I searched my computer for the word "poem" to see what I could could find at random.
The first hit was the poem that Kevin and I made that we shared with each other during our wedding.
As we approach our 8 year wedding anniversary, it means so much to me to find this!
Here is hoping that it can light up your love too.
Photo by Winnie Bruce
Supposed to be my Spring Break from teaching at St. Mary's College of Maryland. Slightly annoyed by the change, but was gearing up to teach my kindergarten son, and wondering how it would all go. We managed to get everything done. I felt proud, and also thought "well, it is only kindergarten," and smiled wistfully. During Week 1 my brother arrived to come and stay with us. He helped out with the home schooling by cooking and doing funny PE exercises with the kiddo. We got a scare when my husband reached a fever state with a cold, so also during Week 1, I moved a mattress into the office room and began sleeping in our new home office/elementary school room. It was utter madness.
I don't remember.
By the third week, we found out that school would remain out for an additional month. At this point, I was also teaching online movement-based classes. My brother, husband, and I watched Tiger King somewhere in all of this, and I believe it was around this time. Teaching the classwork became easy and we developed a routine of either morning or afternoon work. We dropped off the first round of school work, and picked up our next packet. It all seemed like I was becoming a great stay at home teacher, freelance archival worker on a Reelz TV show, writer/producer at Phocus Video, and adjunct professor at SMCM.
I don't remember all of it, but this is when I got SUPER stressed out. I was trying to clean the house, work, and teach my son. At this point I had to download and print out how to print letters, because instead of doing work that was simply reviewing material, I had to start TEACHING the content. We did a really cool project this week that was a journal with baby photos and milestones. As hard as it was, it was quite lovely, and we will have it as a testament to my time spent as a home school teacher.
Luckily this was his Spring Break. It was all still stressful because I had a lot of work to get done, but overall fine. It felt like it just blended together. In hindsight, it was a welcomed break. Around this point, I moved back into my bedroom (finally), but still have a sore neck to prove I was on a floor mattress for weeks.
Was hard to adjust back to the work with him. Took a few days to get back in. Loved the weekend following Week 6, and really felt like I was getting used to having weekends off from teaching kindergarten now.
We just started and it is nuts! The work has nearly doubled. What we used to get done in a 1.5-3 hour time frame is now at 3-5 hours. Lucky this is my last week teaching at the college, and we move to finals next week. I'm not sure why there is so much work now, but I'm thinking that it may be in case Maryland schools close for the rest of the year. Perhaps they are trying to get ahead in case they close, and then move the actual school's out date up sooner?
Not sure what the future holds with this, but I am overwhelmed daily by it.
As my freelance work dwindles and changes it should get somewhat easier.
Except that I never wanted to be a stay at home teacher, and the notion of it is frustrating at times.
Also, I don't want to lose work, and I know that will become another layer of tension.
All in all, I do enjoy more time with my child. I do enjoy seeing him learn. I love watching him grow.
I appreciate that he learned to ride his bike without training wheels during my brother's PE classes. Just like that, we will keep at it, until we get it right. Or, at least until summer break.
Photo by Altea Alessandroni
I've been doing exercise and food journaling for about 3/4 of a year now. Although I also like doing different apps, I enjoy the process of writing with pen and pencil too. It makes me think more thoroughly, and take pause to reflect with planning. It also feels fun to have an analog experience in this current time of Zoom meetings, emails, text messages, and screen overload.
My favorite journal that I've tried (I'm 5 days from being done with it, so I'm currently taking recommendations for a new one:) is The Wellness Planner by Life & Apples. It is straightforward and brings together plans for eating, activities, and a to do list for the day. Another thing I love is that there are spaces daily to write something you are grateful for, and other positive thoughts.
I like this journal way more than Habit Nest's food/diet one BTW. Like I've said before, the Habit Nest Meditation book is amazing, but you can save money and avoid the food/diet one. It had tons of misprints, faulty calculations, and they reuse material from their other journals, such as quotes and stories of famous people.
Life & Apples also has a ton of free downloads to help you plan, make goals, and set intentions. I honestly didn't even know about all of that fancy stuff until today when I got to the end of the journal and read their "check out what else we have page" toward the end! I'm browsing through their assets now.
If you love journaling, and you want a solid recommendation for a Wellness/Food planner, then definitely check out this company.
Photo by Elle Hughes
Today I went for a bike ride.
I barely pedaled at all.
Just floated and glided, with ease.
I remembered all of the places I have lived where I had bikes.
Ames, Iowa and Boulder, Colorado in my solo adult life.
Greensboro, North Carolina as a kid, teenager, and prodigal daughter over summer and in between jobs.
Those are the places I thought of most.
The freedom to go out and have the speed of a bicycle, versus the contemplation of a walk.
