challenges

Shattered

My daughter got a cameo on the big stage…a chance to play on the field of an NFL stadium. Only five minutes. A handful of plays. But I knew it would be an experience she wouldn’t forget.

Of course I had to go cheer her on. We traveled to downtown Atlanta, a far cry from our suburban home. Waze dropped us in a part of town I didn’t know that well. I felt pretty good that we found free parking on the street about 8 blocks from the stadium. We pulled in and walked to the game.

There was a clear bag policy and I forgot my clear bag. Ugh. I grabbed my wallet and cash from my purse. Not sure why…I usually wouldn’t take all that in my pockets, but I figured better safe than sorry.

We took in all the sights and sounds of an NFL game. We cheered when she passed to a teammate who ran it in for a TD. She made her mark.

Flash forward to a couple of hours later. A rain storm had hit. I don’t really care about NFL football so we headed back to the car shortly after halftime. We passed a car about 10 spots away from ours that was going through their trunk, etc. as we walked by. I didn’t think anything of it. Then, as we approached my car, I noticed debris all over the sidewalk. The first thing I saw were my daughter’s faces. Their buttons from years of playing sports. I was so confused. Why were they on this wet sidewalk? Then, toiletries. Those were from my gym bag. And then I looked up to see my passenger side window, broken. Shattered. It took a minute to set in. A smash and grab.

I had been robbed.

Too many details to share here about what got taken, what got overlooked. (They skipped all my gift cards, took my airpods…) Things that were valuable to me that had no meaning to the thieves. There were at least 10 cars that had the same thing happen on this block. Some got hit others got missed. I assume it was because I had bags on my seats. I called the police but they did not come. So we drove the long chilly January air conditioned highway home.

As we drove, I said out loud all the things I was thankful for. They didn’t take those gift cards or my triathlon medal. They didn’t take my awesome stadium blanket or some other valuables I had stashed away. I can only figure they were after cash and easy sellables. Probably addicts.

I was thankful I did not walk up on them while they were doing this. I was thankful my car was otherwise unharmed. I was thankful I am not in a position where this setback would be a real mental or financial hardship. I am SO thankful something whispered to me to take my wallet! It could have been so much worse. I really was not shaken or shattered inside. I can only attribute this to my mindset work and knowing to keep losses in perspective. I would not have responded this way a few years ago.

In a few days, with the help of my family, my car was fixed and all of this was in the rear view. Am I glad it happened? Of course not. But I am grateful my life pushes on. Building your mental and physical muscles matters. I remembered this quote from Dutch Bros. Something I aspire to. There are still a handful of people and situations that can get into my mental fortress, but not nearly as many as there used to be.

challenges

The Off Season

I am a teacher. I work from 8:00 am (or earlier) until 4:00 pm 190 days a year. During those hours I am a role model for little kids, a good colleague to my co-workers, and so on. What happens when I head out to stores to do errands after school?

As an elementary school teacher, I honestly still watch myself a lot of the time. I know I could look up at a store or restaurant and see little eyes looking up at me with an incredulous squeal: Mom, it’s Dr. Friese!! This has happened many times. For that reason, I can’t be cursing or loading up on margaritas when I am out and about, especially within a certain radius of my school.

This self-censorship of sorts extends to social media. I rarely post anything except for very “innocent” family or fitness updates. I stay out of photos where drinking or other grown-up activities are involved. I don’t post political content as much as I can avoid it. I have just a handful of select parents who can see what I post. Otherwise, I just refuse most of those requests, but I am still aware than many people could be looking. I sit through legal presentations each year that share examples of teachers losing their jobs because they post themselves doing legal, adult things online that a parent used against them. Better safe than sued or jobless is my mindset, I guess.

Some comments lately had me wondering if this is fair…as a teacher, I feel expected to hold up some sort of rated-G moral standard no matter where I am. The other roughly 14 hours a day and 175 days a year I am not at school, I often mentally steer away from situations where I can be captured doing “inappropriate” things. But is it fair to expect that I’ll just be basically angelic most of the time? Is being a teacher what I do or who I am? Who gets to decide?

