mental health, perspective

Dust in the Wind

This past 15 months has been a train wreck on so many levels relating to school work for one of my kids. The train wreck has left carnage of a new kind spewed in or around my vicinity. My home. My email. My car. My inner circle. Just in abundance in my life.

When did it all begin.

Out of school without notice last year. The unknown. That’s when it started. 60 days. We got this. No it’s 90 days really. Or maybe 120 days but who’s counting. Not me because it’s temporary. Pain is temporary, right?

Into a summer semester for two classes to get ahead. Sounded simple pre-pandemic when it was arranged. Of course, in ordinary times taking extra classes is no big deal. Add a pandemic and your world is shaken to the core. Isolation. Digital learning when you need human interaction. Anti-glare glasses are now needed due to extended learning time online.

Back to school in fall of 2020. Out of school again after a few weeks. Rules change. Deal with it! You pull yourself together to get through that semester. Back to school again in the new year. Fresh start you think. Fear, anxiety and so much more as kids drop like flies in your class for being contact traced. A ruler is now a measuring stick. If the ruler says you are quarantined, off you go. No questions asked.

Fear. Shock. Isolation. Anxiety. Back online you go. What other choice do you have. More self-learning. More self-discipline. Is that too much to expect at my age? 

Shut out again. No people. Lack of purpose. Why do I need to do work. Digital sucks the life out of me. Kids are mean on Zooms. I can’t ask questions. Learning is hard. I’m depressed. Learning math remotely. Learning an advanced foreign language online. I feel alone. Lost. Depressed. Anxious. Scared. Failure is not an option. Or is it? Who cares. Who really cares. I was put in this box. This virtual box.

My parents hound me. My teachers hound me. It’s never ending. The counselors are over burdened. Expectations are still high. Everyone cheats. What is right? What is wrong? Is it over yet? Did I even pass? This year really sucked. It sucked for my kid and it sucked for my family.

Summer break. A reset button of sorts. Travel. Fun. No have tos. That’s what the doctor ordered. That’s what mom needs. That’s what I need. 

I need my friends. I need my social connections. I just want to hang out at the mall again. Maybe go to a movie. Maybe just not being trapped in the pandemic bubble. The virtual bubble.

College is in sight. My gpa needs an inflation pump. I need my sanity. I’m not alone. Many have side effects from the pandemic. Everyone has their own story.

Cheers to summer vacation and the shit that is in rear view. All of it. Good riddance. All I see is dust in the wind.

A special shout out to those of our readers from Singapore. We appreciate you visiting.

Bye Felicia!

mental health, perspective

The Ugly Return to Accountability

Although they say we are not out of the woods yet, it seems like we are on the downslope of the pandemic here in the US. Infections are trending downward. Restrictions about masks and movements are loosening. We are seeing more and more people out and about. Although once in a while crowds make me a little nervous, for the most part it’s exciting to see these changes.

At my job in an elementary school, this excitement is definitely there in the students. Spring fever happens every year, regardless. They can feel that summer is coming. The weather improves. There’s a restlessness that starts to permeate the building. The noises change. This has happened this year right on cue, even with continued mask requirements and social distancing. We are holding limited versions of field day in the coming week. Students will have a graduation celebration. Family picnics will be held. Although the extra precautions make these events more challenging than usual, there is still an excitement that we are doing them. Normal is peeping around the corner.

Also lurking in the elementary school hallways is quite a bit of tension. Modified state testing. Meetings about how to handle learning losses. Inventories. Meetings about teacher evaluations. Drafts of calendars to maximize learning minutes. Plans for robust multilevel testing next year starting right off the bat. Accountability. Accountability. Accountability.

These other things bubbling up are harder to handle. They suck the life out of us. Not only are we trying to just make it to summer, there are nearly constant reminders that some of the things that were most challenging about school life pre-pandemic will be the things that rise to the top of the priority list next year. You can see the weariness in my colleagues’ faces when the accountability rhetoric resurfaces. These are not the things that bring joy into our schools. I can already sense the feeling of needing to fix everything, all at once, as fast as possible come next school year. Can we focus on a return to joy first?

Pretty early in the pandemic, this quote, posted by many, stuck with me: “in the rush to return to normal, consider which parts of normal are worth rushing back to” (Dave Hollis). The work ahead to rebuild is large and urgent. We will have to prioritize. I hope my school leaders take this to heart. For kids and colleagues, I think our mental health takes precedent. Making us all feel safe and included, happy to learn and come to school as part of a community. So much of our community ties have been weakened by masks, distance, and even the political climate in this country (which does play out in our children). I need to keep these priorities top of mind as I plan the days and years ahead.

mental health

A Cup and a Smile

When I was I kid the slogan I heard many times was have a Coke and a smile. Post-corona I just really want a smile from others so sometimes I just need to create my own reality.

Today I went for a cup and a smile at Starbucks. I’ve written many times in the past about how much the cup makes me smile when the caramel is drizzled just right, sliding down the side of the cup where it collided with the coffee and milk. Its soul satisfying at the end of a long week. 

