challenges

Taking it on the Chin

Confession time:  I am a klutz in the gym.  OK, actually I am a klutz anywhere, but it seems to be more noticeable in the gym.  Or maybe the bruises are just more obvious evidence and reminders.

First, there were the bruises from learning how to do power cleans.  I’d clock myself in the area under my neck, leaving a nice big quarter-sized bruise.

Then, there were the shoulder bruises that clean-and-jerks left when I slammed the dumbbell too hard in transition.

The chin bruises are their own special kind.  I may have a permanent lump from doing jumping pull-ups and barely getting my chin over the bar, then hitting it as I quickly came down.

Two other scary ones happened on the chin, too.  The first was on my birthday. During the workout and we were racing to do as many shoulder-to-overheads as we could in a short amount of time.  We had to break up the sets too.  It’s hard to explain, but doing them quickly kept me from having to do more burpees or box jumps or something else ugly.  Anyway, one time I cleaned the barbell to my shoulders and then pushed it up as hard as I could, which was great except that my chin was in the way.  I smacked myself so hard I saw stars.  Thankfully I put the bar down safely and regrouped but what a bruise that was.

The final one I’ll share here was a huge lesson learned (and truly cements my mega-klutz-with-a-side-of-airhead status). In a hotel gym they had a large rack of balls of different sizes.  I thought to myself, great, I can do some slam balls.  So, I grab one of the bigger ones, lift it over my head, then slam it as hard as I can to the ground.  Of course, as you can likely predict, it was not a 20-pound slam ball, but just an inflated hard bouncy ball.  It bounced with force and hit me on the chin where again, I saw stars.  The lesson here is:  first, test new equipment.  Second, don’t do new movements in the gym when you are by yourself.  I seriously could have knocked myself out.

I love working out, I really do, and my body is capable of way more than I thought possible.  But deep inside, I’m still the little girl who perpetually wore bandaids on her skinned-up knees, Dad calling me “Grace” in jest of his stumbly, klutzy, accident-prone daughter.  Hope it made you giggle, or shake your head, or some of you maybe feel a little less alone in your clumsy.

dare to be different

Brass Ring

“Breaker 1-9, Breaker 1-9, this is the Brass Ring.”

Road trips as a kid, from Georgia to Michigan to Western New York and back again, I heard it over and over.

Back before Waze.  Before GPS.  My Dad had his CB radio in the car, listening in to truckers talk about traffic, road conditions, and all kinds of other topics.  Back before podcasts and Audible and Sirius, there was CB radio to pass the time and exchange information. (There was also= 8-track cassettes and the States and Capitals game, but those are for another post.)

Brass Ring was my Dad’s CB handle.  Why the Brass Ring?  When I was growing up, one of my Dad’s many interests / hobbies was carousels.  He owned a small merry-go-round when I was very young.  Even after he sold it, we kept a full-sized carousel horse in our living room. We had a kids’ barber chair shaped like a carousel horse on our front porch.  We had a number of carousel-horse art piece throughout our home.

What’s the Brass Ring?  In the early 1900’s, many carousels were built with a “game” for the riders on the outside ring of horses.  Someone would slide rings down a dispenser, and you had to reach far out from your horse (while it was moving) and try to grab the brass ring.  Many of the rings were iron.  It took courage, skill, timing, determination, and luck to grab the brass ring, the real prize.

In my many years of riding carousels with (and in memory of) my Dad, I’ve only ridden 1 with the ring game.  I was probably in my teens, riding the carousel in Coney Island.  Many people don’t even know the brass ring exists.  I leaned off my horse and tapped the dispenser several times around before the old man working figured out I wanted to play.

I recently started a new business.  When trying to think of a solid name with some history and meaning, I remembered my Dad and the Brass Ring.  He used it as his persona.  He said it with a big-fish swagger, even though we were usually traveling along in a conversion van or minivan. He owned his place in that conversation, no matter what he was driving.

As I push forward into something new, I hope I carry on his swaggering spirit, as well as the courage, skill, timing, determination, and luck it takes to claim the real prize.  It will take some reaching. I may feel like I’m losing my balance as I really stretch. Sometimes I’ll pull the iron ring.  But if I just focus and stay in the game, my turn at the big prize will come around.

 

 

perspective

Snoring

Do I snore? Do you snore? Or the real question should be: is snoring keeping you up at night?

For me the answer is sometimes snoring keeps me awake. Like today for example. My partner is snoring. Could be in another room, in the distance or up close and personal. Doesn’t matter if it’s the reclining chair, the couch, a nap in the car or in bed. Snoring is a must or a bust.

It seems snoring is a must or a habit that unconsciously happens on a regular basis and it’s not defined by location, sitting or laying position, or even regular sleep vs. nap sleep. It just happens. Frequently.

It’s also annoying on most days because it keeps me awake to an extent. Not always but enough times for me to document the noisy behavior and actually write about its variety. I may or may not even have a video collection of sounds.

Speaking of variety I was on a family vacation and sleeping quarters included an open living room in which family members claimed a couch spot. I can sleep anywhere allowing me to grab a spot without hesitation.

And then there was another and another. I nodded off quickly but awoke to what I assumed was my partner’s annoying snoring habit. I tried the normal covering of the ears. I made my quick video of the sound effects for proof and attempted to find my restful state again fully knowing the sound was not going away.

And then there was two. Two sounds. A kind of surround sound effect. Oh no, was my mind playing tricks on me? Not a chance! My partner’s sibling had snagged a spot in the open air sleeping space while I went to sleep. I had surround sound snoring in full effect!

It was almost the exact snore pattern. In the dark room, I could hear the tick of the clock and hoarse sound of snoring in each ear. A constant sound. Shallow breath, loud snore. A hicccup pattern or patterns of continuous snores. An abnormally loud snore that could have resembled a snort or two or three.

