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#sol21 March 28 Mindful Meditation Practice

Slice of LIfe
Part of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers March Slice a Day Challenge! I’m slicing every day this month. Thanks for stopping by!

I’m trying to put myself first, or at least as one of many top priorities. You’d think this would be easy work, but alas, it is not. One thing I’m working on is my mindfulness and meditation practice. I am not a natural at this.

Last night while L was out and the boys were busy with a minecraft build, I downloaded a new meditation app to try: A free trial of special mindscapes. You have to listen with earbuds or headphones because it’s 3D sound. I settled into a nook in the couch, put my airpods in and started.

I looked at my clock and realized my newly licensed daughter hadn’t contacted me for over 2 hours. And I had forgotten to give her a curfew even. I don’t know what kind of mom just doesn’t even think to give her 17 year old a time to come home, but I just didn’t. There’s one rule that I did remind her of though – you have to text when you arrive somewhere, and text when you leave somewhere. (Thanks, Mardi for this rule idea.) She hadn’t called or texted since letting me know she had “arrived on the mountain.” It’s a hard rule to remember, I think. But, we can do hard things. Right?

So I paused the meditation after it told me I’d need 20 minutes of distraction free time. I texted L, I called her, I left a message. Mr. Thought did the same. Even though I knew that it was most likely that she had forgotten to text when she left, and her phone was dutifully put away in her bag and she was driving. . . I can jump from mindfulness to full blown worry pretty quickly. (This is why I need the app, friends)

Finally (and by finally I mean less than 10 minutes later) she called to tell me that she was on her way home, and that she hadn’t seen my texts or calls because her phone was dutifully put away in her bag and she was driving.

I started the introduction meditation again, but realized that it would totally freak me out to be jolted out of meditation when she arrived home and the dog started barking. So, I paused it again.

She got home, the boys came upstairs, I sent them all up to get ready for bed.

“I’ll be up soon, after I do this meditation,” I told them. “Please don’t yell for me.” I was feeling pretty desperate for mindfulness.

I settled into another nook of the couch, with my airpods in – noise cancelation on and started the meditation for a third time.

It’s a neat app, but the voice at first sounds a little freaky in a dystopian-robot-mind-control sort of way. So I texted Mr. Thought to warn him not to startle me because it will freak me out. I laughed at myself for not trusting the meditation app, for letting the mindfulness app freak me out, and I started to settle in. I reminded myself I was safe, in my house and had taken care of things that would startle me. I started to relax into the soundscape.

Then I felt a hand on my shoulder.

That’s not a hand I told my brain. It is a cat, here to snuggle.

Then I opened my eyes and it was a hand.

I startled, friends. I may have jumped a bit.

It was E. My 11 year old thought I was sleeping and gently put his hand on my shoulder so that he wouldn’t startle me. But I wasn’t sleeping, and I did startle. Of course he felt terrible, and I told him it was okay, while taking some deep breaths to calm myself down.

I laughed to myself about my attempts at mindfulness and invited him to sit next to me. He snuggled in, I finished my meditation session, and he fell asleep.

I guess that’s why they call it a meditation practice. Because, I for one, still need a lot of practice.

#sol21 March 16 From my Chair I see

Slice of LIfe
Part of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers March Slice a Day Challenge! I’m slicing every day this month. Thanks for stopping by

From my chair
I see the same things I see every day.
I work from this chair
I write from this chair
I eat lunch at this chair
I help kids at this chair
Sometimes I just spin on this chair trying to figure out what to do next

From my chair
I can see out the window
It’s dark, but I know
My Christmas lights are off the porch now.
They are shoved in the garage instead.

From my chair
I see
a protractor
a bag of shapes
a birthday card from December
earrings hanging in case I forget to put them on
okay – also this is where I often take them off
a pile of math materials
why are there so many binders and books for one math class?
my trackpad, plus a wireless mouse, and a new wired gaming mouse
because my computer is often used by children for Minecraft
and nobody puts their stuff back

From my chair
I see
a pile of note paper
dice left out from math today
more pens than I want to admit
work waiting for me
and the window –
the night closing in out there
it’s dark but the sky is hazy and brighter than it means to be I think

#sol21 March 3: An announcement

Slice of LIfe
Part of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers March Slice a Day Challenge! I’m slicing every day this month. Thanks for stopping by.

L wanted to get out of the house.

“Shopping with you is my favorite!” is what she said to entice me to go to TJ Maxx.

Later it was “I love you mama. Do you think you can help me buy just a few of these things?” to entice me to buy her a few things.

I don’t love shopping during a pandemic, but we have masks, and don’t stay long.

