Saying: No.

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I am learning to say, no.

In fact, I am always learning to say, no.

Why is it so hard?

Saying no is part of how I am setting boundaries for myself.

Saying no is how I am taking care of myself.

Saying no is how I am preserving my sanity.

Tomorrow I have two events at the same time: my son’s virtual parent-teacher conferences and a math professional session for families. The latter is not led by me, but I was going to host it online for parents and guardians. It is an easy decision, really. My son comes first. Yet, I was trying to figure out how to do both. I was thinking that I could have two devices running – one with the math livestream and the other for my son’s conferences.

I know. I know.

Fortunately, I stopped myself before doing anything I would regret.

I let it go. It feels good.

Like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. A weight I placed there to begin with!

I will focus on my son’s conferences with his teachers.

The fact that I was even considering doing both simultaneously is why I have felt constant overwhelm and frustration.

As I examine my choices and priorities, I am forcing myself to make decisions that privilege what’s important to me. What matters. What keeps me from tearing my hair out. What keeps me on a joyful path.

It’s really a no brainer, but I am embarrassed to admit that it has taken me years to realize this and then many more years to act on it.

I am a work in progress.

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

Boundaries – #SOL21 Day #16

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At the end of every day I try to quit work by 5:30.

I try to stop checking emails.

I try to shut down my computer.

I try to leave my office space and venture up to be with my family.

Some days, I can do that.

Other days, I struggle.

Since I’m teaching online, it is harder to just “leave” work and go home.

Because it’s always there.

Calling to me, like a jealous lover.

Tethering me to my computer.

My fingers flying across the keyboard.

Jumping from open tab to open tab.

Then, the next day I am flummoxed because I can’t find anything.

Because this work that we do is never ending.

The more I work, the more there is to do.

And, honestly, I am exhausted.

My eyesight is suffering.

My posture is shot and it was never that great to begin with.

I make plans to get on the Peloton, but then I don’t.

I grab a book to read and my mind wanders or my eyes get heavy with sleep.

So, no more.

I am readjusting my boundaries so that I can disconnect at 5:30 every day.

I know I’ve said all of this before.

I may even go down this road again, but the difference is that this time I’m being kind to myself.

Is it quitting time yet?

LOL!

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

So Grateful – #SOL21 Day#15

Source: Free Photo Library

I belong to two different, but incredibly special, educator communities.

In one group we meet monthly on Zoom around a topic of interest.

In the second group we meet several times a week to share personal and professional stories and to write.

In both groups, we carry on conversations when we’re not gathered together in a synchronous space.

We talk.

We share ideas.

We support each other.

We learn from and teach each other.

I am so grateful to the educators in both groups.

You’re probably thinking: so what? Many of us belong to similar groups.

But what is different about the members of both of these groups is that, for the most part, I’ve never met any of them in person.

Yet, I consider them friends.

It was in one of these groups where I first shared my cancer journey.

It is in both of these groups where I feel seen and heard.

And, all of this happened online.

I am grateful for the opportunity to “see” my “friends” often. To learn from them. To cry with them. To celebrate with them.

I am so grateful.

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

The Subway Station – a pantoum #SOL21 Day #14

Today I participated in Day #2 of the Ethical ELA Open Write.

I wrote a pantoum.

I’ve never written one before.

When I read the process for writing a pantoum, my first thought was: Woah! I will never be able to do that.

Then, I decided to try it out.

I’ve been writing about my mom.

My memories.

My confused and often conflicted emotions.

I need to sort them out for my mental health and peace of mind.

So, I wrote about when I used to wait for my mom at the Kings Highway subway station in NY at the end of her work day.

I surprised myself.

Although, the pantoum is not perfect, it brought to the fore new emotions for me to grapple with.

Here’s the poem:

The Subway Station

I wait against the wall of the subway station.
I wonder about the private lives of the people making their way through the turnstiles.
I stare at some of the more intriguing faces.
Then, I spot my mom.

I wonder about the private lives of the people making their way through the turnstiles.
Are they happy?
Then, I spot my mom.
I am happy to see her because I know we’re going to go shopping!

Are they happy?
I look at each face as they walk past trying to imagine their lives.
I am happy to see her because I know we’re going to go shopping!
Is that all my mom meant to me: a shopping companion?

I look at each face as they walk past trying to imagine their lives.
I stare at some of the more intriguing faces.
Is that all my mom meant to me: a shopping companion?
I wait against the wall of the subway station.

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

Thank you to Ethical ELA for the inspiration.

Shopping – #SOL21 Day #13

Today I went shopping.

Even though the warmer temperatures beckoned me to go for a walk, I went shopping instead.

While I was in the store I kept thinking: “do I really need this?” every time I put something else in my cart.

When I was growing up “going shopping” was a happy event. One that I enjoyed doing with my mom.

After our relationship deteriorated I stayed away from home for longer and longer periods of time.

But I’d still go shopping, just not with my mom.

