celebrations, family

Last Time for Everything

Country music isn’t necessarily my favorite, but I listen to it pretty often since my youngest daughter is a fan. I have a handful of artists I admire. Miranda, Maren, Dolly, and then there’s Brad. Brad Paisley. He may not have the most soaring lyrical voice, but his lyrics are witty, smart, and insightful.

Just a few weeks ago, my youngest daughter, the country girl, started her farewell tour, her victory lap, her senior year of high school. Tomorrow we will leave on a 10-day road trip bookended by two lacrosse tournaments, sandwiched around reunions with family, roller coasters, beautiful scenery and other adventures. Time with friends, time with each other, time doing new things, time doing what she loves.

It’s her last hurrah of youth. Last summer playing travel lacrosse. It won’t be long until senior year begins with all its fanfare and festivities. College choices will be made. Dreams will turn to plans.

And so begins a season of lasts. Here’s where Brad comes in with Last Time for Everything. It’s a song that plays over and over in my head. Last time hitting the road to the northeast. Last time taking the field. Last Spring Break. Last, last, last…

Some I will see coming. Some will catch me off guard. Some I will be prepared for. Many I won’t even notice until they are gone and done.

Sure, she will always be my baby. Just like the older two, she will always come home and open the refrigerator and look for her favorites. Bring her laundry and her dog. Get some advice on how to fix her car or choose insurance or ask questions about saving money. Maybe she’ll even curl up and take a nap while someone is cooking in the kitchen like I did at my parents’ house. Even after I was long gone, it was a safe place to just relax and be taken care of for a bit.

So I will enjoy each moment with her as she prepares to take a step out on her own. I will try not to overthink it and get ahead of myself, but instead just be in the moment, relishing this last trip around her childhood sun, all her hard work, ups and downs, accomplishments, and celebrations.

May I treasure this sweet season of lasts while it lasts.

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.

fitness and nutrition

Decluttering

It’s Spring cleaning time.  But maybe not in the way you think.

I definitely need to spend some time cleaning out my house, but that will be a summer project.  Right now I am focused on cleaning out my nutritional clutter.

A little history…

A few years ago I chronicled my weight loss following a macro-counting program called Stronger U.  I did two sessions and lost a good amount of weight.  Since then, over two years ago, I’ve been kind of winging it, adapting the principles I learned from Stronger U without measuring or counting.  For the most part, it means keeping protein the priority at most / all meals.  I fill in with carbs and fat but try to stick with familiar ingredients and products. I meal prep each week, although it’s not as elaborate as it used to be. I still weigh myself every day and follow the active online Stronger U community.

I was doing pretty good for a long time.  In fact, I lost more than 10 pounds after my last session was complete.  I stayed in the weight range I wanted for the most part, and was able to eat and go about my days and activities feeling pretty good.

Over time, the number on the scale started to creep up, especially over the last 3 months. The first thing I noticed was that my clothes don’t fit as well anymore. Tight in the waist. I have extra flab around my middle. Now the scale is up 15 pounds from where I was a year ago and almost 25 from the lowest number I saw post-Stronger U. I’ve hit what I call my “emergency number,” meaning the number on the scale that means I am out of control. I could blame COVID, but I won’t. I’ve been active and have kept my routines up. Instead, I think it’s from the “nutritional clutter” I’ve let pile up.

I haven’t abandoned what I know, but I’ve gotten in the habit of letting things slide. I’m not eating pancakes for breakfast, but I am gobbling three handfuls of almonds instead of one with those hard boiled eggs. I still eat dark chocolate chips on low-carb vanilla yogurt each night, but it’s more like even amounts of chips and yogurt than just a sprinkle. I overdo it on the cheese and crackers at times. I have half a can of low-fat pringles with my bunless hamburger and sugar free pickles instead of just a stack.

Stronger U called it Bites, Licks, and Tastes (BLTs.) Little things add up to a lot of extra calories. I’ve known a change was necessary for about a month now, and I’ve just tried to dial back my portions. That hasn’t worked, so something more structured is necessary. Change isn’t always fun, but I’m ready for a reset. More on how that’s coming in future posts.

