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It is okay to be afraid and anxious…just don’t sit in those emotions for too long.

Hi my loves!

I hope you are all safe and healthy.  Been thinking about what I wanted to write about today. I kept telling myself I wanted to write about something light and funny in the midst of this new reality we are living.

Every time I got an idea and would start to type, my thoughts kept going back to COVID19. I finally gave up and stared at my computer screen. And sat and stared. And I literally heard a voice say, “Write about what you’re feeling because you are not alone.”

And, so I started typing.

Let me go back a bit. A few weeks ago, I was celebrating my birthday in Miami. This is about the time I started to pay a little attention to the news. In my defense, don’t have cable at home, so most of my news comes from social media, 1010 Wins, and friends.

Anyway, I remember in the airport, my best friend pulled out two surgical masks. I was like “Heck no, girl you crazy!!” And laughed as I joked around about how silly we would look. I even took a picture of us in the airplane but it was more of photo op for IG. I also have to say that I probably counted about five other travelers with masks, only one actually covering their face.

While in Miami, my girlfriend who is a nurse (God bless her soul) kept talking about the coronavirus in very serious tones. As serious as you can be while drinking right? Anyway, she kept saying that this virus scared her, that it was going to do a lot of damage.

She kept saying things like, “As of Monday, we will all be zombies.” I was like, “Ok Rick!” (Shout out to TWD fans!!!). But really, I didn’t even take her seriously because I just felt like the news kept saying this was just a different strain of the flu with no vaccine.

I was back at work on March 4 and suddenly I was being bombarded by news out of Italy and Europe and the numbers of cases and/or deaths. My ears perked up, but I can’t say I was worried yet. As is the norm for me, I was still celebrating my birthday (which is a month-long event). I was looking forward to Friday the 13th to meet up with friends at our local bar to continue the celebrations.

And this is where I think I started to feel a little rise of panic in my chest. That night, that Friday night, the bar which is typically crowded with diners, drinkers, and karaokers every week was eerily empty.

There were about 20 of us in there including the employees. Very few people were singing. I was kind of like oh, ok. What’s happening? That Sunday evening, we received the email that the school I worked in was closed until the end of the month. It felt so surreal, like what do you mean schools are closed. As I watched the news that Sunday more and more districts shut down. That was my first panic attack.

Since then I’ve been social distancing and isolated at home for 15 days with my 20 year old. Rough! Friday, I got laid off from my job and that was my second meltdown. I wanted to take a xany and sleep and wake up to find out this is all just a bad dream. As we all know it’s not.

Over the last two weeks, I’ve had three anxiety attacks, usually at night, when I start to pray for all the people I kept hearing about that are testing positive and/or very sick. Friends I was working with before the shutdown.

Initially I tried to not give into these episodes, I thought I was being ungrateful by having meltdowns and wanting to not deal with this considering I am still healthy and able to collect unemployment. But I found that when I resisted, the anxious feelings, the panic, the fear lingered. It immobilized me. It kept me on the couch, drinking wine, or napping. It kept me from wanting to pull myself together.

And then I thought, wait why can’t I just have my meltdown? Why can’t I give in to the panic and the anxiety? Why can’t I be scared at times? Why can’t I cry and scream? We are entitled to being scared, anxious, confused during these crazy times.

What we are not entitled to do is to sit in that fear or anxiety for too long. So, when I feel an attack, I cry, I get mad, I question why, why, why? And then it’s over I pray, and meditate and I give thanks for all that I have. If none of that works I medicate. And then I’m fine.

I started to think about things I could do to make my days more productive and keep those anxious feelings at bay. I had to be proactive. So, I created a schedule for myself to stay focused and productive. I make sure I exercise every day, whether it’s a short workout from IG or a walk if it’s nice out. I am meditating more. Eckhart Tolle https://eckharttolle.com/free-resources/ has a ton of free guided meditations on his page. I am also doing a 21 day meditation which I started late with Oprah and Deepak Chopra https://chopracentermeditation.com/experience.  I am journaling. I’ve been going through paperwork, drawers and closets. I am constantly cleaning and decluttering. I have magazines, books and Netflix.

Are there days that I just want to lay on the couch and do absolutely nothing? Yup! And guess what? I do it. And then I buckle back up. And get back to tackling my to do list.

It’s easy to get in a state of panic and stay there, but what good will that do? It’s easy to allow this new normal to become our permanent normal. But the reality is I am looking at this as an opportunity for transformation-physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.

I am not saying I will not have any more panic attacks and that I won’t have moments of being really scared, but what I won’t allow myself is to live in that space too long. Because if we come out of this the same as we went into it, then shame on us for not taking advantage of this blessing and opportunity.

Thank you for stopping by!

LolaUncorked♥

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Why I decided to leave the classroom….

