Paper Straws

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A few mornings ago, I figured I would try the new little cafe near our apartment since we are moving neighborhoods in a couple of weeks. Looked cute, had a menu I could work with, and of course, Wifi available.

Found myself a spot, got settled and got working. I’d eaten some food, but needed a little something else so I checked back to the menu for another something to order. I picked out an avo, banana, honey and whatever else smoothie for my late morning snack.

Now.

For smoothies, a straw is usually a necessary tool to have around to have a fairly clean drinking experience, so obviously mine arrived with one. A straw of the eco-friendly variety.

Cool. Good.

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But it was a paper eco-straw. In a smoothie. Iced coffee – no problem, paper-straw me. But not for a smoothie. While the drink was everything I wanted it to be, the texture of the paper eco-straw turned me off a bit when in fact, I thought maybe the avo would throw me off. Yeah, yeah. First world problems.

But you know what? It’s feedback and story worth knowing. I survived that soggy straw experience and you can too. I probably should have just removed the straw and let the smoothie make a little mess as I drank it, or I could have brought my own eco-straw since I now have a variety of them. At home. Don’t forget yours. 😉

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FlexiWorkLife: Not What You Think It Is

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FlexiWorkLife is not what you think it is.

It looks pretty on the outside, but inside it’s a contorted and complicated. It’s twisted and needs organizing. It’s way harder than one would think it might be.

This is mid year two of me choosing not to teach full-time to work on passion projects and develop other skills – things you have no time or energy to do when you teach full-time. I didn’t think the transition to FlexiWorkLife would be an easy one, don’t get me wrong. I adore routine and schedules and knowing what’s happening at all times. I was stepping into this abyss of so many unknowns and that was going to take some major adjusting. The choice to make a change was a tough one to make, but I knew it was the time to do it.

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Here’s what I’ve learned in the last year and a half. There’s a lot more than what I’ll list, but I’ll give you the things that stand out to me the most:

  1. Working from home is not easy. It requires motivation, dedication, focus, focus, focus, planning, scheduling and mandatory breaking times.
  2. I valued and needed routine more than I realized. I missed it just a few weeks into this change.
  3. Questioning my decision would be a normal event.
  4. It wasn’t a surprise that I would need to adjust my working routines often. I just didn’t realize how often that would need to be.
  5. Variation in working location is more important than I realized. When you teach, you are forced to use the spaces you have and now I was facing this open pit of choice in working spaces. This was tough. Some places I tried: co-working spaces, every cafe and coffeeshop in the neighborhood, the condo pool.
  6. Feeling lost in life would also be a normal event.
  7. Feeling extremely emotional would be a normal event.
  8. Realizing that many other people were in the same boat was comforting. Extremely comforting.
  9. Having a network of go-to people would become central to my life.
  10. It does get easier over time, in a way. But there will always be days that are way harder than others.
  11. Time is way more valuable than I realized and it’s one of the most important parts of learning to live an efficient and effective FlexiWorkLife.
  12. Opportunity is literally everywhere. Like every kind of opportunity you can think of. And if there isn’t an opportunity that you want, you can make it! It just takes time and focus.
  13. It’s possible to learn things you didn’t think you wanted to learn, but then discover how important those things are for understanding a greater scope of other things (a bit meta, I know).

That’s a longer list than I anticipated writing, and there is more I could write. But I’d like to hear from you!

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New Commute Routine

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My commute to work the last few years is now part of the past. My co-teacher used to pick me up in the mornings around 6:45 Monday through Friday for three or four years. We’d head up 1st avenue, chatting during the drive, sometimes stopping for coffee or at the bank, then arriving at school just after 7. The way home would be a walk to the 6 train or sometimes a full 2.5 mile walk home, depending on the day I had.

But now my commute has changed. I had to establish a new commute routine because I started a new position as a “central employee” based out of the Bronx division office.

