Purple Heart

A friend of mine posted a color heart chart a few weeks ago. It’s a way to check in and share about how we’re dealing emotionally with all the social distancing.

Hearts

This is my Day 1 of Week 6 and, even though I was looking forward to my 9am meeting, it was really hard to pull myself out of bed this morning.  Emotionally, I’m torn between feeling bad for myself and feeling worse for the mancubs because technically, they’ve been doing this for a week longer than me. My plan is to get everyone out of the house following my meeting. It’s too pretty outside to stay inside doing virtual learning & meetings.

When I received notification last week that our school district will continue with remote learning through the end of the school year, a little part of my brain let out a plaintive wail. It may have sounded more like a squeak and it felt a lot like a headache.

A good friend told me recently she was surprised I’m having such a hard time with social distancing since I’m an “introvert.”  Being real, while I’m incredibly shy and do enjoy being alone, six weeks of this is way over the top even for me.

So today, my heart is purple. Right now, things are tough.

Please check on your introverted friends. Chances are we are not okay.

In for the long haul

Found out today, in the midst of a Zoom, that my school district will remain closed until at least May 1st. I told the participants I was going to shut off my camera & mic for a moment and have a little cry. They all chuckled knowingly.

You see, we all … all of us … want to go back to our “normal.”
Back to the craziness of running from meeting to meeting, appointment to appointment, campus to campus, sport practice to sport practice. The stress – and the joy – of doing only one.job.at.a.time.

But we know all of this is for the best. We know the working from home, the not being out in public with the mass of humanity is for our health and the health of others. And yet …

One day, we’ll be back in all that craziness and we’ll look back at this time and wish we were here. At home. With our families.

Sweet Husband and the mancubs … all of us … have adapted to living life on a schedule. There’s security in knowing when activities are planned to take place. Their routines are set and aside from the typical bickering between them, the mancubs are accepting all this time at home. Do they miss their school mates? Yes! They LOVE when their teachers schedule Zoom sessions and are super disappointed when they realize they missed an opportunity to hang with their classmates online.

We have dozens of books and part of their day is dedicated solely to reading. They received two books this past Christmas that have become their absolute favorites: The Dangerous Book for Boys and it’s sequel, The Double Dangerous Book for Boys. Both are filled with essential “nuggets” that every boy should know.  The oldest mancub found a game in one of the volumes that he insisted all the brothers play after school work was done today.

The object of the game was to cut away at the flour around the toothpick without making it fall.

The person who made it fall, had to pick up the toothpick. With their mouth. It was messy, it was fun, and they (we) all laughed and had a great time.

I hope they can look back at this very weird time in human history, all the things we did during our time of social isolation, and laugh.

I know I will.

 

Reflections on Day 2

Day 2 of “social distancing” ended with Mama enjoying a glass of wine. I might talk a big game, but I rarely open a bottle of wine and even more rarely enjoy a glass by myself. Today? It felt right. Not because I was stressed but exactly because I wasn’t. It was a laid back day today. We all slept in, I made a nice Saturday breakfast, Sweet Husband took his virtual meeting and finished up the requisite paperwork, and the mancubs played. It was a good day. A day that earned being topped off with a glass of wine.

Today was my second day, Sweet Husband’s 4th, and the mancubs’ … well, I seem to have lost count.  They had an extended Spring Break and will start remote learning the middle of next week.  They’re ready. As many books as we have in this house, as many games, toys, and movies … they’re ready to see their teachers and their friends, even if only in the virtual classroom.

I know I’m confused on what day it is – and I’ve only been home full-time for 2 days – I think they also miss the routine of their school day. They might not admit it, but I’m pretty sure they do. So, I’ve been keeping up with all of their teachers’ emails and have been updating a list of virtual classroom codes I’m keeping on the refrigerator. And every time I post a new classroom code, that child runs upstairs to log in to their classroom to see if there’s anything for them to work on. Between Sweet Husband and me working from home and the mancubs needing time to work on their school assignments, technology is going to get a major workout here at the Casa over the next few (or several) weeks.

My work laptop decided to make noises yesterday. Ugly noises. Noises that said, “Girl, if you know what’s best, you’ll back everything up N-O-W!” So I did. And we went out to the local electronics store early this afternoon and bought a laptop I’ll use until I can return to my brick-and-mortar campus and hopefully be moved up to the top of the list for a new piece of technology.

I was shocked to see a line queued outside the store until Sweet Husband pointed out the line was actually moving. Store staff was letting customers in one at a time explaining each customer would be escorted by a sales associate to the area of the store we needed to visit. Our fellow customers, for the most part, were cool with standing at a good distance from others in line while we waited our turn to be escorted inside. It was an experience. That’s about all I can say … it was an experience. As an introvert, the expanded personal space is incredibly refreshing and comfortable.

One of the advantages of social distancing / voluntary quarantine / whatever the latest term is is educators are becoming creative in how they’re developing their virtual classrooms. They say innovation is born out of necessity, right? I must say I agree.  For example, a colleague and I had been talking in the weeks leading up to Spring Break that we really need to meet with another colleague to learn how to use Zoom.  Truthfully, neither of us even knew what that meant, but we knew we needed to make the time at some unidentified point in the near or distant future to learn how to Zoom.

Guess who learned how to Zoom this past week and can schedule meetings like a rock star now?  This girl!