This torture went on an on. No end in sight. I finally saw the sunrise on the horizon. A peaceful sight. It was early but blissful. I was awakening and the sound was fading into the distance.

As the sun rose and the rooster made its morning announcement in the distance, the snoring faded. Each sibling out like a light. Not even remotely aware of their snore fest mimicking a Fourth of July fireworks display to others nearby.

How do you coexist with snoring? Could I snore as bad as they do? How does one fix their snoring problem? Is there snore etiquette when you have a sleepover of sorts as adults? Is snoring even an issue for kids?

Ah, so many questions. Since it’s the wee hours of the morning and I am somewhat sleep deprived I will move on from this post as I’m sure it’s not all that exciting to most.

Do you have a funny snore story to share? If so, drop us a comment or send us a note. We love to hear from our readers and/or snorers. Hope this post didn’t put you to sleep.

perspective

Empty Shelves

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The end of the school year was very, very strange for this teacher librarian. We left school on a Thursday night.  I had just started a book fair.  We had a Family Bingo Night event going on.  In between the four corners and the blackout round, the school system announced we would be moving to digital learning. Tons of phones going off with the texted news.  Thankfully, we had been practicing for something like this…a snow day here and there.  No problem.

Never would I have imagined that we would go through 42 digital learning days before finally calling the school year over. Endless Zoom meetings, Google Meets, video lessons, double checking teacher pages, responding to student discussion posts. It was exhausting.  It was annoying. It was boring. It seemed it would never end. As of last week, we are finally done.

The school year is over, but I didn’t get the sweet satisfaction of celebrating with the kids.  No “high fives” with the little ones who had finally learned to read.  No “Thank you, Miss Dr. Friese” from the kiddos who loved finding their favorite book series.  No cheering kids on at field day.  No smiles and waves as the 5th graders walked their triumphant parade through the hallways on their last day, Pomp and Circumstance piped on loop through the intercom system. No final send off of the buses, waves and tears as we jump into summer.

Instead, we donned our masks and gloves and handed out their belongings and all the end of year “stuff” in large white plastic bags.  Pop the minivan trunk so we don’t risk touching.  Wave through the windows at the little ones we haven’t seen in months.  Many kids didn’t even come to pick their items up.

It is a dull, aching sadness I can’t really describe. An emptiness.  The main reason I came to work each day stopped coming to school. The kids.  The energy from their smiles, the goofy misbehavior, watching the kids grow, it all stopped. I loved seeing their videos in lessons and missed their personalities, but it wasn’t the same.  I wondered (and still do): are they ok? are they reading? do they have enough to eat? are they safe?

In a strange twist, my library was also scheduled for renovation this summer.  So in the middle of this slow-motion mess, I had to take the entire collection off the shelves and pack it away.  In some ways it was good, since I had more time to take care of it than if I were teaching up to the last day.  But the sight of the shelves, bare and dusty, just added to the sadness of it all.  Someone said it looked lonely in there.  Yes, more lonely than you know.

A school building without the kids is just a shell.  It has no soul, no life.

Summer break is ready to begin.  I will spend part of it putting the media center back together after the renovation is done.  I am hoping we go back to school on time, and I want to be sure the library is all ready for students from day one.  Budget cuts will bring new challenges for me.  But as long as the students come back, we will figure it out.  Sure, we made it through digital learning.  But a school without kids is lonely.  For teachers like me, there is just no substitute.

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adventure

Spring’s Simple Pleasures

Is it just me, or is this the longest spring season in recorded history?

And no, this isn’t really a post about how difficult it has been to be cooped up indoors a lot, separated from friends, missing out on events, and so on.  (If you’re looking for that, try these posts.)

I don’t remember spring ever lasting this long because it is usually lacrosse season, celebration season, end of work season, and so on.  We are often driving and juggling and cheering and volunteering and working nonstop.  And I love and miss a lot of that.  But this season has allowed me to notice and enjoy spring in new ways. I have always loved fall above all else, but I’m now seeing that spring has its charms.

Couple that with my commitment to be more intentional about spending money and I am finding myself relishing small, simple pleasures.

I’ve mentioned the morning reading that has replaced my sometimes frantic commute.  Quiet, candle, coffee and a book starts my day most of the time.  You’d think a librarian would read a lot, but I honestly don’t make the time for it that I should.  Right now I am going into my physical building to work for a few weeks, so reading time is short but I try not to miss it.

Bike rides.  What would I do without my bike?  I’m sort of obsessed with it.  I keep it on my car pretty much all the time and biking on the back seat inside just in case the opportunity to ride presents itself.  Cruising new paths in the sunshine with my riding partner is happiness and adventure when going very far from home isn’t happening.  It feels like a mini-vacation and is one of the few times I feel truly care-free.

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I am a farmer’s market fanatic.  The pandemic has caused many local farmers to revamp their business models.  I’ve been able to order flowers and farm boxes and pick them up safely.  I actually love that I can order what I like and have it held for me.  It’s frustrating to drive all the way to the market only to find they already sold out of my favorite sungold tomatoes or, later, September Wonder apples.

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Which reminds me, it is almost tomato season here where we live.  I look forward to these summer veggies all year.  Right now we are in the heart of strawberry season. I found an hour the other day to drive out to a strawberry farm and pick a couple of buckets.  If you have never had strawberries straight from the vine (or tomatoes for that matter) you are missing out.  It’s a totally different taste than supermarket berries.  And the experience of picking them myself in the hot sun was sweet and reflective. Fresh strawberries are one of the sweeter things in life. It’s been great to share them with people who appreciate them.

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What simple pleasures have you rediscovered in these hard times? Walks?  Game nights? Family dinners?  Tell us in the comments.