On Your Mark, Get Set… Unwind!

And…my vacation starts today!  Whew.  This year was a tough one. I’ll save my reflections for later, but just the fact I haven’t posted in this space for several months gives an indication of where my head has been. (Yep, buried.) But I’m coming up for some sunshine and air and couldn’t be happier. My challenge is getting to that place of rest where my body and mind can rejuvenate.

Photo Credit: 8slowdowns Flickr via Compfight cc

Sherri Spelic, who writes thoughtfully about her experiences as an educator in Austria, recently shared a poem that resonated with me: “A Few Words About the End”. It captures the feeling that so many of us experience just as school ends for the big summer break.

It can hard for me to reach the release into independence that Sherri talks about.  I am so wound up after an intense school year that I feel more of a gradual loosening. It happens viscerally, day by day and little by little until..there it is. I’ve found that three things help move that process along.

  1. Time outside: I sit outside on our back deck. I run along the green shaded trail. I swim in Lake Ontario (or any other handy body of water, pools included!).  I breathe in, breathe out and feel the spring uncoiling inside.
  2. Reading paper books: I hold the book, my hands stretch the cover, and my fingers grasp the page to turn it. Somehow, these physical sensations enable more sustained attention. I see my progress through the book. I sometimes take a pen or highlighter to make a note.
  3. A change in location: Leaving home for a few days helps my brain detach from work and the responsibilities that go with it. I rest. I walk. I realize that there is so much more than my little corner of the world. I feel more free.

It’s time to start.

Meditation on Selfies

I’ve never been good at selfies. I get the angle wrong, you can’t see the background, the final photo is often one of me looking startled, and well, not my best. And these days, as I get older, I’m rarely satisfied with pictures of myself. I’m fine with the aging thing (well, mostly – rather be less stiff in the morning) but photos, and selfies especially seem to highlight that process. Pro tip: sunglasses and a smile always help.

Selfie culture is interesting. I recently watched one young person take a series of selfies as he was walking along the street, apparently randomly. I guess one of those ended up on SnapChat, the latest in a series of pics that show his best side to his friends and followers. But I don’t want to sound like I’m 100 years old.  I’ve heard those over 50’s (and some younger ones) moaning that no one asks anyone to take pictures anymore. So what? I like selfies. I think they’re fun. They make me laugh, and I love to laugh!

Lisa Neale is a brilliant selfie taker. You can see a lot of them on her Instagram account and she’s even taken some good ones of me! I’ve tried to emulate her, but I got so frustrated with my apparent lack of ability with selfies that I looked up some tips. Most of it seemed to be directed at bloggers or people who want to be Insta-famous. Uh, that’s not me. But I do want friends and family to have fun scrolling through my feed.

On a recent vacation, my partner and I had great fun taking selfies and trying to get them right. I stopped being self conscious in front of other tourists and we took tons until they looked OK.  Me holding the phone, her pressing the button.

We may have finally got it! Teamwork really is better.

Riding Around Town

img_2518I unlocked the Sobi bike, threw my work bag in the basket and set off. Last week, I used our Hamilton Bike Share network (aka Sobi) to get from school to school for some visits. It was amazing! I love riding my bike, but I didn’t imagine that it would be so fun. The combination of a beautiful day, riding around a city I love, and seeing staff hard at work for our students made for a great experience.

I have a wonderful job. It’s hard sometimes – some days I really need to go home and cocoon on the couch. But mostly it’s exciting and interesting. Oh, and did I mention that the schools I work with are in downtown Hamilton, a very bikeable city, so getting around is quite easy?

Last Wednesday was also International Walk (or Roll) to School Day and I wanted to participate. Any little way I can reduce air pollution and be active seems like a good idea.  But I had school visits. Earlier in the week, I had seen Principal Mary Finstad biking to and from and meeting, skirt, helmet and all. So, why not ride?  I am a regular user of Hamilton Bike Share, although usually on weekends. It was fun to plan to use it on a work day. I parked at the first school, got permission to leave my car there for most of the day and headed out after my first visit. No athletic clothes necessary – I was riding Amsterdam style in my work outfit. The Sobi bikes are modelled after Dutch bikes, so you’re not competing in the Tour de France, you’re just bopping around town. I stopped for a coffee then on to the next school. Visits over, I biked back to the hub near my car and then off to my office for a meeting. Pretty great.

What about you – have you ever considered walking or riding to school or work?