The bags of my life… #SOL21 #DAY22

The bags of my life share a glimpse or what it is like to be me…

Let’s start with my purse – the dainty or sometime not dainty handbag that carries my wallet, my phone, my checkbook, my lipgloss, my mirror, and a few other things. I don’t carry this daily – mainly on the weekends. Why? Well during the week I carry my…

Backpack – this houses my wallet and keys during the week as well as my laptop, my iPad, any books I’m reading right now and my writing notebook. This goes to and from work with me daily. I would feel lost if I didn’t have it.

But then, there is my gym bag – the bag that holds my stinky clothes after a workout or my clean clothes beforehand. I have not used this bag in over a year due to COVID because I’ve been working out at home. I kind of miss my gym back because it represents the workouts that I don’t have with others right now.

Let’s not forget my dissertation bag. Yes this was a thing when I was working on my dissertation. I carried books and my writing all over – I kept everything in the bag that I needed to make my trips to Paradise Cafe, Panera, McAllisters, or Noodles and Company – all places that I loved to go to read and write. A stage in my life that has past but I do miss it (and I miss Paradise Cafe greatly).

Then, my luggage to travel which represents what my husband and I love to do – visit new places! We want our bags to travel around the world with us.

Oh I almost forgot my run bag. Yes, this is different than my gym bag because it is specific to my run shoes and run clothes and for running not the gym. It holds my run belt, headlamp, and other items that I count on when running outside. It is important to have ready to go – always.

And of course shopping bags. Sometimes I remember to take bags with me to use to put my groceries in; other times I forget and have to use the plastic bags that the grocer or myself pack and then keep for reuse.

And then, there is a bag I have never carried – a diaper bag. My husband and I don’t have kids so the bags that we don’t carry share as much about us as the ones we do carry.

I’m sure there are a many more bags that could be described and would share or not share something about us.

So next time you pick up your bag realize that it says something about you.

Blind Trust #SOL21 #DAY21

So much of everything we do in life causes us to trust others, without even knowing them. As we move through our day and from day to day, we depend on others that we may never meet. We have blind trust.

Every time I leave the safety and comfort of my own home, I am trusting others.

I trust the cars that drive by each day – not knowing who is driving or where they are going.

When I enter a restaurant, I trust the chef, the server, the other people in the establishment.

When I hop in an Uber or Lyft or Taxi, I am trusting someone that I do not know.

When I step onto an airplane, I am trusting the pilot, the stewardess, the people that surround me.

When I go to they gym, I must trust that everything is clean.

When I go shopping I trust those that are shopping next to me not to take something that is on me.

You see, we walk through this world trusting others – depending on them, without always even knowing it. This blind trust is the way that we are able to live in a world that brings so many challenges and is seeped with injustice. It’s the way we are able to live in a world without always being fearful.

Yet when that blind trust is broken – it is hard to recover. It is hard to walk through this world in the same way. When tragedy hits due to the hands of those we didn’t even know, we start to whither away and walk into the world being more critical; with heightened awareness; and with more fear.

My 42 year old self has definitely experienced that brokenness whereas my younger self had only been hurt by those that were closest to me – it wasn’t until I got older that I started recognizing the ways that I had trusted those I didn’t even know due to that trust having been shattered.

Life will excite you but it will disappoint. It will bring you joy and sadness. It will make you laugh and make you cry. And blind trust is a necessity in life so that we can live it fully yet also it can be the one thing that ends life as we know it.

Change #SOL21 #DAY20

Change neon light signage

It only takes one simple change to make the day a little rockier than expected.

Water heater goes out…

Air no longer works…

Microwave catches on fire…

Pipes burst…

Car won’t start…

______________… name it.

It’s guaranteed in life that these things will happen so why get upset about it? It’s because change is hard. Interruption veers the direction that was planned. Convenience is desired.

Though changes like this can be hard it’s important to put them in perspective.

Recognize that this is a moment in time and not forever.

It only takes one simple change to make the day a little rockier than expected. Yet the control lies in the reaction to the change.

Book Paralysis #SOL21 #DAY19

Sitting down and picking up a book brings such joy to the life of someone who loves to learn, analyze, and wonder. The act of opening up the book, reading a few lines, pausing and then thinking about them is thrilling. Being able to then write down how the words jumped out on the page, how they spoke to the reader is where the exhilaration emerges.

