Monthly Archives: August 2022

time change

Today was my last day of part time, stack my hours according to need and whim, work. I’m grateful that my employer was able to accommodate me with a gentle slope to full time work over the last six weeks. I am also grateful that we are still mostly remote and that we don’t have to hew exactly to a 9 to 5 schedule.

I see the benefits of business hours. It’s good to be accessible at predictable times and many folks do best with routines and boundaries.

Other folks do best alternating long and short days. I’d rather work 12 hours straight one day and 4 hours the next than 8 on both. Or early morning or late at night. I recently realized I’d do well with a nurse’s schedule ( 3 days of 12 hour shifts) but I am not going back to school for that (though I imagine the demand is high….)

I think about neurodiverdity in the workplace. What accommodations, such as flexible scheduling, are reasonable? Legal? I still have imposter syndrome related to ADHD but whether my symptoms are related to my brain or my past, I check plenty of the diagnostic boxes and many of those boxes needed to be unchecked for me to thrive as a teacher, the profession I have left. At least in my case. (I know there are plenty of thriving teachers with ADHD!)

At first I used successful and great as the adjectives. I changed to thriving because you can be successful, you can be amazing, while still drowning. Thriving doesn’t quite hit the note I’m looking for either. But it at least moves the assessment from outcomes (how well students do) to how well we are doing (incomes… and now there’s a whole lot of language curiosity sending up distracting alarms but I will resist).

Bottom line. I left teaching not bc I wasn’t “good” at it or that it was too hard and time consuming. It was simply incompatible with my brain and rhythms. At least teaching writing was. I actually might have thrived as a math teacher.

I can explain and demonstrate things in different ways. I can anticipate people’s confusion. I can be engaging. I am present. Plus I love math.

And there are text books. A sequence. You still need to breathe life into the lessons. Pivot to each day’s pedagogical needs. But you are not reinventing the wheel every day. And I imagine assessment is slightly less crushing. I know it’s not all about checking off correct answers. You are looking at process to see where kids have strayed (minor calculation error or faltering understanding of the deeper concepts?) and looking for trends (hmmm half the class is faltering in this way)… but egads I hope assessment is not as time and emotion consuming as writing is. At least the way it was for me.

I brought my own trauma and rage to the desk. I could not, would not respond to my students’ writing in the way mine was when I was a kid. And so reading and responding to student work took me so much longer than it should have.

I could not, would not teach from a canned writing curriculum because well, ugh that’s too complicated to get into. I just said two paragraphs ago that I might have done better with a textbook to guide me with a sequence. Why is writing different? It’s not like there aren’t frameworks and curricula and textbooks and all of the things writing teachers can use. So maybe it was just too damn personal.

Here’s a thing about writing. People write at their level. With reading we need to think about content, vocab, syntactic complexity. Is this text in reach? Similar with math. Do you have the foundational skills and understanding to do these kinds of problems?

With writing, you don’t go above or below your “level.” Sure, you can dial it in or go above and beyond and some tasks stymie more than others for reasons that are not always predictable, but… what. What am I getting at? Tonight is not the night for me to write the anti-textbook on writing. I am going to be ok with muddled, unresolved content. It’s clear in my head but writing it down is different. Yeah yeah meta.

And why am I tearing up? I do grieve that I did not thrive as a writing teacher because, humility be damned, I am exactly the writing teacher some, maybe many, folks need. Which is why I didn’t become a math teacher though, now that I think about it, people have as many issues with writing as with math which makes me think about education in general and how I worship the folks who are breaking through somehow.

Blah blah blah. I do hope to write a book about education some day. But not tonight.

I’ve always had two “do gooder” paths. Teach or make trouble, er I mean try to influence folks to take actions that will lead to some kind of “good.” And tonight is def not when I want to explore how “good” is not self evident and can actually cause harm.

Point is I can grieve not teaching and still be hella excited to be back to working in advocay. But, so long as I am doing work that aligns with my values, what I really want is to thrive. I am confident (arrogant?) enough to know that I *can* do many kinds of jobs. Whether I *should* do them is a different question. Which goes back to gratitude for joining an organization that seems to understand that folks show up in different ways. So maybe tomorrow I will work 10 hours and maybe Friday 6. Or vice versa. I just know that I can talk to my boss about these things and that’s pretty awesome.

mental health quiver

Writing in the afternoon instead of evening to increase odds of getting to sleep though last night I wrapped up before 11 and still had a restless night. I don’t understand. Really wondering if I’m in some kind of peak perimenopause moment.

