I am sure blogger’s guilt is not something unique to me. Truth be told, the past 3 months have been so all-encompassing that the thought of sitting for more time in front of my computer to type out a blog post is more than I could bear. Hence the hiatus. The short version is that due to the COVID-19 outbreak and subsequent campus closures, my family and I have been engaging in distance teaching and learning based in NZ, where we are lucky to be able to stay with my parents.
Aside from a 1-week ‘Spring break’, occurring – miraculously – before NZ went into lockdown and domestic travel was still possible, we – like so many families – have been learning while in limbo. Emotionally, it has been exhausting. Before my pity-party gets into full swing, I should say it has come with many, many benefits, not least of which has been the chance to catch up with friends and family while we’re here. That is no small thing and I am truly grateful.
But back to the blog! Many of my contemporaries have successfully described the above, detailing the challenges of parenting, teaching and being away from home. Others have continued to wrestle with the complexities of creating engaging online learning experiences, nudging us ever-forward with thought-provoking ideas and suggestions. My friends, I salute you! You amaze and inspire me and for that, I thank you.
Today, I offer you none of those things. Instead, I will share the things I have found to help me get through these tumultuous weeks. This is by no means a recipe for success, but rather a loose approach to my survival.
I live to eat. It is, quite literally, one of my favourite things to do. I have found much joy in trawling the NY Times cooking section for recipes to try, looking through my favourite online sites, and experimenting with fermenting beverages thanks to a thoughtful suggestion from the effervescent @JoelBirch. So if you want to check out my version of Peanut Butter Blossoms, discuss what to do with those millions of zucchini that just keep growing, or wax lyrical about the variations of Tepache (please see video below), look no further!
Social media is sustaining for a borderline extrovert like me. As I coach, I know the genuine value of being able to talk through challenging situations can help improve one’s outlook and help you reach solutions you hadn’t considered when mulling things over by yourself. The process of conversation aids thinking. It was a stroke of luck that lead me to connect with Philippa Kruger from Education Perfect, as she invited me to talk through my (then) 7 weeks of online learning on her podcast. You can listen to my conversation with Philippa here. Through it, I managed to identify what was working well for us, what challenges we faced and how to best support students. I also became aware that I had a bit of a gin habit… Regardless, our chat helped me see the many positives of this unexpected situation, for which I am truly grateful.
Exercise… Well, sort of
Those who know me are often frustrated that despite doing very little exercise, I remain fairly slim. It’s one of life’s many mysteries. As a New Year’s Resolution in 2019, I committed to doing push-ups every day. I am not fussy about the number – I started with 10 – but I am regularly doing 100 push-ups a day now. I don’t love it, but I do it, no excuses. I have augmented that with occasional workouts on Sworkit (a great app for adults and students, with workouts of all types), walks with my Mum, and that one time I went biking… Seriously, how do people bike anywhere? Those seats are ridiculous! I know I feel better for having done a workout, so I will keep trying to make it a part of my everyday.
One of the best parts of my job is being able to help others. If I can help someone else – even if my life is bonkers, I’m not sleeping well and I’ve been wearing activewear for 3 days straight – then I feel better about myself. So thank you to the people who have reached out for ideas, tech-help, unloading and/or advice for keeping me not so focused on my own problems! It’s a very successful diversionary tactic. One example is my former colleague Estelle, who invited me to present at the Africa Learning International conference to assist teachers in getting started with online learning. Given the conference was at 3am NZ time, they kindly let me pre-record, so I can share the video with you below.
Letting go of Perfect.
I like to do things well. Actually, that’s a lie. I like to do things really well. It matters to me to feel I am doing a good job at whatever it is I am doing (I know, I know, it’s a character flaw). Through this process of online learning, I feel I am better able to let ‘perfect’ go. I can’t be the perfect parent AND coach AND friend AND partner AND daughter AND colleague while living out of a suitcase for the 11th week in a row. Most days, I barely hit one of those! I guess my point is that I am growing in my ability to accept ‘good enough, given the circumstances.’ It’s definitely a work in progress, as I actually cried when my hot cross buns failed. I mean, for goodness’ sake, get some perspective!
Ahh well, there’s always tomorrow.