Change the Channel – Take #2

 

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Image Courtesy of unsplash.com

My 15-year-old son, who has been visiting his sisters in the U.S., called me yesterday.

Our conversation went something like this:

I don’t feel well. I’ve had it! he said.

What do you mean? The mom in me started to worry. What was going on? Was he feeling sick? Did he have a fight with one of his sisters? What could possibly be wrong?

I’m done with this.

With what? I asked (calmly) trying to keep the edge out of my voice.

With the pandemic, he said.

I breathed a sigh of relief. OK. Nothing major. Or, at least, nothing new. If it’s the pandemic that he’s sick of, then I could deal with that. Aren’t we all just about done with the Coronavirus and 2020, in general? Well, yeah. Duh!

I want to go to school, he blurted out.

I want to go outside, he announced.

My heart hurt at that precise moment.

It’s hard, I told him. But whenever you catch yourself feeling this way, just do something different than what you’ve been doing up until that point. If you’ve been sitting, then get up and walk around. Or go out to the backyard. Maybe read a book. Eat something. Play with your niece. Just move around and change the channel.

Oh! That ubiquitous channel.

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This is hard. But we can get through it. We have to get through it.

We’re all stuck in a time warp of sorts. There’s nothing we can do to change the current reality, but we can figure out ways to not let it depress us or make us spiral out of control due to fear, and the seemingly unending nature of this thing.

This week the Public Health Officer of Canada said that we’re likely to be in a COVID19 mode for the next 2 – 3 years. Oy vey! Just that piece of news can make anyone feel despair. Yet, we can’t just stop everything we’re doing. At least, not entirely. Life was not meant to be put on pause indefinitely, although we have been in a weird slow version of it for months now. Nevertheless, we have to find ways to deal with the uncertainty and the fear.

We have to keep going. Make plans, even if they’re virtual. Get outside. Read books. Go to doctors’ appointments. Write. Find joy in everything you do. Stay connected with others.

Get up the next day and do it all over again.

I would love to hear how are you changing the channel on this pandemic.

Cross posted to the Two Writing Teachers Tuesday Slice of Life Story Challenge.

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Giving Myself Grace

Giving myself grace so I can continue to find joy in my life.

Giving myself grace even when I’m not feeling 100%.

Giving myself grace for those times when it would be easier to just sink down into that dark, deep void of nothingness.

Giving myself grace by focusing on what’s most important to me.

Giving myself grace by continuing to get up early, shower, and get dressed.

Giving myself grace by being present with my husband throughout the day.

Giving myself grace by continuing to write even when I just have no idea what I’m trying to say.

Giving myself grace because no one else can and then where will I be?

Giving myself grace so that I can make a difference to my students and others around me.

Giving myself grace to slow down and be grateful for all that life has given me.

Giving myself grace in spite of sometimes not giving myself grace.

Cross posted to The Two Writing Teachers Tuesday Slice of Life Challenge.

Change the Channel

Change the channel.

Not the TV channel, silly.

But the channel inside your brain.

Oh, you didn’t know we have different channels in our heads?

Yep! So many channels.

Switch the off button on anxiety and fear

and discover peace and joy instead.

Sounds difficult, almost impossible to do, doesn’t it?

When I first heard about this strategy my first thought was: “Oh, not me. I am the Queen of Gloom and Doom. I don’t know how to be unless I’m practicing worst case scenarios in my head.”

How can I ever switch the channel from sadness to joy?

From fear to calmness and confidence?

But it’s easier to do than I thought.

It’s about acknowledging, and then letting go of, thoughts and feelings that block you from having a joyful life. Know it’s there and then release them.

If you open yourself up to the universe,

to it’s abundance,

to it’s joy,

to it’s perfection,

then you will find a way to switch the channel whenever life throws you a curve ball that you think you can’t handle.

But you can.

Life is full of curve balls and fast balls.

It’s how we choose to respond when they come flying at us that makes all the difference.

So, change the channel my friends.

 

 

This summer…

This summer…

I’m experimenting,

exploring,

and developing new habits.

