Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Tuesday Slice: Don't forget to write...it down

I forgot to add "SOL post" to my weekly planning pages.  So here I am, madly trying to come up with a post when I really should be getting ready for bed.  I am already trying to retrain my brain and body for school hours, which is happening with limited success; I stayed in bed an extra fifteen minutes this morning just to grasp the edges of a dream that decided to coincide with my alarm.

Speaking of the planner...last week, I avoided missed my usual Sunday planning time.  Other than a scheduled voice lesson (which was canceled due to instructor illness), there wasn't much penciled in, and I found that there wasn't much I accomplished, either.  It seems that even though I never, ever finish everything I plan to do (which frustrates me to no end), I do get more done when I write stuff down.

This past Sunday and Monday, I made time to fill in my tasks for the week--forgetting, of course, my SOL post.  That's already been rectified for the next two weeks.  Let's hope nothing else of importance has slipped off my radar...

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Tuesday Slice: What I saw gave me hope

Our son was due to return from Japan via DFW International Airport this past Sunday, so my husband and I decided to make a weekend vacation out of the trip.  We checked into the Hilton DFW Lakes Friday evening, and quickly realized that it was, indeed, a conference center with at least two events going on--the SEMO Civic and Social Club reunion, and the national conference of the Full Gospel Business Men's Fellowship in America.

The hotel lobby was expansive, with several "living areas" for small groups to gather.  For most of the weekend, the sofas and chairs were filled with people greeting each other, laughing, smiling, and telling stories.  After a Saturday of sightseeing and shopping in downtown Grapevine, my husband and I sat outside the hotel restaurant with cocktails and people-watched.  We didn't eavesdrop on the conversations, but sensed the camaraderie from facial expressions, body language, and laughter booming across the lobby; it was a heartwarming vignette.  We saw many of the conference attendees at breakfast as well, the Full Gospel businessmen identified by their lanyards and sitting at reserved tables.  We witnessed more smiles, "happy to see you" remarks, earnest conversations shared over eggs and bacon and fruit cups.

Why write about these conference-goers?

They made the hotel atmosphere politely jovial this weekend.  I've been in hotels with conferences before, and depending on the age and alcohol consumption of the attendees, the experience can be less than pleasant. The sense of fellowship was strong, and stepping into an elevator guaranteed you a "hello, how are you today?" greeting.

What struck me most, though, were the interracial interactions.  The Full Gospel attendees seemed almost evenly split between white and black men and families. I saw a black woman taking a selfie with a bearded white man. An elderly white gentleman walked over to the table next to ours at breakfast, patted a black man on the back and thanked him for coming to the conference.  A white man and a black man fully embraced by the elevators, happiness radiating from their smiles.

With the news of racial division dominating the media lately, this one weekend in a hotel in Grapevine, Texas gave me a glimmer of hope that we can come together to celebrate our common interests, regardless of the color of our skin. Maybe I just need to turn off the news, and pay more attention to what I see with my own eyes. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Tuesday Slice: Politically philisophical

I don't often write about politics, but it's been a rough summer, especially here in Texas.  Yes, the state is so big that I can't really say that the southern border is in my Austin backyard, but it feels that way with every image of chain link fences surrounding immigrant children separated from their parents.  I am ashamed that our state is participating in this inhumane activity; I've contacted my government officials to communicate my anger and sorrow, one small act of resistance.  The responses to my emails have been vague and noncommittal. 

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I returned to the resource classroom after a seventeen year hiatus from teaching.  Reflecting on the behavior patterns of students with aggressive outbursts in the same classroom, I came to realize that when one was acting out, the other was calm.  The students were normalized to chaos, so as long as it was present, there wasn't a need to act out.

I feel that the current POTUS may be normalized to chaos as well.  This seems evident by his Tweets, turnover in his staff, interactions with world leaders, and need to constantly rally.  With his every action, I feel like a whip is being cracked over our heads.  At what point do we grab the whip and say enough is enough?

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Moments that have caught my attention:
*Listening to John Lennon's "Imagine" on the car radio.
*Watching an old Twilight Zone episode.  In a post-apocalyptic world, Charles Bronson states that there is nothing left to fight over--no countries, politics, grand causes.  He yells "I hereby declare world peace!" to a town filled with skeletons and propaganda posters.
*Watching Star Trek episodes, and Gene Roddenberry's vision of our future with no disease, no poverty--but still grappling with our human failings and vices.  We are the aliens, too.
*Going back to the chaos theory--my husband and I watching the first episode of Electric Dreams (not for children!).  The main character has survivor's guilt, an inability to accept the good things in her life.  Do we choose chaos over gratitude because we feel we don't deserve the good things in our lives? 
*A meme on Facebook in response to the immigrant detention: "Legality does not equal morality".

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I read the Constitution of the United States this week.  Not as a scholar, but as an ordinary citizen, looking through a historical lens.  Several thoughts came to mind as I read this vision for a new country, a new way of government.  I was reminded that the writers were men of their times, however extraordinary their actions.  They had the foresight to allow for amendments, knowing that as time marches on, so do the needs of a nation.  Could they have foreseen the end of slavery, world wars, equality of women, existence of assault weapons, consumerism, technology, climate change, modern healthcare advances?  What would they think of their tenets being twisted by bills with riders and laws favoring special interest groups?  Does the vision of equal representation and checks and balances really exist?  Is the electoral college, necessary in a pre-technology age with thirteen colonies of homesteaders to manage, really necessary today, especially when over forty percent of us no longer reside in the state of our birth?

