Tuesday, March 14, 2017

sol17-14 How is change good?

I am participating in the
Slice of Life Story Challenge (SOLSC).
All participants are writing about one moment, one part of their day, every day of March 2017. 
A big thank you to Two Writing Teachers for providing this unique opportunity
for teacher-writers to share and reflect.

My morning alarm went off as usual, and I immediately checked my phone for a message. Just like I feared - the promised big snow fizzled into an icy slush, bringing a confusion of school closings and delays. My Maryland neighborhood schools were closed. However, the Washington, D.C. school where I teach had a two-hour delay. Ugh. Gotta get ready for the slog of a commute. Note to self: find ways to make it better, to be grateful, to see the wonder. I reset the alarm for a little later and went back to sleep.

This small delight didn't last terribly long. I couldn't stop thinking about all the extra things that needed doing. My husband is out of town for a few days...I would need to shovel the driveway, I would need to scrape off the car. I got out of bed, made myself a cup of hot tea, and surveyed the scene outside.

I shoveled the snow right away, before breakfast, before reading the newspaper. Two inches of heavy back-breaking icy slush. It looked like nothing but weighed a ton. Note to self: focus on the beauty of the snowy trees and shrubs, how quiet everything is outside, how beautiful. I found a thick coat of ice on my car. Sorry, this is not beautiful. Ugh. I decided that it was wiser to take the bus this morning. Note to self: see, you have options! How lucky! I packed my backpack with spare slip-ons and a yummy lunch, I bundled up in my warm "ski" hat, gloves, and snow boots. Out the door! Here goes!

There was no one on the roads. No one. Ugh! They were all sleeping in!!! Even the Federal Government received a three-hour delayed start. I was all alone. I was the only one awake. I was the only one who was miserable. Ugh: the roads are unplowed. I had to trudge through this icy, wet stuff. Note to self: hey, isn't this fun? You are walking the center of streets to the bus stop - how often do you get to do that?

Walking. Walking. Walking. Bus stop. My husband sends me a love message from warm, sunny Arizona.  Ice pellets rain down on me. I wait for the bus. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. Are the busses running? How do I know if the busses are running? What was my backup plan? Did I need a backup plan? I waited. From behind me, I heard laughter - a boy of about 8 or 10 years of age was rolling around in the snow in his front yard, which made me smile. Ahh, that is how this day should have begun. Wistful. Sad. Lonely. Note to self, note to self, note to self? What to feel grateful for? What can I think of?

Unbelievably, a lone car pulls out of a neighboring road and then it stopped in front of me. The driver rolled down the window and called out - "Are you headed to the metro? Would you like a ride? I'm not sure the busses are running." Yes! A woman picked me up at my bus stop. An angel named Ingrid. She didn't know me and I didn't know her. I am truly grateful. 

Truly, from this moment on, the day became lighter. I was challenged from the get go, but I worked on focusing on the positive and letting in the joy. Now, looking back on the day, I am realizing it can be good if not invigorating when our normal 'rules' and routines get bent or downright broken. It makes you look at the world with new eyes.

Just today,
  • I accepted a ride from a stranger, and met a neighbor, learning quickly that we had people and things in common. 
  • When I got off the metro, I found my path to school thick with the same icy sludge that I shoveled back home...I walked with my feet pointing out, I walked with my feet pointing in, just like Peter in The Snowy Day
  • Only half my students attended school today and I felt as though I engaged and connected with every one of them; also, missing many of their classmates, I watched the children play together in new ways.
  • I brought snow in from outside for the children to explore and they kept their mittens on to make snowballs and snow muffins. 
  • We slowed our schedule down, had a leisurely lunch with lots of good conversation, put the children down for their nap a little later, and all was well. 

Turn around, the day was over.

Change: challenging, provocative, daring, trusting, silly, looser, happier.


  1. I love your description of this day and your reactions, being in the moment and also trying to find the positive. And you did!

    1. Thank you, Becky! It was a good day.

  2. I'm a DC teacher who trudged to get to work today, too!
    I'm a science teacher but ended up subbing for PK, and enjoyed it.
    Like your post, the day started with challenge and got sillier, looser, happier. I really like your descriptions of how your day unfolded and your attitude shifted. all the while you tried to be positive but it ended up happening :)
    We also read about Peter! Such a perfect book- and sweet moment in your slice.

    1. Fran, I'm excited there is another D.C. teacher slicing! We moved staff around today, too. Lots of children and colleagues absent.

  3. Love love love this. Perfect example of how seeing things in a positive light will actually result in good things. ~JudyK

  4. Guess my crossed fingers didn't work, at least for a whole day! I love how you shared your thoughts, the mish-mash of the day, but also the brilliance of finding the plain old nice things. your love note from your husband, your stranger/nice neighbor ride, the children learning about new classmates. I do try to look at things in that way. It lightens my life for sure. Love your final line, maybe something to print out and read daily? Thank you!

  5. This is a beautiful reminder of the way a simple act of kindness can change the tone of the day. This post inspires me to share your story with students as a way to teach tone in poetry. They often find it difficult to understand the shifts.