Letting go of what doesn’t work,

and welcoming what does.

It takes practice,

and consistency.

Courage, even.

I’m experimenting with having a daily writing habit by creating daily results that are specific and measurable. Even though I don’t like the word measurable for many reasons, it really helps to have a concrete goal that you can…well..measure! (A nod to @msrachelhollis for this one.)

I’m experimenting with how to structure my time so that I’m more productive. I created an analog daily schedule that encapsulates what’s important to me and helps me keep track of my day. It’s still a work in progress as you can see below; I refine it based on my needs.

My Daily Schedule

My Daily Schedule – A Work in Progress

I’m exploring using a reading notebook. I ask my students to keep a reading response notebook even though I’ve never really kept one myself. Recently, I decided to do just that. I am keeping a list of the books I’m currently reading and the date that I finish them. I keep another list for books that others recommend and put their name beside the title. It helps provide context to the book when it comes from the library or in the mail and I can’t remember why it’s in my hands. LOL!

I also started writing a few entries in my reading notebook. What I’ve discovered is that I’m not writing in it every day. And, that’s OK. Sometimes I’ve written almost a page and other times less than that. These are things I want to remember as we head back to school in September: what makes sense to keep track of in a reading notebook and what is just busy work?

My Reading Notebook

Sample pages in my reading notebook

I am engaging in a guided journaling adventure. You can read about that here.

I am cleaning house, literally, by donating what we don’t need or use to make room for what we have decided to keep and, figuratively, by dispensing with unproductive and joyless habits and replacing them with self-care routines and mindful practices.

What have you been up to this summer?

Cross posted to The Two Writing Teachers Tuesday Slice of Life Challenge.

It Should Come As No Surprise

Note to the reader: Today’s call to slice was preceded by these two questions: What are the moments you are holding onto? and What are you letting go of today? I was upset while I was writing my slice but when I read these two questions I was able to calm down. I realized that I am in control of how I respond to problematic situations, in this case school re-entry in the fall. My blog post starts with anger and disbelief and ends with the only thing that will sustain me moving forward: HOPE


The province of Alberta had previously announced that on August 1st it would make public the school re-entry plan for the fall. Like most school boards and school districts in North America, the province was exploring three different scenarios: “near normal”  in-school return, a hybrid approach, and remote schooling.

Many of us had been waiting with bated breath to hear the final plans for school re-entry.

So, it should come as no surprise that the Ministry opted for scenario #1 given its openly hostile relationship to education.

It should come as no surprise that there are hardly any provisions to ensure that everyone stay as healthy as possible.

It should come as no surprise that the Minister of Education dodged the question about class size limits for the fall.

It should come as no surprise that this announcement comes on the heels of a spike in COVID-19 cases in our province and in other provinces in Canada.

It should come as no surprise that during the press conference teachers and other school staff were hardly mentioned in the re-entry plans.

In fact, it should come as no surprise that the province’s re-entry plan is really NO plan at all. (The lack of detail was a glaring and worrisome piece in the re-entry plan.)

It should come as no surprise that school staff will be responsible for monitoring student and staff symptoms. (No one know which staff this refers to exactly.)

It should come as no surprise that disinfecting surfaces will be done by…who knows?

It should come as no surprise that the press was told they couldn’t do any follow-up questions even though they tried.

It should come as no surprise that when asked what would happen if parents chose not to send their children to school the Premier spoke of “truancy laws” (“we have them”) and “homeschooling” (Alberta has an extensive home schooled population).

It should come as no surprise that many teachers are angry at not being heard or consulted about the school re-entry plan.

It should come as no surprise that I am feeling a little anxious and concerned.

I need to redirect my anger so I can channel it for my well-being, that of my family and for the sake of my students and their families.

I am hopeful – because what else can I be? – that my school board will provide more direction and specific guidelines than what we heard today from the Ministry of Education.

I am hopeful because my school board has a reputation of being upstanding and compassionate with teachers, students, parents and the community.

I am hopeful because, if not, I will fall into despair; I can’t let that happen so close to having come out of a very dark hole of depression.

