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A doable Monday

The structure of Mondays (asynchronous days for students, endless meetings and to-do’s for teachers) is not how I prefer to start my week during this year of virtual, now concurrent/hybrid, teaching. Mondays are all about faithful follow-through from students and teachers alike.  A few students are “required” to attend office hours with me, others pop in rarely, and by the time office hours are complete, teachers tune into endless meetings with smiles concealing fatigue.  

I’d much rather start my week greeting my students’ initials over Teams, while they undoubtedly eye roll and begrudgingly answer my question of the day in the chat to start off class. Interacting with even a few unmuted mics makes the day worth it but alas, for the next 12 weeks of school, the meetings on Mondays will continue to plague the start of every week.  

Today, however, Monday didn’t feel so bad.  Perhaps it’s spring break planning to grace us with her presence or the warmth of spring cocooning me throughout the day.  Regardless, Monday felt doable, for the first time in a long time, and I’ll celebrate that small win for now.  

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“Names” -Bao remix

I’m the only one in the family

with a name that has three different meanings

*Woof* Bao isn’t even a dog name.

I know, because my human parents told me.

It means: treasure (in Chinese) and protector (in Vietnamese),

It also means: steamed buns, a dish part of dim sum, 

something my parents love to eat.

And truth be told, that description is about right

because I am definitely a treasured protector to my parents

I just need to remind them I’m so much more than delicious buns.

My name labors out of some human’s mouths

in an awkward and painful way

I hear my parents tell their friends on the phone:

BOW, like take a BOW, not bo-ah.

I’ve learned not to bark when I hear their friends mispronounce it.

Mom says she thought it was an awesome name.

Gave me this gift of being a fierce protector and now curses

how well I herd the three of us together in the same room.

My parents probably wanted a dog who would sit in her crate

and chew on her kong while not barking when they left the room for a minute.

Instead, they got a loyal 10-week old pup who is just getting started,

unless they try to leave me alone in my crate again.

*inspired by Elizabeth Acevedo’s “Names” in The Poet X

Photo by Joan Tran on Unsplash
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Bao Oxford McWong

The warmth of spring 

brought our new furry family member 

a day earlier than planned

The warmth of spring

brought a day of new

for our adopted pup

new name to attune

new beds to sleep 

new parents to love

new noises to acquaint

new toys to chew

new nooks to nestle 

new harnesses to snuggle 

new neighborhood to traverse

new humans to observe

The warmth of spring 

brought a day of new

for our human hearts

Welcome to the family,

our new joy to love,

Bao Oxford McWong.

Bao Oxford McWong on March 20, 2021.
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Puppy prep

After hours/days/weeks of intense research and scouring of internet advice to prepare for our incoming puppy, we received our box(es) of supplies from the Chewy saviors (whom we should now start investing in) yesterday.  As the scissors sliced through the seal that held the necessities of the future, I excitedly lifted each lid and peeked in. Two red dog harnesses in XS & S, a non-squeaky-to-human-ears elephant, an already ear-splitting squeaky lamb and yellow duck, a red leash, a dog bed, an adjustable dog crate, puppy food and treats, an endless supply of poop bags, potty pads (our first regret-purchase after more research), a bowl set with a silicone mat, a puppy nylabone, and a few other intellectually stimulating toys.  I couldn’t help but think, Is this all it takes? To start off raising a puppy? Four boxes of “things”? What are we missing?! 

As a childless couple, with no recollection of my family’s dogs as puppies, this is the first time I have ever co-parented a growing creature and the weight of responsibility is not lost on me. We have quickly acquired which vaccinations are necessary at which ages, the prime puppy months for training (indeed, she is signed up for school immediately), the delicate balance of puppy socializing (“not too much in unknown territories but also be sure to socialize!”), how to handle nipping (yell, “OW!” and do NOT pull away), bell training, and how important routine is, especially in the first week.  As I typically operate when I am nervous (read: my equilibrium is best found vibrating within a ball of anxiety), I sift through endless research until I feel confident. What the research is not preparing me for is how this curious and energetic fluffball is going to totally shift our lives on Sunday, most likely for the better.  My heart is already telling me that it doesn’t matter how much stuff we have, as long as love and patience (and routine!) are at the crux of our intentions. Sometimes the head simply cannot research enough to prepare the heart for what lies ahead.

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A Return to Saturn

Romantic breakup. New job. Misguided friendship breakups. Another new job. Move across state lines. Extreme dissatisfaction and soul searching. While it’s easy to look back on my life around 27/28 and sterilize the changes I went through, at the time, my entire life felt shaken, whether I intentionally contributed to it or not. 