I love to read. I love everything about both new and old books. I love to smell them and sit in their presence sometimes wondering if just having a lot of books makes me smarter. Well, I know it doesn’t but it does give me a confidence knowing that I’ve read so many books even if not all of them. I love making meaning of the words on the page – the power behind interpretation as I bring my background to what it is I’m reading.

I love reading but my reading life was rudely interrupted. I mainly read for work. I love professional texts about leadership, coaching, equity, reading/writing, and more. Pre-COVID I was reading everyday before I got started on my to do list at work or went to a meeting or visited a school. I would devote at least 30 minutes a day. I was in a groove and then…

COVID hit. Racial injustice continued.

What a pandemic? What, we have to change the way we do school? How do I support those I work with most? What can I do to be helpful? And from that moment on, we were making decision after decision about possible plans that may or may not happen so that we were ready.

And another pandemic? A racial pandemic? That’s always been here. The realization of what I knew existed was elevated through the many murders of black Americans: Aumaud Arbery; Breonna Taylor; George Floyd; Sean Reed.

The heaviness of these experiences was overwhelming to me and left me often not knowing what to do. That is when I started experiencing it:

BOOK PARALYSIS.

I’m used to having a purpose behind my reading that moves my thinking forward or changes my thinking. It directly connects to goals of what we are trying to accomplish. Yet when life turned to a planning frenzy for different possibilities for school and ways to show my anger for the racial injustice in this world, I no longer connected with the shelves of books that I had. I’ve bought more books since then and think I’m going to read that one. And then, no, I think I’ll read that one. Wait – that won’t work – how about this one? My choosing was all over the place because I didn’t know what to focus on. I was sorting through the books and not able to choose a single one. How in the world did this avid reader become someone who cannot even pick up a book? The world was messed up. It had affected me in many ways – and one of those ways was the inability to actually focus – something that had been so much easier for me before.

Not being able to focus affected my reading, yet also I was tired. My brain was tired. After having so many conversations each day to plan for all the plans we wouldn’t even use, the last thing I wanted to do was pick up a book. I just wanted to sit down and not have to think. I watched a lot more TV.

BOOK PARALYSIS.

It’s real and I am suffering from it but I also have hope because I am slowly regaining my focus as we are able to start having conversations that focus in on curriculum and not just on pandemic life. I am able to focus more on how to be proactive when it comes to equity work versus the reaction that was happening through most of the summer. And as I start to regain focus I find myself drawn to readings in two areas: equity and the teaching of reading. I have been able to start thinking about what my focus will be and am narrowing that by sifting through the pages and finally starting to read.

Reading is what centers me. It is what helps inform my work. It gives life to the conversations I have. It shocked me to see how trauma could put that on pause yet it did and now it is time to slowly get back to it. Good thing that this book paralysis was just temporary.

My Husband, our House Chef #SOL21 #Day17

Today, at lunch, I warmed up my spaghetti to eat in the 7 minutes that I had before my next meeting. I was shoving the noodles in my mouth when I suddenly felt such deep gratitude for the food I was eating. Gratitude, because my husband had cooked, I had a delicious meal to eat. For a brief minute I sat there and thought, wow, I am one lucky woman.

I am so thankful that my husband loves to cook because it is not something that brings me joy. He loves thinking about the new recipes, the ingredients he will use and how he will change it up the next time he makes it. I don’t thank him enough for sharing his joy of cooking with me on a regular basis.

I wish I did like to cook. I will cook, but I don’t like it. He gets such a thrill trying a new sauce or spice. I just find it annoying to try something new. If it were up to me we would eat the same thing all the time. So not only am I thankful for the food but for the variety he has brought to my life.

Before Monterry, I mainly at chicken or pizza. I didn’t like most things but slowly he has helped me broaden my choices and expand my tastebuds. Now I will eat salsa, hot sauce, and more.

I’ve gently nudged him to consider culinary school, yet he loves cooking as a hobby – not as his career. So, I am blessed that he loves cooking for the two of us, for family members, and for friends. I get to enjoy all the goodness of his hard work in the kitchen. I am so thankful for him and I don’t tell him that enough. When I stop writing and he’s off the phone with his cousin, I will be expressing my gratitude.

Don’t apologize for asking a question that is in the forefront of your mind #SOL21 #DAY16

“Don’t apologize for asking a question that is in the forefront of your mind.”