We are grappling with different issues than our 1700s founders.

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My final thoughts and questions--

*Do we truly see people as equal as our Constitution states, or are there those that are "less than"?
*What do you consider basic rights, in this day and age?  I like to refer to the bottom two levels of Maslow's hierarchy of needs, and think that healthcare, safe housing, and literacy would be included in the modern interpretation of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." 
*It seems that our man-made constructs of borders and religion, along with the "he who dies with the most toys wins" mentality, are responsible for a lot of strife and chaos.  I know this is oversimplifying...but I'm a dreamer, like Lennon and Roddenberry.
*The basic tenets of major religions leans towards socialism.  Experiments in socialist governments have failed because of our own human failings...but is there a way to incorporate at least some of the ideas in our democracy?  Does it have to be all or nothing when it comes to the philosophy of governing?
*What is our vision of success, and does it include the welfare of others?
*Can we really afford to be isolationist, living on this planet that is home to a transient, global society?

On this upcoming Fourth of July, I am grateful that I live in a country that allows me to ask these questions without fear of reprisal.  I am saddened, however, by the feeling that my voice, and others', aren't truly being heard.  Because we don't have anything to offer in the way of monetary gain or power, we are the "less than".  So let's get out there and vote--the one remaining power we do have.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Tuesday Slice: Alarming

To set the alarm during summer break, or not...that is the question.

I currently have my alarm set for an hour later than my usual school-day wakeup time.  Yesterday, I promptly got out of bed after turning it off.  This morning...almost an hour passed before I got up.  I have no morning appointments to keep this week, no external motivators to bolt out of a perfectly comfortable bed, where my body and my bedcovers have finally come to terms with one another after a night of sweating versus feeling cold.

If I don't get up with the alarm, I lose out on quiet alone time before my husband gets up.

Then again, I get the house to myself after he leaves for work.

I tend to get more done when I'm still in a morning haze, brain unable to talk myself out of emptying the dishwasher, putting on workout clothes and exercising, starting laundry.

Then again, I am on summer break, after ten months of almost militaristic scheduled mornings.

What to do, what to do....

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Tuesday Slice: Bibliotherapy

The books are scattered throughout the house
          Girl, Wash Your Face
                          The Soul of Money
  Cluttered Mess to Organized Success
              A Religion of One's Own
                                   Steal Like an Artist
     Women Food and God
                       The Subtle Art of Not Giving a ****
      The Wild Card
                      A Whole New Mind
   Eat for Health
              Decluttering at the Speed of Life
                          The Miracle Morning
         The Sacred Enneagram
                          The Artist's Way
The Four Tendencies
         Happy Teachers Change the World
                The Five Second Rule
The Healthy You Diet
                       My Shining Year Life Workbook
Peace and Plenty:  Finding Your Path to Financial Serenity
            Find Your Why
     Deep Work:  Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

The list goes on, and on, and on.
Most remain half-read, unread, like prescriptions gathered
By a chronically ill patient
Am I worried about the side-effects
Afraid to confront my own demons
Is it success that scares me?

Or am I afraid that the answers aren't really there at all...
Maybe the demons know the truth--and the cure.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Tuesday Slice: Five days in

The fifth official day of my summer break, and I've yet to decompress.  Instead, I've spent the last two nights tossing and turning, thoughts of work-related and personal tasks that must be completed by summer's end piling one on top of the other in my sleep-deprived mind.  

Last night, the to-do list had a soundtrack, prompted by my first voice lesson yesterday.  My instructor and I decided I'd work on Anna Nalick's "Breathe 2 a.m." , and it kept replaying in my head, along with other songs I'd like to try. I finally gave up trying to sleep and retired to the couch, checking my email on my phone and texting my son in Japan.  Scrolling through Facebook posts made me drowsy, and I managed to squeeze in a couple more hours of shut-eye before waking up an hour later than I really wanted to.

Dental appointment this morning, working in the library tomorrow morning...maybe Thursday will bring some respite?

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Tuesday Slice: Just say no

My situation had become intolerable.

My office was a dumping ground last year.  I thought I would have time to straighten it up while working summer library during the last break, but we had a steady stream of visitors.  I began this past school year with a messy desk, and the piles of papers and books just grew.

The state of the library collection was becoming intolerable, too.  I had not weeded in five years, and the average publication date was three years too old.

After reading Seth Nichols' blog post, "Why Teachers Are Walking Out" , the outlook for my summer vacation break seemed intolerable as well.  I was already feeling put out by the expectations for summer professional development--without pay or professional compensation--and reading his post reinforced those feelings.  Requests for district-paid summer work outside of my own school even annoyed me.

So I started saying no.  No to professional development in June during my work days, when I really need to be cleaning my office, working on my annual report, and weeding.  No to paid extra-duty job offerings and requests, when I need to be home battling insurance issues that I can't take care of during the school year because I am busy, busy, busy during business hours.  No to attending free online teacher training, when I have piles of children's books to read to prepare for next year, and my own professional books that I've purchased and left unread.

I have compromised, and set my own schedule of going in to the library for five Wednesdays this summer.  For three hours each day, volunteers will be helping me weed and reconfigure math kits, tasks that I know can't be done in August.

This summer, I am saying yes to taking Spanish lessons.  Yes to taking voice lessons, and painting, and reading books just for fun.  Yes to cleaning up my own home, and swimming, and walking in the sunshine.  Doing these things for me will allow me to be there for the children come August, to do all the things I say yes to in the fall.