Hi My Loves!  I am so excited to announce that I am officially leaving the classroom after almost 14 years!

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On my way to a new adventure…. PC | geri1221

I did it!  I am so excited to venture out into something new, though leaving my longest running job is bittersweet and scary.  Notice I called it a job,  not a career, because that’s really what it has become for me.  A job I had to go to so I can have an income and be an adult.

I was passionate and excited about teaching maybe 3 out of the 14 years I’ve done it. In the short time (and I say that in comparison to friends who have been teaching for over 20 years) the shift in education has been disheartening and disenfranchising.   

It seemed that every year there were new initiatives and mandates put into place by individuals so far removed from the classroom they wouldn’t survive a day. 

A profession that commanded the highest level of  respect back in the day has now placed teachers at the bottom of the societal totem pole.

Why did I stay so long? Well, #1 I racked up tons of student loans to pursue what I thought was a respectable and rewarding career.  And I needed to pay them off.  (Which I haven’t). #2 I was working on a pension and retirement.  And  #3, most importantly, because every year I really believed something would reignite in my soul and I would be like “Woohoooo!”  Sometimes it did, but that fire quickly simmered down to a dying ember.  Sad but true.  

I went back to school for two reasons: One my kids, my girls.  I kept saying how do I instill in them the importance of education if I hadn’t placed importance on it myself.      

The second reason is that while working at Montclair State University in their education center, this professor who later became my boss, mentor and friend, looked at me one day and said, “You HAVE to go back to school!  Let’s get you a PhD!”

Ha! Really???  I was just trying to wrap my mind around a bachelor’s degree.  Especially since at that point, I already had two kids and worked full-time.

That’s where it all started.  In retrospect, I really loved what I was already doing   supporting teacher candidates, graduate assistants, my boss and other faculty in the teacher education department.  But, I believed in order to be credible in the field of education, I had to get my teaching degree and get some experience in the trenches.  And boy did it feel like the trenches!   

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And who are the experts? The front line – teachers!

Little did I know that the disconnect between theory and practice is so wide that I could have totally stayed in my job and done an amazing job supporting others.

But we live and we learn.  Now thousands and thousands of student loans later,  I have eagerly decided to hang up my dry erase markers (yes, because I don’t even have a Smart Board this year) and leave the classroom.

I haven’t loved it in a very long time.  I’ve had moments of love and passion for sure, but those feelings were repeatedly squashed by over zealous administrators, red tape, favoritism, nepotism, sexism, to name a few.

Each September, I kept thinking:

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I’ve done a lot of thinking and praying about making a move….

“This year, I will feel completely supported and prepared to service my kids.”

“This will be the year that the powers-that-be finally decide to back off and just let me teach.”

“This will be the year where the assessment is aligned to the curriculum to the state standards to my students’ language levels and abilities and culture and backgrounds.”

That year never came.

And so I’ve decided to leave, not completely leaving the profession.  I will still be in an educational setting but working for a non-profit corporation that supports literacy practices in a public school setting.  I am EXCITED!

But I wanted to leave administrators, instructional coaches, superintendents, curriculum writers, parents and policy makers with this:

Before you criticize or demonize (as has happened to many of us) a teacher, think of the task you are asking teachers to take on – educator, mother, nurse, social worker, psychologist, interventionist, for pennies a day.

Before you jot down that 1 or 2 on a teacher’s observation report, because you as an administrator need to show data growth think about what that 1 or 2 does to your teacher’s motivation level and how that impacts his/her work in the classroom.

Before you go on your walk thrus change your mindset from a negative one to a postive one so you can catch all the good that is going on versus the one or two things that might be going wrong that day.

Before you give feedback to a teacher about what to make better, make sure its something that you yourself can go in there and model and do well.

Before any of you make another policy regarding children and schools, spend ONE day in a classroom where there are 25 1st graders some with classifications that are not being serviced, no books, no reading rug, no supplies, whose parents don’t speak the language or have limited education or work 15 hour days, where all the kids are on different academic and behavioral levels.  One day!  I can guarantee many wouldn’t last a half.

Listen, I am not asking for pity on teachers for the work they chose to do, what I am saying is to be a little more empathetic and thankful for the work teachers are doing day in and day out across the nation.

I don’t know what this new career will bring for me, but I can say that I was able to recognize that I could no longer go to a place where every morning it felt like a chore and every evening was filled with anxiety thinking of the next day. 

I recognized that I was doing my students and myself a huge disservice going there.

I have made some amazing friends and have met some amazing teachers doing amazing work despite all the people working against them and I wish them continued success.

I leave you with this thought: 

“I think that education in our country is going to self-combust and when the dust settles, my hope is that those “others” will finally let teachers teach.”

Thanks for stopping by.  Remember to like, comment, follow and share!

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LolaUncorked♥