Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Tuesday Slice: Imposing boundaries


Today's writing prompt:  

"Setting boundaries is an important act of self-care.  Now is a good time to start practicing the art of saying "no" when you need to." 

This week, looking through the lens of boundaries:

Of place

There are nationwide recommendations to stay home this Thanksgiving and celebrate with just your household members.  We usually have a single friend over, but he recognizes the possible danger and will not be joining us for dinner.  Our son is coming home from college, which means we will all have "asymptomatic carrier" worries about each other this week.  

Of time

There are deadlines to meet this week--the buying and shipping of gifts, cleaning, and yes, lesson planning.  I feel the need to take advantage of a week off of work to begin holiday preparations that are hard to do at the end of ten hour workdays.  I love to bake, but it takes time and energy.  I am doing my best to get a decent night's sleep as often as possible, for mental and physical health--and that takes time, too.

Of available space

Nothing like a week at home to make you take a hard look at piles of clutter.  After trying several other decluttering methods, I am going to take the "one square foot" approach--just focus on one square foot at a time.  The boundaries of available space is also affecting gift-buying decisions for both our home and our children.  One is getting ready to move from Japan and doesn't want/ need anything more to pack, and the other is beginning to adopt a Marie Kondo sensibility.  I love the idea of experiential gifts...but going back to boundaries of place due to COVID19...sigh.

Of physical health

I have hit my personal upper limit of weight, with boundaries imposed by clothes that don't fit and various other symptoms that I know are brought on by an unhealthy percentage of body fat.  This boundary is hard to grapple with during this season of feasting. I need to use "no" more often it comes to placating myself with food, and view such as an act of self-care.

I read once or twice that self-care isn't necessarily bubble baths and chocolate bonbons, but rather doing those things that bring you health and peace of mind--like spending time with family, getting enough sleep and exercise and good-for-you food, cleaning your space to avoid a feeling of chaos in your home.  I'll have to work on saying "no" to the things that get in the way of doing just that.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Tuesday Slice: College bookends


My dad sent me this picture, packed in an enormous box with floor liners for my car.  It's the presentation of my National Merit Scholarship from Raytheon, the company he worked for after retiring from the U.S. Army.  The hair, the clothes, my teeny tiny waist--can you hear 1984 calling?

More importantly, can you see the joy in my parents' faces, the grin under my father's mustache, my mother's smiling cheeks?  This moment solidified the fact that I was going to college, an opportunity that eluded them and the generations  before them.  I was the first.  My brother joined the U.S. Air Force, and has since accumulated even more degrees.  

Our successful, non-college-educated parents produced two college-educated children; my niece will be the third grandchild following that path as she heads to college next year. 

I received a picture last night from my son, my baby, who will be graduating this coming May.  The coincidence of both of these photos arriving in the same week brought a smile to my face.  One just beginning college, the other getting ready to graduate.  Fine bookends, indeed.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Tuesday Slice: Scents of a melting pot on the eve of good news

The scents of a melting pot on the eve of good news
Came through doors opening
As I handed out books to those who had none
Little eyes beaming, older eyes grateful
Some heads covered, some dotted foreheads
A rainbow of garments and fleshtones

Curry and peppers and onion drifted past their smiles
Assaulting my masked nose, making my mouth water
I heard the laughter and playful screams of children
Saw mothers watching from the doorsteps
Beaten-up bikes piled, unlocked, at metal posts by my car

My name was called; I stopped, turned to see a child breathless, smiling
Followed by a half dozen more
You're not at school!  Why are you here?  Where do you live?  
Can you see my apartment?  There, with the open window!
Such pride and joy in his voice

The next morning, my own child on the phone--
Have you heard the news?  They called the election!

There is hope.  There is hope.  There is hope.

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Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Tuesday Slice: My head in the sand

Aside from posting my blogs, changing my Halloween Facebook cover photo and profile picture, and Tweeting out my library happenings, I have been staying away from social media and the news as much as possible since Saturday afternoon.

I have done my civic duty by voting.  My family and friends have done the same.  My daughter FedExed her ballot from Japan; my son drove home from college to cast his vote early.