I am hopeful.

Cross posted to the Two Writing Teachers Tuesday Slice of Life Challenge.

Permission to Pause – A Journal for Teachers

Recently I purchased a journal for teachers called Permission to Pause by Dorothy VanderJagt. To be honest, I hesitated to buy it at first. After all, can’t I just take a blank notebook and start journaling? Give myself my own permission to pause and reflect about whatever is on my mind? But I was intrigued that it was designed as a journal for teachers and after reviewing a couple of the pages, I was hooked.

A page from Permission to Pause

And, I’m not sorry I bought it though I paid less than what is currently advertised on Amazon. Nevertheless, I will purchase another volume when I fill up the pages of this one. Why? you ask. Because this journal has some thought provoking prompts and probes that really get me thinking. Instead of using my writer’s notebook to write a daily gratitude and random reflections, which could still be valuable, I can dig deeper by thinking about the questions the author poses. And, it’s all in one place. Because each day is different I don’t get bored; this was beginning to happen when I was using my notebook.

I like writing a daily gratitude, even though the author stresses that you can choose to journal every day or just a few times a week. And, she asks us to consider this: if I’m grateful for someone in my life, have I told them? Hmm. Rarely, which makes me realize that I need to do that!

When thinking if I’ve made a difference to others, especially students, I can also reflect on how I can continue to make a difference. By asking this question, the author helps me figure out how I can continue to do that; what is it that will help me influence students in the way they want and need to be influenced?

Teachers can browse and borrow from the Appendix – Take Action Ideas or create their own to become a more mindful educator. My take action idea for the last two days has been to sit outside and soak up some sun! It was wonderful!

So, did I already say I love my new teacher journal? LOL!

Cross posted to Two Writing Teachers Tuesday Slice of Life Challenge.

 

 

Social Media Review

Every so often I make a resolve to say “No” to some things so that I can say  “Yes” to what’s truly important…to me. But despite my best intentions, I tend to get lost in the fray that is social media. Fueled by the energy of other educators, and the “fear of missing out” (FOMO), I end up filling my plate with lots of seemingly great things, but with little to no energy to carry them out. The result is frustration, a sense of failure and a lot of wasted time and money.

So, lately I am back to being more discriminating in the projects I take on, both online and off. Because of the times we live in, it’s become easier to say “No” when money is involved. I tend to pick and choose more carefully when I have to pay for a conference or a workshop even when there’s a sliding scale, which I truly appreciate.

It feels good to say “No” so I can dedicate my time to something else that will fill a need I’m experiencing at the moment or in the long run. That means I need to be clear about what’s important to me and go with those things that amplify what I care about. And, in order to be true to myself and find my focus, I have decided to stay out of what I call Twitter Wars.

Some things people say on Twitter go against my belief system and I want to respond. Sometimes I get into arguments with strangers because rather than learning from each other we are more invested in having the upper hand. It would be better to engage in a debate about an issue that we both care about, but it doesn’t seem that’s what people are after. We want to be right rather than help each other learn. I am embarrassed to admit this, but it’s true. Furthermore, though kindness won’t save the world, it won’t hurt it either. There’s too little kindness on social media right now.

Needless to say, these exchanges are exhausting. So, I am disengaging from threads that are about sowing conflict. Instead I have started looking for people who are sharing what I think are important and relevant information and ideas. They are out there!

Because every so often I review my social media involvement I know this may not stick forever, but I’m going to try to make it work as best as I can. Instead of reverting back to old habits (like getting back into Twitter Wars), I will make tweaks and adjustments to what I’ve committed to here. That means I will prioritize a few blogs, podcasts, Instagram accounts, tweeters, and FB pages (that’s already a lot!) to follow and engage with in order to address my professional learning needs.

I’m sure I’ll be writing about this again and not just on my blog. Maybe you want to join me.

Cross posted to Two Writing Teachers Tuesday SOL Challenge.

It’s a Perfectly Beautiful Morning

It’s a perfectly beautiful morning.

Yesterday’s rain is a distant memory.

