SOLC 25 of 31: Plannin’, Shoppin’, Writin’ Everyday

Luke Bryan has a hit song on the radio called, “Huntin’, Fishin’, Lovin’ Everyday.” My days are more like “Plannin’, Shoppin’ and Writin’ Everyday.”

On this Monday morning as I think about the week the rolls out in front of me, I already anticipate a few “shoppin'” trips. Tonight I already made a late trip to the grocery store (after puppy class) to get the items I need for a breakfast that I’m hosting for colleagues tomorrow morning. This follows the late night trip to the grocery store last night (after tennis) to get ingredients for last night’s dinner.

Which brings me to “plannin'”. See, if I were more planned, I might not be making so many shoppin’ trips, but who has time to plan? Planning takes time, which I’m short on right now. But I think today sometime I’ll need to make a shoppin’ list to plan what to buy for tomorrow. I also need to start planning for the dinner I’m hosting on Saturday evening (after a morning conference) – another list, another shoppin’ trip.

And then there’s the “writin'” everyday. It’s all consuming. Whether for this blog (for enjoyment), for work (for mandate) or for graduate school (for the learning? degree? connections?) or for my leadership blog (for passion) – I am truly engaging in all kinds of formal and informal writing EVERY DAY. For better or worse, I am dipping my toe into multiple genres at one time: research, analysis, reflection, evaluation, interviews, surveys, life stories and life lessons.

And so, this week will bring Shoppin’, Plannin’ and Writing’ everyday. Here we go!


SOLC 24 of 31: Exploring New Neighborhoods

This year, while staying one weekend a month in Philadelphia for my grad school program, I’ve had the chance to stay in a few different Airbnbs with friends. While the program puts us up in a hotel, staying in the Airbnbs has given us the opportunity to explore new neighborhoods, try new restaurants and relax/do work in a space that is much bigger and brighter than the average hotel room.

Exploring these new neighborhoods has given us an insight into the quirks of Philadelphia’s different areas: University Town, Fishtown, South Philly, Naval Square. Staying in an Airbnb feels different than staying in a hotel for the weekend – you feel more part of the community and less of a visitor.

Before this experience, I had never stayed at an Airbnb before. I truly didn’t understand how it would work. But I’ve been impressed with the quality of the options of houses and the accomodations for the same or lower fees than the hotel.

So, branch out the next time you have a chance to explore a new city and try an Airbnb. You’ll find yourself feeling more immersed in the neighborhood and culture and loving the opportunity to fully explore the city as a native.

SOLC 23 of 31: Small Town Hero

Tonight, one of our town’s own, wrestles for the Heavyweight NCAA Championships. This is nothing short of amazing considering that this year our HS Wrestling Team was 2-11 or something like that.

Watching his story (and being the mom of a wrestler in town) has made me even more of a wrestling fan. Also, he wrestles for PSU (my husband’s alma mater), so that’s another bonus! Our hometown hero started in the local rec wrestling program in 1st grade and didn’t win a lot. In fact, he didn’t really start winning until he made it to the state championships in High School.

My son too, started wrestling in 1st grade in our rec program. He didn’t win a lot at first but just ended his first season with the middle school team and ended with an 11-10 record (tied for the most wins on the team this season). I don’t know what his wrestling future holds (and likely it won’t be wrestling for an NCAA champship for a BIG10 team) but I love to watch this hometown hero’s story.

Over winter break this hometown hero came back to meet with the rec, MS and HS wrestling teams to talk to them. He took time out of his training schedule to talk to these kids. He took pictures, signed autographs and truly was an inspiration to these teams. His story is one of grit and perseverance and passion. Win or lose in the finals tonight, he’s certainly an inspiration and has turned this mom into even more of a fan!

Post-script: Anthony won! NCAA National Championship HWT class!

SOLC 22 of 31: Staying the Course with Virtual Support Groups

I participate in a few “virtual” support groups on Facebook and I would consider Two Writing Teachers another space like that. In this group there is so much positivity, collective shared vision and willingness to support one another that you can’t help but want to participate and meet your goal.

I’m also part of a online group for parents of dyslexic children This groups helps to answer all kinds of questions member to member – people share resources, ask questions, seek advice and empathize with one another. It’s a place to be heard, to find solutions and to find support.

A third group I’m currently part of is a group for those following the Keto Diet. This is new to me for the past month and while I’m still figuring out how to eat this way, I appreciate those who post pictures of their success stories, recipes that work and honest reflections on days that didn’t go so well. It helps keep it real and is helping me try to stay the course.

In all cases, I also believe that the anonymity of the virtual spaces may allow folks to be more vulnerable, honest and authentic. Sometimes this works the other way too, where folks can be not nice, but I haven’t found that to be the rule, rather the exception.

There is comfort in knowing that there are others out there going through, doing or trying something new like you. These virtual support groups do help you stay the course. What are some ways that you find support to stay the course in your life?

SOLC 21 of 31: Everything for a Reason.?!

Everything for a reason. Everything for a reason? Everything for a reason!

Sometimes it seems that everything happens for a reason. Other times it feels like – what reason could possibly explain why this is happening. Yet other times, there’s a definitive moment, a shout out if you will that something happened at a specific moment for a specific reason and it was meant to be.