Is there anything you’ve let slide recently that needs a reset? Let us know in the comments.

dare to be different

A Fahn Suhthun Lady

(A follow up to the recent post, Redneck Sweetheart. Check it out!)

I was born in Jawja.

Lived here all my lahf.

Except for that ill-advised detouah to Ohio for a few years round college time. They made fun of me for walking too slow in that infernal endless snow and saying y’all when I shoulda said, ahem, “you guys” all nasal or something else inelegant like that. Suhthun ladies roll sweet and slow off the tongue.

Before I go on, let me translate some of this for y’all, lest you find my Suhthun accent a distraction.

I don’t have a hoop skirt. Sweet tea is not my thing but there is no other soda (pop!?!?) than a Coke. I’m still a Suhthun lady through and through.

I blush at the mention of unmentionables. I am steely and will give you the side eye while saying “bless your haht.” I fan myself when I am flustered. Well I nevah would be so vulgah!

I am polite and don’t show up to a gathering empty-handed. To knock at a door without a casserole or even a simple mason jar filled with fresh picked blooms? Why my dear mother, rest her soul, would have been simply mortified!

I’m not all lace and doilies, mind you. I am gracious and refined at times, but will dig my hands in the dirt and grime. Just be sure I have a proper apron and brimmed hat. My fair Suhthun complexion demands protection from our hahsh climate.

I will bring you a snack when you’re hungry, refreshment when you’re pahched. I can quote the Bible, Flannery O’Connor, and Dolly Parton in the same afternoon chat. I am as well read as my farmily is well fed.

Many times I smile when I am angered. I’ve mastered the gentle art of holding my tongue when others try to ruffle my ruffles. Howevah, do not test my resolve. Do not mistake my quiet for ignorance or lack of passion. Do not confuse my kindness with any sort of weakness. I’m wise enough to realize most irritants are not worth my energy. But poking the bear too many times will bring her roaring to life. On that you can depend.

I will raise my voice at the right time. What comes out of these cultured and cultivated lips will surprise you. I don’t share my sharp and critical mind with just anyone, but if you earn yourself a piece of that mind with your vahl behaviah, well, bless your haht.

Back to minding my own business in my own hospitable way. Smiling politely. With a wink and a twinkle in my eye.

Don’t cross me.

challenges

The 2020 Ta-Da List

2020 was a year that upheaved many goals. Maybe it was the rules changing about where we can go and what we can do. Maybe it was shifting priorities from getting out and going to just hunkering down and staying safe. Maybe it was self-imposed or created limits of mental exhaustion and the like.

Whatever the reason, 2020 pulled the rug out from our runway of dreams. The universe laughed at our plans. Goals had to shift. Travel, work, adventure, all kinds of things had to pivot.

I looked back at my goals and in a conventional sense, I didn’t meet them. I’m not giving myself a pass because life got hard. It is what it is. But, inspired by Gretchen Rubin, I decided to make a little “Ta-Da!” list, which reminds me that despite my 2020 challenges, things still got done.

  • I maintained my fitness regimen, moving my body pretty much daily. Most of the time this meant working out at home or in the gym, but I also started hiking more often and put many miles on my bike.
  • I took a more active role in my personal finances, learning how to move money around and make it work.
  • I partnered with trusted friends to purchase the property for 3Splitz Farm. We navigated the first stages of planning and implementing the vision for our rustic paradise.
  • I started a new business of my own.
  • I established a 501(c) and led that organization through a successful first year.
  • I bought a new car.
  • I read lots of books.
  • I parented my kids through a trying and confusing time in their lives.
  • I maintained several of my health priorities: eat well, drink well, connect.
  • I lifted up my friends and loved ones to lighten their mental loads.

2020 wasn’t what I expected, and 2021 won’t be either. Some of these accomplishments weren’t on my radar at all this time last year. This has all informed how I am thinking of my goals this year. Leave a little more room to move, to play, to grow.

I had to stop myself from writing the “shadow truths” about each of these goals. For most of these bullet points, there is something I could have written as a “but…” But ta-da lists shouldn’t come with qualifications. These are what they are, and many are a start. Several appear in my goals for 2021, to enhance, improve, and expand.

What’s on your ta-da list for 2020?