Rainy Day Blues

#SOL20
Day 23/31

Today was the hardest day so far since I left school on March 12th. I don’t know if it was waking up to rainy day, or the realization that this really is the new normal. Last week I was searching for the right word for what I was feeling, and I finally figured out I was searching for the word paralyzed.

Maybe paralyzed isn’t quite the right word; at first I did feel a little paralyzed – like on a snow day when you just keep watching the news to see how many inches you could expect. But actually I was more in denial even though I had been following the spread of COVID-19. Working on getting out work to my students took up most of my time, and didn’t give me too much time for anything else.

This morning I woke up feeling sad – sad that this is my new normal. The day didn’t get better. Our governor declared a stay-at-home order for the next two weeks for my home county. I was staying at home anyway, but that is not the same as being ordered to stay home. Later, I got notified that I would have a 90 minute window to get into my classroom and pick up what I needed for an extended period at home. Going back into my classroom was sad, knowing that I had no idea when/if I will be back this year.

Things changed about an hour after I got home though. As I sat on the couch, I started to feel a little better. I decided that it’s okay to feel sad, to let myself shed a few tears. This is definitely a storm the likes of which we have never seen before, but I refuse to be paralyzed and wait for it to pass. I will keep dancing in the rain even though I don’t dance that well…lol.

Keep dancing and stay well.

Family

#SOL20
Day 22/31

A family doesn’t need to be perfect; it just needs to be united.

Anonymous

Today, we had a family “meeting.” My son initiated a family “Happy Hour” via Zoom, and at 4:00 my siblings & their partners, their kids & their partners (most of them), and seven collective grandkids were all online together in a Brady Bunch matrix.

Some were drinking; some were snacking, and some were coralling kids, but all of us were present for almost 40 minutes. There was the normal sibling ribbing, joking, and laughing. We didn’t really talk about anything really important, and there were some lulls in conversation probably because we weren’t used to being “together” but not physically together, yet it was still nice to be together.

When the session ended, I had this really warm feeling in my heart. We certainly aren’t perfect, and we don’t gather as a whole group except at some holidays and even then it gets harder as the family grows, but we are tight. I know that if I needed anything at all I can count on my family and vice versa. This is how family should be.

What really made me feel so good is that I know my mom and dad would be so proud of all of us. My mom especially always hoped that after she was gone we would still be close to one another. Mom, I am pretty sure you’re smiling down on us today.

Perenial Hope

#SOL20
Day 21/31

Where flowers bloom so does hope.

Lady Bird Johnson

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.

Perenial Hope

Flowers push their way up 

from under the once hard winter ground

stretching towards the sun.

No matter how cruel the winter weather,

even if some snow remains,

flowers make their appearance.

Signs of new life cyclically bloom

to remind us to reach up 

and search for the light.

When life casts shade on your plans

look to the flourishing flowers

as a guide to enduring hope.

I wish you enduring hope. Stay well.

Looking Around

#SOL20
Day 20/31

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.

Stay well.

It’s the Little Things

#SOL20
Day 19/31

I think it’s important to find the little things in everyday life that make you happy.

Paula Cole

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.

Stay well.

Staying in Touch

#SOL20
Day 18/31

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.”

Counting My Blessings

#SOL20
Day 17/31

When I’m worried, and I can’t sleep, I count my blessings instead of sheep, and I fall asleep counting my blessings.

Irving Berlin

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.”

Stay well.