The choice to bike to work, or to do a shopping trip with a backpack to bring items home.
Today I did a bike ride for fitness, but it turned out that I did it to feel freedom.
My mind was clearer afterward.
I felt cleansed and refreshed.
I barely sweated, but I didn't mind.
Today I went for a bike ride.
I'm looking for a few people to try my 5 Day Reset (currently in development) for FREE. You will be guided through 5 days of healthy brain and body choices, and then be asked for your feedback about the process. To sign up, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. This marketing test program will take place May 4-8, 2020.
Photo by Tookapic
Sticks by Diane Alber
This morning my son and I read this book through Kindle Unlimited. It is so good! I enjoyed the artwork and overall message of finding one's place in the world. Regardless of age, we will come to forks in the road when one part of our life is concluding, and another is beginning. Whether you are transitioning from diapers to undies, middle to high school, or one career to another, we all can relate.
The story tells of a popsicle stick who loses their popsicle. They then have to search for what the next chapter might be (and also believe in themself). The narration drives the story to a satisfying ending, and even includes an art project to drive the story home.
Check out the book on Amazon here:
Sticks by Diane Alber
If pressed for time or money, you can have the book read with this video book too!
Photo by Christina Morillo
I want to feature your writing and will pay for it.
Can you write short articles about lifestyle, arts, entertainment, healthy eating, or parenting? If so, I would love to consider featuring your writing on my blog. Within this approach, we can grow our audiences in tandem while creating an online source of trusted communication and innovative integrity. Articles (300-400) can be submitted to email@example.com with the headline "Featured Article Submission." If submitting more than one article, please send separate emails. Every author remains in complete ownership of their work, and will be paid $20 upon completed publication agreement.
This new section of the blog will go live in May, 2020.
I love dance. I love film. I love art that can both communicate and entertain. I'm picking back up with a series that I began in the summer of 2018 entitled Monday Music Video Moves. For this weekly curation, I choose music videos that utilize choreography, costumes, and performance to help push along their songs.
This week's video is Still Feel by Half-Alive (a Long Beach, CA band with moves and music indeed!). The choreography, spacing, and costume changes are simply amazing. #mondaymusicvideomoves
Feed the dog.
Think about 20 things that need to get done.
Put laundry in.
Spend 15 minutes simply moving things around the house back to their properly designated location.
Hug the kiddo.
Get the dad up who has slept in.
Let the dog out.
Start the robot vacuum in one room.
Take more laundry down from a different room.
Start to create a salad dish.
Sweep the floor in the dining room.
Dust the living room.
Use the hand held vacuum on the stairs.
Give permission for the kiddo to play video games.
Kiddo and daddy start to make paper airplanes in the same place you are cleaning, and then ask for NPR to be turned off, but you gently remind them that there are several other rooms where they could make paper airplanes, and they finally go to another room.
Start the dishwasher.
Wash the lunch dishes by hand so that they won't build up before the dishwasher is done.
Have a 3rd coffee.
Tell the dog that you will take her on a walk at some point, and not to worry.
Start to read emails.
Change out the laundry.
Start the blog post.
Investigate whether or not to keep a friend-based Facebook profile, or just go full business page (you've done this a million times before).
Remember your Monster energy drink is downstairs.
Give the kiddo a hug.
Take down the recycling.
Finish making the salad and put it in the fridge.
Realize that the kitchen indeed looks great.
Tell your brother that you really need to look for new jobs today. Consider opening a web page on a device with a job search so that you remember later to continue with that idea.
Tell the dog 3 or 4 more times you will indeed walk her.
Walk into the kitchen to see it has stuff all over it again. Sigh.
Consider what exercise class to take today.
Finally sit down to finish writing the blog.
Look at the image you chose to correspond to the blog.
Commit to the dog walk.
Stop tasking for the day.
Enjoy the afternoon and evening.
When my husband (boyfriend at the time) and I were first dating, we were separated by several months by his job deployment overseas. It was a crazy time, as all of our communications were done via Facebook Chat, Email, and Postal Mail. I came up with many tactics to get through it, and I can't wait to share all of them!
The one I'm talking about today is a durational project that I did. This type of work is something that you commit to do every day, or every week, over an extended period of time. For this project, I took a picture of myself blowing him a kiss for every day that we were apart. Then I ended the piece by taking a picture of us when we became reunited.
Please share the idea with someone who might need some help when they are distanced from their romantic, familial, or friend relations.
The final piece lives here: Candy Kisses
Running into the void...how jogging helped me quit smoking, and how I'm using it now for mental and physical strength.Read Now
When I quit smoking in the spring of 2011, it was sudden. Although I was building up to it gradually over a couple of years, the way that I did it was quickly and with a lot of focus and energy. I decided I was done and went forward into the storm of mental chaos, physical discomfort, addiction repatterining, and an overall sense that "I am greater than nicotine" and "I will win in this situation."
