Day 11 – I remember…

Having 24+ students in my classroom

Not having to remember to wash face masks every weekend

Being able to work closely with small groups of students

Going to a crowded bar for St. Patrick’s Day

Being able to hug my sister, dad, friends

My mom

Being worried about learning new technology platforms

When the country was not so divided

Day 10 – Muscle Memory

If you have read my posts, you may know that I am a “horse person”. I have been riding horses all my life. I don’t have my own horse anymore, but I do ride two or three time a week during the school year, and more in the summer. I am very fortunate to be riding again with my trainer from my college years. When I went back to riding regularly about three years ago, I contacted her and she gave me lessons on one of her two horses. She does not ride anymore, one of her horses is retired, so I was riding “Vee”. After a couple of months, Pam gave me the green light to ride him on my own, free of charge. Jackpot! Vee and I learned to work together and have fun.

Last fall, Vee developed an abscess in his left eye. The vet hoped it would clear up with proper care and medication, but there were no guarantees. Unfortunately, Vee lost vision in that eye. He has also been diagnosed with cataracts in his right eye. He is, officially retired.

So now, I ride Gracie. Gracie is a young, inexperienced, Arabian mare. Anyone who knows horses knows that could be a dicey combination! Gracie’s owner is an older woman in her late 70’s who bought the horse “because she was pretty”. Linda has ridden before of course, but she is not ready to ride a horse like Gracie. Again, I am so fortunate to be able to ride free of charge. No share boarding or leasing fees. I have observed another rider at the barn ride Gracie with much success. It has been several weeks now, and Gracie and I are finally beginning to come to an understanding.

This past Sunday, I feel as though we really made some strides (no pun intended!). We truly clicked. We have been jumping Gracie, in hopes that we can take her to a couple local shows this summer. As we were jumping around, I felt that familiar burn in my muscles. Those muscles in my legs were saying, “Hey, we haven’t done this at this level for quite a while, but I think we can do it!” As I dismounted after the lesson, I had to smile at the soreness I felt, even as I hobbled back to the barn. It was good to feel that burn again!

Day 9 – Looking back

I spent some time the other day looking through my SOL posts from last year. I read a number of posts about the pandemic of course. I chuckled to myself as I read what I wrote: “When all this blows over in a couple of weeks…”. Wow. Here we are one year later, and things are very different. The world is so different. I wonder if I had a crystal ball back then and would have been able to see the future, would I have even believed what I was seeing? What would I have done, knowing what was coming? Go out and buy toilet paper? Hand sanitizer? Probably! How about trying to figure out virtual learning? Definitely. Honestly, I don’t know. Even now, one year later, I still have days when I don’t know what I’m doing, or how I’m going to do it. But it gets done.

Day 8 – Not again!

Seriously, Kim. You set alarms in your phone. How did you “forget” to Slice AGAIN?! Honestly, I’m not really sure. I think when my alarm went off yesterday, I was working on lesson plans and didn’t want to stop in the middle. So I figured when I was finished planning, I would do the Slice.

As I am thinking back, after I was done planning, I immediately started on my side hustle work. That took up a couple of hours. Then, dinner time. Clean up, sit down, fall asleep. The evening was gone. I prepped lunches, then went to bed. So here I am again, trying to explain away my forgetfulness. Maybe it’s just old age!

Day 7 – Sundays

Sundays are for…

sleeping until 7, meal planning, (Diet Coke), horseback riding, (change clothes), grocery shopping, (unload), laundry, lesson planning, (hope they get it!), side hustle work, dinner, (clean up), fall asleep on the couch at 7:30.

When Sunday rolls around, I am always a little stressed. So much to do, not enough time. I have tried to shift some of these weekend responsibilities to Saturday, to try and lighten the Sunday load. Start the laundry on Saturday… grocery shop on Saturday…. sometimes it’s successful, most times it’s not. I start a load in the washer, then we decide to get on the motorcycle and go for a “quick ride”. Soon, the afternoon is gone, and the laundry is getting stinky in the washer. Go to Aldi and Jewel on Saturday… TOO. MANY. PEOPLE. I can’t get down the aisles I want – between the customers and the Instacart shoppers and their huge cart/trolley things, I usually end up parking my cart somewhere and move to a few different aisles, filling my arms with as much as I can carry back to my parking place.

So…. Sunday is here, and I will do all the things. Glad I am Slicing early (don’t want a repeat of yesterday!), now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go meal plan!