Yesterday I had to take my car in for service and received a loaner car. My options were to pick up my car at the end of the day or early the next morning. The car dealership is 30 minutes north of my job and 30 minutes in the wrong direction of my house. Near the end of the day I got a text that my car was ready to be picked up. I quickly calculated the trip there to retrieve my car and the trip home – would I get there and home in time to pick up my son for an appointment? Yes, hurry, hurry, hurry and I can do this. I got to the dealership as quickly as possible with end-of-the-day traffic, retrieved my car and got him with no time to spare.

This morning, at 6:50 am, I got a call that there was a burst pipe at my school. If I had opted to get my car this am instead of yesterday afternoon, I wouldn’t have been able to. Everything for a reason. I also had an 8 am meeting today, which I didn’t know about until late yesterday. If I had opted to get the car this am, I wouldn’t have been able to. Everything for a reason.

It’s amazing how all of the decision making we do daily leads to everything happening for a reason.

SOLC 20 of 31: Give Me Strength (A Teacher’s Prayer the Morning after late night conferences)

Give me strength to get up this morning.

Give me strength to be patient and kind.

Give me strength to deliver the quality lessons that fill my classroom when I’m not so tired.

Give me strength to get through this long full day schedule. And two more full days until the weekend.

Give me strength to see in my students all of the positive qualities that I reported to their parents.

Give me strength on this morning after evening conferences.

Or is it coffee I need?

Nope, just strength.

SOLC 19 of 31: Reading, Writing and Math Buddies

I make it a practice as an elementary school principal to have a reading, writing or math buddy in almost every classroom. I work with them weekly for about 15-30 minutes on whatever it is they are working on at that moment. When I arrive I tell them, “I’ll do the writing, you do the thinking.” For my struggling writers, they love this.

Working 1:1 with students throughout the week gives me joy. It reminds me why I do all of the other managerial tasks that come along with being a building Principal. I hope too, that it sends the message to my teachers that “we are all in this together.” That I, too, do not back away from working with students who struggle. Being in their classrooms weekly also gives me a better opportunity to understand their classes/students in a more organic way and see how I can best offer support.

My students have some to hold me accountable for showing up. I do my best to come weekly but sometimes a meeting gets in the way or an unexpected event that precludes me from coming.

Last week I had to tell two of my Kindergarten girls that I couldn’t come to see them. “But why?!” they whined. “Because I have to go do some other work right now,” I tried to explain. “But why?!” they whined again, accompanied by the cutest pouting faces that kindergarten girls can give you.”I’ll try to come later or tomorrow, ok?” I said. “OK,” they said in their sad voices (even though it really wasn’t ok).

I love that they love when I come. It is food for my soul and reminds me why I am in education. When I think about the things I do weekly as a leader, this is one that makes me the most proud.

SOLC 18 of 31: Homework vs. “Home”-work

Sundays are for doing homework and “home”-work.

Homework: work that is assigned to you by others to do at home. Often involving work for an academic pursuit.

“Home”-work: work that you need to do in your home for life, sanity, organization, planning, etc. Examples include: laundry, cleaning, shopping online, e-mail, organizing, blogging and commenting.

Yesterday I needed to do both. My children are at Hebrew School for three hours on Sunday morning, so that is a very nice stretch of time for homework and “home”-work.

I sat at my computer some of that time yesterday with my homework for my doctoral program at my side, but I mostly was doing other “home”-work. Each time my husband came into the kitchen where I sat he said jokingly, “That doesn’t look like homework! That looks like shoe shopping!” or “That doesn’t look like homework, that looks like blogging!” And indeed it was – but it was my “home”-work. I was ordering shoes online for my daughter for an upcoming occasion. I was blogging and commenting for this challenge. I was cleaning off my kitchen counters and reclaiming the spaces that my puppy has taken over. All of this my “home” work.

And then, with 45 minutes left before the kids returned, I did my homework. I read my article, read a chapter and turned in an assignment.

Sundays are for doing homework and “home”-work. Got to do both yesterday.

SOLC 17 of 31: Being a Jewish Mahoney on St. Patrick’s Day

My last name is Mahoney. It’s my married name so everyone assumes I’m Irish. I’m not. My husband is Irish-Italian, but I was born Jodi Weisbart – a Jewish girl with family roots in Russia and Germany.

It’s funny when I meet people and the hear my name and they don’t think that I’m Jewish. It’s always a suprise to them when I have a name like Mahoney. And, it’s always a surprise to me that they didn’t realize that I’m Jewish. I mean, how would they know?

We don’t have any grandiose St. Patrick’s Day traditions or dinners and so my day is just a normal Sunday for us – the kids are in Hebrew School, homework and girl scout activities. That’s what we do when you are a Jewish Mahoney on St. Patrick’s Day.

SOLC 16 of 31: Cheers to Good Friends and Friday Nights

Life is so busy these days that it isn’t often that I get to hang out with my long time friends. But last night, our schedules aligned and the 3 of us, friends since our children were weeks old, got to go out to a local restaurant.

I was actually so looking forward to this evening that I showed up on THURSDAY at the restaurant until my friend texted me and told me I had the wrong night. Oops! Just shows you how much I needed the night out.

The conversation flowed easily without judgment. There were no pretenses, no superwoman egos, no hiding the realities of the challenges our families face and our busy lives. Drinks, good food and friends who you don’t have to hide from.

We went out early-ish and got home by 9:30. It was a dark a stormy night (really). Perfect for getting into PJs, cuddling in bed and ending a nice night with friends. With Saturday and a whole weekend on the horizon, what could be better?

Cheers to good friends and Friday nights!

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