working women

A Day in the Life (These Days)

People sometimes ask me if I like my job.

My answer used to be an enthusiastic “yes!” How can I not love a job filled with reading to kids, writing with kids, doing research and helping them grow into readers and learners?

These days my answer is different. Lukewarm, at best. I get up and go to my school every required day. But I am not excited about it right now. What used to be a positive, welcoming place is now filled with “spread out!” and “don’t touch!” Books turned in are quarantined in a special room on carts until they’re safe to touch.

Instead of kids drifting in and out of my classroom throughout the day, they can only come to the media center once a week during their assigned time slots. They come in, stay in line, sit down in the distanced chairs.

They watch my whole, real face tell them a story on video while they browse tables of books with their eyes, not hands. (I no longer have a clerk to assist me, so I “clone myself” with a video screen.) If students want me to open a book, I prop it on a random page then keep moving. When they have their selections they head to the desk. I scan a barcode instead of them typing their own numbers. No touching! Then they return to the exact same seat.

Instead of laughter, the most prevalent sound is the *psst* *psst* *psst* of food contact surface spray. I scrub. I shuffle books. Gloves on. Mask on. Smiling with my eyes as best I can.

I miss my job. I miss spontaneity. I miss special projects. I miss idle chat that leads to great ideas. A few fewer rules. A few more smiles.

A highlight of the week is when I do carside book delivery to the digital learners. Some drop by twice a week. Sometimes I get to wave to the kids in the back seat and tell them I miss them. Last week a parent held up her phone so I could Facetime with her son, waiting at home for more books. I’m not the only one who is missing something.

Or the other afternoon when I had a spur-of-the-moment takeout picnic with my daughter at the park. As I was leaving I heard a girl’s voice scream in excitement “YOU ARE THE LIBRARY TEACHER! YOU ARE THE LIBRARY TEACHER!” Then her little sister, a new kindergarten student, joined in the hollering. We waved excitedly. From a distance. Even with the mask, they still see me and I still see them.

I’m determined to stay positive and try to keep connecting to kids at a time when everything is about separation. When the kids watch me tell a story and laugh at the right parts, I know I am still reaching them through all the rules and rigamarole.

The Roaring 20s, I tell myself. The Roaring 20s.

business

The Bottom of the Report Card

In elementary school, I was obsessed with my grades. Reading, Math, Science, Social Studies, Spelling, Writing, all of the main subjects. I was an “All A” girl from an early age, nearly consumed by keeping my GPA a 4.0. Tests, quizzes, projects, all of it was about chasing the A.

The other day, I was having a conversation with a business owner about his employees. He’s been struggling to find decent workers. As he describes it, his employees, all adults, regularly show up late or don’t show up, don’t follow instructions, are questionable with honesty, stir up petty drama within the staff, spread crappy attitudes, and waste resources. As an employer, it is frustrating to say the least. He spends more time dealing with employee problems than doing the the actual work that generates revenue.

This got me thinking about my report card growing up. I spent so much time on the top part, where they listed my grades in all those core subjects. But what about the bottom part? The “conduct grades?”

This section had things like:

-Uses time wisely

-Uses resources wisely

-Follows directions

-Works well with others

-Neatness

-Punctuality

-Thinks creatively

-Accepts feedback

-Keeps a positive attitude

-Shows initiative

It was a grid, graded on an E / S / N / U scale. I’ll admit, most of the time I ignored it. I would just glide my eyes over the letters. Mostly S, with a few S+ and some Es. But in the end, it didn’t affect my GPA, so I didn’t really think much of it.

In light of the business owner’s comments, I wonder which part of the report card can really tell us who will be success in different areas of life…the workplace, the community, life in general? Are my grades in math and science more important than the way I use my time? What parts of elementary school should be the focus of creating a productive, contributing adult?

As an elementary school teacher, I wonder where I should focus my energy, especially in these pandemic days. What matters in the long run? Just something to ponder.

business, perspective

The Driver’s Seat

What does the driver’s seat look like from the helm/cockpit of a vehicle? What does it look like from the passenger side, also known as the co-pilot seat? What about the view from the back seat or third-row seat?