One of the great helps that got me through this massive life change 9 years ago (yowza, just realized I'm almost at my 9 year anniversary!) was running. I'm not a fan of running at all. When I was 12 I was good at it. Then at 15 I picked it back up for a few months. After that, I would usually go for a run when I finally feel bloated beyond control, or when our family decides to sign up for another annual Turkey Trot event. Typically my knees start to hurt and my mind wanders.
But when I quit smoking, my mind NEEDED a place to put all of its energy into. The challenge of getting farther than I had the previous day, or week, was met with gusto and take charge attitude. Interestingly enough, I feel the exact same in this current crisis. Last week I decided to run to get out of the house and give myself a huge physical challenge (and yes, I was also at the point of over-bloated madness from my brother's amazing homemade cooking). I went out and ran 2 miles. Just like that. Now, I will say that I was clearly jogging at a pace slower than a person walking at some points, but I DID IT. It took me roughly 25 minutes. I was a little judgmental about that time being long, until I thought, "you haven't run 2 miles in several years." So yeah, then I gave myself the pride I deserved.
I've done a cry run within the past week as well. The news that day suggested we might be home schooling well into fall 2020. That hit me so hard it was unbearable. I craved my old life back in that instant. It was very hard to imagine the next 6 months being happy and easy. The tension in the house was high as well, with a lot of personalities and time on our hands, sometimes it just felt like I couldn't have any time alone, or find solace peacefully by myself. I started running, and just ended up sobbing. Sobbing and talking out loud. And I ran 2.5 miles at 24 minutes. The joy and peace I felt afterward was astounding. I was able to communicate to my family members how much more help I needed, and the feelings I was going through.
Last night I ran 2 miles in 22.5 minutes.
The similarity of quitting smoking and being shut in by the Covo is striking.
Both times, I was searching for control.
Some things are definitely out of my control: world economy, what this virus is, how it will end...
Yet some things are in my control: how I react to the stress, how I communicate, how I choose to thrive.
For now, I'll aim to keep running into the void of the unknown, while training my mind and body to preserve and persevere with strength and focus.
Screen time with kids. Ugh. Am I right? Trying to navigate how much information comes to my son in a digital viewing format can be an overwhelming task as a parent. When he was 3 years old we decided to get tougher on our time allowance (which was fairly limited to PBS kids and Disney movies already) and created a firm 1 hour a day of any kind of screen. At his 6 year old check-up, our pediatrician said that 2 hours a day at that age is fine. Really?! Ok. My husband and I decided to keep it at one hour, but that was 6 months ago. During the stay at home month (so far) of the Covid crisis, we have days where the screen time gets completely out of control. We are playing Wii together, watching school assignments, doing educational games and online fitness, watching movies, and letting him choose kid friendly tv shows. What is one to do?
Well, I say lean in to it, but keep control. As we enter month two, we are getting smarter and more diligent. We've decided to pull back in some areas, and push forward in others. The pulling back is being done by scheduling Wii days and movie days. We are also putting the screens down and doing more analog projects, such as art projects and cooking. Keep in mind, those were being done a lot in the beginning, but the slacker stress has a way of kicking in when you least expect it. However, we keep trying and taking it all one day at a time.
The way that our family has fully leaned in is by taking on one of our "we should" statements that has come up frequently over the past few years, and putting it in to action. This one is "we should have a YouTube channel." So, we are doing it! My son and I were reading a book that had in it "Owie Kazowy." We loved it so much and he said "that should be the name of my tv show!" I couldn't have agreed more. He is choosing the focal points of the channel (so far those are Hot Wheels cars and tracks, stuffed animals, our dog (Violet), and outdoor adventures. For a shy kid, he is really starting to come to life when he is on camera. It is a fun family-focused project and is serving to stir up our creativity and collaboration as a collective collected inside the home.
In my mind, the development of this new brand will be a way to include lessons about social media management, and the greater rules of online behavior. He is learning how to film, edit, and curate content. He is engaged in coming up with ideas and excited to share his creations. Also, he is increasingly conscious of maintaining privacy, while also sharing content. We are all excited to see where the Owie Kazowy project takes us, and I'm equally grateful to have a collaborative focus on something positive that can be developed and shared with others during this time (and beyond).
I have always loved to dance! That is why I majored in it at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA). That journey was very trying and taxing (and filled with unitards, leotards, fasting, Diet Coke, and lots of wild stories about parties) and I don't really recommend studying dance at a conservatory for those who abhor mental challenges of endurance, or couch potato types. However, I DO recommend at home cardio dance for EVERYONE. There are a ton of options on ClassPass, YouTube, and as of late, Facebook Live. Get your best workout clothes on (ranging from tight leggings to baggy sweats), put on socks and supportive shoes, press play, and make yourself happy and healthy at the same time. For more information on the psycho-physical effects look here.
