Today I worked from my second purchase of the week, How to Draw Almost Everything by Chika Miyata. I choose to try my hand at drawing some flowers. Some turned out looking like the examples in the book – some not so much.
I choose to start with flowers in honor of Spring. Seeing people post pictures of the flowers popping up in their gardens was my inspiration. Spring is a time of new life; the trees budding and flowers blooming bring splashes of color to the brown canvas of winter. My sketches inspired this poem.
Today I spent some time in my new book, Old Friend from Far Away, by Natalie Goldberg. The first exercise, Go, was to spend time writing “I am looking at…”
So as I looked around from my place on the couch, these are some of the things that I was looking at…
My neighbors social distancing in a circle in the cul-de-sac enjoying this almost 80 degree afternoon
Normally empty driveways filled with cars
Small decorative flags blowing in the breeze while my flag holders remaing barren
My coffee table devoid of the week’s mail
Tiny bottles of hand sanitizer – the peach bellini is my favorite
Pictures of my grandkids who I haven’t hugged in a couple of weeks
My purse which has been in the same spot since I last left the house a week ago.
Being home all day, I am beginning to notice things that I have been missing during my “normal” life. The life that had me zipping in and out of my home like a tourist – back for dinner and sleep after a day of exploring. I am hoping to spend these days of self-isolating getting to know my home again. It certainly could use some TLC. I am hoping to get to do some things that normally get pushed to summer when I have more time.
I am looking at all the things that we have amassed over the 30 years we have lived here. Some hold cherished memories while other just hold dust. Having more time on my hands has given me the opportunity to see things that have totally gone unnoticed – things like how my bath towels are getting a little ratty around edges.
In the spirit of looking for the little things, I am going to reframe my self-isolating as rediscovering.
I think it’s important to find the little things in everyday life that make you happy.
As most of the world, I have been too stressed out this week, and have been dealing with a headache that never seems to end. At the beginning of the week, my husband asked me to order something from Amazon, so I just had to order a little something for myself too. 😉
This afternoon, I was very excited to get a text telling me these two gems had appeared at my door. (My husband’s things came too,) These are my everyday little things that made me happy today. Books. One to help me be a better writer. One to help me learn how to draw. (That could take some doing.)
These made me happy today, and I am counting on them to make me happy in the days ahead. They give me something to look forward to at the end of my “school day.” I don’t want to put my head in the sand, but I would like a little escape from the news, and fears, and stress of this new normal. Books and reading and writing do that for me.
Since Spetember I have told my retired friends that I was a little jealous of their days a home, but I never wanted my days at home to be like this. My husband is still working (food industry), so I am home alone from 10:30 – 5:30 each day. It is just me, myself, and my chromebook.
I am busy getting lessons ready to post for online learning, and I am grateful for that because it gives purpose to my days. I still get up early, shower, and get dressed. I need to have some degree of routine. Besides, each morning at 9:00 I am expected at a virtual meeting with my principal and colleagues; I don’t think pjs are business casual.
I am thankful for that meeting because we usually meet each morning as a faculty before morning assembly. It gives us a chance to get highlights of the day and pray as a faculty. (I teach at a Catholic school.) This way it seems business as “usual.”
Tonight I tried recording my first audio to post to my 7th graders. Maybe tomorrow morning I will be brave enough to put the camera on! I never mind being in front of my class; I actually love it, but having to see myself as I speak to them is beyond uncomfortable for me!
I still need practice with the whole video chatting thing, so tomorrow I have a 1:00 appointment with a colleague to discuss our plans for ELA moving forward. Then on Friday, I am having a 12:05 virtual lunch date with the two colleagues I eat lunch with every day.
The point is, being home alone all day can be lonely if you let it. Even with all the work I need to do to continue the curriculum with my students, I am used to talking with other teachers, bouncing ideas off of them, and laughing along the way.
Remember to keep in touch with those who are important in your life. I am Facetiming with my kids and grandkids (who my arms are longing to hug), and trying to check in with my siblings at least once a week. I am texting with friends – sending random emojis and gifs which I hope garner a smile and some levity during this challenging time. So, if you are feeling lonely, reach out to someone, and if you’re not feeling lonely, reach out to someone who just might need an ear. Because like the quote above states – “unless we touch others, we are out of touch with life.”
When I’m worried, and I can’t sleep, I count my blessings instead of sheep, and I fall asleep counting my blessings.
For the past two mornings my friend, Diane, has been live on Facebook talking about working from home and counting her blessings. It’s a nice little pep talk to get the day started.
Since this morning I have had the song “Counting My Blessings” from the movie White Christmas swirling in my head. This song was written in 1954 by the master song writer, Irving Berlin. Irving wrote this song as a result of a conversation he had with his doctor. Berlin was suffering from insomnia caused by stress; he was complaining to his doctor and feeling a lot of self-pity when his doctor said to him, “speaking of doing something about your insomnia, did you ever try counting your blessings?”
I have included the song below in case you are not familiar with it.
Today, I am counting my blessings.
Facetime – it gives me the opportunity to see my grandchildren when being physically with them is impossible. Their sweet faces and wonder filled eyes never cease to bring a smile to my face, and warmth to my heart.