Do those viewpoints change if you are driving in your best friend’s ride or your spouse’s car, riding with Grandma or maybe you are on a motorcycle? I suppose all passenger seats should look different than the driver’s seat! Maybe the music is different. Maybe the conversation is different. Maybe the aroma in the vehicle is different. Maybe the volume level is different. Maybe the stress level is different. The driver may alter their norm to adjust to the passengers and/or environment. Similarly the view from the passenger vantage point could vary based on occupants or length of time in said seat.

The driver is the captain. The boss. The big cheese. The controlling party. The leader. The responsibility starts and ends with that one person. Making sure one gets from point A to point B responsibly. The critical decisions, the pinpoint turns, the accurate lane changes, and the head-on-a-swivel-at-all-times mentality. I mean if you slack in any of those areas an accident could happen on the roadway. In the blink of an eye.

Could life mirror the driver’s seat if you are the CEO of a company, the branch manager of a bank, the operations manager of a warehouse, and so on? Why yes, it could. Sitting in the passenger side is fun. It comes with no pressure: no gas money needed, no insurance required, and no car payment.  

In business the boss is less likely to call out sick in comparison to a team member or passenger. Anyone can fill the passenger role but in most cases the business driver has a specific skill set. One which is harder to replace in an instant. For instance, the business owner has to make critical decisions that may impact others while a passenger can just provide commentary in most instances. The driver’s decisions must be strategic and sensible.

I know first hand many young adults don’t have their own car because they don’t want the responsibility of a car note, insurance or gas money. It’s far easier in this day and age to ride share with say Uber or bum a ride from a friend who has reliable transportation. Why lead and take responsibility when you can coast as a passenger in life?

In the business world life can be tough for a decision maker. A leader. A driver of any business. The one who has to set the tone. Find the path. Chart the course or route. Engage the resources/passengers. Make decisions on staying open or closed in tough times. This can be hard and a delicate balance at times. Those who never walk in these shoes would find it hard to understand the challenge but be quick to pass a judgement.

A passenger in business could be a wolf dressed in sheep’s clothing.  An unassuming threat. A slacker of sorts. A clock watcher for both the beginning and ending of their shift. Waiting to prey on the driver/leader etc. to solve their issues. I know other intertwined scenarios where a passenger could struggle with the driver or vice versa. Or maybe a driver is erroneously in a passenger seat; would they attempt to distract or sabotage the driver? Is that a possible outcome?

Is life about compromise? Do we really want natural leaders to compromise or do we want them to do what they do best, lead? Can a passenger grow to lead? Who do you want to be your driver in the car or in life? Are there risks and rewards to each scenario? So many questions.

Just another food for thought post.

dare to be different

52 pickup

When I was a kid, I was one of those gullible types. (Ok, I still am, but that’s a different post). My older brothers enjoyed playing tricks on me. “Wanna play cards?” Of course, as the youngest, I always wanted to be invited to play by the older kids.

“Sure!” I replied.

“How about 52 pickup?”

“How do you play?”

Suddenly the whole deck of cards was thrown in the air. Jacks, deuces, aces all fluttering to the ground. “Thats 52 cards, now pick them up!” they’d say, laughing as they walked away.

And with a frown like a sad clown, I did.

Fast forward to adulting. Life is full of chores, duties, commitments. Most days are full of them.

For me, chores tend to become routines.

Grocery shopping Saturday. Meal prep Sunday morning. Cleaning Sunday afternoon.

Even little things have their routines. Every night when I get home I set up the coffee pot for the next day and either set out my gym / work clothes or pack my gym bag before I settle down.

Sometimes it’s almost like a challenge: Laundry goes in first thing when I get home from work on Friday. The challenge? I have to have all my clothes hung to dry by the time I leave for my gym class on Saturday morning. I have to stay alert to get this one done while I’m tired.

Edit the week’s blog posts on Sunday afternoon / evening so “publish” is all that’s left during a busy week.

At times, even my fitness routines become a part of it. 5:30 am CrossFit basically every day for a year. Before that it was working out after work. For a while it was run a 5k after work every Friday. 10 mile bike every Sunday morning.

