Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Tuesday Slice: Backwards morning


I'm writing a bit backwards this morning, just to see how it feels.  My normal morning routine is this:  

Get up, weigh myself, head to the kitchen. 
Drink some water, empty the dishwasher, make my coffee.
Meditate a little, write a page in my notebook, move my body a bit.
Refill my coffee cup, read a little, check email and Facebook.
(Except on Tuesdays--after "read a little", I write my Slice.)
Get ready for work.

Today, for some reason, I decided to write this Slice right after "meditate a little".

What have I discovered?

It's much harder to write without prepping thoughts by hand first.
It's much harder to write without the appropriate amount of coffee on board.
It's much harder to write without having moved my body, getting blood flowing a bit faster through my brain.

I still have to write a page, move my body, refill my cup, read, check email and Facebook...and go to work.

Next week, I will be caffeinated, limber, and prepped before Slicing.  Some routines just aren't meant to be changed. 

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Tuesday Slice: How it should be

They see me at the front door.  "It's library day today!" some say, smiling.  Others aren't fully awake yet, meet me with sleepy eyes as I remind them to use hand sanitizer on their way to breakfast.

Later, they bounce into the library.  "Another monster story today!"  Our summer school logo is a cute monster; I ran with the theme.  Last week we shared My Teacher is a Monster! (No, I Am Not) by Peter Brown; this week, it's The Monster Who Lost His Mean by Tiffany Strelitz Haber.  The oldest classes are listening to a Bluebonnet Award Nominee, The Best of Iggy by Annie Barrows; fingers crossed that we finish it next Tuesday.

The story and following discussion run short of our twenty minutes, so we spend some time talking about the kinds of books they'd like me to pull for checkout tomorrow.  There's always a few who are hesitant to answer, but once hands are raised and choices are shouted, even the sleepy ones chime in.

"Big fat books!" (Prompting a reminder that we choose books for their content, not their size...and the short period of time we have in this summer program.)

The session is coming to a close, so we wrap it up with some round-robin storytelling.  The teachers return from their brief break and leave with their tiny groups.  I have ten minutes to reset before the next classes come.

They are happy to come to the library, too.  They know what kinds of books they want to read.  And that is how it should be.

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Tuesday Slice: The missing OLW


revisited my "One Little Word" last month, to explore whether or not it still resonated, and bemoaned the fact that the areas of my life that I really wanted to change had not, all that much anyway. 

Six weeks later, it finally hit me.  (If only I had read my own post, I would have realized this sooner.)

My OLW was in sore need of an addendum.  So here it is:


As in 'to get results, one must perform some action.'  I knew this at some level, because hey, the planning got done, complete with action steps.  Heck, I even wrote "What I've learned (once again) in the last five months is that writing stuff down, even in SMART goal form, isn't the same as doing it." Last I checked, "doing" was an action verb.

To be honest, some of this push is coming from reading Think Like a Monk by Jay Shetty. Thirteen pages in, and he's already challenging me to "audit my time" to determine if how I spend my waking minutes aligns with my values.  I've extended this thinking to my goals.  

If I am eating that second cookie, is that acting like someone who wants to lose weight?  
If I am mindlessly scrolling through social media, ignoring the clutter and cleaning tasks, is that acting like someone who really wants a clear space?
If I am buying something that I already have plenty of and really don't need, is that acting like someone who wants more financial stability?

I did all those things yesterday...and the cognitive dissonance hit me, each time.  Today I am going to sit with that discomfort...and act like someone who really wants results. 

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Tuesday Slice: Watching the numbers

For most of my adult life, I've filtered what news I pay attention to.  Convinced that our nervous systems are not wired to process events that are beyond our control and sphere of influence, I watched enough to be informed and still be able to function without the paralyzing fear that the world is going to hell in a handbasket.  I can look around my immediate surroundings and still find evidence of acts of kindness and service, people going about their daily business, joyful moments occurring on a fairly regular basis.

The pandemic changed that.  Like it or not, we are a global society, and a virus on the other side of the world can very well indeed impact locally in the not-so-distant future.  With friends and family around the globe, I have reasons to pay attention to the news about COVID.

And the numbers are rising.  Here we go again. 

I feel fortunate to have been vaccinated, along with my husband and son.  My daughter and her husband, living in Japan, have not been afforded that opportunity yet.  

I know that the vaccinations don't guarantee prevention of infection or transmission.  I am choosing to remain masked for that reason--to protect myself, to protect others, to remain healthy enough to greet my daughter and her husband when they come home.  They are already planning their trip to the vaccination clinic, as soon as their quarantine will allow.

Chalk this Tuesday Slice up to another entry in the COVID diaries.

