It's been a couple of weeks since I've emailed my subscribers and thought I should share this email on my blog as well. That was about a week before this crisis hit California and then ultimately our entire country and countries worldwide. I'm in San Diego and was in my classroom a week before students' exhibition of their 11 weeks of hard work was supposed to take place.
My teaching partner and I were hoping that our school would be able to hold out one more week until our Spring break and allow for the students' community partners, families and peers join us in exhibiting and sharing their work. Sadly, on that Friday, I saw the list get longer and longer of the nearby schools that were closing and eventually, before the end of the school day, ours was announced as closed until further notice.
That was on March 13 and the common thought was we would definitely be back in our classrooms after our 2 week spring break which ends on April 7. It was within the next few days that we were told it would probably be best to not get together in groups larger than 250, then 100, then 50 then 10! And shortly after that, we were officially restricted from leaving our homes at all unless it was essential. San Francisco and LA county were "shelter in place" and finally, it was us as well.
I don't want to go into why I was feeling so completely distraught, angry, helpless, disappointed and sad when we got the news because I am afraid it may not compare to the problems this has caused you and your well-being. I also don't want to sound like I need someone to feel sorry for me because we are all in this together. My problems are no bigger than yours and vise versa.
In a very focused attempt to get over my initial negative feelings, I had to reflect and ask myself: What is it that made me happy when life was normal and how can I replicate that without leaving my home except for a walk/run in the neighborhood and essential grocery store runs.
On a normal day, I am out of the house early for work and tend to return a few hours after school lets out. I always like to have something to do after work such as the gym, dinner with a friend, a run, or a trip to the beach, something besides going to work and then coming right home after. Something about getting the most out of my day always consisted of being somewhere and doing something. On the weekends, I like to wake up early, go outside or the gym for a workout, eat breakfast at a cafe, go to the beach, run errands, meet up with friends, have a date with my fiance - there's always something to do. I love being out and about!
So when I conceded to the fact that I was being restricted inside (my 900sqft apartment with a 4 year old and a fiance), I really had to think about what that could look like so that the tears would stop and I could feel normal again.
After reflection, I settled on the fact that I feel best when I feel PRODUCTIVE. Well... I had to ask myself what could that look like when I can't leave my place of residence? I decided it would obviously look a lot different than it had before.
For one thing, I love teaching and now I am able to spend entire days with my soon-to-be stepson who starts Kindergarten in the fall. My fiance and I put together a schedule, and included in it creative time, play time, arts and crafts, snacks, nap, academics (where I get to do some homeschooling) and a rewards system. I feel productive when I am teaching him and going through each day following the schedule we put in place.
Another important part of feeling productive for me is getting my exercise in and being outside at least twice a day. In the mornings, we take the dog for a walk and later in the day, I like to go for a run where I can push myself up hills and zone out with running and music. I like to keep my body active, so I'll come home and clean, do laundry, organize drawers and reorganize drawers so that I have something physical to do.
We are also planning our wedding for August this year in Pennsylvania, so setting up phone calls and video chats with the different vendors has been a really nice distraction. We even planned our honeymoon to Sedona, AZ at a resort we fell in love with when we saw it online and spoke with a representative on the phone. The guided labyrinth walk, daily activities like a night hike to stargaze and tennis, an entire sectioned off area of a spa, private porch off our room and breakfast served to us there AND the backdrop of it all is amazing rock formations, well, that made me feel better about having to replan the whole thing. If all else fails, and we can't go to PA for the wedding, we know that we can drive to Sedona and still have our special day and time together.
Even though these next two weeks are technically my Spring Break, I have been meeting virtually with colleagues and thinking about and starting to plan what distance learning will look like for me, a 6th grade Humanities teacher and my students.
I am also taking a course online and have a coach to support me in learning about Facebook Ads, and so setting goals and checklists for my business also keeps me busy and feeling productive.
Overall, I am trying to take this time to focus on me and my family and my future. My "me time" is exercise and my business, my "family time" is keeping up with all the important things I can help with now that I am home all day and "my future" is looking forward to and planning as much as we can from home.
I challenge you, if you're feeling any of the negative feelings that seems to be taking over, to look deep inside and ask yourself what makes you happy? What used to make you excited each day when you woke up and how can you adapt those things so that they can happen during this time?
My good friend subscribed to Deepak Chopra and online yoga. My other friend has the opportunity to read books for pleasure. Another friend is focusing on her physical health and put together a workout plan. Another friend has committed herself to projects around the house.
I believe that getting through this tough time is all about refocusing and replanning what life looks like with these restrictions while still meeting the important needs of our mental and emotional health. Whatever that looks like for you, go for it and then go wash your hands ;-)
6th grade Humanities Teacher, Writer, Resource Creator, Curriculum and Course Developer