Amidst the upheaval I was experiencing during that time period, a friend suggested I may be in my “Return to Saturn.”  As a recovering astrology-reading addict, I was unaware of what my stubborn and loyal Scorpio traits had to do with a planet somewhere in the solar system.  According to Bustle.com, a Return to Saturn is described as, “It takes Saturn approximately 29.5 years to complete its full orbit around the sun, so the phrase “Saturn return” literally refers to Saturn returning to the exact place in the zodiac that it was when you were born. Everyone experiences their first Saturn return between the ages of about 27 and 30. These years are often marked by tons of upheaval — think break-ups or marriages, switching careers, moving to a new city, or generally coming to terms with changes you need to make in your life.” 

As a colleague was confiding in me yesterday about the recent tumult he is experiencing, I brought up the Saturn Return notion to him. Upon further reflection, we remarked that many people we know seem to be going through a lot right now, not directly tied to the pandemic either.  While this entire past year has exploded with Saturn Return fireworks, March 2021 feels especially Saturn Return-y to me. As I buckle down and forge ahead through this month, I am comforted knowing the other side of a Saturn Return is clarity worth consuming.

Photo by Shivam Patel on Pexels.com
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March’s Mystery & Mayhem Circus Show!

Come one, come all

to the greatest show of the year,

March’s Mystery and Mayhem Circus Show!

Our performances may not be timely, 

and they may be fueled by stubborn and peculiar oddities,

but they are sure to dazzle and delight!

You will find our teacher navigate her insurmountable anxiety in

Masters of mayhem Mondays

Defy all odds in

Nerves of steel Sundays

and train to be the sensation of the century in

Dancing and somersaulting Saturdays!

Be sure to marvel at it all, 

March only comes but once a year!

Photo by Golnar sabzpoush rashidi on Pexels.com
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Master of mayhem Mondays

Today you will see our teacher spend the day nestled at home, while students work asynchronously. She will spend her morning teaching intervention lessons, summoning students into her tremendous, strange, and curious Microsoft Teams office hours, meeting with magnificent colleagues, juggling endless meal preps while simultaneously feeding herself, attending more meetings of mayhem, and leaving the day with a stupendous mountain of stress!  At times, her cascade of to-dos appears to be a supernatural illusion, such as the act of swallowing a knife, so surely, you won’t want to delay in stepping into this show today!

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Dancing and somersaulting Saturdays

Today’s events will be sure to please the eye with a fine ballet of beauty.  From wedding dress switches to one day dance her way into the spotlight, to somersaulting through YouTube videos and endless internet tunnels of advice on how to become a puppy mom soon, this teacher’s dance moves are sure to impress. Even more, her Saturday salsa of trying to relax yet preparing for future events has her mind simply spinning. You won’t want to miss this teacher try to process her first week of concurrent teaching while prepping for major life events.  We are exhausted just thinking about it! 

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Seasonal routine

The past year of pandemic panic has brought the staple of a morning routine into my life, a perception of superficial control to commence each day. Without consciously realizing it, my routine has shifted by the season. The summer roused with early morning roaming before the humidity blanketed the sidewalks, the fall moved by yoga and mindful meditation, and the winter awoke with a shower and immediate cocooning of blankets in bed while reading, sipping coffee, and a sun lamp burning optimism into irises to prevent seasonal sadness.  

With the start of reporting back to school this month, my routine is hatching a new facade.  I tried to maintain my early morning book immersion but the commute time does not allow for the ease of escape, no matter how much earlier I set my alarm. I cannot help but wonder what will become of my new morning routine, if anything at all. Life feels a little safer and I find myself tentatively optimistic. It may be time to bid adieu to a staple of the past year, shed a layer of armor, and take a small step into the realm of a festive future.

Photo by Julia Volk on Pexels.com
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Shoshin, take two, action!

Last week I learned the word shoshin, which means a beginner’s mindset, a serendipitous lesson I applied throughout the week preparing for concurrent teaching.  Any time I felt a twinge of stress, I’d let myself experience the emotion and then remember I had a reset.  Oh yeah, there it is again, shoshin! I’d say to myself.  But today, this week, the remainder of this month, is where I REALLY need to apply shoshin. While it’s easy to parrot the definition, what does a beginner’s mindset really mean to me today, my first day of concurrent teaching?

  • As a perfectionist trying to distance myself from the label, I undoubtedly need to tell myself right now, Nothing will be perfect and that’s okay!
  • Stress will occur, and it can also be brief, it doesn’t have to frame the entirety of the day
  • It’s okay to laugh at my mistakes 
  • Change is uncomfortable
  • Growth because of change is uncomfortable
  • The feeling of being uncomfortable is brief, and again, it doesn’t have to frame your outlook of the day or week
  • Like the amazing educators I know, I am resilient and I will bounce ahead, eventually 

I might remember these declarations today, I might not remember them until after the moments of stress, but I am hoping to give myself grace and learn a lot as I jump into a new experience.

