Hello! I have been meaning to share a personal post for a while now, but it just hasn’t happened. I have had a hard time focusing on much of anything “extra” lately and I have noticed that things that used to feel easy feel very daunting now…maybe this is pandemic fatigue? I have found that when I do have a little downtime, I “waste it”, either mindlessly scrolling or cleaning and organizing a house that never stays that way for long because we are here pretty much 24/7 now…maybe because it gives me some sense of control?
Welcome to my new blog series, Five Things To Tell You... In addition to my Currently Loving posts, I wanted another way to share random info and updates, so if this is your thing too, you’re welcome! 😉
One: The Little Things
While many things have changed, some have stayed the same, including the beginning of Vermont’s creemee season. Like many small businesses, local creemee stands have pivoted to make sure that they can offer their products in a safe way and we have been making the rounds. We were there for Cookie Love’s opening day, which is an annual tradition for our family.
Just like with my reading tastes, what I am listening to has changed a bit over the last few weeks. I have found that my ability to focus has shifted with my podcasts and I am seeing that I either need some small helpful bits of information, relatable banter, some inspiring messages, or maybe a quick distraction.
Fitting in Podcast Listening…
Previously podcasts made up a good part of my workday whether it was when I was editing on the computer or during my commute. Photos above are back in the “good old days”.
Now that I don’t have either of those things, both my amount of time and attention to detail has changed. I am now listening while quickly getting ready for the day, while I am doing tasks around the house, on a walk to the mailbox…and sometimes when I just need to block out the decibel level from the kids.
Today marks the beginning of the seventh week of our COVID19 Quarantine. The longer this has gone on, the more we really have settled into a new routine. Some days it is hard to remember what it was like before all of this. Has this happened with any of you?
During the first few weeks, I had a lot of anxiety because there was just so much unknown in addition to the anticipation of what things would look like, both locally and globally.
While there is still a lot of things we don’t know, it feels easier in some sense that things have settled into a bit of predictability again, even if this all would have been almost unrecognizable a few months ago.
The days are really starting to run together but this is our fourth week of learning (and surviving) at home.
The Same But Different…
My last “currently loving” post was in mid-February which seems like it was years ago at this point. It does make me laugh how many things in it are applicable to “quarantine life” now…I talked about my favorite cozy must-haves, my love of athleisure wear and winter blues and anxiety. Some things never change!
Learning at Home
We are slowly getting into the swing of things but it’s been a bit tricky because every week things change. This is new and unknown for everyone so I am trying to be flexible and know that while it doesn’t feel like it right now, this really is temporary.
I also feel extra grateful that we live somewhere where we have access to the outdoors and that each day, the weather is getting nicer and nicer (let’s not talk bout the snow that is coming at the end of this week okay?)
One of the benefits of living in the “country” is that there is plenty of space to roam. We have been taking advantage of the quiet roads and have been exploring all around our “neighborhood”. We have been going for multiple walks and bike rides a day and it has saved us!
While we are heading into a month of being home together, we are definitely still working on finding the right balance during our weekdays. We have a 1st grader and a 4th grader at our house and while the kids are doing some school work, we have mostly been doing it to keep some sense of normalcy and routine.
A New Routine:
We are still in “maintenance mode” through this school week and then introducing new material will start next week.
I am trying to take things week by week and not get ahead of myself. I know that their teachers and administration are doing the very best they can to meet the needs of all families and that this is new for everyone.
They have been missing their friends and teachers SO much and while connecting over the computer isn’t quite the same, I am so happy they have the option!
Our first grader’s teacher recorded her reading the rest of the book they were reading together as a class at the beginning of March and he was just enthralled.
These kinds of things seem like such small things but it was such a huge source of connection and comfort amidst so much change.
I am thankful for it too. And I am happy that FaceTimeing has become popular once again. We loved it even before this whole “social distancing” became a thing…OG FaceTimers over here! 😉
Dogs During Quarantine…
We have been laughing about how much dogs just must love this whole quarantine situation. Buzz could not be more delighted with us being home every single day!
