Day 11: To See Their Joy

Today I saw my students experience joy in a way that I literally have not seen all year and the emotion of it overtook me. I took my kiddos out for a mask break and we were standing on the black top, with our faces to the sun pretending we were in Florida at the beach or Hawaii in the ocean, when one of my kids started to pretend they were flying to our beach location… and then another started, and another. Their arms stretched out wide, moving side to side; it was so darling that it made me smile ear to ear.

The kids started asking (begging) if they could run around on the grass and pretend they were all airplanes flying to their desired destination- “Of course, just stay way more than 6 feet part.” I said. I have never seen them move faster, smile bigger, or laugh harder! It was just pure joy and freedom.

For a few minutes, we all were lost in the sunshine and fun and joy and laughter. I needed that moment today- to see their joy… and to see mine as well.

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Day 10: Fourteen Hours

Nearly every morning before I commit to getting out of bed and starting my day, I count the hours until I get to go to sleep again. This is a bad habit I developed in college and as we know, old habits die hard. Admittedly, I am extra tired these days, just 2.5 week away from Spring Break and the teacher fatigue is setting in.

As I’m typing this, I can feel the tired in my bones and know that I have to finish something for work before I can relax or think about going to sleep. Maybe the worst feeling for me is wanting to rest or go to sleep and not being able to. So, that’s where I’m at- tired and overwhelmed today, but on the upside, only 3 and a half hours or less until I get to go to sleep!

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Day 9: Ordinary Day

Today was an ordinary day- not that I am complaining. Ordinary is good- in my opinion anyway. I appreciate the ordinary because that means I did my job without incident, my family is all good and there was nothing that caused stress or worry.

I long for more ordinary days, they bring me a sense of contentment and let my over-active brain settle for a bit.

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Day 8: Puppy Problems

I love my puppy. I really do. Sebastian is adorable and fluffy and hilarious and sweet. Sebastian also doesn’t sleep at night and climbs on my face and is very nippy and is a lunatic for about one hour every single night, beginning at 9pm. I was so tired this morning and subsequently all day because I didn’t sleep well courtesy of my adorable, rambunctious puppy. Bashy needed to be taken out 3 times and let me know this by crying in my face and bopping around on my bed.

We should have made him sleep in his crate at night, I thought to myself as I was pushing him off of my face at 3am. The thing is, when we got him, he was literally under 2 lbs. and was just too teeny to be left alone. He cried and cried when we tried to have him sleep in his crate at night and since we were exhausted, we took the path of least resistance and had him sleep in our bed. He was snuggly and gave sweet little kisses with his teeny tiny tongue. It all made my hear swell. It made my heart swell until he decided to start using my face and stomach as a jungle gym. Sigh.

I am a reflective person by nature, so on my drive home, I started to think about all these puppy problems and then it hit me- I don’t really have puppy problems… I have parenting problems and I’m the parent! I don’t expect sympathy, but just in case anyone wants to throw this tired fur mama any, I’ve posted a couple adorable pictures of my baby, Sebastian!

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Day 7: Don’t Worry About Anything

My dad has been know to give some great advice, simple and to the point, and for most of my life, I’ve subscribed to his advice. Today, as my two brothers, my dad, and I were talking about nothing everything, he stopped us all and said, “Don’t worry about anything.” I rolled my eyes. My internal monologue was dismissed and my body language showed it. I thought to myself, what dumb advice to give, it’s impossible to not worry about anything.

My brother Joe responded with, “You told me that years ago, best advice you every gave me.” I looked at him like he had two heads. Then my brother Frankie echoed his sentiments. I wasn’t saying anything and my brothers looked at me for some type of response.

“I disagree- that’s not good advice, you can’t just not every worry about anything- that’d dumb and unrealistic.” They laughed and noted that worry doesn’t do you any good. Do what you can do to solve a problem or get something done and if you can’t, then sit back and see how it plays out.

I rolled my eyes again (internally, because they were looking at me). I started to speak and Frankie, put out his hand and said, “Ton, just try it- try it for a day. Just go through your day with ease. See how it feels.” My who body tenses just thinking about this because it feels impossible.

On my drive home from my dad’s house, a conversation I had with one of my students popped into my head. This little guy struggles with finding the positive in anything. I said to him once, “Dare to imagine that you could have a great, fun, and wonderful day learning. Imagine if you let yourself feel that way.”

I asked myself that same question, “Dare to imagine that most days could be free of overthinking and worry. How would that set me free?” I don’t know if it is the the pandemic and all the changes that have spawned from it, but I find myself just worry about things that I didn’t used to. I hate myself for doing it- I actively catch myself and tell myself to just push it out, but it’s hard.

So today and maybe even tomorrow, I am going to try not to worry about anything- I will take care of what needs to be taken care of and I will just let the day come to me. I am going to dare to imagine what it might feel like to filter out the nonsense that doesn’t deserve any worry and try to set myself free . Set myself free of all the worry, all the overthinking, and all the anticipation of what the week will bring and just be.

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Day 6: Family Walk and Talk

I always loved taking walks; the duel purpose of moving my body and having company while I walk. Today, we had a little impromptu family walk and talk. Sebastian is learning how to walk on a leash and we are learning how to enjoy the outdoors again.

The five of us walked through the muddy, snowy forest preserve and talked about nothing, but I loved it. We laughed at Bashy and how he wants to carry his leash in his mouth and how is XS harness is still big on him.

The sun was shining and the cool breeze made me feel like I could breathe again- the feeling of being free to just enjoy the moment. This little walk and talk was so ordinary, but I loved it so much. I can’t wait for more ordinary family walk and talks… and for Bashy to figure out how to walk in leash!

