mental health

Sincerity

It was a stupid week. Too much going on to even think about, much less write about. Everything was coming at me faster than I could understand. Get up, go to the gym, get dressed, try to accomplish as much as possible at work, errands and events after work, home, reset, repeat. It was a blur.

Finally, Friday. Dragging as I made it to work. The bell rings, another day begins. Hundreds of kids rolling in on the big yellow buses. All the drivers waiting for me to open the front door to the school. The seconds tick. Tasks are unfinished. Everyone looking for me to get it all going. I’m 30 seconds late. Just keep moving. Execute, execute, execute.

The whoosh of the cold hits me and I brace. Before I even get the doors propped open kids are flooding by, behind my back, at a full sprint. I feel like a jammed object in the middle of a flood. Getting in the way of progress as everything rushes by. I wish I could just let go and float along with them all.

But, instead I have to account for all the buses that have arrived and get everyone heading on their way to their next destination. Walk, look, check off, walk, look, check off. Not really in one of my bright, bubbly “good morning!” moods.

I get to the front bus, the daycare bus, and make a point to stop and say hello to Hector. An older man. He is always first in line. He is kind and affable. He made it a point to ask me my name about a month into school. He greets me by name every morning and asks me how I am. This day, on the Friday before Valentine’s, I wave and say “Hello, Hector!” before I’m turning to pivot and head back down the long row of buses. He calls to me by name and I walk back, sort of impatient. He’s standing at his bus door with a box of chocolates.

“Take two of your favorites,” he says, handing me a variety pack of Lindor truffles.

Um, what??!?!?

The productivity part of me says, I don’t have time for this right now. I’m holding up bus drivers who have schedules. Routes. Execute, execute, execute. But then he just talks to me about how much he likes seeing me every morning. How he enjoys our little chats. He wanted me to have something sweet for Valentine’s Day. He was in no rush, despite the masses of kids and tasks that were waiting on him. He looked me in the eyes, genuine. Sincere. I stopped and let those precious seconds sink in. I chose a red wrapper and a blue wrapper (IYKYK) and smiled, handing him back the box. Then he waved, put on his seat belt, and rolled out.

In my life’s flood of fakery and rushing to the next thing, Hector stopped time with this simple gesture. He reminded me how it is possible to just be present and sincere, and how much that means. In my rush to get things done, I miss so much. People don’t need 18 roses or a fireworks display. A simple gesture complete with sincerity can change someone’s whole day. What can you do to stop time and sincerely connect with someone else today?

fitness and nutrition

Six Pounds

How much exactly does six pounds weigh?

Is six pounds of fat the same as six pounds of stress? 

Does eating six pounds of ice cream mean you will weigh six more pounds on the scale?

How many inches off your body is six pounds?

Is it worth it to abstain from alcohol to remove six pounds from your body?

Is it worth it to avoid pizza to keep six extra pounds off your body?

The questions above are really just a few of the many questions many people ask of themselves when they are monitoring their food intake to ultimately live healthier. For each person there are variables and of course obstacles. No two people will ever have the same journey of six pounds.

Whether the six pounds go on or off there was a story behind the why. It could be hard work or it could be grief and more. Variables. Journeys. Stories. Ups. Downs.

Everything in between. What is your story? Do you have six extra pounds that you would like to lose? Did you lose six pounds and now have sags where you don’t want them?

Is six pounds even worth writing about? Losing weight takes effort by the individual but may require a community for support. Gaining weight is normally about choices and environmental conditions. It could also be related to many other things.

What does six pounds represent emotionally? Can that six pounds weigh more like twenty to the person carrying the weight? What about a person with an eating disorder? One who struggles to maintain weight? What does a six pound loss weigh emotionally for this person?

Non-scale victory. NSV is a term I’ve seen before. Your victory may be another’s loss. Different journeys. Different stories. Physical and emotional weight. How do the differ or are they the same?

Just a post to ponder today.

dare to be different

New Ink

Fresh.