I don’t love going out at night ever because, well… night time? That’s supposed to be pajama time. But, I do like spending time with my almost-leaving-me-for-college daughter. Also I noticed a sign that it was the right thing for me to do.

Like literally. A sign. Get it?

TJ Maxx is a fun place to be. And I do enjoy looking at the notebooks, and wandering around telling myself that I can enjoy looking at the inspirational signs, but I don’t have any space for them. Even if they seem perfect.

I kinda wanted to stand there and make TJ Maxx decorative sign poetry … like book spine poetry… Could be fun, no?

As I wandered around the store, a young man’s voice came over the loud speaker. He was thanking us for shopping and telling us about some deals. He sounded so happy about these announcements, and it brought be back to my store announcement days: The summer after my freshman year of college when I worked in the lingerie department of Boscov’s.

Man did I love when I was supposed to make those storewide announcements. It was the best part of my job.

I wish I were one of those people with really specific memories to share – because as I walked around TJ Maxx, I thought about how I’d love to tell you how I made those announcements decades ago. But, I don’t even remember if I picked up a phone to do it, or if there was some weird microphone. Did I have a quota of announcements I was allowed to make? Was there a time where someone told me not to make so many or such long announcements? Did I look at that week’s flyer to help me say what I needed to say? Did I make the announcements only about lingerie? These questions will never be answered.

I can however tell you that I loved making those announcements. It was almost a dream come true, almost as good as it would have felt to have gotten to work a grocery store cash register, or be allowed to click the library cards into the library card punch when I worked at a library. Those are a couple of my biggest never-realized dreams: the cash register and the library punch card. But making an announcement at Boscov’s? That’s on the dream list. Almost.

I wanted to find the TJ Maxx announcer and tell him he should write down this experience for later. But, then a candle caught my eye, and also the soft soft shirts, and more notebooks. . .

A Slice of a New Kid (in Middle School)

Slice of LIfe

Part of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teacher

New Kid (in Middle School) 

Were you ever 
the new kid?
In middle school -
In the maze of a huge 
Middle school?

Did you ever 
Look at the sea
Of faces floating
Down the hallways of
Middle school?

Was there
A Heather*
You wanted as a friend?
Popular, pretty, nice -- in
Middle school?

I was.
I did. 
There was.

One night
The phone rang
it was her!
“Come tomorrow after school … stay for dinner!” 
I was new and I was invited! 

The next day
I was pumped
In middle school
Tried to make eye contact with Heather
All day

I needed to know --
Her bus number...
What we would do...
Where we should meet
After school

The last bell rang
Without eye contact yet
We hadn’t spoken yet
The invitation was fake
Not from Heather, or maybe it was.

Did you ever 
Get fake invited
In middle school?
In the maze of a huge 
Middle school?

Was there 
a time
When you knew 
some people are cruel? 
In middle school?

I did. 
There was. 

5th Grade
In the sea of faces
Popular, pretty, nice faces --
The lessons of
Middle School 


*Name changed even though I really didn't want to. 🙂 

A Slice of what I’ll miss

Slice of LIfe

Part of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers (Even though I’m a day late…)

What I’ll miss wearing a mask to school 

Smiling. It’s my biggest coaching move. 
The smile changes, but it always means something. 

To teachers, I smile to say, 
“Good morning.” 
“I’ll see you soon!” 
“Can I help?”
“I know.” 
“I get it.” 
“You got this.”
“It’s hard, but we can do hard things.”
“I’m here.” 

I smile to say, 
“These kids! They’re amazing!”
I smile to say, 
“These kids! Can you believe it?”

I smile to say, 
“I know you’re not ready now, but maybe one day soon, we can collaborate.”
“I promise I’m nice.” 

I smile to say, 
“Look! Another meeting!” 

I smile to say, 
“Wow. This day!” 

I smile to say, 
“It’s okay.”
“We’re in this together.” 

Smiling. It’s my biggest coaching move. 
The smile changes, but it always means something. 

To students, I smile to say, 
“Good morning.” 
“I saw you trip, but it’s okay.” 
“Are you ready for math?”
“Oops, you dropped your breakfast!”
“That’s a beautiful headband.”

I smile to say, 
“I know you just got in trouble, but your day is going to get better.” 
"Your joke was funny even if nobody heard it."

I smile to say, 
“These teachers! They’re amazing! How lucky are you?”
I smile to say, 
“These teachers! Can you believe us, asking you to do this crazy stuff?”

I smile to say, 
“Give it a try!”
“Put the pencil to the paper, you’re going to write!”
“Keep reading.”
“Do you mind if I interrupt your reading to chat a bit?”
“I promise I’m nice.” 
“You’ve got this.” 
“It’s hard, but we can do hard things.”
"I'm here."

I smile to say, 
“Wow. This day!” 

