7 Questions #SOL21

I’ve been inspired by a recent conversation between Kelly Gallagher and Penny Kittle and this New York Time’s article: 7 Questions, 75 Artists, 1 Bad Year. Here are my answers to the seven questions. This is typically something I would do in my notebook and think on for several days. This is a first draft post that I know will have future revisions.

What’s one thing you made this year?

Wishing bracelets

We had a February reading challenge at school. Read 21 minutes everyday in February. At the end of the challenge, students could return their check off form for a small prize. We knew we wanted to celebrate the accomplishment, but also knew that we didn’t want to give students junk or food. Ideally, we would reward reading with another book to read, but didn’t have the funds for it. After seeing an idea for wishing bracelets, I thought this would be the perfect way to recognize the accomplishment. They were easy to make and cost effective. As we tied them to students wrists, we said, “This bracelet will remind you to continue your habit of reading everyday. When it falls off, you can make a wish!” Oh, and a bonus…I loved making them!

What art have you turned to in this time?

Poetry

I have been reading more poetry. I’ve found myself gravitating toward the brevity and depth of it. My attention span for text has been shorter. My ability to focus for extended periods, at times exhausted. Poetry has breathed life into me when I needed it. I will often read the poem of the day on Poetry Foundation’s website. Also, I have read several novels in verse.

Did you have any particularly bad ideas?

Hmmm…I need to think a bit longer on this one.

What’s a moment from this year you’ll always remember?

I will never forget a trip to the grocery store that almost sent me over the edge. I came home feeling a sense of panic that this pandemic was all consuming; that I couldn’t handle the stress from simple tasks like going to the grocery. At the forefront of my mind was the basic need of feeding my family safely. My husband talked me through my distress and helped me isolate my fears so I could move forward. From then on my mantra of “Faith over fear” was repeated often in stressful situations.

Did you find a friendship that sustained you artistically?

I can’t think of a friendship that sustained me artistically, but I definitely have a friendship that sustains my love of reading. My friend and I text about books, share images about books we’ve read. read the same books so we can discuss, recommend books to each other, and on and on. It brings a smile to my face when I see her and we talk books.

If you’d known that you’d be so isolated for so long, what would you have done differently?

We have been given the gift of time over the last year. Time to do things we normally wouldn’t have time to do. I wish I would have used some of that time to write letters of encouragement to people. I always feel so uplifted when I receive a hand written note. I set a goal to so this and fell short. I can still do this even when we are not in isolation, so I won’t give up on this goal.

What do you want to achieve before things return to normal?

Organize, print, and display some of my favorite photos

I really wanted to get my photos organized during this gift of time at home. I’m hoping by the end of the summer to have more of this task accomplished. I have several photos from trips that I want to get printed on canvases, my son’s senior pictures to get printed and hung up, and just general organizing of old printed photos.

I’ll challenge you…How would you answer these seven questions?

Even Better Than Before #SOL21

The pandemic has forced us to rethink how this world operates, and that’s not a bad thing. I have found many of the innovations due to social distancing, limited contact, and even quarantining have been positive. Today’s slice is a list of four things I noticed on Tuesday that are even better than before COVID times. I hope these changes will stay around long after the pandemic is over.

  • Meetings on Zoom–Meetings are so much more convenient when I don’t have to drive to another location. I can sit at my computer and still be face to face with others. I met with a consultant who will be doing a PD in our building this week. We were able to see each other, she could show me documents, and we never had to leave our offices.
  • Curbside pick up at the library–I pulled up to a marked spot, called the number on the sign, and a happy library worker brought out my books and placed them in the back of my car. A real time saver!
  • Kiosk food pickup–I clicked on the Panera app, ordered and payed for my food, walked into the restaurant and picked up my food–all without contact with a human.
  • Virtual book clubs–We have had so much success with virtual family book clubs! Families sign up, a book is delivered to them with a book mark containing a QR code, the QR code takes them to a Padlet with the reading plan and questions for the chapters. Families are reading and responding together!

All of this to say, I do miss human contact in many ways. I am eager for some things to get back to normal, but I also acknowledge that some things are better now…even better than before.

Lessons From a Puzzle #SOL21

Lessons from a Puzzle

Sometimes you just have to pack it up, set it aside, and try again another day. I learned this from a puzzle.

One pastime the pandemic has reignited for me is puzzle working. I loved working puzzles as a child. As an adult, I always packed a puzzle for vacation, but it was seen as a treat for times when I had no daily chores or duties that demanded my time. When the pandemic hit, I began a routine of nightly puzzle time. After cleaning up dinner, I set the microwave timer for 15 minutes and place a few pieces in the current puzzle I am working. The timer keeps me from losing my whole night with “just one more piece.” I have worked many puzzles in the last year from typewriters, to street scenes, children’s books, and more.

I am currently working a 1,000 piece bird puzzle. It is hard. I am at the point where all of the fun parts are done, and I’m down to the difficult pieces. I only manage to get 10-15 pieces inserted during my nightly puzzle time. And I still have a lot to go! I was beginning to get discouraged. I even found myself skipping puzzle time several nights a week.

We were having friends over for homemade lasagna, and I needed the dining room table. Should I just tear apart the puzzle and put it away? I was frustrated with the puzzle, but giving up was not an option. I decided to put the loose pieces back in the box, allowing just enough space for four plates and bowls.

A few nights later, I decided I would get the pieces back out and try again. I emptied the box and began flipping over pieces. As I did this, I saw them in a different light. I kept finding pieces that fit. Piece after piece. Seeing the pieces from a different view allowed me to see how they connected. It made me think about life… Sometimes we just need to step away from a problem. Box it up, set it aside, and come back to it with fresh eyes. We will see the obstacle or others in a different light when we remove ourselves for a brief time. And when we come back to it, just maybe, a solution will be right in front of us.

Yoga + Poetry #SOL21

Savasana.

Final relaxation.

Corpse pose.

When I hear those words, my body releases. The day’s practice is over, and it’s time to lay in silence and allow the body and mind to internalize all that was learned in the session. Just like sleep restores the body, savasana restores the spirit. I can draw in the things I learned about my body, my soul, my life from the last 50 minutes. I can set an intention for how I will live, even better, outside the four walls of the studio.

In this particular practice, our instructor ended with one of her favorite poems by Remi.

Don't go outside your house to see flowers.
My friend, don't bother with that excursion.
Inside your body there are flowers.
One flower has a thousand petals.
That will do for a place to sit.
Sitting there you will have a glimpse of beauty
inside the body and out of it,
before gardens and after gardens.

It spoke to me. This last year of being inside. This last year of missing so many things for myself, but more importantly my children. Trying to see the silver lining when heavy grey clouds loom overhead. But, we don’t have to be outside to see flowers. They are inside us. And they will remain inside us after this pandemic and into the next difficult thing. We must seek to find the flowers. Find a place to sit on a petal and be okay with the stillness. Then we will see the beauty in us, around us, and through us.

Head over to Two Writing Teachers for more slice of life stories.