Today’s post is informational rather than narrative.
As a next step along my writing path, I am linking my blog to my Facebook page. This will enable my Facebook friends to read posts from Help Along the Path. As I continue learning how to utilize social media with my blog, I will determine how to make the best use of this ability and will connect with my other accounts. Stay tuned…
*This is not a typical post for me. In my quest to write every day this year, I am completing an assignment that is a bit off topic for me.
For today’s assignment in the Zero to Hero: 30 Days to a Better Blog challenge, I am referring back to a post I commented on yesterday. Ben Orlin’s January 9th post entitled American teachers work the hardest. (After Chileans, of course.) caught my eye. His blog name, Fifty-Five Million, refers to the number of students enrolled in American schools. The subject matter is American education statistics.
Although my comment was directly related to the content of the above mentioned post, I was interested in the no-nonsense approach to statistics used by the math teacher/blogger. As a fellow math teacher, I felt validated by the data showing how hard we work, compared to teachers in other countries. As a fellow writer, I enjoyed Orlin’s sense of humor, reminding us that “numbers, like hips, don’t lie.”
Notice I did not include data and humor in the same sentence. Orlin does just this. If you have a nerdtastic sense of humor, like me, check out his Math with Bad Drawings. I found it quite entertaining, although the drawings ARE bad.
I’ve been working on a post that isn’t quite ready yet. So in the interest of keeping my daily posting commitment, I will tell you about something that happened this evening. Since we had no children at home tonight, my husband and I went out for dinner.
It was Saturday night so the restaurant was packed. As we waited to be seated, I spotted my chiropractor and his wife sitting at a table near the bar. As I am still in a wheelchair due to my accident, I had my husband wheel me over to their table. I proceeded to share that I had not been to his office in the past couple of months due to my injuries.
After catching up a bit, he asked if I would like him to give me an adjustment while we were there. I jumped at the opportunity to get some relief from the stiffness that had been increasing in the past few weeks. So we went outside long enough for him to adjust my neck without calling attention to ourselves. We thanked the kind doctor by paying for dinner for him and his wife. (We had their server bring us their check.)
Afterward, my husband and I enjoyed a nice meal together. I enjoyed a quartino of red wine, a salad, and a mixed grill. There was more food than I needed, but it was so good that I kept eating until I was more full than I’ve been in awhile. As I forced in the last bite, I looked at my husband and said, “You’re going to have to roll me out of here!” [rimshot]
Just like every year since I can remember, I have spent the last few days of December reflecting on the year and thinking about the coming one. But this year is a little different because I was hit with the reality that this year could very well have been my last.
I lost my dad in 2010, and as much as I loved him, that was different than being faced with my own mortality. Although I know I will write more about my accident in the coming days, today I want to focus on the gratitude I have for life. When I awake each morning, I am thankful for another day. As cliche as it might sound, it’s true. Yes, I was appreciative before now, but I had never experienced how fragile life really is until this year. I realize I only delayed the inevitable. The gift in all of this is that life is sweeter.
Looking over the past year, I have lots for which to be thankful. My first grandchild was born. Her father and mother married (my oldest son and the baby’s mother). My step-father beat death a few times. One of those times he says he actually died. Being there with him, I don’t doubt what he says is true. And I survived a traumatic accident.
2014 is a new beginning, as are all years. But I am especially excited about the coming year, because there was a moment when I thought I might not have a 2014. I was faced with the reality that I may never get to jump the hurdles I have put in my own way. I am no longer willing to not do things because I feel anxious or inadequate. I may never get another chance. I’ve known this on an intellectual level, but I now I have had an experience that has driven the concept home.
So, as I watch the ball drop and toast in the new year with a glass of champagne, hugs and kisses from my husband and son, and text messages from my grown children and other family members and friends, I will remember that each moment is a gift. And as I begin carrying out my new year’s resolutions tomorrow, I will do it joyfully. After all, my whole purpose in making them is to become closer to my ideal self… to become more of who I really am.
