Couchsurfing Escapades: A Proposal of Marriage, A Solar Eclipse, and A Couple of Menno Youth

Good evening friends! Before we get into this fantastic topic, let me give you a little life update. In my last post, I had just finished LPN school. That was five lovely weeks ago. Today was my second day of RN school. Thus far, I’m loving it! My lecture/lab instructor is extremely organized, puts much effort into his PowerPoints and class content, and LOVES teaching. All of this combines to me knowing I am going to love his class. Yesterday, I had a four hour lecture which included general semester introductions, advanced physical assessment, and the beginning of lecture on starting IVs. It was positively lovely to see all my dear classmates again. Unfortunately, we could not see each others’ smiles because we all have to wear masks. 😦 But I am more than okay with that since I am just glad to actually be on campus and not trying to do this class online.

Today, I had a 3-hour lab. We watched our instructor do a complete head-to-toe assessment on the mannequin and then we paired off and did one on our classmates. I got paired off with one of my favorite classmates so I was fairly relaxed. After we finished and were back at our desks and finishing up our narrative charting of the assessment, the instructor had soft, classical music playing. The music combined with having just been assessed was literally putting me to sleep. 🙂 Our instructor asked us which we preferred–being the person assessing or the “patient” being assessed. We said we like being assessed much better. He was not expecting that answer. I think it is just because we are pretty comfortable and know each other well enough that it’s kind of like getting a mini massage. 🙂

I came home from class today and got right to work outside at my desk in the sun. I studied 7.5 hours today. I am now relaxing here in “my” spot on the hammock under the deck, listening to my “Emotional Favorites” YouTube playlist and listening to the birds tweeting out the day as the sky pinks and the air cools. It is my second favorite part of the day (coffee here in the morning being my favorite). Tomorrow I work at the office. It will be a nice break from studying.

Just in case you are interested in what I’ve been listening to lately, I will link them here. I am currently obsessed with “Will There Really Be A Morning?” by Conspirare and “Crown Him With Many Crowns” by Oasis Chorale [go to 12:07 because it is a very long video of the whole concert]. Very different from each other, but both give me all the feels in very different ways. The first affects my soul in a way hard to explain, just fills me with wistfulness and longing that is hard to put into words. The latter fills my soul and spirit with awe and drives me to tears of worship. I simply cannot imagine how marvelous worshiping the King of Kings will be when we are actually in His very presence!

“Rich wounds, yet visible above,
  In beauty glorified:
No angel in the sky
  Can fully bear that sight,
But downward bends his burning eye

  At mysteries so bright!” -Matthew Bridges

It just thrills me to no end, that even the angels–holy and great though they be–retreat in reverence and awe at the mystery of salvation. It’s so incredible!!

Okay, this life update is getting far too long. On to the topic at hand.


I have been thinking for a while about writing about Couchsurfing and my interesting experiences with it. And no, I’m not talking about sitting on the couch and surfing the internet.

Couchsurfing is a hospitality website that is similar to AirBnB but it is free and the emphasis is on getting to know your hosts and actually hanging out with them. The hope is that you give some and take some. There is no money exchanged, although it is expected that you not take advantage of your host and it is a nice gesture to bring some kind of gift for your host. The theory is that sometimes you host and other times you will be hosted.

I came across this fascinating website several years ago while reading a book called, How To Travel the World on $50 a Day. This book intrigued me because I absolutely love traveling, but the coins sometimes be few. However, I am all about cheap adventure and fun and seeing what adventure can be had for less. So I was reading about this Couchsurfing thing. I promptly put down the book, downloaded the app, and set up a Couchsurfer profile. That was the beginning of some very unique experiences.

You upload a picture of yourself, put in your values, interests, likes, places you’ve lived and visited, what kind of accommodations you have to offer, etc. You can also become “verified” by payment, phone, and address. Of course, I did all three, because that’s how I roll. 🙂 Being verified makes you look more official, trustworthy, and serious about it.

So shortly after, I got a splendid opportunity to try it out. The total solar eclipse of 2017 was on its way and I was determined to be in the path of totality. Not sure why exactly, but I settled on Clarksville, TN. I found an elementary school teacher, middle-aged, nice and safe looking. 😉 I asked to stay with her for one night over the time of the eclipse.

Wonder of wonders, she accepted. So Marlee, Justin, and Daniel and I drove all the way to TN one fine Sunday. We pulled up to the gated community at dark and were met by our pleasant hostess. She showed us into her home, gave us the key to her apartment, the code to her community, told us there were drinks for us in the fridge, and left to spend the night with her friend. Yes, we literally had just met, chatted a little, and were left to our lovely selves in her cute, tiny apartment. Crazy!

We thought the entire adventure exhilarating! We slept there that night, bought snacks and watched the eclipse the next day, and when the giant light of day returned, packed up and drove home again. It took hours longer than it should have because of all the eclipse traffic, but it was worth every drop to me. That was the beginning. I was totally hooked on this Couchsurfing bit.

My first surfer was an older lady from Michigan who periodically visits my hometown and wanted to stay with us for the cultural experience. 😛 She loved it and even got to attend our school picnic, which she thoroughly enjoyed.

Later that same summer, I hosted a dear girl from Michigan who is originally from Vietnam. She just wanted to do a week-end getaway and make new friends so she came and visited us for the week end. We had a lovely time!