In the picture below you will my little visual aids that hopefully make you smile when you read this post. We have the rare appearance by my llama air freshener who rides shotgun in my Jeep on the daily. Her faithful sidekick is none other than the Mr. Sloth the fake plant. This trip sure does give me giggle, how about you?

We are headed off for a Friday night of festivities at the boutique fitness studio that offers bungee fitness. It’s a first for me, but the stage is set for an amazing evening.

The group chat name is labeled the Flying Wallendas. Each gal has her airborn name for the evening. The cast includes sparrow, night hawk, falcon, phoenix among others. As I buckled up tonight I will be capturing every bit of my adventure in my mind so that I can share the experience with all of you who may not have access to bungee fitness.

Off I go into the darkness of the night. To become weightless. To trust the bungee with my life. Thank good I meet the weight requirements and didn’t need to be fat shamed. Life goals right there!

mental health

Power

Who has the power?

Is it me or is it you?

Is it physical strength? Is it mental strength? Do you even know?

If one thinks they have mastered the power of words and the power of persuasion, does that make him or her strong?

The ability of strength can be determined by how long one can endure. Maybe endure the battle. Maybe it’s the power to endure pain. It could even be the power of patience. Waiting. Sitting idle. A sleeper cell of sorts.
Sometimes people mistake physical strength for power. Sometimes people overlook the strength required to endure a long battle. Maybe even a battle of the minds. 

Patience. Persistence. Consistency. Loyalty. These are all words that develop a powerful individual. Add a little street smarts and power is magnified. One may be little but still be fierce.

People should always be aware of the underdog. One should never underestimate the power or strength of a determined underdog. I admire many who battle daily as the underdog. I may even enjoy being named an underdog.

Push my buttons. I dare you. I am built to endure on many levels. I welcome a challenge. I also cheer for underdogs near and far. I advocate for those who lack strength when a bully is in sight.

Just a random rant worth a read. Life is full of shitheads. Are you a person I may refer to as a shithead or are you an underdog I may fight for?

friendship, mental health

I Heard the Whisper

I don’t have any friends.

Silence.

I don’t have any friends said the social teen girl. Pause. Reflect. Think.

The beautiful girl is right. She has acquaintances. She has teammates. She has adults that are supportive. She has siblings. Unfortunately she is missing the friends piece of the equation. True friends.

The bestie or group of pals that come over to hang out. The girls that go to the movies. The inner circle of sorts. What could have happened to this social butterfly.

One word sums it up: corona.

Corona has taken away spontaneous trips to the mall. Quarantine has limited gatherings at other homes. Fear has lurked in every home limiting activities. The list goes on and on.

In this community two teens have died by suicide in the last 10 days. I can’t ignore that. I can’t understand a day in the life of these teens. Their desire to end their lives is the solution to their perceived problems at that time. We have to listen to these cries even if they are masked.

So many no you can’t. So much time alone. So many milestones and memories being missed in isolation. So much time is solitude in their room. Many sleep it off. Many struggle for daily motivation.

Who does the cheerleader role fall on when parents work? What if the teen is an only child? Is the school talking about this subject with this vulnerable age?  Are they offering parents solutions? Why no they are talking about tests scores and must complete your assignments or even pick your schedule for next year.

Do administrators even consider what a day in the life of a teen is like in isolation? They lost their friends. They lost their home away from home that is school. They lost competition in the classroom. The lost giggles in the hallway. They even lost their imagery. Always covered in a mask. Gasping for air. The image of themselves in a super cute outfit on the first day of school. Shopping for a prom dress. So many important things for a girl in her formative years.

Instead they get to go to the drive thru with their parents. Maybe a Netflix movie in the same place they eat, sleep, socialize, go to school, etc. (their house). Maybe weekends of extra homework because they lack the motivation to do it on day 1 when it was due. The list of blah goes on and on.

I see this cycle repeated. I try to engage my teen to give her fulfillment in the tiny box that is currently around her. It’s by no means perfect but it’s what I can offer today.

I often wonder if she drove and had a car if it would be different. Would being mobile allow her to wave at friends from the curb but allow her time to smile away from the homestead. I don’t have these answers. I may never have them.

For today I will enjoy the time I have. Tomorrow is not guaranteed for anyone. Memories last forever. Today I will make memories with her.

Parents don’t forget to look around you. Right in front of you. Listen. Spot the abnormalities and take action. Any action that lets them notice you see them. You hear them. You want to be with them. They need you. They don’t always feel like they have anyone left. Corona has taken much from many.

Don’t let environmental conditions take away another bright future.

This post was sparked by the song Pink just released with her daughter Willow, Cover Me in Sunshine. Pink noted they sang the song because it makes them happy and they wanted to share it to make others happy. They did it together. Today I will cover those around me in sunshine for no other reason than to make them happy.

Enjoy today. No matter how shitty things may be tomorrow. Every day is a new day to get covered in sunshine.