family

That Substitute Sucks

Yes folks I’m the substitute and I suck at my job. Let’s face it. I don’t get paid as a substitute teacher. I didn’t volunteer for the role. I certainly didn’t expect the abundance of emails and stress that went along with the thankless job either. I was voluntold to accept this role and anyone who knows me probably knows that didn’t sit well.

Enter the teen girl. Super social. Loves school. Student athlete thriving in her world. Boom CORONA HITS!

Her world is shaken not stirred. Shaken to the core. She lost her routine. Her social outlets. Her sports. Her teacher bonds. She lost the sounds of the hallway and cafeteria. The roaring of the crowds. The listening ears of her teachers. The safety net of her world. Does that impact her learning and her mental health. Why yes it does!

Why do I need to get up. Why do I need to do this work. This isn’t a school environment. Who is going to help me with math? What about my yearbook? What about the school dance? How do I return my library books? How do I read the book assigned if I can’t get it? Did you realize the boy population of hot boys doesn’t exist in home school environments. No field trips. No chill time at lunch to hear the latest gossip. No flirting from across the room. What no science partner!

To say we muttered through is an understatement. We slitterred by by on a shoe string or even fine hair. Emails to teachers. Online review of grade with a microscope. Loss of cell phone privileges. We tried it all. This kid is not cut out for home school. Not at all. For that matter I am not cut out for the teacher role.

When my email flows fast in the workplace, I too need a break on the weekends. On a Saturday when I get teachers emailing me about next week or what’s missing from this week it shakes me to the core. What, a deadline missed?….not on my watch! And when the weekends blend with the weekdays there is no mental break for her or me. I actually had to ask teachers not to email on the weekend. I get they are doing their jobs but the stress of no break was too much.

The pressure the teachers were put under to go digital and maintain grades of their students was very unrealistic. If I thought my job sucked, I can only imagine what theirs looked like. Again another thankless front line job.

The teen feels like she is confined to a cardboard box with electronics and have to’s. Prison might be better in her eyes. She might even wish she had cafeteria food instead of the health-crazed food I serve.

We are finally on the other side sucking on some freeze pops to soothe our relationship. We made it out without killing each other. We still have our hair and our personalities. We now see sunlight for summer. We see activities emerging with a handful of friends.

Luck had it, she had one friend who drives and has come once a week to visit. She hangs out. They did school work. They made a mess in the kitchen. They giggled. They went fishing nearby. They got ice cream. They laughed. They smiled. They snuggled under blankets. They may have even taken a few naps.

It’s these moments that made corona in a box tolerable. It’s the moments of friendships valued. It’s the patience and understanding of let’s work together to push through. We have each other. This is a life lesson many won’t see and why I chose to share.

Time is valuable. Time is a precious commodity. How you spend your time, with whom you spend it and on what you spend it is important. It may make or break you.

She is also fortunate to have an older brother that pushes her and rewards her with a sub sandwich date to go or Starbucks drive through. Those little acts of kindness help her putter along. She had a virtual community of peers as well but none replaced her in- person interaction.

Toxicity in life can’t be avoided as people in general are messy. However, you can keep it at bay. In the school example above tolerance and patience was needed on both sides but to avoid toxicity the substitute and the student needed a break or many breaks from the insanity or work, work, work mentality. I can draw upon this experience in the future for my own work/life balance.

Life balance of sorts. For me I spent the weekend on the water at the lake. It was a much needed break from reality. No screen time just fun, fresh air and a few people. Sometimes it’s a long walk or bike ride for me. For my teen it may be a visit to the nail salon or an ice cream stand visit.

The point is have the conversation. Make adjustments when needed to push through whatever battle is in front of you. It may be a long battle for an illness or a short battle to get through a project.

Take the word of a shitty substitute. Find a way to blend and mend. Get by how you can, when you can and smile at the end. You will soon say been there, done that. Don’t want to do it again.

I am a one hit wonder in the role of a teacher. Corona better stay away because this chick wants no part of schooling her teen again in this lifetime. Love her to death but don’t enjoy teacher, mom, mentor and so on without support while trapped in my home for unprecedented circumstances with my own work deadlines.

I may be alone in this rant or not but I’m sharing as a method of cleansing my soul of havoc that was wreaked upon it for more than 60 days. I guess this was a life experience I wasn’t fond of.

Until next time. Be safe. Hug the folks you can and keep your distance from those you should. It’s summer time here! Let the adventures and memories begin.

business, challenges

A View From Behind the Mask

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I don’t bring it up often, but my family is in the restaurant business.  My husband and I met when I came to work at his family’s restaurant when I was 20 years old. I was taking a mental health break from college for a semester and needed a job, so I stumbled in to a local restaurant and ended up working there on and off for over a decade.  That’s a story for another time.