That’s right, so much so that I’ve got a Zoom session set for later this weekend so my family can gather around their technology and we can all sit a spell and shoot the breeze. A virtual family reunion and I’m really looking forward to it! Who knows? This might become a regular thing for us. Wouldn’t that be grand!

All in all, my first couple days at home have been okay. Some would venture to say, “productive.” It will be interesting to see how the 5 of us grow through all this together time.

Spring Break 2016

I love Spring Break. But not for the reasons I’m sure most people love Spring Break.  I don’t typically sleep any later or make any extravagant travel plans. With the exception of a few days spent out of town on daytrips with Sweet Husband and my Mom, I stay pretty much within the confines of our neighborhood. Okay … within the confines of my house.  It’s an introvert thing.

I love Spring Break because it allows me to be reflective.  And, with everything that has happened in the last several weeks, this has been a good time to a) work through the panic of the unknown; b) allow myself to dream about what I’d like to do since there is a possibility, albeit slight, my seventeen year tenure in the field of education may be ending in a few short weeks; and c) spend wonderfully relaxing and encouraging time in the Word.  Because really … who but God knows what’s going to happen tomorrow, let alone on June 16th (the day after my current school contract … and my job … ends)?

This Spring Break, unlike the sixteen previous Spring Breaks, found me dreaming big, only-possible-with-God dreams. Dreams where making money didn’t make it into the equation. Dreams that begin with … “If nothing is impossible then … ” and continue with “What is my passion?” and  “Where is God calling me to join Him?”  Dreams that consume me so much so that, while I know I need to continue trolling the HR sites of the area school districts for  teaching and administrator jobs … if God is calling me out of education, I know it’s going to be okay. Everything will be okay.

My reality? I’m scared. But I’m also incredibly hopeful.  And I know God is chuckling a little over all this.  You see, I already had a plan in place to retire from education at the 20-year mark.

God simply moved the timetable up a bit.

Be the Change

images There’s a certain drive-through I’ll arrange my schedule to use for one simple reason: the voice that comes through the “box” and the man behind the voice when I arrive at the window.

This man, although working a brutal morning shift for more-than-likely minimum wage, blesses me every time we meet.  Our meetings don’t last longer than a couple of minutes and we’ve never exchanged comments more than, “Thank you” and “You have a beautiful day.”  But that’s enough.  He impacts my day with such a positive start I can’t help but carry that energy with me through the day.

This was our routine … until yesterday morning.  His voice didn’t contain it’s usual chipperiness and I was worried for him.  This man who has blessed me so many mornings by how he treats me and my fellow customers needed to be blessed.  And so in the time it took me to travel from the “box” to the window,  I prayed.  I prayed for this man and I prayed for every person I would meet during the day.  I asked God to provide me with opportunities to be a blessing to them.

Which is right about the time this song began playing on my radio:  Be the Change

Wow, talk about a “God moment!”  I was getting giddy and couldn’t wait for my turn at the window to bless this man who, whether he realized it or not, has blessed me countless times.

Sitting in the parking lot munching on my breakfast (you didn’t think I ate while I drove, did you?) I thought about how I needed to not “just” be thankful for the blessings in my life but to look for opportunities to be a blessing to others.  I remembered the blessing bags sitting on my back seat.

My life group had decided to create “blessing bags” a few months back.  My sweet friend, Lorrie, put them together and I received mine the other day.  These are little care packages filled with things like socks, toiletries, and snacks we are giving to people we encounter that are in need of a little assistance.

I was headed downtown to a meeting and I knew I was going to be driving past a place under the highway where many people without homes sleep.  I knew … just KNEW … this was going to be an opportunity for me to be a blessing to someone!  Would you believe the area was clear when I drove by? I actually stopped and laughed because I was doing it again.  Instead of allowing God to orchestrate my day, I was assuming the role of creative director.

Humbled, I headed on to my meeting and determined to use my eyes and ears to find the opportunities instead of trying to create the opportunities that would be most convenient for me.

The day progressed and it was fairly uneventful.  The meeting was filled with lots of great information for me to take back to my campuses, and I came away with many kernels of ideas I plan to discuss with my adminstrators to possibly develop into full-blown action.

And then it happened.

A colleague and I were chatting as we were heading to our cars and I fell.  My foot slipped off the sidewalk and before I realized what was happening, I was on the ground, face-up, with all my bags on top of my face.  All I could think at that moment was, “How in the world did my bags end up on my head?”  My colleague helped me untangle myself and I just kind of laid there for another moment, mainly because I couldn’t figure out what had just happened.  I looked up and saw another colleague running toward me and everyone was asking me if I was okay.  I really was okay, hugely embarrassed, but okay.  My coordinator arrived as I was climbing up from the ground and said I needed to fill out an accident report.  (Great.) Then she said it could wait until Monday.  (Great!)

So … how was I blessing others, you ask?  As I’ve reflected on the incident, I really believe the blessing was allowing others to serve me.  If I had been alone when I’d fallen off the sidewalk (yes, it’s happened … ), my colleagues wouldn’t have had that opportunity for service.

It’s a crazy way to look at the incident but the reality is, God doesn’t typically work in ways that make sense.

And I’m learning sometimes the way to be a blessing … to be the change … is to provide others with opportunities to serve.