Day 21-Writer’s Block

Ugh. It happened. 21 days in. This tab for my blog has been open since 7:30 this morning. I’ve revisited it several times. I’ve looked at my list of topics to help me think about what to write when this happens. But even those topics aren’t flowing for me today.

It’s a beautiful day. It’s a Monday. It’s sunny and warm and I think I even see buds starting on the trees. I’m frustrated with my students for not being prepared for class, even though it’s March. Of 5th grade. And I give them transition time and tell them what they need. And they still don’t have what they need. So on top of just struggling with writer’s block today, I’ve built up this wave of frustration.

There’s too much to accomplish today, this week, before spring break, before the end of the year. And I don’t like to assign homework. But if we don’t do this, then we can’t do that, and everything gets behind. Preaching to the teacher choir here, I know…I’m just feeling it extra extra today.

There. I got all that out. Hopefully, tomorrow will find me with a clearer mind and a better slice!

Day 20-Making a Runner Out of Me Update

If you’re a runner, stop reading now. Because I’m sure my running journey is going to be laughable to people who really know how to run.

So this was my first week of the Nike beta testing of the Adapt shoes. Day 1 was a 5-minute run. Sounds easy, right? It was! I mean, I was slow and winded but I did it and it was not bad at all. Shoes were comfortable, and I felt good. I was looking forward to Day 2. The next day, I only had to do a 5-minute core workout with the Nike training app. Piece of cake. Wednesday was a rest day. So I rested. Thursday was a 6-minute run and I decided to bring my puppy to help her burn off some energy. Bad idea. Too much stopping to sniff things (her, not me). But we got through the 6 minutes.

Friday was a rest day. I’m liking all these rest days! As the weather gets nicer, I plan to use the rest days for my 3-4 mile walks and strength workouts. But, I digress. I should have completed the next run on Saturday but, you know, weather. So I did it today.

Today was an 8-minute run. Geez, Nike, we aren’t really taking this slow, are we? I need to preface this with some details. I went out last night. Got home after midnight after imbibing. Like, a lot. Woke up far too early for going to bed around 1am. I was not feeling my best athletic self. But I had to get the run done. I gave myself a 4-minute walking warm-up, then started the run.

8 minutes can be an eternity. I tried. I really did. Kept telling myself, “Just make it to that tree, that house, that street.” I made it about 4 minutes, breathing embarrassingly heavily, and had to bring it down to a walk. I walked for about a minute, maybe even 2, then finished by running. But I did it. Week one, DONE.

How do you running people do this???? 11 more weeks to go………………..

Day 19-Best Summers Ever

Some of my best memories of being a kid are from when we would go to the pool. It was called the Lombard Commons. There was a baby pool area, then the regular pool area with a shallow-deep end pool, then a separate deep pool for the low and high diving boards.

When we were younger, we always had to go with our parents. It was me and my 3 siblings, and usually my best friend Ann and her siblings. I don’t know how often we went, but in my memory it feels like we were there every summer day. Sometimes, we even went in the evenings, and I remember that feeling like a special treat. Then we might visit the Cock Robin drive-in across the street for rootbeer floats.

When we were a little older, I remember a crew of us racing our bicycles down St. Charles Rd or Maple Street, trying to get in line as soon as the pool would open. We carried our towels and plastic pool passes, and a little bit of money for the snacks we would buy when there was a lifeguard break. We would get in the pool area after quick mandatory showers and set up our towels on the concrete. Then it was splash and play for what seemed like hours to the music of Madonna, The Police, and Michael Jackson, among others. We girls would ogle at the cute, and much too old, lifeguards as we’d skip over to the diving boards, and wait our turn to climb up the seemingly endless stairs, contemplating the trick we would perform on our way down to the water. When the whistle blew for guard break and adult swim, we kids would gather up our towels and money–sometimes leaving our shoes behind–and walk over to Frankie’s for our snack. While we’d sometimes get M&Ms or Now and Laters, we often ordered a sack of their fries, which came fresh and salty in a brown paper bag. We would take turns holding the hot, greasy bag, while plunging our hands in to get a fair share of the bounty. And then, when snacks were finished, we would head back through the locker rooms and take our obligatory showers, and finish out our afternoon. By this time, the sun had more than kissed our shoulders and noses and we should have reapplied sunscreen. But we were too impatient to get back into the water and prune up our hands and feet.

The Commons is now a big waterpark. There are slides and water activities to attract people of all ages for what promises to likely be expensive fun. And though I haven’t been there in the capacity it is now, I know it could never be the same as the simple pools, death-defying diving boards and blaring radio from my youth.