Suffice it to say, I have worked the front of the house in a restaurant for a lot of my life.  Server, bartender, hostess, manager, banquet server, retail sales, I’ve done it.  I have learned that it is not the life for me. (Add that to the list of stories for another time.)  Still, my husband’s restaurant is a huge part of our family economy, so there are certain days every year when I go to work and pitch in. Father’s Day, Oktoberfest celebrations, and so on.  Mother’s Day is usually one of those days.

As you likely know, the restaurant business has been radically changed by the COVID-19 pandemic.  Many establishments are closed.  Others are trying take-out, delivery, family-style offerings, and whatever else they can cook up. Heck, some are even offering grocery-style shopping. Pivoting quickly to focus on survival.

It was just recently that Georgia decided to allow restaurant dining rooms to open with detailed, extensive safety measures and very limited capacity.  We are lucky to have a restaurant with a large dining room. Other restaurants may not even be able to try to open their dining areas just because of the safety measures and square footage requirements.

This Mother’s Day was the first time our dining room had been open in well over a month.  My daughter and I were pinch hitting to help things run smoothly. Here are just a few of the rules: Paper menus instead of plastic sleeves so they could be disposed of each use. Gloves…I think I changed my gloves 50 times during a 6-hour shift. No bringing pitchers to the table to refill any drinks.  Just bring a new fresh glass. Spread guests out at every third table or so.  No groups over six people, which is often the minimum number for many tables on Mother’s Day at our place. Deep cleaning all surfaces…we scrubbed tabletops and every part of every chair anyone touched with sanitizer all shift. Since we couldn’t use our typical tablecloths, this was a lengthy chore. When done, we left a card on the table letting customers know it had been thoroughly cleaned.

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Maybe the biggest change was the masks.  I had a coworker from my school make me cloth masks to wear a while ago.  They are more or less comfortable.  They are much better than the awkward constricting bandana I tried at the beginning of corona. Still, after a while with the mask on you find yourself breathing differently.  It’s always sweaty and warm under there.  I was breathing more heavily, like I was working out or something, after just a minute with the mask on.  It was a relief to take it off every once in a while, or just let my nose peek out for 30 seconds or so.  Apparently it’s even worse if you wear glasses.

I wondered, could people tell if I was smiling at them? I do smile with my eyes but I’m still not sure. (No comment on my overgrown eyebrows which are tragic, or the bags under my eyes!) I wore more eye makeup thinking that would be the part people could see.

I learned quickly that most guests couldn’t understand what I was saying, so I spoke less and less as the shift wore on.  I hardly wished anyone Happy Mother’s Day, which is usually a big part of my job being the “Comfortable Committee” on those days.  I suppose I was just caught up in the strangeness of it all.  It didn’t feel festive.  Not many dressed for church.  No tables filled with gifts or flowers for the Moms. Only a handful of photos taken. The dining rooms weren’t crammed with smiling faces.  (And we are usually wall-to-wall with a waiting list for hours on Mother’s Day.)  It felt tense, with our focus on staying safe and sterile over warm and welcoming. It is what is needed right now. We want our customers to feel safe with us. Still, it is very different than the atmosphere in most years.

Just an insider’s view of what it’s like to work in a restaurant for Mother’s Day during the pandemic. Thankfully, we had quite a few people dine with us and many families took brunch and sweets to go.  This daily income is truly a lifeline for your local restaurants.

Sadly, when I got home from working, I read a long string of complaints and disappointments on social media from people who had waited hours for food ordered from major chains. Steakhouses, southern cooking, seafood, you name it.  All took enormous numbers of online orders and the system broke down.  People waited and waited, no one answering the phone, no one updating them.  When only a few miles away we had tables sitting empty and cooks and servers ready to make great food! It won’t always be perfect, but please give your local places a chance.

Our family’s place has been the site of engagements, weddings, showers, celebrations of all kinds and so many other special occasions. Please support those quirky, unique little places now.  Support the ones that hold your memories, even if it is a little strange to do these days.  If they are able to open at all, they are likely working their tails off to keep you safe and keep their business alive and employees working.  If you can, please dine with your favorite local places! Support the places you want to see come out the other side of this challenge with your dollars, your social media buzz, and any other support you can offer.

 

 

awareness

Need Help?

In today’s ever-changing world many people need help. Maybe from the stress of what’s in front of them and maybe the stress that is indirectly hitting them.

This post is meant to be a resource page. It may not help everyone who reads this post but it’s meant to offer hope in what is a challenging time for many.

If you were impacted by recent storms in the southern United States, the above number may be helpful.

If you or anyone you know is having trouble coping with the stress relating to managing life during COVID-19, this suicide prevention help line may be a resource worth sharing.

If you reside in the great state of Georgia, the above COVID-19 support resource list may be just what you need access to.

Remember we are all in this crazy mess together. Taking advantage of a free resource or passing on such information is prevention education. It’s a way to offer hope in a challenging time.

2 Chicks and a Pen consider mental health of utmost concern these days. We do our part to write online to motivate others as well as offer hope when needed. If these resources don’t cover your geographical area, find some that do and pass the information on.