Still later that summer, I hosted a well-seasoned photo-journalist from Chicago. She has done freelance photojournalism in Jordan, Afghanistan, etc and was taking a break from the trauma of those countries by working for a news company in Chicago. She rode her bicycle all the way from Chicago to my house over the course of a week. After staying two days with me, I dropped her off at the train station and she took it back home. She was a very interesting, sweet, considerate guest who did her own thing in town during the day. She went to our youth activity with me in the evening the Friday night she was here. She even got to here some of my ex-Amish church people sing her the “Loblied” (however that is spelled) for a little cultural education. 🙂 She seemed to really enjoy our time together.

Last summer, I got a request from a man in Belgium who was sailing [yes! I said sailing!] to America. He believes in not just the destination, but the journey, and he does not like air travel due to its effects on environment, etc. I very clearly annotate in my profile that I only host ladies. However, when I get requests like his, I refer them to my married sister and her husband, who are also on Couchsurfing. So last August he arrived, and my sister and her husband and he came over for supper and the evening. He made us some amazing curry to eat over rice and we introduced him to “Haystacks.” 🙂 He was a fascinating person: from his French accent and little “aye”s instead of yes, his old-world linen shirt and sailing, to his shock at my brother’s home-made explosive fun in the swamp which he found shocking considering we are “non-violent” people. 🙂

(Chris, if you read this, feel free to correct my assessment of your reasons for sailing in the comments. 😄)

After our Belgium friend, I hosted 3 elderly ladies from Traverse City, MI who came on the pretext of visiting my touristy hometown, but who actually just wanted to come visit my family and experience our culture. 🙂 They loved to talk, and thoroughly enjoyed attending church with us on Sunday–even witnessing the baptism we had that Sunday. They still write us letters and wanted us to come visit them sometime. Maybe someday.

Last fall, I had another most interesting group of couchsurfers–I got a most cryptic request from a group of “Menno” young people from Ohio. I thought this would be very interesting–and it was. They were on a week-end challenge with their youth group to travel and do as much as they could within a limited time frame and do it as cheaply as possible. Courchsurfing at my house one night was part of their genius money-saving plans–and I was thrilled to help. They were fabulous to host, joined right in with our church family night, and just generally made themselves at home at my house, which makes me happy. 🙂

They have been my most recent surfers. A man from Brazil had reached out to me and was planning to come in April of this year to fulfill some life-long travel goals. He was going to stay with my sister and her husband. His goals were to go to Disney, visit New York City, and visit an Amish community. 🙂 Coronavirus cancelled all his plans so he may come later this year.

I have yet to use CS as a surfer myself since that first time when we went to the eclipse. I am itching to try it again! The network is world wide and there are hosts on CS all over the world. I just think it is simply the coolest thing ever to make random friends from other lands and cultures who may give you an excellent opportunity to visit. Regardless, each person enriches in one way or another.

And now–I know you all want to know about the marriage proposal. That story is the best of all because it is so outlandish. I sometimes do things that are perhaps not the sanest or the wisest–but regardless–after the fact, they produce interesting stories.

One day as I surfed Couchsurfing profiles, I was friended by a young man from Egypt. I read his profile which completely intrigued me–not because I had any interest in what it sought–but because his idea completely fascinated me. Here is where most people would probably have moved on–and wisely so–but instead I friended him back because I was curious about his far flung proposition.

He was looking for an American wife. He planned to become a doctor and wanted to complete his training in America where the programs are better. But he needed a way to gain residency/visa/entrance whatever. He was looking for a girl on Courchsurfing who would agree to marry him as his ticket to America. Of course, when he saw I had friended him back, he messaged me. I will insert the screenshots of our entire conversation below for it tells the story better than I. Enjoy! 😛

Apparently, he was not to be easily deterred. 🙂 Um…nope. Not even then friend.
And then he disappeared off of Courchsurfing and that was that.

So long friends! Go have yourself an adventure for me!

April

My 1st Year of Nursing School in Numbers

Today I took my final final–it was a Med-Surg exam. It went smashingly (the only final that did). I am so grateful to have this semester done, even though it feels rather anticlimactic for being the end of my first year of nursing school. My life is sans all the fun and festivities of on-campus end-of-year reality. I am not too disappointed though, because I am not done for good. I start RN school in a couple weeks anyway.

But, now that I have all this free time 😉 on my hands, I decided to tally up my last two semesters by the numbers. While my LPN year also includes the 8 week summer semester of 2019, these numbers do not include it because back then I wasn’t keeping track of my study hours.


What It’s Like To Be a Nursing Student

  • Medical Surgical Nursing Class I&II
    • Hours spent sitting in class and in lab: 156.25 hours
    • Hours spent studying on my own: 365.75 hours
      • (This is equivalent to spending 9 weeks at a regular 8 hr/day, 5 day/week job doing nothing but studying Med-Surg)
  • Pediatric Nursing
    • Hours spent in class: 42 hours
    • Hours spent studying on my own: 82.75 hours
  • Maternity Nursing
    • Hours spent in class: 24 hours
    • Hours spent studying on my own: 78 hours
  • Pharmacology I&II
    • Hours spent in class: 42 hours
    • Hours spent studying on my own: 160 hours
  • Kaplan Practice Tests
    • 9 hours+
  • Clinical
    • Clinical paperwork and preparation: 17 hours
    • Clinical hours at the hospital: 270 hours
    • Driving to and from clinical sites: 33.5 hours
  • Hours driving to and from college: 59 hours
  • Minimum amount of coffee consumed throughout these two semesters: 35 gallons
  • Total number of hours spent in personal study: 1,425
  • Total hours at clinical: 270
  • Total hours in class: 264
  • Total number of hours of everything [personal study/class/clinical for three letters: 1,959 hours
    • These hours were spent over approximately 32.5 weeks of time
    • 1,959 hours/32.5 weeks = 60.2 hours/week
    • Hours worked at my PRN job during these 32.5 weeks: 175
    • 175 hours/32.5 weeks = 5.4 hours/week
    • 60.2 hr + 5.4 hr = 65.6 hr/week

So on average, I put in 65.6 hours per week as a nursing student.