Also summer is waning and I move up to full time work on Thursday which I am somewhat apprehensive about. Going to be a big change and it is bringing up a lot of stuff.

Been thinking about CBT (checking for distorted thinking to cut down on emotional distress to lead to wise behavioral choices) and DBT (strategies for making wise choices when my thoughts won’t be tamed and emotions are flapping in the wind).

All this while also trying to let myself feel the feels.

Sometimes mental health strategies seem contradictory though I can see how it all works together. Kinda.

Been turning to grounding a lot. I know I should mediate but I just don’t feel like having another should on my plate.

So I am going to stick with grounding. I see a brick wall, tuck pointed not long ago. Afternoon shadows of the porch banisters. White mesh metal two seater with bits of rust. Pile of napkins and rags outside the back door, waiting for the next laundry load. Rumor’s glossy coat peeking under the table. I hear wind. In the tree. Snapping the porch curtains. Spinning a creaky weather vane on a neighbor’s house. Traffic. Bus airbreaks. Neighbor’s keys. I feel warm, the cracked skin between my toes, the weight of this phone, metal stool under my calves.

And I need to keep breathing. Push into the belly.

And now it’s time to get back to work.

not much to say

So much on my mind but nothing I can, should, or am willing to say.

Which is a little troubling. For all my talking and writing I can be pretty closed off even to myself. Maybe even especially to myself.

I am trying to drum up some energy for idle prattle. But I’m too much in my head tonight and that door is locked.

50 and change

I am about numbers of late and I’m too tired to be creative….

Michael and I biked 53 miles today. It was hot, sunny, and humid which I love but those conditions do serve as a bit of a headwind, even for me. No complaints. It was just an intense day, made more so by the fact I was up sick in the middle of the night.

The most direct route home is about 41 miles but I was all in for adding some distance to take a more scenic, less harrowing route back. I didn’t realize it meant increasing the distance by 25%. Not sure I’m doing the math right and percent probably isn’t the best measure anyway. 25% more of a mile is no biggie. An extra 12 miles is not insignificant.

But it was a real treat to spend so much time on trails. Kudos to the fine folks who have steadfastly expanded Indiana’s trail system over the last 20 years. Looking at you, Mitch Barloga!

Hope to add more another day but I need to zzzzzz. I’m a little annoyed that I broke my posting streak yesterday because I didn’t hit publish on my draft. But I’m giving myself credit even if Word Press doesn’t.

counting to 600

Michael and I had a lovely day of hiking and traipsing though woods and sand ie the Indiana Dunes.

There was much to love about the day, but then I stupidly checked my email while we were at the beach. Saw a troubling message and my mood crumbled like a house of cards.

Which was a bummer but also an  opportunity to practice  controlling or a least diffusing distress and tempering rumination.

At one point I started counting steps as we crunched along a limestone trail. Got to over 600 and then noticed a wee frog hiding on a milkweed leaf. Pure magic!

losing miles at the casino

will add photos later

Was, all in all, a wonderful day for a bike ride to Miller Beach in Gary, Indiana. The most direct route would have been 41 miles, but we went a little out of the way to take the emerald necklace from Humboldt to Jackson parks, with a pit stop in Hyde Park for lunch.

Was planning to write about that journey, but as often happens, the grueling final stretch is taking up brain space.

After Jackson Park, we zipped along streets and trails that followed the lake’s curve. The route starts getting tricky around Whiting, IN. Lots of industry and infrastructure, active and fallow.

We have done this trip many times and know or rather kind of know short cuts and wiggle throughs to shave distance and reduce  time spent on hulking, high speed roads.

But it’s been awhile and phone GPS doesn’t always help with these, er, more creative routes.

Which is how we tacked on an extra 4 miles getting turned around at the Ameristar Casino. Michael was convinced it was key to getting on a old railroad frontage road. But just getting there involves  dizzying  clover leaf and roundabout swirls. I was a little skeptical the detour was worth it, though i also had vague recollections of the area. But after a chunk of time chasing hunches and our tails and then being chased off by security , we gave up and hit the highway. Good thing we are confident cyclists!

