Our Better Stories
Image by Mystic Art Design from Pixabay.
I write this post amid construction noises. Repairs are being made after an undetected, leaky pipe wreaked havoc on our floors and cabinets. When we learned of the hidden flood, the contractors mopped and dried and disassembled, leaving us without a kitchen or any common living area. And then they quit.
That was almost three months ago.
Due to an odd assortment of COVID19 related delays, the work of putting everything back together has just begun today. Living in the back of the house for months--eating mostly take-out on our bedroom floor--has added a layer of stress to a time that was not short on stressors.
And before it is all over with, we will have to move all the way out of the house, storing our books and dishes and chairs and toys while we live in an Air BNB for an undetermined amount of time.
For the most part, I've stayed positive and focused on what I can "control." But I am weary of the chaos and hungry for the normalcy of my home during a time when so much else can't be normal.
On Sunday evening two sweet friends came over to sit six feet apart around a campfire and visit. I bent their ears about feeling simultaneously frustrated by the prospect of moving out and relieved that repairs would begin. On hearing of our impending move, Valerie said someting like, "I once had an aunt who felt stuck in her life. So she took everything out of her house onto the lawn and put it all back in a better way."
And the frightened, overwhelmed, tender part of me grabbed onto that story like a scuba diver following a rising line of bubbles to the surface for air just in time! I was buoyed by the very idea of it. The visual image of Valerie's aunt rallying her husband to help her drag everything onto the lawn to redesign her living space from the bottom up. The metaphor of getting unstuck by looking at all the pieces of your life and reimagining or tossing them. There is such hope in the desperation of reaching that point, of shaking things up and reinventing our spaces, even our lives.
So it seems that my New Year will be heralded with a rich opportunity to reorder, repair, and reclaim. It is a Marie Kondo experience on steroids, and intense physical and emotional taking stock had not even been in my universe of perspectives. Just as Valerie's story changed the way I felt about our move, stories give us an opportunity to open our hearts and see a way forward. When our imagination is against a wall, stories let us get a leg-up from someone else's.
Thank you to the writer-teachers at the Two Writing Teachers Blog.
I've really been thinking about some of the ramifications of mask wearing, and wondering how to make them a little friendlier for young children. I decided it might soften mask wearing a bit if some of the characters on the front of picture books on the back-to-school shelf were wearing masks. For the most part, it was a pretty easy craft project for a rainy afternoon. All-in-all, it took me about 40 minutes to figure it out and apply masks to the characters on the covers of a handful of books.
Here's what you will need:
Here's the process:
Here are a few images of the process:
When I started this project, I just randomly picked titles that seemed to have characters on the cover that would were large enough to apply a mask on their faces. I was not picking books that were necessarily the best books for launching the school year, although some might be viable options.
While this is not a sophisticated or comprehensive solution to softening mask-wearing, it may prove a conversation starter or at least something to engage students. At the very least, this is a fun way to think about how masks can cover our expressions. You could even pull back the film to reveal the expressions of the characters. This project seems to be fun, whether you are sharing books virtually or in person.
Perhaps, if you begin school "face-to-face," they should go on your shelf six-feet apart.
Note: After I had completed the project, my children pointed out that the bird on Rocked Writes a Story didn't get masked! I had already put up my materials, at that point. If I were sharing the book with children, I would mask all of the characters on the cover.
Dr. Jan Burkins is a full-time writer, consultant, and professional development provider.