This does not count driving time to and from school and clinical, packing lunches, ironing scrubs, going to church on Sunday and Wednesday, marrying off my sister and cousins :), etc.

This is was my life this past year. This is why nursing students don’t have time for social activities. I don’t have proof, but I’m pretty sure some nursing students spend waaaaay more time studying and/or working than I did.

Besides all this, there is the constant stress of deadlines after deadline–quizzes, exams, presentations, practice tests, signing up for this, paying for that, clinical paperwork, evaluations; the constant barrage of new things–new skills, new knowledge, new terms, new environments, new expectations; and the nagging thoughts–fear of not being good enough, fears that I could have or should have done better, doubts of “do I have what it takes?”

But by the grace of God and the wonderful friends and mentors He has put in my life, I am here. I am finished with LPN school. I have officially been in school for 2 years. It doesn’t seem that long.

Bring on RN school!

April Friesen, SN

P.S. I applied for my temporary LPN license on Saturday and today I went and got my finger printing done for the criminal background check that the state requires. Because of corona virus, the state of MI is waiving the NCLEX-PN exam and allowing student nurses who have finished their school year successfully to apply for temporary licenses. They are valid for one year. By the end of the year, I will be ready to take my NCLEX-RN anyway. It works out perfect for me.

If you are a nursing student or were one? How many hours a week do you think you spent a week on personal study? I am curious what other students’ lives look like.

5 Things I Love About This Pandemic-Induced Quarantine

It is difficult to believe I have been “home” for 3 weeks now. Three weeks ago is when all the COVID-19 stuff really got real around here. I am once again amazed at how fast this home-based life has become the new normal. The adaptability of the human being is truly a marvel.

I know there are a lot of very negative and scary things that have come and will yet come out of this world grinding to a creaking halt. That is one reason I have been pretty much not following the pandemic after the first week–I get the information that affects my life from others around me and live with my head under a rock. (It’s warm and cozy here, I have no shortage of schoolwork to occupy my time, and the coffee flows freely. What more can I ask?)

I’d like to renumerate for you 5 unexpected blessings that have sprung from this unusual time. These are a few of the gems of these weeks that I will look back on and treasure after it’s all over.


1) Reading Books I have always been a bookworm. But as the years go by, I read less and less. I blame it on two things–adult life and my phone. Nursing school doesn’t make it any easier. Getting into a book takes a bit longer often, than getting into a YouTube video. It’s easy to fill my minutes with things that are instantly gratifying. But, I am happy to say, in the last three days–Friday, Saturday, Sunday–I have read the three great books pictured below.

From the transformation of a skeptical tramp in a bustling American mining city, to an inside look at the life of a KGB officer in the USSR, to a delightful Scottish fisherman who turns out to be a gentleman’s son.

2) REAL Mail I have received so much mail in the last 3 weeks. People actually have time to slow down long enough to write letters and cards. Add to this the fact that we miss each other, but can’t go hang out. It is bringing out such a lovely wave of old-fashioned snail mail. I now check with greater expectation than ever the daily “post.” I have received so much it seemed a shame not to hang it up where I could see it often and revel in the warmth.

I strung up a little twine line on my bedroom wall beside my desk. It makes my heart happy. If you spy your card–thank you!!

3) Studying at Home I have been doing it now for 3 weeks and will complete my LPN year of nursing school here at home. All quizzes, exams, clinical, finals, Kaplan testing, and even the Level II entrance exam we have to take before starting our RN year of school are online. I had been studying at the kitchen table. Today, I moved everything downstairs to my room and created my new study space.

My little study space. I cannot wait till these study years give way to traveling the world. 😉

4) Having Time To Cook and Bake Saturday night, I made supper for Mom–the traditional pizza. I enjoyed the kitchen again. I spent so many happy hours there in years past when the fam was all around. Sunday, along with my family and cousins next door, I made a huge batch of donuts! Twenty-four hours later, all 20 cups of flour were gone. 🙂 I have also told mom I will make supper Saturday and Monday nights. Tonight we had fried chicken, rice, beans, and cabbage salad. Comment great supper suggestions please.

5) Coffee Breaks in the Afternoon I always have my morning coffee, of course. But since I am home so often, what is there to stop me from having another steaming cup in the drowsy afternoon. Normally, I watch my caffeine intake after lunch because I want to get to bed early. Let’s just say these days, I keep rather odder hours.

It will always be coffee o’clock at April’s house.

There are many other blessings I am loving about being home so much these days! Perhaps, I will share some more later.

What are you guys doing during these history-making times? I’d love to compare notes. I’m also taking book recommendations. 🙂

Peace,

April

A Day in the Life of a Nursing Student during “Quarantine” and an Exam Rant

I was irrate. I stood in the middle of the kitchen with a blanket around my shoulders, messy hair, and a bowl of frosted flakes for comfort. It was approximatly 11:30 pm.

“I am so mad! It’s not right! I worked my [tail] off the entire day! For what????!!!!” My voice was too loud for 11:30 pm, and the tears in it showed even me how upset I was. I instantly had all three of my brothers’ attention. The looks on their faces….they were sure my ire and frustration was directed at them. I quickly added, “It’s not about you.” Whew! You could see the look of relief wash over their faces. It would have been funny if I hadn’t been so upset.