I am grateful that tomorrow I get to host a celebration for donors that purchased tables and chairs for my classroom. When my sponsors asked me what I would like for my classroom, I decided I should take the opportunity to ask for what I really wanted. The worst thing that could have happened is that they would have said no. The best thing that could have happened did. The classroom sponsor asked another donor to pitch in and help them with the purchase. It took nearly the whole year, but we got our furniture and it looks great! So tomorrow, my students are going to throw a party for the donors as a way to express their gratitude. I’m so glad I asked!
Several things happened today that made me think about how unconscious we humans can be. Just of couple of these follow.
An acquaintance of mine made a decision that very likely cost her career, at the very least. Students at my son’s school don’t “get him” because he is a little quirky, so they moan and groan when they have to sit by him. He asked me, “Why do all the kids at my school hate me?” Sad. Kids learn how to treat others somewhere… seemingly from unconscious people.
I’ve had a lot on my plate lately. Okay, if I tell the truth, I ALWAYS have a lot on my plate.
When live becomes unmanageable, as it periodically does, I have a strategy for dealing with it and for getting things back under control. I simply don’t try to accomplish more than I realistically can in the amount of time given. I do challenge myself, yet I set goals that are attainable. For example, my kitchen table had become a mountain of paper over the last couple of weeks. Rather than try to clean it up all at once, or procrastinate and do nothing, I’ve found a happy medium. I do things bit-by-bit. I take enough time to clear a space in which to work, and then I divide my task into doable segments. Tonight I separated all the papers on my table into groups (work, filing, personal, my son’s school papers, etc.). I placed work papers in a box lid near my briefcase. My personal papers went into a binder I use for papers that are relevant at the present moment. I created another box for papers to carry upstairs so I could file them. When I got the papers into manageable piles and threw away papers that were no longer needed, I cleaned the table surface, changed placemats, and put some fresh cut flowers into a vase on the table. Now I have cleared the space enough that I can think. I commit to working on my paper pile daily for 15 minutes or more. By committing to a doable daily task, I am reducing the stress that comes with trying to tackle too much at once, and I am sure the job will get done… bit by bit.
What a precious gift! People who are struggling forget that none of us are getting out alive. Life is terminal. Enjoy it while you can
Having had a rough day at school yesterday, I decided to revisit my expectations for my students today. We spend a lot of time dealing with this the first couple of weeks of school and again after the winter break. I did not think it would be necessary just after spring break, but I was wrong. So I was very explicit about what I expected of my students and what the consequences for violating those expectations would be. I did not have to raise my voice or do anything more than state what behaviors would not be tolerated, what consequences would come with infractions, and what would happen if students did not comply with the consequence. It was a very pleasant day. Students do well with predictable boundaries.
In my own life, I am the student and teacher. I set boundaries and goals. I make action plans and agreements. Sometimes I impose consequences (positive and negative) for my behavior, though natural consequences are usually enough. To help me, I enlist accountability partners and goal groups. These people support me in keeping my word to myself. At the end of the day, I feel good because I have clear expectations for myself, I follow them, or suffer a consequence if I do not. (Adults do well with predictable boundaries too.)
I have an agreement to abstain from alcohol beginning tonight at 7:00 PM. Generally I can take or leave an alcoholic beverage, but the human mind is a funny thing. Last night I enjoyed some gluten free beer, thinking I should do it since I couldn’t drink for a week. Some weeks I don’t drink alcohol at all, so this isn’t normally a big deal. But our program hates rules. Even those who are generally compliant secretly desire to break rules. I only say this because many people have confessed it to me. So here it is, 13 minutes before my agreement begins and I am drinking my second hard cider since I arrived home from work. I am watching the clock to be sure I finish it before my agreement begins. I am also having a chuckle at my passive-aggressive rebellion.
To make the whole thing even more comical, I went to a local grocery that doesn’t carry all the hip new gluten free products, so I looked to see what was available. I happened upon a hard cider that I am enjoying quite a lot. I’m not particularly happy about the 210 calories it is costing per bottle, or the 30 grams of carbs, but the crisp apple taste is wonderful. As I finish this post and cider, I am reminded of how funny we humans are when we try to push right up to the edge of the rules.
(… just finished my cider with 5 minutes to spare.)