Colorful.

Memorable.

Designed with detail.

My body is a temple. A place of art. Unique as the person living under the skin. My ink tells a story or many stories. Some inked pieces are linked or overlapped while others stand alone in their storyline. Some are colored some are not.  Some fade while others stand firm. Some hurt more than others.

Tattoos are interesting. For some tattoos carry judgment on the person adorning them while others are curious about tattoos. Did that hurt? Why would you get that? You do know that is permanent? If god wanted you to have markings he would have gifted them at birth. I have heard them all. I have also shared my tattoo stories to many time and time again. Some show excitement. Some say now I get it. Others say no way. Some conversations ignite a passion to finally get a tattoo. A first for so many.

My body, my choice. My temple, my art. This newest piece is symbolic. I’ve been waiting for a while post-pandemic to get an appointment first of all. Then the timing just fell into place. An anniversary date. A symbol of growth. A unique piece of art. Plastered on my arm. Worn with pride. A reminder of so much. I just love my newest ink piece.

I was lucky enough to share my ink experience with a few gals. We laughed. We took pictures. We marked the spot so to speak.  We met some cool people. I should mention that all walks of life get tattoos and just visiting a tattoo shop is an experience that I encourage. From couples to moms and daughters to those celebrating another’s life are all at the shop for a unique piece of art. The tattoo artist creating that perfect image.

Years of inspiration will be drawn from this inked art as I push through life’s ups and downs. When I am old and wrinkled I will know I have lived my life to the fullest and captured moments or highlights on my canvas to share with others. These memories of life have value to me. The perfect keepsake.

I wasn’t even five minutes from the tattoo parlor when I was asked about my fresh ink. The placement was perfect. The design was just what I wanted. The coloring was spot on. The timing was right. My story continues. My ink will continue to evolve just like me.

author moments, featured

Gratitude and Goodbye, 2020

Despite all the crappiness of 2020, I had a decent year. I learned a ton. I adventured some. I said hello to new friends. I watched as some friendships faded with COVID. I traveled a little stateside. I tried many new things. I hit some goals. I mapped out some new goals. Overall, a successful year in the books.

I am also grateful for my opportunity to write. From journals to picture books to blog posts and beyond. I truly get to enjoy my creative side in many ways through words, pictures and experiences. Many may dream of this life. Few will take the less traveled path. For me it’s part of the journey. 

The learning experience. The sharing of life’s ups and downs and all that is hidden in between. Sharing my lens view with the world from my digital device. Leaving a time capsule for my future grandkids. 

Chipping away at the 1095 Days project that has so much depth the cutting room floor will literally be covered. Years in the making amidst a pandemic of all odd things. So many twists and turns. Editing will not be for the weak at heart.

Thank you to all who follow this blog. Click through to our website. Like our posts. Share our stories. You are our inspiration. From a tiny town in small town USA to a high-tech suburb in Germany. You are appreciated. To all those new countries we reached this year, thank you for popping in to our virtual world.

I may not make it to your home country but hope you visit our site often. We can be virtual pals. It’s the cool thing of 2020. You never know what post is part of our bigger book projects or how we will flip a switch and cover some new topic you were not expecting. Some stories are about adventuring. Some hit on tough life paths. Some hit on the life of a parent. Some even cover emotional states. We offer depth. We over variety. We offer inspiration.

Our site is free to our readers. No ads. No big frills. Just 2 chicks writing their way. Today. Tomorrow. Into the future we go. Just like that. Keep following. A goal every year is to reach a larger audience. We continue down that path because of you. Just one forward. Just one repost. That’s all it takes to multiply our readership. Help us make 2021 a big reader year and share our stories if they touch you in a special way.

*The list of countries above is not all inclusive. However, it’s a snapshot of some of areas of growth in 2020. With travel restrictions limiting international travel it is great to know we virtually put our mark on at least some readers abroad. 

Wishing everyone a happy, sane and safe 2021.

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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