I continued my rant. I had to get it out to someone. I was bursting at the seams. Talking with someone who actually understood my frustration would have been much more therapuetic, but they were all I had.

“I spent 10 hours yesterday, and more hours in the days before!!! Studied and studied for this test! For an 84?!! Really? I should have gotten a 110%!!! It was such a ridiculous test! With absolutely ridiculous questions!”

I should have gone to bed, but sleep was fairly far from me in the mood I was in. I asked them to find someone funny on YouTube for us to watch because I couldn’t get my mind off my recent test, or calm down enough to relax and go to sleep. So we watched TwoSet Violin–two hilarious classical musicians who make videos about how annoying people with perfect pitch can be, and other music/violin oriented content.

Even after a couple of their videos for comic relief–I went to bed and all I could think about was that ridiculous test. My heart rate was elevated–I could feel it thumping extra hard–and I was getting particularly hot under the covers–anger and frustration really warm a person up. 🙂

Eventually, I feel asleep. And here we are today, I’m here drinking coffee and still getting mad as I write.


That was a sorry end to a long day in this nursing student’s life. Unless you’ve experienced it, it will be hard for you to understand the particular frustration of this scenario:

  • Your Powerpoints are riddled with misspellings and typos.
  • Your instructor repeatedly misprounces clinical terms in his own PP, or uses the completely wrong word without even noticing and correcting himself. (for example: using “compromised” when he means “comprised”)
  • Your instructor repeatedly reads off his notes that are written disjointedly, and you don’t even know what he is trying to say. [Notes are always written abbreviated and slightly disjointed because when you actually deliver the speech from you notes, you add words and information to make coherent sentences so the listener understands.] Not so with my instructor. He reads off his notes, sometimes not even sure what he meant when he wrote them, in such a disjointed manner that the string of words he just said literally are NOT even logical or a coherent thought. I literally have to go read in the textbook to understand what he meant by what he just said.
  • You are listening to the pre-recorded lecture [because you know–coronavirus] and adding notes to your PP dutifully studying. And various times throughout the lecture what your instructor just said is flat out wrong–you know, because you have your text-book open right next to you as you are studying. Grrrr…
  • So, inspite of all the aforementioned things that drive this somewhat perfectionistic, thorough, detail/correctness-oriented student INSANE–I studied hard. Seven and one half hours in earlier days, and 10 hours yesterday.
  • I slaved away over chronic kidney disease (which took up a LARGE portion of one of the PP, which is usually a sign that there will be quite a few questions about it on the test), end-stage kidney disease, acute kidney injury, acute and chronic glomerulonephritis, pyelonephritis, cystitis, kidney transplant, dialyis, what BUN and creatinine lab values are and what they mean.
  • I studied my brains out, and finally I sat down at 9:30 pm to take this exam. 68 questions. 78 minutes to do it. I had my steaming cup of tea and was tucked up against soft pillows in bed (one of the extremely rare luxuries of coronavirus–taking nursing school exams in bed). This exam couldn’t be that hard.
  • Enter another ridiculous med-surg exam. There was ONE question on chronic kidney disease–ONE QUESTION!!!!!!!!!!!!! The test was full of off-the-wall questions, questions he never covered in the powerpoint (like what is the average urine output of an adult?) There were other super off-the-wall questions on obscure things he either never mentioned at all or barely touched on. And then the topics that took up half an entire PP just got one question.
  • Before you start judging me for being one of those “but-it-wasn’t-on-the-powerpoint” nursing students, HE EXPLICITLY SAID IN HIS LECTURE: “Remember, if it’s not on the PP, don’t worry about it.”
  • I felt like I was not really tested on the content of the powerpoints–I studied my head off on all those 4 chapters of renal/kidney disease, ACTUAL stuff it is probably good to know–to practically not even get tested on it. But instead, get a low grade on a test full of what feels like pretty irrelevant stuff.

End of very long rant. You may be bored to tears, but it has been therapeutic to write this all out. I might seem disproportionately upset about this exam, but it is a culmination of the frustration that has been mounting for months.

Scenarios like this are what make me {almost} want to get my master’s degree and become a nursing instructor (even though I hate teaching)–just so I could be the instructor I wish I had had in nursing school.

Also, here is my official plea–we need nursing instructors that actually KNOW HOW to teach, not just read off PowerPoints. We need instructors who actually UNDERSTAND the anatomy and physiology behind the disease processes they are supposed to be teaching. It is hard to memorize disjointed facts, understanding why is KEY to long-term remembering. We need instructors who are competent and professional, who actually know how to pronounce the terms of their own profession, who can correctly pronounce the name of the exam that gave them their license (the NCLEX).


I’m done ranting. I prayed God would help me accept however the test grade falls. This instructor is usually pretty good about giving points back if we can show proof to him or if most people got it wrong. I know he will give some points back because the test was computer graded and it will count any minute difference wrong when actually the typed in answer might be acceptable also.

So long friends. I have a pharmacology exam due at 11:59 pm tonight that I must spend another 7-10 hours studying for today. (Plus I need to write up my email to previously mentioned instructor about why my answers were correct or his questions were too ambiguous). 🙂

A. Friesen, SN

P.S. If you are a teacher of any kind, any thoughts on this from your perspective?

My Life as a Second Semester Nursing Student

You know those unexpected moments in life where two things coincide and create a magical moment in the midst of everyday life? I had one of those this morning. Last night my instructor called and canceled today’s clinical at the hospital due to sickness. Since we can’t just stay at home–my clinical group had to report to the college library today at 0800. I was thrilled at the prospect of sleeping in and having only an 8-hour day and extra time to study. This differs from a regular Monday where I get up at 0500 and spend a 12-hour day at the hospital.