I smile to say, 
“It’s okay.”
“We’re in this together.” 

I’ll still smile. 
I can’t help it, even under a mask. 
But it won’t matter. 
Nobody will see it. 

#FindTheJoy

Slice of LIfePart of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers

 

I’m not saying that it’s quite as easy to find the joy each day, remotely.

Even before pandemic times
Before The Quarantine,
There were days.

Days when
meetings overtook
people were mean
things got canceled
I didn’t see a child,
(other than my own and they were grumpy that day, for sure)

There’s a reason I have a wine glass that says
#coachingainteasy

On those days,
Before pandemic times
Before Quarantine
I sometimes had to look for joy

And maybe I learned that looking for joy
is how you find it

Now it’s pandemic times
The Quarantine

Now I have to look for joy
It doesn’t pop up on its own and wave its hands in the air as often as normal
(“normal?”)

But it’s still important.
Because I’ve learned that looking for joy
is how you find it

Even if you are looking into your computer screen at little boxes
reading emails instead of faces
walking down your steps instead of around a school

Some people have reminded me that I don’t have to keep finding joy
posting videos, sharing every day
“It’s a pandemic!”
“Cut yourself some slack!”
“You don’t owe videos to anyone!”

But I do.
I owe it to myself
I owe it to myself to keep looking for joy

#findthejoy

(Check out my #findthejoy videos on Twitter and Facebook @OnaFeinberg … and join in! See what happens when you look for joy!)

#SOL20 March 11 A slice of a road trip

Slice of LIfePart of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers March Slice a Day Challenge! I’m slicing 

Road trip

with kids

And the dog.

Only 340 miles to go.

Until we unpack the van

In the middle of the night.

That’s always fun.

Only 338 miles

Of singing and fighting and

Car snacks and

A dull car-sick headache.

Only 336 miles until

Reality hits

Messy house

Schools closed for corona

Thankful we already bought toilet paper last week, so-

It’s ok

That the stores are empty.

Continue reading #SOL20 March 11 A slice of a road trip

A Slice of Recharge

Slice of LIfePart of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teacher

 

My Tuesdays are full of meetings, usually with 10 minutes in between. Today, I went to my room between meetings, plugged in my laptop, added a few yellow sunbursts to my “sunny days ahead” sign, and munched an apple while I took a picture of my new motivational sign. 

IMG_7707

I leaned against my counter for a minute, feeling guilty for not getting something from my to-do list done. I mean, that’s hard to do in 5-minute intervals, but not impossible. 

IMG_7709

I looked down at my laptop, and thought, “Well, at least I got my laptop a little recharged for the next meeting.” 

IMG_7708

Only then did it occur to me that maybe my minute of coloring and minute of apple crunching was my recharge. I mean, if my laptop deserves a recharge, maybe I do too? 

IMG_7712

Is this what they call self-care? 

I took another picture of myself to remember that today, I did indeed have 5 minutes of self-care.

A slice of 2 PSSA pantoums of course!

Slice of LIfePart of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers

I saw this “Anatomy of a Pantoum” on instagram today, posted by @beabetterwriter. So, I did some more reading about the form. I guess it used to be a rhyming poem, and now not so much. So I thought I’d try both kinds… no rhyme, and a rhyme…. Because it’s April, and it was the first day of the PSSAs, the first time any of my own children have taken the test. I’m fairly sure I’m not doing this totally correctly… but hey! I’m trying! 

IMG_1492Screen Shot 2019-04-16 at 10.41.17 PM.png

I don't think it's good for kids
a pantoum without rhyme 

One might be doing it to fit in
One might be doing it for the bubble gum
I'm not sure why I didn't just opt them out
But my kids took their first PSSA today

One might be doing it for the bubble gum
That's what motivates some through
But my kids took their first PSSA today
And by all accounts, it's fine

That's what motivates some through
For 4 more days they'll test 
And by all accounts, it's fine
I don't think it's good for kids 

For 4 more days they'll test
I'm not sure why I didn't just opt them out
I don't think it's good for kids 
One might be doing it to fit in


Cop out on the Opt Out
a pantoum with rhyme 

"I hope I get my teacher a good score"
You knew then you had copped out 
Because this was the very first time your
PSSA-hating self hadn't signed the opt out. 

You knew then you had copped out. 
Pressured from some unseen place, 
Tired of the invisible testing walkout
You can't beat it, so I guess you just embraced? 

Pressured from some unseen place
Your kids are annoyed with this task
Thinking the rules are stupid in this case
"Why no watches or snacks?" They ask.

Your kids are annoyed with this task
You knew then you had copped out 
You put on your happy mom mask:
"You can do it! I have no doubt."