I have so many, what I call, “pieces of my life puzzle” that I have to manage when my schedule is normal. Things are quite alarming right now. My schedule is in a whirlwind and I am doing my best to cope with this “new normal”. As I handle all of the pieces, my family, career, and concerns for my students, I can get an overwhelming feeling. If I do not take time, meditating and receiving guidance from God, life can get the best of me. By connecting to God, the answer slow down comes. Get balance. Do something therapeutic and learn to breath. Yes, I am an artist and teach a subject area that is therapy, for myself, as well as my students. I feel that it is a very important part of the curriculum for that, among many reasons. Being an artist (trying to stay on top of my game), teaching art, creating lessons, creating art for remote learning lessons, making videos, editing videos, attending to online meetings, trying my best to be an effective teacher in a new way, and consumed with learning new technology can be, to say the least, consuming. I know I have to get back to a natural state, be with nature, and do something to break up the daily grind.
An answer to all this insanity and stress is that I must do something different. I got this crazy little notion to dig into some dirt and grow... something. Okay, I’ll start small. I have already taken the tiny step in growing some tomato and herb plants, along with a blueberry bush. Growing a garden is a definite reaction to this subject of food (written in my last journal entry). I love the idea of having some type of empowerment when it comes to self-sustaining food sources. Last entry I also wrote about having “grit” in troubling times. Finding that balance can assist in knowing how to persevere and not get burned out.
I live in a town-home and can only grow produce in pots. I know I have so much to learn. Therefore, as the novice gardener, I must research and learn how to hone skills in this new interest of the horticultural arts. While researching, I came across an article about Ron Finley, aka the Gangsta’ Gardner. I was amazed with his story. He has taken the initiative to grow gardens in abandoned lots of land in South Central L.A. He has cultivated these derelict patches of land into botanical masterpieces. Poverty is a problem in many of these areas. Concerns with health issues in impoverished areas, all around the world, are due to lack of nutrition. His TED Talk attached to the article is awesome and so inspiring! I highly recommend it for anyone to watch. He explains how gardening can be empowering. He even talks about seeing gardening as an art form. I now see dirt as a blank canvas! I now want to garden and make that part of my lifestyle. I am also inspired to share that experience with my students.
His philosophy resonates with me in so many ways. The ability to live and eat healthy should be a right and not a privilege. Lack of nutrition is an underlining thread that connects many high-risk health conditions. It has been a factor in so many of the casualties from Covid 19. I feel a need to do more to eat and live as healthy as I can. I might even grow a garden with my students when we return.
The definition of the word “GRIT” coming together. .
The thing that I notice about our culture, especially when watching recent events in the news, is the diverse reaction to the Covid 19 crisis. Threatening existence and comfort can consume anyone. But there is a choice that can be made to the reaction of these unprecedented times. What is the the right direction? What should I do?
I am inspired by people that have the ability to handle these types of situations with grit and determination. They know how to serge into battle with courage when times of panic arise. I admire those on the front lines, working in hospitals, especially those coming out of retirement to do so. I see stories of people volunteering their time to serve the elderly by delivering food and supplies. Also, the workers who keep our country fed, working in groceries stores, food delivery and service, and food banks. These are just a few examples of people who are putting their lives on the line to save others! I thank you all!
As a teacher, I am working from home. I'm doing the best to my ability, trying not to get overwhelmed when serving my students' educational needs and hoping they are okay. The major concern is there are so many students that are unable to be contacted or not responding to the initiatives made by teachers to communicate. This seems to be problem everywhere. It is not only education needs for students but their security needs that is a matter of concern. Are they getting care? Food? The right attention?
Though I have these concerns and constantly reassessing to do more to serve my duties as a teacher, I have to continue to maintain gratitude that I am making income. I in turn am thinking of those who have lost their jobs. It saddens me to hear of people struggling to feed themselves and families as a result. The images of thousands of cars lined up at food banks all throughout our country is very alarming.
While working from home, I have to continually reassess this new normal. I am in constant communication with staff and colleagues. One of the new commitments is the attendance of Zoom meetings. Before one of my weekly meetings, an email was sent, with an attachment to view a video link. We were to reflect on it for a topic for discussion during our meeting. The material was a TED Talk, given by Angela Lee Duckworth, a teacher early in her career, eventually making her lifework in psychology. In the video she spoke about how she conducted studies with the concern of certain personality types coming from tough circumstances, poverty, or other debilitating situations. This resonated with me because so many of my students come from troubling home lives. The main focus of her study, that she spoke so eloquently about, was of the distinct personality traits of certain individuals from those select groups that have the skills to overcome hardships and are successful with the understanding of how to have “grit”. I wonder how many of my students could possess such a wonderful gift. I then thought of my own situation, dealing with remote learning, feeling a little isolated, and coping with the fear of unpredictability.
The issue of struggle during this pandemic is all that the news can focus on. I can't help but think about my part in this matter. When I saw the video footage of cars lined up at food banks, in the county where I teach, I realize that parents or family members of my students might be driving those cars. I work for a Title 1 school. That is a definite possibility. In reaction to that news story, I have been donating as much food as often as I can. Can I do more? What grit do I have to assist in this matter?
In closing, I just want to say how much I admire all of the work done to feed our students. I see reports of how many meals are served. It relieves me that our students are thought of and the work is committed to provide that service within our school system. The initiative takes the grit and determination to step up when duty calls. Thank you all who serve and feed our students! The work you are doing is greatly appreciated!