Turns out Michael was right. There is a mellow road we could have taken and it only shows up on Google maps when  Ameristar is the origin point. The directions are convoluted. Looking at the satellite view I just can’t see a way to hop on that road without rolling up to the casino first.

We were crunched for time because we needed to be at our destination  for a 5pm phone call. We could have probably figured it out but I did not want to go any deeper into the rabbit hole. So we hauled ass in keeping with the spirit of the roads we were on.

Those last 12 miles were tough, blotting out the earlier bliss of riding. I was even starting to get a bit saddle sore, a reminder that I do not bike any where near as much as I did pre pandemic. The elevation changes on overpasses were burning my legs… though the downhills were fun!

But now I’m hydrated and fed and in fine spirits. Was an adventure with good exercise and we made it in the nick of time for the phone call.

on being a biker

I don’t feel like going into the well worn origin story of how I got involved with bike activism, planning, and advocacy.

The upshot is that I have been known as a “biker” for 25 years.

But I don’t love biking in the way many folks do, including my husband.  If I have a free day, I don’t itch to hop in the saddle and just ride. This might partly be related to having a hard time finding a bike that fits me well (short, small hands people problems). Or maybe that’s an excuse. One day maybe I’ll get a custom frame.

I’m more of a utilitarian than recreational cyclist, though I do find a lot of joy in the journeys. Last night’s rides to and from our anniversary dinner date were late summer magic.

I also  love having adventures.  In the last few weeks Michael has had to do a fare bit of driving. I try to help out but don’t usually last more than about an hour. I will bike anywhere but am white knuckled behind the wheel. So I proposed taking a mini bike trip to celebrate 20 years.

Tomorrow we will ride 40 and change miles to Miller Beach (Gary, IN) and stay at a friend’s house for two nights.

Feeling grateful for journeys and destinations!

20 years

I’m gonna post this at the crack of the day so it’s not tapping my shoulder tonight.

Happy 20th anniversary to Michael, my rock and partner.

I have never had a great grasp on what a life should be. Has vague notions of “success” (yeah yeah yeah that’s my ugh thing), but never imagined what living might involve in a practical day to day dinner on the table, garbage out, paycheck in, bills paid, acing and fumbling at parenting kind of way.

Can’t imagine a better fellow traveler. Kind, handsome, spry, patient, generous, witty, creative, and did I mention patient?

the INAF club

Ooo boy I have a lot on my mind but the writing I need to do should be private but I also want to keep this writing commitment, such as it is.

So, before I turn to my journal, here’s something from today.

Michael and I have been watching season 8? 9? of Alone. Season doesn’t matter and ooo boy I need to resist reflecting on the show in general.

We are close to the end of the season. Entering this episode, 4 people were left. By the end, one was “extracted” for having lost too much weight (not sure how I feel about that word). Not gonna spoil it so I’m using gender pronouns.

This person was amazing. Ingenious. Warm. Genuine. Outlasted by far most other contestants. And they were berating themself for failing, for underperforming. Not in a false humility way or a feel sorry for me way. Just a pure, deep anguish that lives in the bottom of the half empty cup kinda way.

They also talked about how they wanted their parents to be proud of them. I am thinking um how could anyone not be proud of their kid for lasting this long, heck for even making it onto the show??

And also, what’s up with parental pride anyway?

On one hand we (parents) are told not to make a big deal out of our children’s performance, good or bad. Focus on effort. Don’t want them to think their worth is linked to proficiency. Ye olde “Better to take a hard class and get a C than take an easy class due to fear of not getting an A” framework. And even that has the “performance” tinge. Swapping one value (effort) for another (grades).

On the other hand, we are told not to have low expectations and I am just going to stop with this whole line of thought because it is too nuanced and fraught (ooo almost have a poem going)

Bottom line is my heart was hurting for this amazing person as well as their parents who were undoubtably thinking “what did we do to make our child so worried about making us proud… and why on earth would they think we are not proud given this extraordinary accomplishment???”

OK I need to move into private writing

0 miles

Dog startled me awake at 6am by making a fuss at our bedroom window. Probably a friend on an early walk

this would not have been a problem except that I again slept poorly, heart racing and grounding exercises rolling off my anxiety like it’s Teflon.

I’m going to sleep in my office tonight. took melatonin.

wasn’t a bad day except that I didn’t leave the house. just tired. I’m reaching my max for consequitive sleep poor nights