I can still smell the chlorine and sunblock, and taste those greasy fries. Oh, how some memories stick with you…

Day 18-She said WHAT?

I pride myself on the relationships and connections I build with kids. I may not always know or practice the best tech skills, and maybe my math or reading lesson this week could have been better or more engaging. But I’m really good at relationship building. It took years of teaching and being a mom to really feel like I understood kids down to their deepest level, and it helps me be a better teacher.

So this year–coming off of last year where some devastating professional wrongs were done to me and I’m still recovering–I am not quite the same teacher I have been in the past. Long story short, I follow the rules to a T. One of my students gives me an attitude about this.

This girl started in on me early in the year, remarking how I don’t do things or allow things or have things that my teammate does, allows, or has. They are all things I would have done in the past and would still be doing today had I not been put through the wringer last year. At first, I brushed the girl off with an oh-well attitude. But it kept happening. She was a little snotty with me about it. And I finally kind of snapped on her. I told her what she kept saying hurt my feelings and not that I needed to explain myself, but if she knew what I had been through she would understand why I do things differently in my classroom, and I would never compare her to another student.

She immediately changed her tune. She became my student BFF, wanting to share every detail of her life with me as well as being my pipeline to all things about 5th-grade gossip. I’ve really developed an open and honest relationship with her and I love it.

Then today…she comes up to me during some free time some of the students earned and said, “Our class is really boring.” I stopped in my tracks. Felt my face getting red and my body tensed up. I looked at her. I said, “I’m sorry.” She replied, “It just really was. No offense. It was just so boring.” And I’m sitting there at my desk ready to explode thinking, who does she think she is??? And then she read my body language and said, “Ms. Link, it was just one class meeting. It was just kind of boring today. It wasn’t because of you! I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to make you mad.” And then I laughed.

The class MEETING was boring today. Oh, gosh. (Well, she’s right, it was). Here I thought, in that span of 30 seconds of conversation, we had reverted back to how she was at the beginning of the year and I was ready to pounce. I’m relieved that I heard her wrong. And I’m also relieved at how far she and I have come. And that she, perhaps, doesn’t think our CLASS is boring at all.

Day 17-Wearing the Green

Spinny rides used to be my favorite thing in the world. Loops and twirls, and spinning so fast I defied gravity. There was no ride I wouldn’t experience at least one time.

My favorite rides were the Tilt-A-Whirl and the Gravitron. I loved smashing into the Tilt-A-Whirl cart with three or four of my best friends and dramatically throwing my body about to make the cart twirl faster and faster. On the Gravitron, we loved to see how high we could move our bodies on the padded backboard while trying to defeat the G-force pushing us down. I’d get off these rides elated and smiling, oftentimes ready to get back in line to do it again.

But not anymore. Ever since I had kids I cannot do spinny rides. I can do roller coasters that are smooth and they can have the highest drops and all the crazy loops. But I cannot ride a ride that has the sole purpose of spinning fast enough and hard enough to make a person projectile vomit. I’ve managed to escape the vomiting part. Barely. However, I learned early on after my first kid that I was to avoid those rides at all costs. The motion sickness and dreadful feelings were the consequences that accompanied such rides, and I’ve avoided them ever since. COme to think of it, I can’t even swing on a swing. Adulting sucks the fun right out of things, doesn’t it?

Day 16-Chronic Pain

There are many conditions that cause people hidden chronic pain. One of them is TMJ disorder and, lucky me, I live with that.

We are not talking about, oh my jaw hurts today. This isn’t a case of sleeping poorly and grinding or clenching my teeth. This isn’t something a little extra ibuprofen is going to touch. This is chronic, sometimes debilitating but definitely getting worse pain I’ve had for 2 decades.

I’ve had CT scans and Xrays. Relaxed for a couple of MRIs for fun too. I have visited dentists and doctors and surgeons. I’ve endured 2 jaw surgeries-most recently last September. I’ve had more physical therapists than some people have friends. I’ve tried mouthguards and sedatives, ice and heat, muscle relaxers and pain killers. Sometimes I get some relief. But nothing is instant, consistent, or permanent.

The little disc in the joint is gone on the left side; it’s bone-on-bone. I have to dislocate my right side to open my mouth. Every single time. It pops and cracks and grinds and crinkles. I have bone spurs and osteoarthritis in the left joint. It’s degenerative. As in never going to get better. There’s no one protocol for treating this and there are so many different approaches. Ultimately, I would need a joint replacement (think knee replacement) but that’s a very last resort type of surgery. Ideally, I should be resting my jaw frequently. But I have a job that requires me to constantly use the joint that is affected; I talk all day.