I sat there in that slightly outdated, floral print library chair, next to the floor-to-ceiling windows, facing the east. YouTube providing ambiance. The sun was still making its burning ascent. I was working on Kaplan review questions when I looked up. The golden, rising sun streamed through the glass as Lux Aeterna flooded my ears. I reveled in the magic of the moment and thought to myself how lucky I am to be living this life.


Reflecting on the Past

My last post was July 11, 2019. I called it “Thoughts on First Semester Clinical.” At the time, I was doing clinical at a long-term care facility. Looking back now, I remember how scared I was. It seemed so intimidating. If April now could talk to April then, I would say, “Oh sweets! You have no idea how much worse, how much more terrifying and intimidating it can get!” Then, I had two days of nursing home clinical under my belt. I could giggle now. TWO DAYS!! I was a wee baby nursing student back then.

Picture taken after first day of clinical that first semester.

Experiencing the Present

Today, I am half-way through my last semester of LPN school. When I finish this semester in May, I will have been in school for two years solid. The longest break I have had between any two semesters was 5 weeks. The thought of graduating with my LPN certificate this May thrills and energizes me!

So much has happened since that post last July. I finished that first semester; I thought nursing school wasn’t so bad. That was before fall semester 2019. But now, even that too is history. Halfway through last semester after my mid-term clinical evaluation with my instructor, I walked dejectedly, holding back the tears until I could sob out my frustration in the car. I was doubting if I was meant to be a nurse, doubting my ability, doubting my call to this profession. God was gracious and time heals. I pulled through and I am here today.

Today marks the beginning of the 9th week of my last LPN semester. This semester is galloping along and I am atop it–hair flying, brisk breeze making me gasp for breath and my eyes water, but eagerly fixed on the goal on the horizon. Halfway through this semester after my mid-term evaluation with my instructor, I strode confidently to my car. I felt elated, sure of my path, and excited about my life.

We need both of these times in our lives. They say, “the bumps are what you climb on” and I think it’s true. Nursing school has humbled me, shown me how God can produce strength through my weakness, and pushed me to do things I did not think I was capable of. Those depressing, frustrating times have forced me to work harder, learn better how to accept criticism graciously, learn from my mistakes, and become more able to relate to others in their moments of “slump.”

Looking Ahead

  • I look forward to finishing this semester strong and graduating this May with my LPN certificate.
  • Besides the standard graduation ceremony that I will be a part of along with all the other graduating students of my college, I will also be “pinned” an LPN in a special pinning ceremony that involves only the nursing students.
  • Sometime this summer, I will take my NCLEX-PN exam to receive my nursing license from the state board of nursing.
  • And just like that: I will officially be April Friesen, LPN. (Providing I pass, of course.)

Yesterday in church, the words of one of my favorite hymns really struck a cord with me. Let the truth of these words encourage you this week.

Show me Thy face, the heaviest cross

will then seem light to bear,

There will be gain with every loss,

And peace with every care…

Hymn Show Me Thy Face –Author Unknown

What is one thing you have learned from one of those “slumps” in your life? I’d love to hear your words of wisdom in the comments. As always, thanks for stopping by. Live with purpose!

April

P.S. This post is especially dedicated to you, Vivian. 🙂

Motivation: A Summary on Levoie’s Lecture “The Motivation Breakthrough”

Motivation:

An (Expanded) Summary on Levoie’s Lecture “The Motivation Breakthrough”

Parents and teachers of all generations have long struggled with similar battles. One huge idea that these authority figures wrestle with frequently is the question of motivation. Why is my student not motivated to learn English? Why is my child not motivated to do his homework? How can I motivate my son to weed the garden or do chores around the house? As an educator, these are my battles. As I am preparing for another school term, I enjoy spending time researching and learning about current issues and strategies with which I can battle them. After listening to a lecture by Richard Levoie, the subject of motivation became my passion for this year. In this essay, relying heavily on Levoie’s ideas[i], I will explain some foundational understandings of motivation and spend some time giving examples of ways to combat this giant in the classroom and home.

A primary misconception about motivation is that sometimes it is present and other times it is not. The truth about motivation states that all human behavior is motivated. When a student prefers to lay his head on his desk during a riveting geography lecture, something is motivating him to behave that way. It is correct assume that he is not motivated to learn geography, but it is incorrect to assume that he is unmotivated. Something – some power – is motivating him to respond in a way that shows he doesn’t care about geography. When we understand that all human behavior is motivated, we are enabled to create channels or devise strategies that direct that attention and motivation where we as authority figures desire it to be directed.

Motivation is a far more complexly structured idea than we tend to give it credit. We must understand that what motivates you as an individual, may not motivate me. What motivates Donald Trump is likely different than what motivated Charles Dickens. As multifaceted as people are, we should most assuredly know that motivational needs are equally multifaceted.

Each person is intrinsically motivated by different core motivational needs or styles. If a motivational need or style is triggered, a child will respond by getting excited and motivated about the chore, assignment, or project we wish for them to complete. What are these core needs and how can they be uncovered? Several of the needs outlined by Levoie which I will discuss in this essay are the following: power, inquisitiveness, gregariousness, autonomy, and affiliation.

The motivational need of power usually surfaces when a child desires to have some control over at least one aspect of his life. Allowing a child or student to experience power, however, needs in no way to diminish the power of the authority figure – it is not a bad thing. Children who are motivated by power can easily be recognized by their argumentative nature. They are the ones who seem to always question an authority’s position and seem to enjoy contradiction. A mistake authority figures often make with these children is allowing the child’s behavior to make feel insecure and disrespected. As aforementioned, there are healthy ways to give these children areas of power that motivate them and quench their argumentative side. The secret lies in the idea of choices. When a child has the power to make a choice, he has power. It’s not great power, it’s not world-transforming power, nor does it diminish his authority’s power. It’s simply the power of making a personal choice and it’s motivating enough for the power-driven child.