Home Ec 101
While I am not doing the most amazing job with the whole “school at home” thing, I am pleased with my instructional household house maintenance classes we have implemented, LOL.
We have even been cooking together. We tried out making homemade pasta which consisted of a lot of trial and error but it ended up being delicious! (we need to use even more flour next time during the rolls and cutting phase). We have also had many important discussions about rationing fresh produce and learning how to make your own (balanced) lunch…kids eat SO much food!
While I have lost my temper many times, we have also made some really special memories. This has not been easy and we also are so privileged to be able to stay safe at home.
I struggle a bit when I see comments like “embrace this time!!!” because some of it is just really hard, but there are parts of it that have been great… it’s both.
My friend Julia shared this article with me and while I am not involved in higher education, I found it relatable just on a personal level.
I also got SO much from this article where a trauma psychologist weighs in on the risks of ‘motivational’ pressure during quarantine. Maybe you have seen this floating around the internet…
A trauma psychologist from Beirut weighed in on this idea that we should be extra productive right now, and she didn’t mince words. Alaa Hijazi’s Facebook post has been shared 19,000 times, so people are clearly appreciating her wisdom. She wrote:
“I thought I was spared the horrid ‘motivational’ phrase going around now—’If you don’t come out of this with a new skill, you never lacked time, you lacked discipline’—until I saw it on my local yoga studio page.
As a trauma psychologist, I am utterly utterly horrified, enraged, and bewildered about how people can believe and spread this phrase in good conscience.
We are going through a collective trauma, that is bringing up profound grief, loss, panic over livelihoods, panic over loss of lives of loved ones. People’s nervous systems are barely coping with the sense of threat and vigilance for safety, or alternating with feeling numb and frozen and shutting down in response to it all.
People are trying to survive poverty, fear, retriggering of trauma, retriggering of other mental health difficulties. Yet, someone has the nerve to accuse someone of lack of discipline for not learning a new skill, and by a yoga teacher!
This cultural obsession with [capitalistic] ‘productivity’ and always spending time in a ‘productive,’ ‘fruitful’ way is absolutely maddening.
What we need is more self-compassion, more gentle acceptance of all the difficult emotions coming up for us now, more focus on gentle ways to soothe ourselves and our pain and the pain of loved ones around us, not a whipping by some random fucker making us feel worse about ourselves in the name of ‘motivation.'”
It is okay to worry, it is okay if you are just doing the very minimum to get through your day, it is okay to wish we had more answers and it is okay to grieve what we have lost, even if we are grateful for what we have.
Alright, because I can’t do this post without doing a “currently loving section” I am doing an abbreviated format…
I finally gave in and watched Tiger King. I was told I would be missing out on important Corona19 Pop Culture if I didn’t. I am glad I did! It was quite the wild ride but it was definitely entertaining…and the perfect distraction from our current events.
Currently Participating In:
I have been trying to be consistent with my Pure Barre classes even though we can’t go to classes in the studio anymore. I am a social exerciser so this has been more challenging than I expected. I haven’t been able to attend the live ones very easily because of being home alone with the kids during those times so I have been doing Pure Barre On Demand.
I have access as a member at our local studio but you can also subscribe just online, they have a free trial right now to try it out. (I am not affiliated with this, just wanted to share!) I have been alternating these classes with long walks and it has been a good balance so far.
Currently Spending My Time:
When a lot of things feel out of control, I like to clean. I remember as a little kid I would rearrange my room when I felt anxious and I always found it very soothing! So I have been vacuuming and mopping and I am just loving my spin mop! There is something so satisfying about these kinds of chores and they are perfect for getting some audiobook listening in.
SO much coffee…and water!
I am working my way through a few titles on my Kindle..last weekend I started Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld which is one of my most anticipated 2020 reads! After loving American Wife SO much I have HIGH hopes for this one and so far I am really enjoying it.