When I was shopping, I was happy…for a little while at least. It helped me avoid dealing with my feelings.

When I “go shopping” I am transported to happier times.

(This slice didn’t end up in the place I thought it would.)

Because as it turns out, I am just beginning to explore my complicated relationship with my mom.

If I didn’t realize that before it was because I was too busy shopping to notice.

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

Over and Out – #SOL21 – Day #12 March Slice of Life Story Challenge

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The last couple of days have been a blur.

Half-day of teaching yesterday. Then, parent-guardian-teacher conferences in the afternoon and into the evening.

More conferences this morning and early afternoon.

With some in between time to catch up on, and add to, my to-do list.

Now, I’m ready to take a break.

Push my work aside for today.

Enjoy dinner with my husband at one of our favourite restaurants.

I hope everyone’s day ends on a good note and with some delicious food.

Over and out.

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

Wins! #SOL21 – Day #11 – March Slice of Life Story Challenge

Parent-guardian-teacher conferences have always served as a barometer of how things are going.

Not the only measure, but an important one.

More so now than in-person because parents and guardians are present in my classroom 24/7.

The hear me.

They see me.

They know when I’m frustrated.

They hear our laughter.

They hear our silence.

Every year, at this time of the year, the kids find their voices.

Every year if feels like we’ll never get here and yet we do.

Every.

Single.

Year.

And just like PP (pre-pandemic), today has been an opportunity to celebrate so many things.

We celebrate the many ways that we have grown comfortable with each other.

We celebrate all of the effort it has taken to get to where we are.

We celebrate growth and the resilience of students and their families always, but especially during this pandemic.

We celebrate everything we have learned, even though we are online.

We celebrate children’s growing independence.

We celebrate their accomplishments as we plan for next steps.

Because at the end of the day, these are the celebrations that matter.

These are the celebrations I will keep close to my heart next week and the week after and the week after that.

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

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

Commenting #SOL21 – Day10 March Slice of Life Story Challenge

Comment!

I finally read and responded to all of the comments on my blog posts from the last nine days of this challenge.

I loved reading everyone’s words and the care with which everyone commented on my posts.

It reaffirmed the importance of feedback. Of what it feels like to have your words “seen” and “heard” by others.

Without this back and forth we may not know what resonates, what is not clear, what someone else sees and connects with that you didn’t expect.

This is why I share my thinking on my blog even on the days when all I want to do is crawl into bed and binge on Netflix. And, believe me, I binge on Netflix regularly.

I have struggled to create a consistent writing habit for years.

Sometimes I’ve succeeded at doing that for a short time and then I skip a day and then another one and before I know it, a month has gone by.

And I feel like a failure.

So, I start again.

Only to repeat the cycle over and over again.

Not lately, though.

Lately, I’ve been on the lookout for stories.

I’ve been listening.

I’ve been present and observant.

I’ve been making connections, drawing parallels, searching for threads to explore.

And I am so grateful to my teacher-writer community for sustaining me. For encouraging me. For pushing me to show up even when it’s hard, so I can discover myself in the words on the page.

Happy slicing!

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

Breakthrough

Writing is about discovery.

I just submitted some writing that was proving to be more of a challenge than I initially anticipated.

It gave me a headache.

It frustrated me.

It shook my self-confidence.

Until tonight.

When I had a breakthrough and finished writing.

I think it was because I persevered.

It was also because I wanted to prove that I can do hard things.

And, maybe more importantly, I was because I wrote in the company of other teacher-writers in our #Time2Write group.

I submitted my writing and now the waiting begins.

But no matter the outcome. I’m proud of myself.

I stuck with it.

I made my writing sing. At least, I think I did and in the big scheme of things, that’s all that matters.

If someone else agrees, then that’s just lagniappe.

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

Overwhelmed! #SOL21 – Day #8 March Challenge

When will I even be able to read all of those books?? Source: Free Photo Library

I am overwhelmed with the emails that flood my inbox on a daily basis.

Every email that comes in with a new and improved way to teach math isn’t all it’s cracked up be. If I am honest with myself only a fraction of what I receive each day is worth my time. So, yes, I am starting to unsubscribe like crazy…again.

But this is about more than email overwhelm. This is about feeling the need to pay attention to everything because I don’t want to miss anything. So, I grab onto everything that I see – the good, the bad and the ugly.

And, it’s just too much.

Although there’s a lot of great stuff out there, there’s also a lot of fluff. And, in my zealousness, I open my arms and bring it all in.

I need to be discriminating rather than worrying about what I might be missing.

I’m suffocating.

I’ve tried to unsubscribe from everything.

I’ve tried not reading emails older than a week.

I know why this is happening. It’s part of my imposter syndrome.

I’ve tried adding blogs to my WordPress reader rather than getting email notifications. But after awhile I forget. So, I resubscribe to keep up with every shiny, new gadget.

It’s easier to consume because creating is risky. Creating means bearing my soul.

What if it’s not good enough?

What if no one sees it?

What if I really do suck?

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