It’s been an extra rough few days for me with the pain, I’m not sure why. And I guess what I want people to realize is that even though it’s not something YOU can see on another person, chronic pain is real. And it’s not fun.

Day 15-This is About Shoes

I love shoes. I can’t wear a different pair every day like I wear a different outfit, but I have a lot of shoes. Like, I-try-to-avoid-my-fiance-seeing-my-closet, a lot of shoes.

When I was thinner (oh, how I wish this was not something I ever had to put into words!) I wore killer heels. I walked around all day in 4-5 inch heels. Lacy, iridescent, patent leather, peep-toed, chunky, stiletto, suede, pointy-toed, booties, and more. I had every color and style to match any outfit. People thought I was crazy. “How can you wear those shoes all day?!” We teachers are on our feet most of the day, and I managed to wear these heels every single day. And I did it without even breaking a sweat.

Then styles changed, I couldn’t fit into all the same pants or dresses anymore, and I stopped wearing the heels. I switched to wedges, chunky-heel ankle booties, and tall boots with short heels. I still wear shoes that people tell me they couldn’t wear all day, but I miss the days of tall, sleek, and sexy stilettos. They still live in my closet though. Don’t tell my fiance.

Day 14-Best Day Ever

It's sunny and warm
It's Pi Day
We had lots of pie today
I ate French silk pie
My students made Pi Skylines
We wrote Pilish poems
We played a funny game for teacher-led PE
I ate apple pie
We published our Pilish poems
We colored our Pi Skylines
I'm thinking about another piece of pie
Did I mention today we had pie?

This was the best day ever.

Day 13-Like a Virgin

I was born in the ’70s, and the ’90s contain my favorite memories and music. But I was a child of the 80s.

My earliest memories have an 80s music soundtrack. My parents had hundreds of records and tapes, and even an 8-track player. Billy Joel and Lionel Richie. The Eagles. Michael Jackson. Cyndi Lauper. The Go-Gos. Even George Benson and Spyro Gyra. I had my own radio that I would listen to any time I was in my room. And I’d put a tape recorder near it when my favorite song came on so I could record it.

Just after my 8th birthday, Madonna debuted her first album. A year later came her second one, which is where most of my memories of her begin. Material Girl, Dress You Up, and the super ultra naughty I-can’t-sing-that-word song, Like a Virgin. Madonna’s style was my dream, my goal. I had always been really unique about my outfits and jewelry and when Madonna came onto the scene it was like I was finally free to be myself.

Fishnet tights, mini-skirts, leg warmers, bracelets up to my elbows and earrings down to my shoulders. Neon, lace, fingerless gloves. Off the shoulder tops with tanktop straps underneath. Lacy bow in my hair. And the music…I knew every word to every song. And I sang them with abandon.

As Madonna’s style grew and matured, so did mine. I got more ear piercings, shaved part of my hair off, and was introduced to different music. I wore band tees and Doc Martens and black and white striped tights under ripped-up shorts. Madonna continued to put out records and I kept her in my music rotation. Even after all these years, I can still sing every word to Like a Virgin, and I thank the 80s for my appreciation of music–but not my current fashion–today.

Day 12-Because I Got Free Shoes

I am not a runner. I never have been. Oh, I’ve tried. Ran track for a couple years back in 8th grade and freshman year, mostly because my older brother and sister did it. I wasn’t any good. I’ve “run” the odd 5k here and there but never without walking some of it. Back in 2012 I decided to try the Couch to 5k program and got to week 4–before I broke my ankle. All signs point to STOP TRYING TO RUN.

Until now. In 2020 I got the Nike Run Club app in order to join these mile challenges a teacher friend started. Remember, I don’t run. But his challenge was for walkers and joggers and runners. Just to get people out and moving when Covid spun our lives into a stagnant blur. So I joined the challenges, week after week, and was up to walking 30 miles per month. It was what got me working out again, and I’ve stayed pretty consistent with physical activity ever since.

A few weeks ago, I got an invite on the NRC app to join them in piloting this new 12-week challenge for NON-RUNNERS as well as a prototype shoe. I read through it, found that I met all the requirements, and applied. Turns out I was accepted. They shipped me my new shoes and I joined a webinar last Wednesday to get all the details. I have to do my initial 10-minute walk tomorrow (it’s going to be 50 degrees!) to get my shoes ready, then I start Monday! They said I’ll be 10K ready in 12 weeks.

I don’t know if I believe them, or if I’ll become any kind of runner after this, but hey–I did get a free pair of shoes.