challenges

Flexible, Agile, Pivot

These three words have come up multiple times in the past week.

First, from my friends in the teaching profession. Those are the three words they are being told to embrace as school begins in person (don’t say face to face it sounds too close) as we return to the buildings. Don’t plan too far in advance, as things could and probably will change day by day. In fact, since we started writing this post, we’ve already switched from in person to online school in many places to start the upcoming year.

Be flexible and ready to adapt to evolving conditions and unexpected challenges. Be agile, able to move quickly, efficiently and confidently from situation to situation. Pivoting to change direction is almost inevitable. With so many unknowns and twists and turns on the horizon those words are valuable to latch on to. For teachers who are trained to plan, abide by calendars, and be as routine and predictable as possible, it’s a bit against their training and possibly their nature. Time to rethink, reframe, and expand in a different direction, and help students and their parents do the same.

Me on the other hand, I giggle a bit on those three words. They represent my life In many ways, during a pandemic or just a routine Tuesday afternoon. All the twists and turns. All the adapting. The organized chaos I call life. I thrive under pressure and beg for adversity most days. It’s fuel to my fire.

Then the conversation hit on a Friday night at the ball field. We all had masks on. Following the rules. The sun was scorching despite the evening hours. I took my face mask down briefly for fresh air. It was still hanging on an ear. Technically I was wearing a mask. The directions didn’t specifically define what mask type, how it needed to be officially placed and so on.

Out comes a gentleman I knew well. He saw my mask and followed his glance with an affirmation (or was it an accusation?) of me not being a rule follower. That spurred a discussion that lingered. I am a rule follower. I just choose to follow the rules within the terms I choose. He implied that I am an A, B, C2-C3-C4 person. As if all the rules have an asterisk. Options within the boundaries.

Yes, that is correct. I always have a backup plan and C4 may be a good pivot point description for me. Explosive. Dynamite in a way. Always with a second, third and fourth plan. I call it depth. It’s layers deep. I make the rules work for me. It allows me to not only survive but thrive.

Some may see it as grey. Operating in the grey tones of life. Pushing the limits. Especially if the limits don’t make sense in certain situations. Staying in the black and white only confines me. Shades give life texture, interest, originality, make me memorable. For some, it makes them rewrite the rules with more care and specificity. It forces people to be agile in their mind and in their lives. But I am always at least one step ahead, if not more. Rewrite the rules and try to corral me. Just another challenge for me to find the gray and keep growing.

I see it for what it is. Depth, diversity, dynamic layers ingrained within. How the mask conversation turned into an unmasking of sorts

adventure

Spontaneous Saturday

I’m not a picker but I am picky. I’m a picky eater. I can also be picky about many things.
For those reasons alone most wouldn’t expect me to be a picker.

I have watched many of the picker shows on tv and was just a spectator. Celebrating with the tv for those rare finds. Never really been a garage-sale type of girl, but with today’s online outlets you can easily locate an item you specifically want. For me the search started with a barrel. I want an old barrel to use in an outdoor space as a trash can. Nothing expensive just a fun variation of a trash can. Look what I found:

Pretty cool for stop one. I was super happy but I had another stop lined up for an older dresser with a cute wine rack in place of a drawer. I just thought what a fun piece to have.

As I reach stop two, little did I know my facebook marketplace ad was going to land me at the home of a real life picker. A professional picker who digs it, picks it, and passes it on. So many cool things to choose from.

I went from his garage to his yard and got all types of goodies for a new project I’m working on. I scored the neat lantern above. A little dusty but perfect for my project. I found a never-used bamboo picnic basket set. So fun to think about using that on a hillside somewhere. I got a few more items for my project but I’ll make you wait to see the end result.

The next stop was going to be interesting. I was headed to see the Spool King. The spool man. This started when I was looking for a rather large spool that I could make into a table. I not only found my future table but I found some neat finished spools that I liked so I bought those too. Not sure where I will use them but I am excited for the buys.

I suppose later I will post what my project is about and what my table ends up looking like but for now, here is a picture of what I’m aiming for. 

It will be pretty cool if I can turn a trash piece into a treasure. Wish me luck.

As a first time picker I had so much fun. Not sure if I will do it again as I have some finds that will keep me busy for a while but I did get to savor the day. A new day full of new adventures.

Somebody’s junk can definitely be another’s treasure. I knew that but relished the moment of it on this spontaneous Saturday.

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.

 

challenges, perspective

Digital Doomsday

Without warning on or around March 14th school halted in my area due to the pandemic events. This meant digital learning began for students, mine included.

A day. A week. Two weeks. It’s temporary right?