Day 6 – Commence Face Palm

It was bound to happen. I forgot to Slice. I had a moment around 5 p.m. when I asked myself, “Wait, you did your Slice, right?” But then hubby asked me something, the dogs went crazy over the neighbor boy ringing the doorbell, and well, thoughts of my Slice flew out of my brain! We ate dinner, made plans, rescheduled plans, and made new plans. Our “backyard” neighbors came over for island drinks. They didn’t stay too late, but when they left, all I could think about was my comfy bed. I fell asleep quickly, with no thoughts of anything. So here I am, 7 a.m. on a Sunday, trying to put together a coherent thought stream. Hoping this is the only time this happens!

Day 5 – Healing Power

It’s been a long week. Truly. This is the first, 5-day work week we’ve had since the first week of February. Conferences, President’s Day, Institute Day…. We actually have NO days off until spring break! Yikes! March is typically difficult in my opinion. Cold, snow, rain, endless cloudy days, too many days of indoor recess…. but today feels good. The sun is shining. It’s a little chilly, but not that bone-chilling cold we get here in Chicagoland. I am optimistic. When I walked out of the building at 3:28, sunglasses on, I felt my soul smile. It’s going to be alright. Thank you, sun!

Day 4 – The Look

As a teacher in my 26th year, I like to think I have perfected “The Look”. If you are a teacher, especially an elementary or junior high teacher, you know what I am talking about. Heck, if you are a parent, you know what I’m talking about! I am noticing more and more however, that it is quite difficult to effectively employ the teacher death stare while wearing a face mask. Several times today, I attempted the stare, and I realized it just wasn’t working.

Third grade boy: supposed to be reading, but instead connecting his markers to make a light saber.

Teacher: (clears throat) *commence death stare*

Boy: *stares back* *stares back* *stares back*

Teacher: (whispering) “Put. Those. Away.”

Boy: (big sigh) Slowly puts away markers.

So… after that I used the *clear throat/shake head/point to book/computer/task* method. We will see if that works next week. It probably won’t.

Day 3 – End of an era?

Remember that “weird horse girl” at school? That was me. That is me. I have been riding horses since I was 7 years old. I am now *ahem* in my 50’s, and have been involved with horses most of my life. I have taken lessons, owned horses, shown horses, trained horses, obviously ridden a lot of horses, and taught horseback riding lessons. Tonight however, was my last night teaching horseback riding lessons. I have been teaching lessons for over 15 years. It’s still hard for me to believe that! I did take a couple of years off when my son was born, but went back to it when a position opened up at the same farm I had left.

Why did I quit? It didn’t make me happy anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I still love my horse time, but teaching had become a chore. For about 3 or 4 months now, I would dread Wednesdays. The closer the clock ticked to 3:30, the crabbier I would get. For a very long time, teaching riding filled a void. I no longer had a horse, and I was not riding consistently. I would ride Mom’s horse every now and again, or occasionally take a jumping lesson with my former trainer. Afterward, I would always say, “I’ll be back soon.” Soon did not come very quickly.

Life got in the way. Marriage, a young son, career. The void was there, though. I missed horses. So teaching filled the void for 15 years. About 3 years ago, I started riding again on a weekly basis. It took some time, but I got back into “riding shape”. It felt great! It still feels great! I am riding twice a week during the school year now, and 3-4 times a week in the summer. I no longer have a void.

So it was time. I cried when I gave my two week’s notice. The barn manager, who has been at the farm as long as me, frowned, hugged me and said, “Don’t cry. You have to do what is right for you. We’ll miss you.” She is absolutely right. I don’t regret my decision. I wished my students well tonight, and told them I would come watch them compete. I drove home this evening a little melancholy, but not sad. I am grateful for the void so many students were able to fill.

Day 2 – Deja vu

Echoes of a Whitesnake song echoing through my head, “Here I go again…” It is only Day 2 and I sit here at my dining room table struggling to write my SOL. I run through my day in my head… new(ish) student no-show (not surprised), easier hybrid group today, drama-free lunch (in the classroom), no tears during writing (from the students OR me!). I write after work figuring I will have more material to choose from than if I write in the morning. Besides, I live 40 minutes from school, and my mornings are on a pretty strict schedule! But yet, here I sit, staring at the clutter on my dining room table: bills, folders, papers to be graded, materials for my “side-hustle”. I am tempted to scroll Facebook, but we all know what a rabbit hole that can be! So I stare at the screen. I ramble a bit. I take a moment to be grateful for a fairly uneventful day. And now…. the SOL is done. 🙂