My colleagues – who have been so willing to share their expertise as we move to online learning. They are supportive, helpful, and add just the right touch of humor to the situation.
My students – they have been patient with me as I post in Google Classroom, and they gently point out my mistakes to help me fix what needs to be fixed.
My online communities – what a blessing the outpouring of resources, supportive words, and advice have been. I am especially grateful for my SOL community. Writing is helping to ease the stress.
So when my head hits the pillow tonight, and my eyes are wide open thinking about the latest news update, I am going to “count my blessings instead of sheep,” and I hope to “fall asleep counting my blessings.”
Stress happens when you try to take control of your life experiences. Relax and remember the only real control you have is over yourself.
Today I decided to take control of my thoughts and actions concerning COVID-19. I am not a psychic or fortune teller; I have no idea what the days ahead will bring, but I do know that sitting with fear and worry is not productive. This is an enlightenment for me because I have always been a worrier.
My husband has us all stocked up with food and water. We will not starve (he does work at a supermarket, so that’s plus). We don’t have plans to be in large groups or expose ourselves to unnecessary places or people. Whatever comes our way in the next few weeks is going to appear whether I worry about it or not.
To that end, I spent today away from TV News and social media. I finished all of my laundry, sat and ate lunch with my hubby, and worked on my plans for online learning which begins tomorrow. After dinner I am going to make a schedule for my day tomorrow and read. These are the things I had control over today. One day at a time. One day at a time.
Below is a video my sister, Connie Eriksson, a pyschotherapist posted on her Facebook page. She offers some great advice for making your way through the COVID-19 pandemic. This is an early edition of her regular Monday “Live at Five” series.
Without a sense of urgency, desire loses its value.
How many things do we put on our ‘to do” lists for the weekend? I know that mine is always too long and overly optimistic. I tend to leisurely do couple of things on Saturday, and then Sunday arrives. I start to panic, and things get kicked into high gear and what absolutely needs to get finished gets finished. Now all of a sudden I am faced with at least two weeks at home, and I am at a loss for where to begin.
I had a conversation with my daughter about this. She is a working mom with two kids, who like everyone else is trying to figure out how she and her husband will deal with working and the kids being home. These were her thoughts, “There’s a sense of seriousness and urgency overall, but now that I will be working form home, and we have tons of food, there is a lack of urgency to attend to the domestic stuff.” It’s strange.
Why is it that we often wish for things (more time at home) and when our wish comes true (albeit not for good reasons) we don’t know what to do with it, or we squander it?
Yesterday, I gave myself the day off. Today, I am tackling a few things around the house. Tomorrow, I will be making a schedule for myself as to how my days will be structured while we are not in school. I know that if I don’t, I will get sucked into every news conference or distraction that comes along.
I guess the saying is correct, “Be careful what you wish for. It could be a blessing or a curse.” It is all a matter of perspective.
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Self-care means giving yourself permission to pause.
Today I gave myself permission to pause. I had a pajama party for one. It didn’t start out that way, but as my morning unfolded, I didn’t feel the need/desire to get out of my pjs.
I spoke with my both of my adult children, had a lovely conversation with a colleague, and watched a Hallmark movie. I took a long nap and didn’t watch the news until late afternoon. It was just what I needed after the stress of this past which was not only caused by Covid-19 but by the normal challenges that life presents.
That was today; tomorrow it is back to my normal morning routine and getting things done. I plan to try create a balance between supporting my students online, completing household tasks, and taking care of my own well being.
It isn’t going to be easy to resist the urge to keep checking news outlets for new information, or to mindlessly scroll social media; neither of which is productive. I will definitely miss watching college basketball as well as other sports.
What I am thinking a great deal about though is how this pandemic is putting so many things into perspective. It makes me think about those who do not have the same advantages that I have each day – access to a good breakfast and lunch, health insurance, or high speed internet. Being home for at least two weeks is definitely a inconvenience, but what about people who are home bound on a daily basis, who won’t be paid if they are not at work, who will be unable to visit their loved ones in hospitals or assisted living facilities? My inconvenience is really a minor blip compared to some others.
Here’s to not dwelling on the negative and looking for the positive in each day. No matter the day there is always something good to be found if we just look hard enough.
Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.
Joshua J. Marine
I am not finding this current challenge very interesting; I am finding it challenging. Today Governor Wolf closed Montgomery County schools until March 30th. Now, with our county having the most cases in PA, I thought this might happen eventually, but I really didn’t think it would be today. I have been bringing home materials over the last two weeks just in case, so this weekend I will be preparing online activities and assignments to push out on Monday. That is not what I am finding challenging though.
What is taking a toll on me is the constant news coverage, the run on supplies, and the thoughts of someone in my family actually coming down with the corona virus. Anxiety is getting higher, and patience is getting shorter. We are certainly in uncharted waters, and all of a sudden the swells just became higher.
I am not in a panic; I am just feeling drained tonight. I am hoping that life gets back to being ordinary quickly, and that I will be able to look for and find the meaningful in this unprecedented situation.