The first few days teachers, parents and others adjusted. Nobody thought this was for the long term. Kids got behind in their work because they were never really given expectations for long term digital learning. And let’s face it, digital learning and homeschooling isn’t for everyone.

Teachers are doing the best they can virtually but if your child isn’t a kid who likes to work online for hours at a time you are screwed. I fall into this category!

Let’s take gym class for instance: you have to design a workout circuit just like a personal trainer. You have to type out the instructions and make sure you included all the requirements. Then you have to video tape it to prove you did it. What if your phone isn’t the latest and greatest? What if your family isn’t the physically fit type? Can they even help you? And don’t forget then you need to upload it. Even if you are self-conscious and don’t like to video tape yourself.

I can definitely say showing up to class to play with a ball and my friends is so much easier and at the same time it’s beneficial physically and emotionally, This is just one example of what my child misses. I can confirm this because I not only miss my workout time with friends, I miss the routine of it and the group learning.

My child is social. She misses her friends. She misses lunch chats. She will miss her yearbook signing this year. She will miss saying good bye to her friends. She will miss many experiences unfortunately like cheering on her friends at a baseball game. Giggling at the park with friends and sharing a hug. Touch is another thing missing. No handshakes. No high fives. No hugs. Those embraces are needed especially for those who struggle at home.

My child copes but that coping will have an impact as she transitions to high school. Her love for school may be tainted. Her rebellious side may come out due to all the frustrations of having barriers for a while.

As adults we wing it. As teens they are still learning. Their brains are still developing thus they may have impairments socially, emotionally or cognitively. The balance of school, home, activities is much needed part of development. I had not written about this part of being cooped up because it makes me worry not just for my kid but others. Families with violence, hunger or financial struggles.

I worry for the well-being of not only my kid but others who have different struggles. My child misses connections with people which I understand as I am a people person. What about the kids who need their special ed teacher and their accommodations to work? Can they adapt to a home school environment that might include a screaming 2 year old sibling? What about the kids who have a tough home life. Maybe even abusive home life. School is their escape. How do they cope?

School has been cancelled for the rest of the year where I am. Sporting teams have cancelled seasons. Obviously there is good reason but the impacts of this pandemic will have an effect on students, student athletes, friend groups, grades, attitudes at home and so on.

I often think of others who have it far worse than me. The single mom with two kids juggling work and judgment for taking her kids with her to an essential job because nowhere is open to care for them. The needs of the front line medical workers who have to face emotionally draining days and if they return home then become teacher or maybe the teacher role falls on the spouse who is already worried about their spouse on the front lines.

Can we catch a break? Don’t the powers that be think maybe three days a week is enough school given the environmental challenges? What about the teachers who have to adjust to planning digital days vs school days? What about staff meetings online and irate parents. I can only imagine the stress in that occupation.

I didn’t even mention nearly every household has financial stresses added to the mix. Homes today are under siege of stress from corona and all of its side effects that will hit the commoners hard in time.

Our mental health system is not prepared for the need that is about to hit as hard as the pandemic has hit schools, businesses, families and healthcare workers.

I predict a lot of PTSD in near future for many age groups.

perspective

Flip Flopping Frustrations

This morning my frustrations were mounting.  The workouts I decided on weren’t what I expected.  My home gym equipment kept failing or falling over.  I wasn’t sweating enough.  The scale was up.  My morning reading time didn’t settle my mind as it usually does.  Another day of staring at a computer screen (aka working from home) was about to begin. Anger, irritation, all of it piling up, no end in sight.

Woe is me.

I had a come to Jesus with myself and told myself to quit griping.  Yes, a lot of the pandemic pandemonium sucks but we are making it work.  I told myself to make a list of my frustrations then flip them into reasons to be grateful.  Some remind me to be grateful for what I have now, others remind me to be grateful for what I used to have and will hopefully return to.  Here it is:

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It’s in the notebook I’ve set aside to chronicle this crazy time. I’ve read in several places that journaling, while always important, is especially valuable now, for mental health as well as historical reasons.  We are living history. I know I will add more pages of frustration as this time wears on.  I’ll keep reading it and reminding myself to flip my frustrations into appreciation.

Spring break begins today.  What would have been sweet relief and possibly getting out of town is not a shelter-in-place order that will last two weeks.  Our one week off of school will be followed by at least three more of learning from home.  I will spend time preparing my mind for these challenges this week.  I’ll also devote some time to gratitude to friends, family, and those who are serving on the front lines of this crisis.  And hopefully get out into the sunshine and nature often with those who are closest to me.

When you start to get stuck or go down the path of anxiety, see if you can flip your thinking.  Focus on gratitude and what you can control. What switch can you flip today?