You never know who is struggling in silence. With many forced into reclusive environments a lifeline resource can be a life-saving option.

Hugs and love from 2Chicks. We are smiling big at you!

 

healthy hacks

What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?

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It’s an age old question…when you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Little known fact about Chick 2:

When I was just a wee one, I wanted to be a mailman, or what we would now call a mail carrier.

At six years old in my childhood home, so many summer afternoons I would watch out the front window starting about 1:00.  The mail would arrive between 1:15 and 2:00.  I’d wait anxiously for the sound…when I heard the stop, start, stop, start of the mail truck, I’d walk down our hilly driveway to intercept our family’s haul.

I’d sift through the daily pile of JC Penneys catalogs, electric bills, and who knows what else and most days find nothing for me.  But once in a while, in amidst all the typewritten envelopes, there would be a piece with my name handwritten on the front. Like a lottery win!

To this day, I LOVE getting personal mail.   Opening a personal letter or card is one of my life’s greatest delights.  Who wouldn’t want to be the person that delivers those, I thought?  Everyone looks forward to seeing you every day and all the treasures you bring!

Life has changed a lot since then.  Not only do I realize that most mail isn’t that exciting, these days most of our communication comes through email, texts, snaps, messages and so on.  Although I’ve given up on the career ambition of delivering mail, I still send mail as often as I can.  In the age of texts and emails, a handwritten letter stands out even more.

Here’s today’s healthy hack for pandemic life: send letters!

In these days of isolation, most of us don’t see each other much, if at all.  We have a need for connection and some of us may have more time since we aren’t commuting, etc. So, I’m sending postcards, uplifting quotes, funny cards, and letters to people far and near.  Sure I still text, but when I want people to pause, when I want them to know they are special, I send it through the mail.

Words are one of the things I enjoy sharing, whether it’s my own words or a well chosen quote. I tried painting watercolors, but it’s just not my thing.  I do enjoy making art, so I added some little accents to cards.  I will keep sending these so, in with all the bills and catalogs and coupon flyers, the handwriting on an envelope can bring someone (or many someones) a smile.  In the end, I still want to be a person who delivers joy when I grow up.

So, unlike many other things today, “neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” Add pandemics to that list in the US Postal Service’s unofficial motto. I’m grateful for these couriers of kindness.

Who can you reach out to in a different way today? Who needs a lift?

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challenges

Upside Down or Inside Out?

Is my life upside down or inside out currently? Such a question to ponder but not a clear answer. Well I haven’t figured it out yet. Maybe it’s because I don’t know what day it is or what time it is most days.

I thought about what I have lost recently:

– Time with friends
– Sports activities
– Public gatherings (birthdays, events, concerts, the list goes on)
– Business meetings / presentations
– A fast-paced lifestyle

I thought about what I gained:

– Time with family
– Time to clean
– Time to complete projects at home
– Time to plan what to do or not do when freedom returns to my world
– A subdued lifestyle 80% of the time

I thought about things I do different:

– How / what / where I eat
– Where and how I get my fitness into my daily routine
– My daily sleep / wake schedule
– How I manage my dependent’s schooling
– How I interact on a social level (virtually)

I circled back many times to passion, purpose and action. In this crazy time we’re living in, I believe I am settled in the fact that I can’t change the cards that are out in front of me but I can choose to shuffle them any way I want each day and still find my passion, my purpose and my actions or inactions.

That being said I get to choose happy or sad. I get to choose productive or lazy. I get to choose fresh air or indoor air. I still have all my freedoms to choose but my choices are just different today. They are different options than a month ago, a week ago or sometimes within hours thanks to the environmental conditions caused by corona.

I adapt to the environment. The changes. The yes and the nos. The stop signs. The temporary barriers. Then I think of all my life lessons.

How fortunate have I been this far in life? How can I learn from this experience and be better prepared for the next catastrophe? How can I live more in the present? How can I be more purposeful and passionate about actions I take each day going forward?

In a way I thank corona for turning my life upside down and inside out. We all need a good shake up now and again so we can appreciate our life in its normal state. Stripping down to the barest of bare just to rebuild the dream version of you.

I’m mindful of my health but maybe others will be more mindful of theirs because of this situation we live in now. Maybe my kids will appreciate their friends a little more. Maybe they will thank their teachers for that extra help they get in person next year. So many will see opportunities in this dark time. We all have that power to choose.

It’s important to look ahead. Stay positive. No matter how bumpy the road gets now. It’s just temporary. All good things come to those wait. We must wait patiently for this crazy time to pass.

Wonder if my life will go sideways, backwards, forward or stay upside down for the next 30 days? I guess there will be a chapter or two in my next book about the effects of corona in 2020 because it is definitely one for the record books.

Wishing all our readers near and far good health, comfort and smiles wherever you are. As many have idle time on their hands currently we are hopeful that our blog will help you pass the time in some way.