For many parts of my life, I like routines. I like predictability. It keeps me on track. I get things done. When my meals for the week are packed and in the refrigerator Sunday afternoon, I feel calm and prepared.

Life isn’t stationary. Even in writing this I can see there are routines in my life that have come and gone. Commitments on Sunday afternoons shift cleaning to another slot on the weekly calendar. Waiting at sports practice provides opportunity for exercise of different times and types. Life keeps evolving and I shift and change and adapt. Small changes, small adjustments. What is important still usually gets done one way or another.

Once in a while life is more like a big brother and just asks you to play.

Next thing you know all your routines and commitments are tossed in the air and you get to pick them up, reassemble them into some sort of deck to play with. Chores to shuffle, meals to make, work to be done. But this time I was the one who tossed it all, and by choice.

Joys of weekend farm life shift Sunday’s chores further back. Editing blog posts later weekday evenings. Exercise as early in the morning as possible, sometimes at home. Laundry on Wednesdays and Sundays. Grocery shopping on Thursdays. Those cards are still the same, just shuffled differently.

Then there are the new cards. Furnishing a house. Farm chores. Helping run a new business. And don’t forget a couple of growing volunteer commitments, too. Some of these are wild cards, but they keep the game exciting.

I’m not usually one to gamble, but this new shuffle is keeping me on my toes. Learning, growing, creating a hand I’d bet on in spades.

3Splitz Farm, working women

City Girl 2 Farm Girl

The title says it all. How do you take a city girl and drop her in the country and get her doing stuff? Farm stuff to be exact. Chores, using a knife, hauling trash and other non-city-girl things.

The easiest way to get her to produce is tell her she can’t and she will do everything in her power to prove you wrong. So to those who said you can’t, you shouldn’t, you won’t, it’s not for you, it’s hard work, and so on I’m toasting you right now. I am ever so thankful for your encouragement and motivation. 

The new flavor of this girl is country. It might be country on the weekend and city on the weekday but that’s okay. It’s what works right now. In life we all make sacrifices. If you have a dream and you want to put it into action you need to sacrifice, hustle and do what needs to be done.

That’s where progress and growth comes. You grow when you test your limits. You gain confidence when you push yourself beyond what you think you can do. Some things may take more practice than others but you will never know until you try. Try as much as you can as often as you can until you find what you love.

For me I’m one month into my new farm girl role. Oddly I found out I enjoy mowing the lawn. Mowing acres upon acres. It’s a mindless task but one that is physical, especially if your tool is a push mower. I guess I just drift away when mowing. No time clocks. No requirements to report to anyone. Just me and the mower having some quality time. I may also be daydreaming about getting abs from all my farm chores. A girl can dream, right?

I also enjoy the task of making trash hauls to the dumpster or burn pile. Maybe it’s that I get to hook up different trailers or wagons to my four wheeler and zoom off. Who knows. I just enjoy being a little worker bee. 

Speaking of quality time there isn’t anything much more rewarding than enjoying the outdoors, spending time with family / friends and just experiencing the great outdoors in many different ways. I’ve been an avid boater for years. One could say I enjoyed the same quality time but it’s lounge time which is not the same as creating, working and living on your homestead.

Arts / crafts, game nights, home cooking, barbecuing, and so much more. I even have a new farm chick shirt to honor the farm girl and author in me. I have the best of both worlds right now. I get to experience farming and tell the world about right here on this blog. My kids are seeing my shift and challenge of myself. It is my hope that it will inspire them to venture out in their own ways as they adult. The serene views of wildlife and historic barn will never get old because each day brings a different view. On most days it seems we have our own little climate in the mountains.

And for those of you out there who think farming is a lost skill, think again. Meat, veggies and other things are produced by farmers. Having direct access to farm items to my table is a compliment to my fitness and health journey. Fresh, quality and affordability. 

Hope you enjoy my farm sampling one month in. I even met some new critters this weekend. A skink, a snake and a giant spider. No picture of the snake because I was screaming while kicking my feet up as it slithered by. It was a black snake not venomous so the screams were not needed but seemed applicable at the time. There were many other creatures but those are just a few that had me on my toes.

Until next time, picture me honing my farming skills in one way or another.