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko on Pexels.com
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Old habits, new thinking

Last night

I felt the need

to justify myself

My partner

told me

My life has been stitched together with explanations

Men do not feel 

anguish

Old habits die hard. 

*Trying out Suleika Jauoad’s Isolation Journals prompt for today- elimination/blackout poetry on my own quick paragraph (below). 

Last night I was composing an email to a foster puppy mom, stating my partner and I would like to adopt her foster dog after meeting it briefly earlier in the day.  In the original draft of the email, I felt the need to justify myself, explaining that although I wasn’t an experienced dog owner, I have faith in myself and my resources to give this puppy the best life it could have.  My partner, whose line of work resides in the business world, told me I did not need to justify myself, instead, I could state we would like to adopt the dog and that was that.  I was blown away- my life has been stitched together with explanations and justifications.  Men do not feel the need to sew their thoughts into emails as I do?  I just could not fathom how much anguish that eliminates. Old habits die hard.

 

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Tire(d) teacher

During pandemic teaching, I inevitably reach a point of no return on Fridays, my brain’s wires short-circuiting after too much usage. Emails have lost their coherent response opportunity, students’ assignments sit to be graded in the Canvas ether, loved one’s texts are neglected until I can re-wire.  

This Friday, however, has left me feeling like a neglected, punctured tire. One reason my depletion is more present than ever is today is the final Friday before students come back into the building.  Endless decisions have been processed, executed, and debated this past week.  Rooms and demeanors are expected to be sparkling and joyful to greet our bright-eyed students Tuesday morning. 

The pressure is on to patch and inflate, to roll with the potholes of the newly resurfaced road ahead.

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Ullassa

sun rays warming new morning routines

flower buds emerging for another year of bloom

glistening lakes cradling a rising sun

mourning doves signaling weekend’s ease

orange and pink wisps in a slumbering sky

ullassa is 

a Sanskrit term

an appreciation for small treasures in nature

what I used to refer to as a slice of joy

I now know is deemed

ullassa

A moment of ullassa on February 17, 2021.
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Homemade Decision-Making

I always know I’m on the brink of making a big decision when I yearn for my favorite recipe, the ingredients unfailingly readily handy, stored away in the back of my pantry, waiting to be utilized.  

Recipe for Megan’s Homemade Decision-Making

2 cups chopped stomach-lurching

1 heaping cup acute heartbeat quickening

3 tablespoons of sweating palms

1 teaspoon of self-assurance

Combine all ingredients in a glass mixing bowl of emotion.  Blend until a smooth consistency- one to two weeks. Pour into loaf pan and refrigerate for six days. Serve with a glass of gut gusto. 

Photo by Nicole Michalou on Pexels.com

Book talk

One of my absolute favorite parts of being a language arts teacher is book talking as many books as possible to students. During virtual teaching this past year, I held strong to my book talking ways but the usual verve I’m used to seeing in the classroom was replaced with black screens and the occasional student who was comfortable enough to chime in and say, “Oh I think I’ve read that” to which I’d enthusiastically respond, “You did?! Wasn’t it great?!” to which they’d respond flatly, “Yeah, it was okay.” Although I suffered many daggers to the heart during virtual book talks, I quickly learned to take what I could get, even if it was the occasional smidgen of excitement. 

Now that we are back to being in person, my book talking ways are inspired. Today, I book talked The Prince and the Dressmaker. This book is one of those awesome books I forgot I had in my classroom library until I unpacked my boxes of books a few weeks ago.  Immediately upon the book talk being finished, a student asked to read it. With the snap of a finger, he was so hooked in the book that he was able to drown out the sixth grade energy enveloping the room. There are few things I love more than seeing students get excited about books and fall into them. I had almost forgotten how much I love cultivating reading engagement and being in the presence of growing readers.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

Nerves of steel Sundays

Today’s events will start off slow but are sure to morph into a wild whirl-wheel of wonders as this teacher will awake slowly, ready to tackle her personal to-dos, all the items she simply doesn’t have the energy to address during the week. She will dazzle and delight with her ability to be a cash-saving homeowner, spending hours of research figuring out how to patch drywall, what color to paint which rooms facing which direction of sunlight, and how to address the newly spotted crumbling foundation of her house!  Under normal weekday circumstances, she is sure to crumble right along with her house but instead, her nerves of steel allow her to walk through her ring of fire home-owning journey.

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