Thursday, July 1, 2021

A soul-filled summer?--Spiritual Journey Thursday


Carol Varsalona is hosting our Spiritual Journey writing this month.  
"Our writing community gathers together this month to celebrate summer. As your host, I offer the prompt, Nurturing Our Summer Souls, for you to ponder. Please see ... the digital art I designed with photos and artwork from Jan Annino, Donna Smith, Fran Haley, and myself. The poster shares different settings that open our hearts and expand our minds to new possibilities." 

Much of the country is beginning their summer...and it is already halfway over here in Texas.  Many of our schools finish just before Memorial Day; my librarian work calendar extends into June, and begins again on August second.  I begin my part-time summer school work on Monday, and will spend the days off preparing for my daughter's return from Japan (with her husband!) and getting things in order before the new school year begins.  July is spoken for, even as it's barely begun.

I have been restless this summer, what little I've had of it.  My one attempt at a solo peaceful getaway in nature was foiled by heat, humidity, and insects.  The neighborhood pool I prefer to frequent, just a block away, has been closed more days than open for various reasons, my new swimsuits barely used.  In a desperate attempt to connect with the outdoors, I am spending a fair amount of my teacher paycheck on birdseed for a feeder hung from our unused playscape.  I've spent hours gazing through my dirty kitchen window watching the antics of various winged species, avoiding cleaning that window and the rest of my house. 

I anticipated this malaise, as it happens most summers in between school years--  the yearning to get stuff done, without the motivation or energy to do it.  I had to really think about whether or not I've nurtured my soul this season.  In some small ways, I have "filled my bucket" a bit:

Finding delight in my winged visitors to the birdfeeder
Lunch with a good friend
Getting lost in two good books
Several nights of satisfying sleep
A five-hour Zoom call with another good friend
Time to just...think 
Drinking lots of water, eating sweet melons
A vineyard visit with yet another good friend

Do I feel filled to the brim?  Not quite yet.  But I do have four or five days a week in July to try.  I'm hoping that finding order in my house will bring some peace to my soul.

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Tuesday Slice: Birdwatching


They arrive around 7a
I scare them off if I am running late
Wings all aflutter as I step outside
It used to take them a good half hour to return
Now, maybe five or ten minutes

Bluejay is usually first to the feeder
Followed by a dole of doves
(Though I prefer to call them a congregation
The way they line up on either side of the monkeybars
All facing the same way, as if in pews)
They could be a circus too
The trapeze bar hasn't seen this much activity in decades
Many haven't figured out the feeder roof is slippery
Almost doing the splits as they slide down

Once the doves have had their fill
They make room for the tiny black-crested titmouse
Carolina chickadees and Bewick's wrens
Red-headed house finches and house sparrows
Ladderback and red-bellied woodpeckers
And--just this week--a cardinal pair

The oak tree above the playscape 
Serves as a waiting room for the birds
Who are too timid to wait in the pews
Some are brave enough to perch 
On the edge of the nearby bird bath until
A red shouldered hawk flies above
Or a dogwalker crunches the gravel
On the hike n bike next to our yard

I fill the feeder each morning
It is almost empty by midday
But still they come, pecking at the last of the seeds
Until the waning sun beckons them to roost elsewhere.

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Tuesday Slice: Residual effects


I went into a book coma yesterday.  It happens so rarely these days, as adulting requires so much of my time that I can't slip into that altered state during the school year.  But I'm on summer break, and the right book found me, and I went under.

Firekeeper's Daughter, by Angeline Boulley, was just the story I needed this week to remind me that yes, indeed, I am a reader.

Anxiety surrounding the pandemic's effects on my daily life, my work, my children, my plans bubbled just under the surface of my skin for much of the past year.  I rarely acknowledged it, but could see the results plainly:  inability to focus, increase in screen time and retail therapy, weight gain...and difficulty reading more than a few pages at a time.  Last summer was spent helping the district prepare for more remote learning, taking long solo circular road trips to nowhere in particular, and wandering the square footage of our small house like a ghost without anyone to haunt.

This summer is different.  Most of the people in my family, work, and social circles are vaccinated and still taking polite precautions.  Our children are making major life transitions that prompt action on my part (i.e. digging out of the retail therapy clutter) with deadlines to meet.  I'm maintaining fairly clear boundaries between work and personal time.  And I can read again, chapters at a time now, the minutes flying by before I look up and notice the change in light through the windows of my living room.

And so I got sucked into that book yesterday, made space for it.  I tried to take breaks to attend to my to-do list, but I felt unsettled...I needed to know what would happen next.  I was in awe of the main character, of her connections with her culture, her strength.  I wanted justice to be served, and a nice, neat, happy ending.  The author gave me all but the tidy wrap-up, leading me to think...hope...there will be more in store for her protagonist.

I walked around in a daze the rest of the evening, still feeling the effects of the story.  It is good to be a reader again.