Children who are motivated by power can be given choices like the choices in these examples. Imagine that your child has been playing in the toy room. The room is in a wreck and you, as the parent, wish for the child to clean up what he has disarranged. “Johnny,” you may begin, “you have made a mess in the toy room and I want you to clean it up. Would you like to clean it up before supper or after supper?” Instead of giving them room to argue with you, the child is given power to choose. Once a child has verbalized a commitment to a task, he is much more likely to stick to it. An example in an educational setting may be the following: “Today I would like you to write your spelling words three times. Would you rather write them on white paper or orange paper?” Approaching motivation this way will likely stimulate your child to work.

Inquisitiveness is also a core motivational need. Children who are motivated by this style need lots of exploration and hands-on projects. Instead of lecturing on a subject, they need to experience it on their own. They are motivated by hours of personal research and experimentation. They never use the same recipes over again. These are the people who ask themselves, “What if eternal life could be discovered by mixing sulfur and potassium nitrate?” These are the people who in turn discover cool things like gunpowder. Parents of an inquisitive child may motivate in the following way: “Sarah, I would like you to make cookies today, but I want you to try a brand-new recipe and see if you like them.” An educational example may be asking a student to fill a poster board with as much unknown information about Nicola Tesla as he can. These strategies compel the child’s need to be curious, and thus he is motivated.

A child with the motivational need of gregariousness is simply motivated by doing something with another person. Asking a gregariously motivated child to spend hours creating a poster board with unique information will not motivate him; however, asking him to complete such a task with a group will be the incentive he needs. Children with the need to be socially motivated need to work in groups and discuss ideas with others. They are often most productive and successful when they are given opportunities to socialize while working.

Some children are motivated by autonomy. If a child is motivated by independence and doing things by himself, he needs to be given that space. As a parent, you may have a little girl who must dress herself, comb her own hair, and put on her own shoes – all by herself. She will be very unmotivated to get dressed or work if her parent insists that he can do it better. A child like this should be given some opportunity to do these things on her own. Because doing her own personal care is motivating for the child, the less-than-ideal quality of the personal care can be overlooked. In an educational setting, autonomous students will feel restricted and unmotivated if they are always asked to do a project in a group. These students need space to exhibit their intellect, knowledge, and personality without always being confined to a group.

Another sect of children is motivated by affiliation. Knowing that he belongs to a larger cause motivates the child to work hard for his affiliation. Children like these will be motivated to read, when it means they are a part of a community library system with larger gains, larger goals, and larger bounds. Parents or teachers may find affiliation motivated children always wearing tee shirts with logos of their favorite eatery, sports team, or school. When they are working for someone or something larger than themselves, they feel motivated to do their best. These children are quick to be motivated by and to rally around causes or people that feel threatened or celebrated[ii]. Parents can encourage a child by supporting his ideas. He can accomplish much knowing that his family or parents are backing up his work.

Motivation is a complex term that means varying things for each child. Parents and educators should be aware that children rank from low to high on these diverse motivational needs. When we understand how our child is motivated and what kinds of strategies motivate him, we will be more successful authority figures in our world, our schools, and our homes.

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[i] Levoie, Richard. “The Motivation Breakthrough” DVD Lecture. 2007 This essay can be considered a review on this lecture. To learn more about this subject, I highly recommend further available online resources by Levoie.

[ii] www.soran.edu.ig.

Thoughts on First Semester Clinical

It’s Thursday and I am sitting in my favorite coffee shop 50 minutes from my house. It’s a peaceful afternoon, I’m soaking up the late afternoon sun by the window, and lovely piano music wafts into my ears. I’m in that drowsy, contented, coffee shop mood… You know when life feels wonderful, you feel accomplished, and all your cups are full.

I met my sister here for a chat. Then I goofed off on Instagram. I need to study because we have church campout this week end and I want to have my school work done so I can party unencumbered. However, the urge to write about my day first, currently overwhelms my discipline to study.

Let me write about today. It was my second day of clinical. We were at a long-term care facility. Last night the pre-clinical anxiety was upon me. I was also frustrated with myself because once again I wasn’t able to get everything I planned done before clinical. Besides that, it kept getting later and I was determined to get to bed super early so I would not be tired at clinical today.

I managed to get to bed in a decent time in the end although not as early as I had hoped. For me getting adequate sleep is super important. When I am in new situations and much is expected of me that I am not yet totally comfortable doing, I find things go so much better if I am well rested.

Although my first clinical day two weeks ago went super well, I was still nervous about today. Sometimes kind of knowing what to expect is worse than having no idea what you are getting yourself into. 🙂

But today was phenomenal. I credit several factors for this:

  • I got a good night’s sleep.
  • I packed my lunch, set the coffee-maker, and set out my clothes and supplies for the next day last night already.
  • I studied for the quiz we had today.
  • This morning I had coffee, and eggs on toast with cheese. Good solid food!
  • On the 20-minute drive to clinical I prayed–for wisdom in caring for my resident that day, that I would remember the correct way to do things, for courage to always do what is right, and for all of my clinical group that we would have a good day and good group dynamics.

Last night I was having a serious back ache/cramp where I could hardly straighten up. I prayed that God would take that away by today because I didn’t know how I’d take care of a resident with pain like that. Today when I woke up, it was gone. I also prayed I’d be assigned a resident that didn’t need assistance being lifted/moved just in case my back wasn’t completely normal. God granted both requests.