So Sunday night I walked to Grand Central after our ramen bowls to get a 10-trip ticket for Metro North. A three-way subway transfer every morning would end up frustrating me, so I chose the most appealing method of transport to start my day. I looked up the train schedule for Monday morning and determined the best time to leave home to catch the 7:18 train, arriving at 7:36. Perfect for an 8am start. Just enough time to stop in the Starbucks located near the entrance of the building. So far, the morning trip is great! I have a nice 10-12 minute walk to Grand Central, not accompanied by many people on the sidewalk at 7am, and not a lot of people on that reserve commute out of the city.

metro north

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The way home is not as desirable but it’s not horrible. I now take a west side train, the B or D because it’s the nearest to the office. And by nearest I mean, a 10 minute walk. As a walker, not a big deal at all. It’s just an interesting walk. So I hop on the subway and could transfer to the 4 to get to the east side but it takes the same amount of time if I just stay on the B or D and walk home from Rockefeller – which is a nice walk anyway.

Now, this new commute routine will only be valid for the next couple of weeks, because after that I’ll be making site visits and those locations will be different every day. So guess what? No routine there! The routine would be that there is no routine – which I will happily get used to.

Enjoy your long weekend everyone!

 

WW #31

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Post Withdrawal

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I was looking at my post calendar and realized that I haven’t made a post in over a week! Egad! I am having withdrawals!

I came back late from California late on Tuesday night and headed to an awesome leadership event in Virginia the next day soooo I have neglected posting because I’ve been busy!

A few drafts are in the works and will finish those up in the next week. Stay tuned…

 

Autonomy

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I subscribed to the feeds of Action for Happiness on Facebook. I enjoy following these kinds of non-profits that promote health, happiness and well-being. They offer insight and validity to life when you need it.

The feed below was posted this morning, and it really caught my attention:

Three fundamental needs for human wellbeing: autonomy (feeling in control), competence (feeling capable) and relatedness (feeling connected).

I completely agree and I never really thought that you could capture your well-being in three words (potentially starting with the same letter)…

When I read that post, at that moment I realized why I need a change.

At home, these fundamental needs for well-being are met.

At work, not. I’m missing one of these fundamental needs. I’ve been searching for what what missing. And now it has a name.

I’m missing the A. I don’t have the autonomy I need to feel fulfilled in my job. The “autonomy” isn’t real.

And the sad part is… is has nothing to do with the kids, the teaching, the standards, the curriculum, the professional development, or even the parents. This has to do with micromanagement. And that, I can’t take anymore. It’s time for a new chapter, one the A.

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ambulancejunkie.com

Late Afternoon Smile

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I felt like today was one of those really blechy days. Like as soon as you get to work you just don’t want to deal with anything or talk to anyone, or even think. One of those days that is just an aggravation and anything you do is not what you want to be doing.

So the day goes on. I’ll spare you the details.

But on my way home around 4pm, I’m walking on 110 Street, crossing Madison Avenue. The same way I walk to the subway everyday after school.

And I hear the music… the music I would hear in warmer temps last fall. Before the long and cold winter days. It’s good to hear. So I look for him. The one who plays the music. He opens the doors to his vehicle, which I’ve never taken notice of, and turns up the music. I’m looking…

And there he is. In his foldable lawn chair, sporting his black faux fur jacket, listening to that funky music. I look at him. He smiles and then he waves at me. I smile and wave back. And I keep smiling for about a block because I’ve forgotten about the day I had. I’m remembering the simple things that make me smile. I’m thinking about spring. About the weekend, spring break, summer.

And then I’m wondering what he will be wearing tomorrow when I see him again, grooving in his chair, tunes cranked.

I will miss him when I leave this neighborhood. When I move on. But I will find someone else who will play their music and make me smile.

Seriously…

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I’m so serious when I tell you that work is ruining my running career, which I’ve previously written about. And now, so is winter. Another storm comin’. It’s depressing me so, I guess I’ll use my gym membership. I’ll just suck it up and do some incline work on the treadmill. What a novel idea! But I won’t get there until at least Friday because work is taking over my life right now. Couldn’t be happier that mid-winter break begins Friday at 2:20pm.