It’s quiet, sunny.

A day full of possibilities.

I sit at my dining room table writing.

And think back to the last six weeks.

I had given up hope and my feelings were all tangled up in knots.

  • My mother’s death.
  • My slower than expected recovery (by me) from cancer.
  • My resolve to prioritize what’s important and finding it hard to do so.
  • My failure to show progress on my thesis and my decision to put it away for now.
  • I wasn’t eating.
  • I was barely moving. In fact, staying in bed was all I wanted to do.

Now, I sit at my dining room table. I feel myself returning to life. Or maybe life is returning to me.

At my lowest point, and out of desperation, my daughter said: get better for us because it’s clear you don’t want to get better for you.

That hit me like a dagger to my heart.

Maybe it was the reality check I needed. I don’t know.

What I do know is that my appetite is back, my energy is improving every day, and I feel closer to my self even as my self evolves into something new and better.

So, on this perfectly beautiful morning…

  • I welcome back hope.
  • I celebrate life.
  • I affirm the desire to live again.

It’s a perfectly beautiful morning.

Imposter Syndrome

2323d-11454297503_e27946e4ff_hHave you ever experienced a situation where you procrastinated, but for a good reason? I know. I know. We rarely, if ever, procrastinate for a good reason. But I promise I had a good reason. My good reason was that I had misplaced a digital document that would make revising efficient: the feedback on the print copy was not easy to read. The words were either cut off in the printing or I had no idea what part of what I wrote the feedback was addressing. That was a good reason, right? But what happens when you finally find the digital document (in the last place you thought to look, of course) and now you have no excuses to procrastinate?

Now what?

Now, you have to stop procrastinating and get to work.

This is my current dilemma. This is when the fear sets in and the imposter syndrome rears its ugly head. Because it is a “thing” that has a head and it’s ugly. So, I will try to acknowledge the imposter monster and let it go. Put him, yes it’s a him, in my mind’s balloon and let it go so that I can focus on making progress. Getting things done.

Yet, the worry that I am an imposter and that pretty soon everyone will discover the truth persists. And, when they do, they will know that I know nothing about teaching and learning, reading and writing. Everyone will point at me behind my back and whisper as I walk by: “She is an imposter”. Once that happens, I will have nowhere to hide. Right now, I can hide behind my inaction, more commonly known as procrastinating. As long as I do nothing, no one will know what I know: I’m an imposter.

But here’s the thing…if I keep repeating that mantra, it will become my reality. In fact, it already has. That’s why affirmations are so important. They are like aspirations. The places I want to go and that I have yet to get to. Repeating affirmations will shift my mindset and set me on a path of healing.

I write down three affirmations every day, but that’s not enough. The trick is to keep repeating them to yourself several times a day.

I usually write my own affirmations based on what’s currently happening in my life. At other times, I borrow them from other places. Here are the three that I wrote down for today:

  • I forgive myself for not being perfect because I know that I’m human.
  • I accept what I cannot change.
  • I make the best of every situation.

Do you practice affirmations? If you do, and you’re so inclined, I hope you will share one in the comments section.

Crossposted to The Two Teachers of Writing Tuesday Slice of Life Challenge.

It’s the weather or is it?

The weather here has taken a turn.

It was getting warmer and sunnier and perfect for being outside.

Then, all of a sudden, a couple of days ago, the weather turned. (It feels like it turned on me! Like it targeted me for  a string of low-energy-negative-attitude days.)

It’s cold.

It’s raining.

It even snowed yesterday, but since it can snow at any moment in Calgary that’s not so out of place.

I’ve been in a funk since Friday (the day the weather turned).

I’m feeling a bit listless.

Zoomed out.

Cold to my core.

I am reading and writing but, for a big chunk of the day, I just sit around.

I think it could be the darn weather that’s getting me down.

Or it could be that this quarantine is dragging me down.

Or it could be that things feel uncertain and I don’t do uncertain.

Whatever it is, I am ready for it to be over!

Crossposted to the Two Writing Teachers Tuesday Slice of Life Challenge.