I'm sitting here thinking about what life looked like a year ago. I was in airports as much as I was at home, it seemed, traveling from one venue to the next, providing professional development for teachers and school leaders all over the world. Fast forward to now; the changes that have occurred in our world are innumerable. Many people have not seen their families in person for nearly a year. Those who have family members who are in vulnerable medical conditions can do no more than wave to family members through a window.
Many of us are going to Zoom church. Everyone stocked up on toilet paper (still can't figure that one out, but that's for another day). For me, it solidified my belief in 60% alcohol (or more) hand sanitizer (it actually feeds a bit of my OCD, I think). We are either back in school with face shields, like something out of a sci-fi movie; or we're totally online, teaching Kindergarten students through Zoom or other electronic platforms (who knew we should have all invested in Zoom a year ago?); or we're doing a hybrid model. I'm supervising several student teachers who tell me things like, "We can set up the date for an online observation next week, but don't be surprised if we change it to be in person. Things change, from day to day, around here." We cannot overestimate the amount of change that has happened for all educators around the world, and subsequently affecting students and parents. So, how have you been changed? I'll start and you can join in the conversation.
1. Working from home may have altered the venue but it certainly hasn't altered the amount of work, effort and passion I put into my webinars and teaching: After years and years of praying I would someday teach at my alma mater, Trinity University, in San Antonio, Texas, I was hired to do exactly that. Ummm....but maybe "exactly" is not the correct word. Living in Tucson, Arizona, I was going to teach in a hybrid setting, teaching face-to-face every other week, and online the alternate weeks. I couldn't wait. And then the mandates came out: I would have to get tested for COVID each time I entered Texas and quarantine for two weeks before going on campus. Ummm...I think that just defeated the purpose of the hybrid model. So, I am teaching fully online, but in a synchronous fashion, so I see my Trinity students every Tuesday and Thursday from 8:30 - 9:45 (oops! I forgot that would mean 6:30 - 7:45 in the morning for me). I couldn't be any more grateful for this opportunity. It is so different from the classes I teach at Grand Canyon University and Walden University, in which I only rarely get a chance to see my students, as the courses are all asynchronous (and how about that for a change? Everyone knows the word "synchronous" and "asynchronous", now). What hasn't changed? I still love what I do with a passion unmatched by anything I could have ever imagined when I was a little girl, playing school. Teaching may look different, but it still feels like exactly what I want to do until I am unable to communicate effectively anymore.
2.We are MORE involved in church than ever before. I was asked in March if we could help with setting up a Zoom meeting, so people who wanted to attend church from home would be able to do so. I was pretty fluent in Zoom, so I agreed. Only 7 -8 people were allowed in the church each week, so Dave began reading the Bible readings, then began carrying the cross and bringing up the offertory, and I ran the Zoom meeting and then ran over by the organ to be the sole singer (not soul singer, mind you) or praise and worship leader, if you will. We have morphed into a really nice production that we are proud to put out on Facebook Live each week (we call ourselves "Christship Enterprise", despite the flaws that happen when you have humans doing things that are new to them. Every other week, we all stay after church to do what we call "For God's Sake, Listen", in which Reverend Debra leads us in a whole group discussion or small group breakout rooms (thank you, Zoom) to talk about tough topics that some of us even have a hard time talking about with our own families. Rev. Debra gave a shout-out today to Dave and me for becoming such active members of church in the last year. We reminded her, when we were alone with her in the sanctuary, shutting everything down after church, that we came to HER to help us communicate a bit better with one another. We had no idea, at the time, that we would begin going to church there, much less become such active members. God has a pretty funny way of weaving the seemingly littlest threads through our lives. We are eternally grateful and really do feel like we have found "home".
3.We appreciate the time we have been given to appreciate life and love and God's beauty. Our friends and family would say, "You mean, you have time to work with a new puppy!" Yes, that is true, as well. We figured being a bit house-bound was a perfect time to adopt a puppy and train her. L.C. (5 months old and full of piss and vinegar) is a great addition to our home, and she has wormed her way into my morning ritual of running 4 miles. In fact, I now have to carry her water bottle when we run, as she gets as hot as I do. We are both relieved to see a little bit of cooler mornings beginning to creep into our desert climate. Change is HIGHLY inevitable when you have a puppy in the house (she believes she is a mountain goat, for example, as she climbs on every piece of furniture). Did I mention she's a yellow Labrador Retriever who will wind up being at least 65-70 pounds? But as hard as she plays, she sleeps that hard as well. What a change she has become for our otherwise quiet home. And we wouldn't trade her for the world (or at least that's what we keep telling ourselves when she brings souvenirs like parts of our backyard plants into the house, etc.).
What about you? How has your life been changed? How have YOU been changed? I pray that your faith has improved. I pray that your ears are open at least as much as your mouth is. I pray that our country can begin listening with our hearts more than we speak our mind.
I am grateful. How about you?