Two weeks ago at clinical I felt so lost, like a fish in the Sahara, had no clue what to do or what was going on, or who was who. The day went okay but I hated that feeling. Today, even though I only had one day under my belt, was a totally different story. The nurses were more approachable, I knew the routine of the facility better, I was more confident in my skills, I was able to answer call lights, and I felt like I knew what I was doing and what was expected of me. It is a lovely feeling to feel like you can hold your head high and walk around like you actually know what you are doing. 🙂 [Never mind that I forgot to double pulse and respirations to get the actual rate, and forgot that when you estimate blood pressure you have to add 30 mm Hg to the systolic before actually taking the blood pressure.] But all is well that ends well.

I expect this cycle to repeat itself ad infinitum in the next two years of my life. I will have to come read this post when I am in stage one and all down in the dumps. 😉

Today marks the end of Week 5. This means I am 62.5% finished with my first semester of nursing school! So far it continues to be extremely manageable while challenging, socially fulfilling, and competing with the speed of light.

My classmates are marvelous. Our instructors tell us we are a great group. That is nice to hear and I am praying it continues through-out the next two years.

So long,

A. Friesen, SN

Nursing School Isn’t So Bad, Be Careful What You Pray For, and Don’t Let Your Little Sister Out in Public

My friends, it has been a long time. My last post was in April and it was a compilation of all your wonderful responses to my homeschool survey. (I got a 100% on that paper by the way.)

My fingers have been getting the itch these last few weeks. And my soul has been bleeding to write–to pour out the expressions of my heart and mind on paper and screen. I think that urge comes only to those of us who process life better through writing versus those who process best through talking.

I took a walk the other day and I wanted to write about how glorious the evening was–how clear the spring air, how peacefull the sluggish creek, how green the swamp grasses, and how thrilling the final splendor of a late spring sun just before it sets. I wanted to share it because then I felt like I had enjoyed it more thoroughly myself.

Life has been crazy! Tomorrow is the last day of my third week as a nursing student. Folks, if you are considering nursing school–let me tell you–it is quite doable. All the youtube videos make it sound like just the worst thing ever. Granted, I’m only three weeks in, but supposedly these are those hard weeks where you are new and not used to the workload and it’s supposed to be just terrible.

Maybe for some it is, but for me it has not been like that. They have been easier and funner than I expected. I haven’t cried once. The workload is manageable. I’m not minimizing others’ experiences–I’m just giving my opion and being a voice for the flip side of the coin in case you needed to hear it. 🙂

I may have to eat all my words in several weeks or months. I’m completely okay with that.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com


On a more serious note, this weekend I totalled my car. An elderly gentleman pulled out in front of me and I braked and swerved but still hit him in the back. The impact spun him around in a complete circle. Praise God, my four passengers and I, and the other driver were all okay. We escaped with nosebleeds and bruises. It happened so fast I didn’t really have time to get scared before it was all over and we were all fine.

I said in the title, “Be careful what you pray for.” I have two confessions to make. First, I have gotten very careless and loose with my driving habits. I routinely am on my phone and drive above speed limit. Two very bad habits. Second, I am aware of these bad habits but habits are hard to break and even when you know something is bad in your head, translating that to actual changes in your life is hard. So I half-way said a prayer just in the last several weeks. The prayer went something like this, “God, I have these bad habits that I can’t seem to break. Please let something happen that will scare me enough to make me stop, but won’t actually be serious/sad/horrible.” I don’t know if I actually prayed it or not because as I thought about it, I didn’t want to pray it for fear it would come true.

Well! Fast-forward to last Sunday. That is exactly what happened. It could have been SO MUCH worse! But it wasn’t. Then I remembered my halfish prayer guiltily and wondered if I had brought this upon myself unecessarily. Did God really have to go to such extremes to teach me because I refused to make the effort to retrain myself and shape up? It is quite merciful of Him to do so before something worse did happen. It is humbling and embarrassing…but it is what it is. I have purposed to turn over a new leaf in my driving habits book because I can’t imagine how horrible I would feel if this accident had been my fault because I had been on my phone or something.

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And finally, on a celebratory note. My little sister got married last Saturday. It was such a splendid wedding. The decorations were stunning, the bride gorgeous, the bridal party good-looking, the food scrumptuous, the open-mic sweet, the weather perfect, and the choir music absolutely heavenly! I savored every moment of being the maid of honor. But as the happy couple drove away to streaks of fireworks, it was all over. Now I am home alone and treasuring the things about my sister that used to annoy me, like she’s dead or something. She is only going to live 35 minutes away. It could be a lot worse, but loss is loss and I guess you could say I’m mourning. (Tears, Louisa. Don’t you feel special?) It’s like those things people say after a young person dies, “They were taken so young. It just doesn’t seem like it was their time.” That’s how I feel about Lou getting married. She was so young and taken from me so soon–that’s why I advise not letting your little sister out in public. Some random stranger might notice her and stalk her until she agrees to marry him. (Just kidding.)

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I told ya we were a good looking bunch. 😉 Photo Credits: Emily Mast Photography [and this is a screen shot, her real photos are great]


Tomorrow is my first real clinical day of nursing school. We are going to a Long Term Care Facility. I am nervous, scared, afraid I’ll mess up, and all that. I feel so unprepared and unready. Argggg..I hate it. So I’m sitting here writing instead of going over skills and reading over assignments. This is much funner. And maybe in the end–just as good for me. I’ll let you know how it goes.

So long my friends…….

