encouragement and letters! Got my first package last week from Anna – tea 🙂

There’s a dance tonight…theme: Pirates vs. Ninjas.  I leave you hanging with which team I am on, but let me just say – THEY ARE NOT PREPARED for what my friends and I are bringing.


Do something for YOU today.  And two things for someone else.

a day in the life of Duke TIP…[statement does not apply]



I’d say I will be giving you a run down of a day at TIP…but said situation does not happen.  There is no ‘day’ at TIP.  Rather, there are weeks, and each day represents a week.  The logic behind that lies in the following: students go through 108 hours of class, about 7 a day.  This equates to a week of material learned in one day!  And man, I can tell!  As stated in a previous post, the day is divided as follows:

Breakfast 8-9; Class 9-12; Lunch 12-1; Class 1-4; Dinner 5-6; Class 6-7:15.

Before your mind starts claiming that a) those meal times are a solid enough chunk of time to relax, b) that there is a break from 4-5, c) that after 7:15 I’m done…ha, haa. Let me enlighten! The time we aren’t using to bring food from the plate to our mouths, we spend planning…and we also spend the 4-5 ‘break’ planning. After 7:15, we report back to our rooms or the common room, and….guess it…plan.  I feel like I’m back in a regular semester at school, constantly using all spare time to prepare for the next activity.  Mornings begin for me around 5:30/6 – found a spin class at the rec that I’m really enjoying.  I also kind of like running in the hills, although I’m not back up to where I was yet pre-shin issues, so that’s still kept to a ‘minimum.’ As tired as I am, there’s just something about greeting the day with solitude and physical exertion.

Oh! And speaking of bicycles! I rekindled the flame with mine after taking a brief hiatus after the MS 150 ride two weeks ago.  One of the instructors here, Paul, is huge into riding as well.  He showed my friend Jim and I some routes around here late last week.  These are by far the most hills I have ridden in!  Gorgeous, gorgeous views though.

MS 150 – Day one (I’m in the middle, haha)

View from riding last week in Durham – this photo doesn’t do it justice!

Even though nights are planned by the residential staff, there are some nights we (the academic staff) drive kids to their evening activities; for example, tonight I’m driving to take a group to the mall.  [Here’s a good time to mention that the cars we drive are named after Disney villains – how fun is that!  I’ve driven Jafar and Ursula, and hope to get to all of the rest!]

Busy and demanding as TIP is, I love it. Or, rather, perhaps it’s best to phrase it as: I’m embracing it.  I’m learning to be a better teacher, mentor, ‘mother figure’, discipliner, friend, follower, leader, athlete, and so much more…all on shortened sleep schedule and while adjusting to an unfamiliar place.  I’ve observed a lot so far, but take everything with a grain of salt, as all groups of students are different. The TIPsters

-don’t learn best with college style ‘lectures’ with notes.

-have a short attention span, but considering they learn the same topic for 7 hours a day, that’s understandable!  This provides a challenge for instructors/TA’s, especially with math, because it’s harder to have ‘discussions’ as the social science and humanities classes have.  It helps to include a lot of games that relate to the material, and to put the kids in teams against each other.  They like competition and a little candy goes a long way!

-grasp material QUICKLY, much quicker than I expected.

-love being given a problem just above their level of understanding, but take it very seriously that they see the problem to its end.

-focus on details, and not so much the bigger picture.

There’s a good chance I just described myself when I was that age…and especially the last trait, although I’ve gotten much better, I still have moments I cling to it.  As I go through this summer, I find myself picking at lots of details, and asking those details what they mean for my life as a whole.  Yes, I am thinking ‘of the bigger picture’ of my life, but not the bigger picture of my summer.  It’s like I’m skipping right from step 1 to step 3.  Step 2 is this summer.  These two months…my time at TIP.  It’s OK if TIP doesn’t tell me: hey, Christine, THIS is what you’re going to do with your life.  It’s awesome if it does, and I’ll take all of the hints I can get, but perhaps this summer isn’t even about ME at all.  Maybe I’m not here to figure out anything in my life.  Maybe I am here instead to help a kid in some way – some way I may never know.  And I’m OK with that.

“Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will be established.” Proverbs 16:3

I’m committed, so establish away… God knows no time, so if it’s a calendar or a clock that’s giving me anxiety, that’s an earthly problem I’ve created for myself.  Fixable? Affirmative.
Not to mention I’m beyond blessed to have such a support system to learn from, to help keep me grounded, and to share thoughts and ideas with.  This weekend I was able to catch up with Taylor, Emily Morgan, Allie, Anna, Pam, and my parents. It was nothing short of food for my soul. Thank you. Making room to get in more this weekend – apologies for the shortage of time to those I haven’t talked with at length yet!
You’ve got miles you cannot cover due to hours you cannot spare?  Ink, paper, an envelope, and $0.45.