I participated in this democratic process, but I will not play the waiting game. This year has been enough of a stressor to willfully put myself in a heightened state of anxiety, and to what end?  Watching and scrolling will not change the outcome.  There is sleep to be had, and students to be served, and laundry to be done.  That cobweb in the corner of the window must be taken care of.  

I wish I was full of hope, like I was four years ago.  But so many people have accepted the plethora of lies and misinformation as truths from the current occupant of the White House that I am disheartened.  And social media has been the weapon of choice for those who would like to see us divided, who count on our greed and need for instant gratification that keeps us from investigating sources of information, reading past the headlines and first paragraphs, thinking before sharing.  It's the modern day version of "loose lips sink ships"; instead of divulging secrets, it's the spreading of misinformation that our enemies are using to attack our country.  

So I am staying away from consuming social media and the news this week.  The drama will be played out by those with much bigger roles.  I'll wait until the dust settles a bit; then, like a teenager watching a horror movie, I'll peek from between my fingers to see if it's safe to engage again.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Tuesday Slice: Unexpected memories

Autumnal spice
Bought on a whim
A night-time treat, if you will

The pink gel hits my tongue

Red Hots candy comes to mind
though not as fiery

My grandfather's mouthwash
by his bathroom sink

Tiny sticks of Trident flavoring
high school kisses

I didn't know that I was buying memories
in a tube of toothpaste.
Well played, Crest, well played.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Tuesday Slice: Sixth and seventh first days of school

A little over a month ago, I wrote about the five first days we had experienced in this COVID-altered school year.  Yesterday was the sixth first day; I'll experience my own personal seventh next Tuesday.

October 19th marked the beginning of a new grading period, and parents had a choice to change their child's placement as at-home or on-campus learners.  As a result, sixty more students joined us, bring our school to forty-six percent capacity.  Classes were shuffled yet again as virtual and in-person teachers alike became hybrid--teaching students at-home and in-person at the same time--to safely space students in their rooms.  The master schedule changed; students started going to music, art, and p.e. instead of following asynchronous lessons.

More than a few teachers were feeling overwhelmed.  Attending to students in class and on a screen sounds easy if you're thinking of college lectures, but wrangling the attention of "virtual" elementary students who aren't necessarily used to sharing their onscreen time with in-school classmates, coupled with the distractions of home, is another matter.  Newly grouped students meant repeating the first-day tasks of classroom expectations and getting-to-know-you exercises, which must have felt odd alongside the second nine weeks' curriculum.  Specials teachers went from covering two classes a day of asynchronous lessons to a full day of in-person students.

Last Wednesday, with the support of my administrators, I made the decision to not have library this week.  The master schedule was being worked on and tweaked up until the last minute, and I couldn't bring myself to ask my teachers to accommodate yet another new thing, knowing what this week would be like for them. I'm surveying them to find out who's comfortable coming to the library, and/or sending small groups to check out.  Most of my classes will still be virtual, meeting the needs of the many hybrid and handful of virtual-only classes.  Time will be built into the new library schedule to wipe down tables between visits. We're surveying students about their home libraries and building bundles of donated books to distribute.  I need to set up space to teach in person again, too.

Next Tuesday will be my personal seventh first day of school, as I welcome some students and staff back into the library.  There will still be book deliveries and online classes; I will become a hybrid teacher librarian.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Tuesday Slice: Alphabet soup


Our prompt today:
And so I give you the alphabet soup of my thoughts today.
Mason, Gaby, and Junki are my children.
The words on each line are not necessarily connected, for me...
perhaps they will be, for you.

Anxiety, acceptance
Biden, birthdays, ballots
COVID19, cooperation
Democrat, democracy
Eddie Van Halen, educators
Fear, friends
Gaby, graduation, goodbyes
Help, holidays
Immigration, insight, isolation
Junki, Japan
Knowledge, keyboards, kindness
Lifelines, laughter
Mason, managing, masks
Naps, nitpicking
Overwhelm, opposition
Pedagogy, pacing
Quiet, questioning
Republican, re-public, rest
Students, self-care
Trump, technology, testing
University, unity
Vaccine, voting, veracity
Weather, welcomes
Yelling, yesterdays
Zillionaires, zigzagging, zen.