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Day 5: I Spoke Too Soon…

I was arrogant. I was overly confident. I spoke too soon.

I totally thought I had turned a corner with my COVID-Vaccine shot symptoms and I WAS WRONG! I woke up with so much pain in my arm pit, of all places. It was so tender to the touch and when I lifted up my arm, I gasped! It was soooo swollen!

I immediately told Dr. Google and he quickly reassured me that it a side effect of the shot.. a rare one, but none-the-less, a known side effect. I exhaled in relief and got ready for work, noting that the pain isn’t that bad and otherwise, I felt fine.

I was arrogant. I was overly confident. I spoke too soon.

My student teacher was in the middle of teaching reading and the headache started. Soon after that, I started sweating uncontrollable, followed by shivering. The swollen lymph node started to bother me even more and as the symptoms starting compounding, I wished I hadn’t spoken those over zealous words out loud.

Not to jinx myself again, but I think I’ve turned a corner- for real this time. Time will tell. Hopefully I’ll have something new to blog about tomorrow!

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Day 4: No Pain, No Gain.

I feel like I got hit by a bus. Not a small bus either- like a super big one. Yesterday, I was lucky enough to get my second vaccination shot and I’m so beyond grateful that I was able to get one. That’s what I started telling myself over and over again at 3:30am when I got up to go to the bathroom and was stunned by how I felt. The aches, the headache, and this weird, tight feeling in my stomach. I put in for a sick day in the middle of the night with one eye barely open because I knew right away, this was going to be a rough day. And a rough day it was.

I have been switching from my bed to the couch all day, trying to get comfortable and hoping that the medicine would kick in. It’s almost 5pm and I think I’ve turned a corner. I took a cold shower in hopes that it would wake me up enough to feel semi-human. It worked, sort of. But the truth is, despite not feeling great, I am so damn thrilled to have been able to get fully vaccinated and after all, no pain, no gain, right?!

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Day 3: Cooking Queen-ish

“What do we want to eat for dinner tonight?”

“I don’t know, we’ll figure it out.”

Five o’clock rolls around and we are still figuring it out. Anybody else feel me?

I’m pretty sure cooking is supposed to be enjoyable… for most people, anyway. Just the discussion about what we are going to eat for dinner makes me feel stressed. 

By all accounts, cooking makes me nervous and cranky because I constantly overthink the entire experience. I am so fearful of the food tasting bad that I cannot enjoy the experience of it at all. Sometimes I’m so tense, I think my shoulders are up by my ears!

I come from a long line of amazing cooks and bakers- I didn’t inherit that gene, at least I don’t think. I take that back, I know I didn’t. I’ve had more mishaps in the kitchen than I’d like to admit (they are kind of hilarious, but still too embarrassing to write about)! 

Having said that, I cook a lot these days. I am not just cooking for myself anymore and that fact brings a smile to my face. But, the thing is, cooking dinner feels like a lot of pressure- just figuring out what to cook is stressful! I for sure did not get that before and now I can’t get over how many conversations revolve around what we are going to eat for any given meal. 

I know, I know- we could sit down on Sundays and plan out dinners for the week and then go shopping for all the food needed. I’ve tried… many times. It doesn’t work for us. We stray from the plan and it’s just a mess. 

The moral of the story is, I’ve had 2 conversations today about what we are having for dinner, I still have no idea, and I’m already overthinking about it and worried that it’ll turn out bad, even though I don’t know what the it is. 

If anybody has any ideas for delicious dinners that a newly crown Cooking Queen-ish can cook, let me know!

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Day 2: Beautiful Words

Kelly Gallagher once said, “You should start each day with beautiful words” and ever since, I have begun each day with my students by reading them a poem, teaching them a “beautiful” word or most recently, engaged in the mindful practice of daily affirmations. 

At the start of remote learning, I desperately clung to the words I was saying, hoping that I could live out the affirmations and even more so, I hoped that my students could. Saying affirmations over a Google Meet, unmuted, with lag-time, takes a little bit of the meaningfulness of the experience away, but we continued on. 

Some days, I would say the affirmations and would almost beg myself to believe them so that I could positively take on the day. “We can do hard things… Patience melts away obstacles… I believe in myself.” 

I said these affirmations and a million more to myself as the Jamboard wouldn’t load, as my computer crashed in the middle of a lesson, as my students couldn’t access the link I put in the chat box. I said them over and over to stop the tears of frustration from coming. 

And then, we moved to hybrid learning. I could exhale. I could say these beautiful words with my students. I could feel them more genuinely and so could they. 

Today, we said 3 affirmations together and I felt them so wholeheartedly, I took a moment to take it in. I looked up at my class and asked them what they thought, “I am always moving forward” means? 

My student, who is the old soul of my class, gave her interpretation of the affirmation by saying, “I think that ‘I am always moving forward’ means that even though it might not seem like it, we are never the same. Every day we change. We might do the same things, but we aren’t the same. We moved forward, even if it isn’t noticeable.” 

I could hardly believe her interpretation of the affirmation when another student said, “It means we don’t walk backwards.” I smiled- and said, “Well yes, quite literally, we do not walk backwards.” 

Truthfully, I connected to both interpretations. Sometimes in life our growth isn’t noticeable and we show ourselves so little grace that we feel stuck. On some days we have to make a conscious decision to take an actual step forward. Both feel true to me. Both feel like places I’ve been. Both make me feel so grateful to be with my students in person. 

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