Others close to me have been in this situation lately as well. A friend who is a nurse had a family member go through a medical crisis. She wasn’t completely happy with the way all the care was going and let the staff know it. She wasn’t ugly or unreasonable as much as firm and inquisitive. She was told she wasn’t being professional. But her role in this situation was that of a family member advocating for her parents’ health. Does she have to be a professional even in her personal life?

What other jobs seem to carry the expectation of acting a certain way 24/7/365… am I always a mother? A father? How about the captain of an athletic team? Do I have to behave “as a captain” even in the off season? What does that mean? If I am a forklift operator or a chef, I don’t have the weight of those jobs following me around all the time. How about an athletic coach to young people? A politician? A priest? A police officer? Why do some jobs or roles become identities and others allow you to clock out and just be who you are?

I don’t have solutions for this. It just troubles me how some jobs or roles are seen as 24/7 while others can be left behind when work is over. It’s not even the highest paid people who can just shed their professions at will. Some onlookers use these roles as a weapon when they don’t like what you are doing. (Heaven forbid you’re a teacher and post something with spelling errors!)

In the end, we are all just human, with likes and dislikes, flaws and foibles and lives outside of our work. Just a few early morning thoughts.

awareness

Safe Place

There’s at least one every year.

It usually starts with a drop-in from the counselor. “We need a safe place for _______________. Is it ok if we have the library as her safe place?”

The answer is always yes. Of course.

The reasons are many. For some, it’s a desire to run away. In my years in the public education system, we’ve had a handful of students who cope with things by physically running out of the school. Sometimes they make it to the street, down the road, into the woods. As you might imagine, a student exiting the building is cause for everything and everyone to stop what they are doing until the student is found. After the student is located, there is a process that begins…protocols, safety measures, and so on. One part of the protocol is identifying safe places for those students to go when they feel that urge to escape. My library is pretty big and I have no problem leaving students alone. So the counselor brings that student in and shows them where they can go to be undisturbed.

We’ve had other students who try to harm themselves. Much like our students who need to escape, the library is a place they can go to be alone and decompress. I have worked on the art of watching these kids without putting them under a microscope. We all know adults to just need a time out, but don’t need to be overly isolated. I strive to be that safe place where a student can be just alone enough to gather themselves.

At times it is students who can’t be in the room for whatever is being taught. We have families who don’t want their students exposed to stories about magic. We have other families who don’t celebrate certain holidays. In that case, we are the place that students can come to avoid that content.

And then there are the students with health conditions. From seasonal allergies to epileptic seizures, I am the place where students go when being outside for recess isn’t a safe option. I try to give these little guys things to do while they are inside. I hurt at times for these kids, since being outside is so vital to health and such a fun part of the school day.

I guess I am in the margins. A catch-all for students who need a place to just be who they are for whatever reason. A welcoming spot for anyone who is a little different. Do you have a place like that? Or maybe it’s a person?

adventure, dare to be different

My Tiny Life

I lived a tiny life for four days. What does this mean exactly? I opted for accommodations in a tiny home vs a hotel for my last summer adventure

How did it go? It was an experience and I’m excited I gave it a go. So much to get annoyed about when living small. Many things you just don’t think about. Like a closet. Like bathroom counter space. Like multiple seats for conversing while eating. Just little things.

First was the arrival. The suitcases. There were three of us traveling which means three decent-sized suitcases. We learned fast that we couldn’t all be sprawled out at the same time. Our solution was to store the bags in the the car and only open up when it was shower time and tuck wherever we could.

The tiny home was super cute. From decorations to natural lighting to appliances. How practical were they in reality? The fridge worked of course but its door swung open in a way in which you had to slide into the bathroom to retrieve anything. It was funny but thankfully we only used it to keep water cold as we were on the go a lot. There was a kitchen table with 4 stools. You could really only use two but the table was a storage area for us on top and shoe cubby below. Looked good but space was not functioning for us as designed.

Cutest little cozy couch area under the loft set up with a nice tv. It was comfy and fit just right. A great use of space as it was a pullout allowing for the the extra sleeping space. The big but was when you pulled it out it took away the floor space for the suitcases and they had no light so at night it was an oddly dark space.  One solution created another problem. Surely this kept us on our toes, but we managed and maneuvered and it was all good in the end.