I had an aha moment one Thursday in an instructional coach meeting (pre-pandemic) as I sat and listened to a concern that was brought up that we needed to grapple with. One of our coaches said I’m sorry for bringing this up… It made me pause and think… Why do we say we are sorry for something that we know will take up additional time? Why are we saying sorry for what matters. If we don’t tackle the hard conversations – the stuff that requires deep thinking, then we will never see ourselves move forward. I then realized that sometimes, we just need to know we have the freedom to truly say what we are thinking. That is a true community of practice when you can bring up the pressing issues, you can disagree, and you can be you. We also need to know how to stay focused when there are tons of issues on the peripheral. From our conversations that Thursday, reflections from the past year, and just thinking toward the future the following is in the forefront of my mind as a facilitator.

Check In with the Team: Does the topic seem viable for conversation in the moment? Check in with the team. Is this something we should address now or address later and if later, when? Add it to the agenda either for that day or for a future meeting. 

Table It (but don’t forget it): Teams need to know that they can bring up the hard issues and things they are unsure about and if we can’t do something with it right away the facilitator will “table it” and the topic will move to a list to discuss in the future. This allows us honor the thinking or the question and respect the timeframe we have together.

Write About It: Not enough time to talk about the issue, yet it is deserving of some thinking time? Give the team 5 minutes to write down their thoughts and then ask them to think on it more and the next time the team comes together, it will be discussed.

Of course, sometimes things are brought up that deter the work or just don’t fit at that time. This happens and even if it doesn’t connect a team member should not apologize. It is the role of the facilitator to acknowledge thinking and bring the team back to the conversation at hand.

Return to the Goal: Acknowledge the comment of the team member yet remind them of our goal for the meeting. Ask them to hold onto their idea for later when you talk about that topic or go more deeply.

Be Transparent: Simply just share with the team that our focus today is on _________________ and that does not align with our focus. Have an agreement as a team that we will be transparent when these things happen so that we can be as productive as possible.

Acknowledge and Give it Away: Acknowledge the issue yet state that is not something this team can solve, yet let’s share that with __________________. Have the team member be in charge of relaying the message to the person or team that can problem-solve the issue coming up.

This is not an exhaustive list – it is just initial thoughts on how we can build a team culture that does not apologize for bringing something up yet determines what to do that is best with what did come up. So always remember, “Don’t apologize for asking a question that is in the forefront of your mind.”

*This piece of writing was sitting in my drafts. Thank you Slice of Life Challenge for giving me a chance to start looking at my drafts from over a year ago and bringing them to life.

Did you ever wonder… #SOL21 #Day15

person holding black iphone 4

Did you ever wonder how we operated before our lives became connected to work 24/7? Did you ever wonder what it was like to not get lost in email? Did you ever wonder how there was a day where you could remember who texted you because you didn’t get texts all the time?

I often wonder how we survived and then I think: I bet we were more productive. We weren’t trying to multi-task; we had to try to figure things out on our own before we asked someone else; we probably had more time to think.

The constant emails and texts and phone calls cloud up our day not letting us see clearly – not letting us focus on our purpose and our why. I’m so curious how people push the clouds away and make time for the sun to shine through with ideas. What strategies do you use to silence the craziness?

Jaxon #SOL21 #Day14

My great-nephew, Jaxon, turns 5 tomorrow. It’s so hard to believe that he is 5 already. I remember when my niece was pregnant with her first child, Carson. I remember her telling me that she had some news to share. She was so nervous to let me know that she was pregnant. She has always been like a daughter to me, so she thought the news might disappoint me.

I wasn’t disappointed but I was worried about her future. She was 17 when she told me and was a senior in high school. That was 11 years ago. She had Carson in December and was back at school in January to finish her senior year. She has grown into such a responsible adult and now has two beautiful children. I admire her so much and am proud of the woman she has become and the amazing mother that she is. She loves Carson and Jaxon so much and so do I. They bring such joy to our family.

Though none of us were ready for her to have a child at that time, we are all so blessed for the beautiful gift that God gave her and our family. And then a 2nd gift came years later.

We all learned that the best things in life are not always planned.

A wasted day… #SOL21 #Day13

I used to feel guilty when I take a day and do nothing
I always thought I should be working… I should be doing something…
Yet as I’ve aged, I’ve learned that taking a day to do nothing
is not a wasted day…
It is a day that you take for you and that is vital for our mind, body and soul.

So now when I take a day; I know I have work to do
But I don’t claim it as a wasted day.
I claim it as a day for me.