All my clothes are basically quarantine clothes anyway, but I have been embracing air drying my hair! I have wavy hair that can either look quite curly or a frizzy mess. I tend to blow dry it so I don’t have head out into my workday with dripping wet hair, but currently, that is a non-issue! It has been nice to skip the blow dryer and embrace the natural look.
Our Better Together Book Club is going virtual tonight! Like many book groups, this will be our first time having our book club over Zoom. I am excited to see some friendly faces and see how everyone is doing. We decided to skip the book chat and do a “how are you managing and coping” check-in tonight. I am so looking forward to it!
I hope you are all staying safe and healthy and I will be back soon with some more book and reading updates. <3
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Thinking back to the beginning of last month and knowing it was only a little over four weeks ago feels almost unbelievable. So much has changed and continues to change and it is a scary time for everyone. I have also felt a little vulnerable to share, even on this relatively small public platform because many of my feelings seem(are?) trivial in the larger scheme of things.
While this is unchartered territory for so many of us, I am happy to hear that people are wanting to read! I have had a few emails from readers requesting book suggestions for authors and titles that are completely engrossing.
I don’t know about you but when I am worried, I need things that are totally engaging and distracting. These books are ones that completely took me in and I couldn’t think about anything else, which is exactly what you might need right now too. I hope this inspires your current reading list!
Perfect for fans of Where’d You Go, Bernadette and Small Admissions, a wry and cleverly observed debut novel about the privileged bubble that is Liston Heights High–the micro-managing parents, the overworked teachers, and the students caught in the middle–and the fallout for each of them when the bubble finally bursts.
Isobel Johnson knows helicopter parents like Julia Abbott–a stage mom whose world revolves around interfering in her children’s lives–come with the territory. Julia resents teachers like Isobel, who effortlessly bond with students, including Julia’s own teenagers, who have started pulling further away from her.
Isobel has spent her teaching career in Liston Heights side-stepping the community’s high-powered families. But when she receives a threatening voicemail accusing her of Anti-Americanism and a “blatant liberal agenda,” she realizes she’s squarely in the fray. Rather than cowering, Isobel doubles down on her social-justice ideals. Meanwhile, Julia, obsessed with the casting of the high school’s winter musical, inadvertently shoves the female student-lead after sneaking onto the school campus. The damning video footage goes viral and has far-reaching consequences for Julia and her entire family.
With nothing to unite them beyond the sting of humiliation from public meltdowns, Isobel and Julia will find common ground where they least expect it, confronting a secret Facebook gossip site that’s stirring up more trouble for this tumultuous, fractured school community.
Minor Dramas & Other Catastrophes is a nuanced look at school politics at a prestigious school in an affluent Minnesota community. Written with humor and plenty of drama, West succeeds at sharing a look at high school life from the perspective of a well-meaning teacher who gets caught in the web of meeting the demands and expectations of parents/administrators and other teachers. We meet a slew of characters who set the scene and it is all too relatable to anyone who has ever been a part of a school community, whether as a teacher, parent or both.
There are helicopter parents, bullying on social media and conflicts between faculty and families. And then there are the students just trying to get through their high school years. The overbearing parents rule the roost at this school and West shares a great balance of laughable moments that seem totally unbeliever (unless you have been there and then you get it!) mixed with insight about just what students AND teachers are up against these days.
I found Minor Dramas & Other Catastrophes to be a light read with a great mix of thought-provoking and timely topics many of us can relate to. While some of the storylines may seem over the top, for me, they added to the complexities schools deal with in this digital age. I did struggle at times with keeping track of all the characters but all in all, this was a very enjoyable book that would make for a great book club discussion!
More about Author Kathleen West:
Kathleen West is a veteran middle and high-school teacher. She graduated with a degree in English from Macalester College and holds a Master’s degree in literacy education from the University of Minnesota. She lives in Minneapolis with her hilarious husband, two sporty sons, and very bad Goldendoodle.