For this week, I'm highly recommending The Fitness Marshall's current short Speed Set. It is so fun and really helps to get the cobwebs out of the brain and body. Grab your glass of water and get to it!
During the summer of 2019, I collaborated with my friend, Rebecca Burnett from Love Life,Live Vegan, on a short comedy film with a vegan theme entitled Two Friends Meat. We worked on a shoestring budget, raised funds through Kickstarter, and ended up winning an audience award at the Southern Maryland Film Festival! One of our rewards to our funders was a cookbook with plant-based recipes. The recipes were compiled by the cast and crew and Burnett designed the cookbook. After our piece was done with its film festival circuity, we decided to make the cookbook available to the public. Please enjoy this FREE download!
Whether it is for 1 minute or 20, I know that I have to make the time to meditate every day. Although I have dabbled with self-taught meditation since my college years of reading Herman Hesse, hugging trees, and learning mindful tactics as a performer, it wasn't until Fall 2019 that I started a legitimate practice. I bought 3 journals from Habit Nest. One was for dieting, the other mornings, and the last meditation. By far, the meditation one is the best. The journal is a great resource for maintaining accountability, providing philosophical musings, and creating space to empty thoughts.
During the months that I had the journal I meditated EVERY day. It changed my life. I had less stress, was more calm, able to adapt to my son's behaviors (normal 6 year old stuff, but still...), and general things that used to annoy me. I loved this journey and would feel less successful if I only did 5 minutes on any given day, as I started to really enjoy the 15-20 minute sessions. But in hindsight, even the 5 minute days helped tremendously.
The app I used (and still do) is Insight Timer. It is so great and I recommend it. I also found a series on Audible called Reset Your Day Meditations.
It isn't hard to meditate, in fact I have grown accustomed to the process and crave the time when I don't have it. Due to the current state of staying at home and being around my family, I find it hard to schedule me time/me space to do my daily meditations. And when I don't get it in, I suffer. My family suffers. So, what does one do?!?
What I've found that helps is to schedule it and then communicate with my husband that I'll need 5-20 minutes at so and so hour in order to get my meditation in. Just taking the initiative to find the time can be hard enough on some days. But trust me, your mind will be so grateful when you give it the love it deserves. Enjoy your life by giving yourself compassion, kindness, and precious moments in order to reset, and set, the mind, emotions, spirituality, and self-worth on the right track.
Maybe you are like me, and for the past 4 weeks-ish you have been exercising, trying to meditate daily (okay so maybe every few days), and then overeating at night time while you watch Tiger King? Or perhaps you are able to keep your diet under control thus far, and have not actually gained the 5 lbs that I have. Gah! There you go, there is the truth right there. I realized this weekend that I have reached a weight that I have only seen before when I was pregnant. One could also say that my mid-40's age and perimenopause (unconfirmed, but suggested by the nutritionist I saw once) add to this poundage of portly success. However, I know that I am simply over-eating. Even though I committed to being fully vegan for Lent this year (yes, it was hard, but actually quite fun and I learned a whole lot about what temptation truly means, but I'll save that for another post), I was able to munch on nighttime snacks of chips, sips of beers, delicious tapenade, Tofurkey and Violife sandwiches with Vegenaise until my heart, but not my waistline, were content. And of course, this isn't all about being cooped up inside the house for the majority of the day. The main thing is stress. Anxiety. Worry. The fear of the unknown. So today, I made a change. Because that is what I can do. What I can control right now are my actions.
Today I cooked a healthy and delicious Greens Soup from a recipe by Little Green, run by Christy Halvorson Ross. I have done multiple cleanses through her website and guidance, and highly recommend that everyone do one. I've never made it past 7 days, but still congratulate myself on that! My parents tried once and got to 3.
I used some fresh greens from our Aerogarden to make this soup even more delicious too! Here's to another week of home life, but with renewed commitment to taking care of myself with thoughtful cooking, eating, and mindfulness. Just by making the choice to slow cook, use the ingredients that I have in the house, and slow down, I've set new intentions to stave off the dreaded Covid 15, within this time of Covid 19.
My advice is to know your hourly rate (break it down by actual hours you work/what you were working before distance-based). Then decide exactly how many hours per week you need to make time for, and DO NOT go over your budgeted time. Clearly decide how and when you will develop your remaining class plans, how much time is needed for grading, if extra time is needed for online prep, etc. Most of all, know that your time is valuable and hold yourself accountable for being an amazing teacher, while simultaneously staying happy and healthy. 🙂.