April

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Homeschool Survey Results Are In & WINNER ANNOUNCED

Good afternoon everyone!

THANK YOU SO MUCH for all of you that participated in my homeschooling survey! I really appreciate it. Your responses went above and beyond my expectations! I had to get at last 20 responses for my project. I got 77! Unfortunately, I had to remove 5 that were incomplete/incorrect. However, I am thrilled with the 72 I used to tabulate the results.

I spent a couple of hours this afternoon filtering through your input and compiling responses. It was very fascinating! I still need to sit back and see what conclusions can be drawn from the data. 🙂 This is more fun than you might think.

DISCLAIMER: I did receive some feedback and some of you messaged me and added to or explained your answers. I enjoyed hearing from you. As I thought about your feedback and saw responses, I realized several things and would like to make a few disclaimers here:

  • This was a very basic, limited survey.
  • I have never done a survey before. I am not an expert. After the fact, I wished I would have worded some of the questions differently.
  • I realize this is a very huge topic with a large number of variables. Any one of those variables could make all the difference in whether homeschooling is a good fit for a family or not.

HERE ARE THE RESULTS for those who are interested:

Completed Survey Responses: 72

Male: 21 (29.2%) Female: 51 (70.8%)

Age Range: 16-56 years

Religion: Christian—46

Follower of Jesus—3,

Mennonite—8,

Anabaptist—6,

Born again Christian—2,

Protestant—1,

Christian Brotherhood—1,

Beachy—1,

Evangelical Christian—2,

Jesus—1,

No organized religion—1

Were you homeschooled at some point in your life:

Yes—47 (65%) No—25 (35%)

How would you describe your experience overall:

Positive—36 (76.6%) Negative—11 (23.4%)

Would you consider homeschooling your children:

Total Yes—37 (51%) Total No—5 (7%) Total Maybe—30 (42%)

  • Of those who were homeschooled, how many said they would consider homeschooling:

Yes—26 (55%) No—4 (9%) Maybe—17 (36%)

  • Of those who were NOT homeschooled, how many said they would consider homeschooling:

Yes—11 (44%) No—1 (4%) Maybe—13 (52%)

Compared to their traditionally-schooled peers, how well socially-adjusted are the homeschoolers you know:

Homeschoolers have better social skills—7 (10%)

Homeschoolers have worse social skills—24 (33%)

They have equal social skills—41 (57%)

Compared to their traditionally-schooled peers, would you say most homeschoolers you know received a quality education:

Homeschoolers received a better education—28 (39%)

Homeschoolers received a worse education—16 (22%)

The quality of their education is about the same—28 (39%)

Do you think homeschooling should continue to be legal in the United States:

Yes—70 (97%) No—0 No strong opinion—2 (3%)

What do you think provides the strongest support for the choice to homeschool:

  • Children can receive a more “custom-made” education and receive more one-on-one time—20 (28%)
  • Parents can choose the curriculum used and what worldview it teaches—18 (25%)
  • It is much more flexible–families can travel and children can learn non-academic life skills—16 (22%)
  • Parents can keep their children from experiencing a lot of negative peer pressure/influences—13 (18%)
  • Parents are responsible for their own children; therefore, they should be teaching them—5 (7%)

AND NOW WHAT YOU’VE ALL BEEN WAITING FOR…

The winner of the $15 Starbucks gift card is–

Lucky Winner

Congratulations Kristen!!!

Unfortunately, most of you didn’t leave your email address, but I decided to enter you all anyway.

Kristen, you didn’t leave your email. All I know is that your name is Kristen and that you had a birthday last weekend. 🙂 If you see this, please contact me below to claim your prize. Also, if any of you who took the survey have any further comments, please feel free to send them to me below as well.

Thank you all so much again for participating! I turned in my finished primary research project tonight just under two hours before the deadline! 😉

P.S. If any of you ever need participants for college assignments, please let me know. I would be happy to return the favor!

Until next week, April

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Thank you!!

Homeschoolers: Poorly Educated Social Misfits? & I Need Your Help

THE TOPIC


Homeschooling can be a controversial topic. One that gets people in highly emotionally-involved debates. Some people are religiously homeschool-only, while others make rules in their churches that you may not homeschool or they decry it to the wazoo. Some stand by completely uninterested. Some like to think they are perfectly in the middle–they see the advantages of homeschooling and the advantages of traditional schooling methods.

MY REQUEST


I don’t know what your views are on homeschooling. I don’t know if you agree with the homeschoolers-are-poorly-educated-and-socially-awkward group, or the homeschooling-is-God’s-perfect-plan” group. It’s better that I don’t because I need your help. I want your opinion regardless of your position.

I am currently working on my second research paper for my English Composition class. For this paper, I need to do a little “primary research” myself. I have composed a short survey that I would like as many people as possible to complete for me. The more surveys I can distribute and the more diverse the group of survey-takers, the better.

The survey consists of 3 demographic questions [so I know who you are, don’t worry I won’t use names in my paper] and 7 multiple choice questions about homeschooling. It will only take you a couple of minutes.

Would you please help me out and click this link to take the survey? If you would send your friends over my way or send them a link to this post so they can take it too, I’d be much obliged!

Please respond NOW because I need the surveys in no later than THIS Saturday night!!

WHAT’S IN IT FOR YOU 😉


If you take the survey through the link in this post, leave your email address in the answer box of the first question! I’ll enter you in a drawing for a

$15 Starbucks gift card!

When all responses are in, the winner will be notified via email! I really do appreciate your help!

Thanks again!

April

P.S. If you want to see the results of the survey in the end, let me know! I could tabulate them and post them here.