Mary Oliver and comfort

Mary Oliver and comfort

Thank you to Mary Oliver for her words; they have sustained me more than usual of late.

Fall

the black oaks fling
their bronze fruit
into all the pockets of the earth
pock pock

they knock against the thresholds
the roof the sidewalk
fill the eaves
the bottom line

of the old gold song
of the almost finished year
what is spring all that tender
green stuff

compared to this
falling of tiny oak trees
out of the oak trees
then the clouds

gathering thick along the west
then advancing
then closing over
breaking open

the silence
then the rain
dashing its silver seeds
against the house

 

Goals and bumps in the road

Goals and bumps in the road

Yesterday, I completed my eighth half marathon walking race.

3:05:31 to complete 21.1 kilometres.

I’ve always said, I hate training but I love finish lines. I’m not usually a fan of the actual race either.

I know, right? Why do it?

I do it for my heart, my lungs, my muscles, my brain, and, to be perfectly honest, my guilt. I like food. And not all of it good and not all of it in the right proportions. When I’m training, I am much better about my eating and hydrating.

And so, I train, and I race.

Someone asked why don’t you just exercise and not race?

I find a goal is the best way to keep me getting outside. The eternal optimism that if I train properly, I will improve my results and not have such a hell of a time during the race.

And by that, I mean mentally as much as physically. A half marathon is a physical challenge, but I struggle as much or more with the mental challenge. Without fail, at some point during a race, I start to beat myself up. I berate myself for those times I did not get outside to walk. I tell myself, I can’t do this. I start to figure out my escape hatch. Where will I bail? My wall is usually about 16 km in.

Then there came yesterday. I decided not to wear a watch. At about 11 km I asked Siri what time it was. At about 11 km, I had a moment.

I realized I was doing much better than my expected pace and I panicked. Weird, I know. Until that point, I’d simply been listening to my music and putting one foot in front of the other. But in that moment, I wanted to set new goals, try to beat old records.

And then, I stopped the mental mania and told myself, trust your training.

I slowed down in the second half of the race, settled back into a closer approximation of my training pace.

And I enjoyed the rest of the race in a way that was different than the previous seven races. I complimented myself at every kilometre. I enjoyed the beautiful day and the amazing scenery (I mean, the finish line was Niagara Falls, so yeah).

I did not break any records. I had my sixth best time.

And my best mental race ever.

Sadly, the stress of the past days and the strain on my body resulted in a rather hard physical crash – nausea and overwhelming fatigue. Thankfully, my personal cheer squad, hubby, was there to take care of me.

Not the planned way to end out my birthday but if nothing else, the past days have taught me, you have to adapt to what’s in front of you.

So, after the drive home, I showered, climbed into bed and slept.

This morning, I’m back at the bedside and ready to meet the challenges in the days ahead.

What are your values?

What are your values?

To the government of Ontario,

What do you value in education?

If recent actions are any indication, it is not students, nor educators.

Ah, yes, the bottom line.

The other day, the Minister of Education went on the CBC and when asked if he thought people in education were taking sick days when they were not sick, he refused to answer simply yes or no. Instead, he stated that the reasons for high absenteeism needs to be investigated.

No need to investigate, Sherlock. I can tell you the reason.

If your government values consistency in the delivery of support to students in the classroom, you will rejig the ineffective, destructive funding model to schools. You will make money available and targeted for hiring (rehiring) staff including Educational/Teaching Assistants, teachers, Early Childhood Educators, speech and language, psychologists, and other specialists.

People are absent from work because they are sick, injured or mentally exhausted, not due to nefarious actions. Staff are being asked to accommodate and support a record number of students with a significantly lower number of staff.

And the reasons for absences are available for the government to see. Boards are required to have Absence Management Programs to ensure that staff are not abusing sick days. Within the context of these Programs, information is shared with the employer (the Boards) that means there is no expectation of privacy regarding employee’s mental and physical health.

So, if the government is unaware of why absenteeism is high and what needs to be done to fix it, they need only look at their own policies and the detrimental effects they have on staff and subsequently students.

Students have a right to be accommodate to ensure they can be successful. Reduced staffing numbers means fewer staff to support students and deal with differences in learning and behaviours. This can result in students acting out, lashing out, hurting staff and potentially negatively impacting their own and others abilities to be successful.

If your government feels that the best way to solve this is to reduce the percentage of pay that CUPE employees receive when they are on short term disability (from 90% to 60%), you are saying that you want to penalize employees who are very often hurt ON THE JOB for DOING THEIR JOB for taking days to recover FROM INJURIES RECEIVED ON THE JOB. You are saying to employees that it is now an expectation that they not only get hurt, but take a pay cut for that privilege.

And let’s not forget: whatever CUPE agrees to, you are setting the precedent for the whole education system in Ontario. Because whatever crap deal you serve up at one negotiation table is the only thing on the menus of every other negotiating table going forward.

So, send your Minister of Education back to school – have him show up and do the work for more than a five minute photo op, and he will see that your government has either created or perpetuated the incredibly poor work conditions that cause high absenteeism rates in schools across the province.

(And tell him to bring soap and water because we’re heading into cold and flu season and there’s nothing like 30+ snotty kindergarteners to make an educator sick and tired.)