The loft was by far my favorite place. It had a sky light that was amazing to peek through by day or night. It lad long windows on each side of the bed to see the fruit tree on one side or the green grassy yard on the other. The bed was comfy and there was a tv squeezed in as well. I didn’t need the tv as I enjoyed the rest and relaxation in what I called my treehouse space as I felt I was sleeping in the trees. 

I was writing this blog in my peaceful loft space to capture the spirit of the post. The overcast skies were rolling in. The drops of the rain from the trees hit my sky light. What a peaceful sound. The ambience of this place I will remember. I definitely find inspiration to write in many places. Some I write about others I don’t. 

Some things I didn’t mention above. The floors were an epoxy finish. Great little detail that made it fashionable just like the vintage fridge and microwave did. The bathroom and shower were small but I’d say the shower was bigger than most hotels and for cleanliness and quality it gets a thumbs up from me.

A few funnies to note. The label maker signs. Don’t take the extra toilet paper. Ha I wouldn’t but I’d assume somebody did in the past. This is a window not a door sign on the sliding glass door on the backside of the kitchen. It was clearly purposeless for me as there was no access outside but as a window it brightened up the place immensely. The sign just added a funny side to it as clearly somebody must have been using it in the past.

When and if you try out a tiny space like me think about things before you go. Pack light. Storage is minimal. Think tiny. Consider the tiny home dimensions. The one I stayed at was narrow. Being narrow limited certain things. Not sure I would go back to this place but it was a fantastic first try at something new. Emphasis on the trying something new, opting for different and enjoying the experience despite any challenges.

Tiny life is fun for a short stint but I think I prefer to live larger. I miss my high ceilings for sure.

change

The Next Chapter

As I began to put this post together the month of August was fast approaching. A turning point. A new chapter for many stories in my life.

A new school year. A fresh start for my youngest but sort of a restart to high school post-pandemic. So many emotions around a this particular subject after the past year and a half. New computer to get ready for the scheduled digital days and a proactive plan for any sporadic shutdowns. Imaginary pom poms for all the moments I want to cheer loud and proud for….but of course when you have a teen you would know that isn’t cool. To make myself feel good, I’ll use my imaginary poms!

Year 2 as a farmer begins without hesitation. Year one was fun. Full of learning, adventures and many firsts. Visions and dreams collided. Hard work was done. So much planning for now and the future. Broke the piggy bank a few times but you have to spend something if you want to build something. Off I go to leverage the earth to see what it will allow me to produce on the farm. I’ll say a few prayers and engage a few resources along the way. Forward progress on the farm is what farm life is about. And of course I want to tell everyone about it. Check out the last batch of flowers from the farm. They are absolutely gorgeous. See for yourself. #3splitzfarm

A new fitness regimen. August 1st marks a new venture for me. A slight step away from CrossFit, the sport I have enjoyed for many years. Taking a little break to do some customized programming to see how my body reacts. Maybe tone a bit. Maybe strengthen different muscle groups. Going to take 6 months to see how I do. I figure I have a 50/50 chance of being successful during this time. A coin toss basically. Will I decide I miss my sport? Will I miss my specific routine? Will I like my new environment? Will I train hard enough away from the constantly varied workouts of CrossFitting 5-6 days a week? Many unknowns for sure. One thing I know for sure is I’m responsible for my progress thus I need to kick my own ass at times.

I am sure I will share updates on my next chapters. Obviously, my life story has more than three chapters. This is just the three that I decided to highlight in this post. Those who know me know change is really the only constant in my life. While many fear change, I embrace change.
New year on the farm. 365 days of growth ahead. New school year for the youngest. 365 days of what should be amazing memory making opportunities. New fitness year. Half the year I will try something new. The other half will be planned based on my first half performance. The beauty of mapping your world. hundred points customizable by me, for me. 

Change fuels my soul. Change of reasons or seasons in a nutshell. Both reasons and seasons keep me chasing my dreams. Many won’t understand how change makes me tick harder faster stronger. Adaptation. Sitting in status quo anything is not my style. Onward. Upward. Forward. My choice is always bold never old.