Unfortunately I won’t be escaping the winter of NYC, but I will still be in NYC… so I really can’t complain. Well, can I just a little? A beach would be great right now!

Is This Sustainable?

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This post is a bit of a scatter between scenarios, but I know you’ll get what I’m saying and you will probably agree.

Because my school is environmentally themed, we work with an Education for Sustainability (EfS) consultant.

When we first began our work together aligning our curriculum to EfS in 2010, I really wasn’t sure what this whole thing was going to look like. While I thought the purpose and the content were definitely important and necessary, how were we going to fit these ideas, this language and all this content into daily teaching practices.

We learned a lot of theory and models of thinking. Ok interesting but with the little time we have as teachers to plan and grade and teach and plan and plan and plan, I really just wanted to get to the nitty-gritty of this EfS and plug it into my plans. But there was a reason why we didn’t just jump right in – we wouldn’t have been putting this into practice in a way that would be sustainable for our current practices or our mental models. We needed the time and knowledge for our own mental models to shift to this way of thinking before we can teach it and sustain it in our practices.

This couple of years’ work with the consultant has been productive. Now I deeply understand the purpose of the approach to learning and teaching EfS. Not that I didn’t understand it before, or didn’t think about sustainability before… but now that I can look back on the progression of the work that we’ve done and now knowing some theory is internalized, it is the fabric of how we should be thinking, speaking, teaching, living, etc.

The beauty of our conversations and time together is that our consultant has a way of making sustainability connections to almost anything that we talk about: food, communities, garbage, animals, wedding plans, life lessons, work, cooking. And as she speaks, I listen intently. I am her kool-aid drinker.

So funnily enough, as I was running in Prospect Park for my Rock n’ Roll Brooklyn 10k yesterday morning, I found myself thinking about our conversations from our meeting last week. I noticed I could ask myself the title question at any moment, whatever I am doing, in practically any circumstance:

Can I sustain this pace the entire race?

Will that banana sustain my energy for an hour?

How much longer can I sustain my current career?

How do long-distance runners sustain their bodies when they are worked so hard?

Would I be able to sustain my mental state if I ran a whole marathon?

Will water sustain my need for liquid or should I grab a Gatorade?

While my internal questions in the midst of my run seem silly now, they were important at the time and may contribute to the failure or success of my next running adventure!

But seriously, sustainable thinking and living practices require a lot of attention initially, but become habit over time. A positive habit. A habit that could sustain your happiness, your longevity, your life.

Up and Down Day

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Today was an up and down day. Mostly ups and super trivial downs.

1. Up – woke up before my alarm which was nice because I wasn’t rushing

2. Up – ordered my new iPhone, would be ready to pick up after work

3. Up – lovely walk to workshop on the west side

4. Up – great workshop facilitator and information

5. Up – relaxed lunch in the park

6. Up – learned that CitiBike was moving on up to Harlem!

7. Down – false information from the Daily News, no CitiBikes in Harlem

8. Up – got out of workshop 15 minutes early

9. Down – checked email about phone pick-up and it said they were shipping…. so cancelled order…

10. Up – checked phone availability and there were still some available in store so I walked to the Apple Store at Grand Central to get one since my cancellation hadn’t gone through yet

11. Down – got to store and no phones available

12. HUGE up – when walking home from Grand Central, the Coolhaus Ice Cream Sandwich truck was parked right outside the east walkway like it was placed there just for me (today I enjoyed the ginger cookies and strawberry ice cream)

12. Up – home early to relax and maybe do a little run

13. MOST IMPORTANT UP – tomorrow is Friday

barkingmadaboutrunning.blogspot.com

barkingmadaboutrunning.blogspot.com

14. UPDATE: Unfortunately, another down – the vegetable soup I’ve had brewing in the slow cooker all day is BLAND! Ick! Disappointed.