Monthly Archives: January 2018

The Tipping Point


#sol18- January 30, 2018

As an international school teacher, I feel like the tipping point comes earlier. You know the tipping point I mean? I am talking about the date when you feel “behind” because all of your colleagues have already planned their summer. I mean, it is January, school does not end until June 8th, we have not even celebrated the 100th day of school yet, people!

This weekend I succumbed- I started beginning to plan my summer. I am NOT wishing time away- I am moving this summer and fully intend to enjoy the rest of my time here in KL, but last week we had our “leavers meeting” with the head of human resources, going over the organized, but long and time consuming list of all of the things we have to do before actually moving on. To temper this feeling of overwhelm it is no wonder I looked for something else to occupy my mind. Some of my teammates have been talking about the great ticket prices they snagged for their flights “home” for weeks, but I felt stuck- I could not really plan without knowing more of my parameters.

Bit by bit things have developed. Firstly, my sweet cat died, so no need to leave my apartment here occupied over the summer- now I could move from here in June and move on to my new “home” in July with stopovers wherever I desired. Then came the thinking part- would I apply to TC again this summer (I have attended the writing institute for the last two summers and while I long to return and even go to the reading one too. I finally decided that this summer will be expensive enough with the move that I should not apply this summer- this broke my heart a little, because I really get so much from my time there)? What else did I want to do this summer? I want to catch up with two great friends- one based in Atlanta (who summers in France) and another in Berlin- still trying to figure out if and when this is possible. Will we meet in Berlin or France together or separately, or will it all get too complicated and busy? Then those pesky updates from nErDcampMI kept calling to me. It seemed like every time I turned around they were announcing another fab author would be at camp this summer. Then there was the talk amongst my nerdy friends- who would be coming, who would miss it this year? Last summer I had told myself I would take this summer off- even though the camp itself is free it is expensive to fly and stay there. But those reminders of what I would be missing, they kept coming…

So, Monday I caved. Even though I am not in a position to book my flight back to Boston yet to see family and friends I solved one of my summer plan dilemmas- I booked my flight and hotel for camp in consultation with some friends. So although I do not know when I will leave KL or when I will move to PP I know I will be at nErDcamp. I guess it is a bit of me trying to have some control over the next 6 months, when I know that the time will rush by in a blur. Although I know I will feel excitement, stress, sadness, and more in the months ahead, I also know that I will get some food for my heart this summer and going to camp will be a part of it again.

It turns out that my own tipping point will be multi-step as I plan for this summer of change- I have lots more to arrange, but I know where I will be on July 9 and 10, so that is a start!




Slice from my former student, Zhi Hong, who would love a comment.

The Change in Challenge- a Short Reflection


#sol18- January 23, 2018

My OLW for 2018 and already it is keeping on my toes. Just last week, as I was drafting a blog post, I noticed that the word “change” is within “challenge” and this week it proved too true. My sweet cat of 15 years died on Thursday and that change has been a challenge. I have come to realize (and probably will continue to learn more in the days ahead) just how much it meant to my life to have Pele as my companion.

I used to try not to move much in bed, as she was often on my pillow and unsettling her meant she would take awhile to be still again,

She used to get the fan left on for her each morning as I left the apartment (I keep reminding myself I can leave it off),

I used to keep doors closed (to the guest bedroom and kitchen) so she could not get inside,

She used to sit right beside me on the couch,

I used to have trouble concentrating during my morning mindfulness because she was pretty sure I did not need to sit still then (now I only have myself to blame when I am distracted),

She used to love to sit in closets, so I usually left at least one open for her,

I used to have someone else to look after, and now it is just me.

There is an empty spot in my heart and a lot more quiet at home- I know this change will continue to be a challenge for me!


Former student slicing: Zhi Hong

Saying Goodbye


#sol18- January 16, 2018

Some people are dog people, some cat people, some both, and some neither.  I am definitely #teamcat when the cats are the best cats!


Named by my boys- for their love of soccer and the Hawaiian goddess of the volcano,

acrobat scaling tall curtains in the blink of an eye,

though unable to jump for years,

furniture shredder, closet lover, not a fan of new people,

adopted by our peripatetic family,

moving again, and again, and again,

loves to snuggle- always at my heels,

happiest by my side,

sadly failing, time is fleeting. appreciating your love all the more,

hoping I will know when it is the right time to say goodbye to you.



*Slices from former students- Juliet and Zhi Hong.





My Weird Premonition!

11454297503_e27946e4ff_h#sol18- January 9, 2018

It was a case of bad timing- when I booked this trip months ago I thought I might be leaving Asia this summer and I was desperate to visit India again after 12 years away. I will be honest- it never occurred to me that it would be cold in the north, but it was! By the end of the trip I was feeling happy, but tired- so it was time to head home. My flight was to leave just before 10, which meant a 6 AM departure from the hotel, but all was well, there was zero traffic, so we made it super quickly.

Checking in was easier than anticipated (I had been told all bags had to be wrapped and carry on had to be airline tagged, but nothing like that was happening in my line). I double checked that my luggage would go all the way through, as I had a short layover in Singapore. The man gave me the traditional Indian head nod/bob, so I took that as a yes. I was thrilled to kill some of my time in a Starbucks and the whole airport was spacious and easy.

I knew the timing of the layover would be tight, so when the pilot on the first flight announced a delayed departure due to fog (surprise, on the cold days there the fog is thick until early afternoon) my stomach clenched. I had it all planned- I was to arrive home at the airport in KL at 8:45PM and then rest up for my catch up day on Sunday before returning to school.

I leaned in to the delay- only supposed to be 15-20 minutes, I could do that. “I will still make my connection,” I said to myself, as I opened my Kindle to catch up on some reading. Sure enough, it wasn’t much longer than that and we took off.

Fivish hours later I changed terminals and hustled to my gate with only a few minutes to wait before boarding, so I did not stop to buy a snack (why does travel make you so hungry?). A few minutes later the food cart rattled down the narrow aisle and imagine my surprise when the cart mysteriously stopped right by me and my name was called (sort of- she said Victor Erika, but I figured she meant me). She handed me a maple muffin and a small bottle of water- just enough to quiet my rumbling tummy. Only one other person on the flight had food delivered- I have no idea what I did to merit the food, and although I enjoyed the treat it also filled me with a strange sense of foreboding. Was this a recompense for my bag not making the second flight with me?

Immigration was busy once we landed and as usual, I picked the slow line even though I actually counted the number of people in a few lines and chose accordingly. I hurried off to carousel 8. The signboard flashed “last bag” but there were still a few more bags arriving while a helpful porter pulled off the bags. I looked at the bags in the lineup-no luck. Then I made small talk with the porter. “There will still be a few more bags to come, right?”

“Nope, that’s it,” he replied and I may have whimpered- after all I had had that premonition. In a shocking show of efficiency, he whisked me off to the lost luggage room and helped me fill in the required paperwork. It was too late for anything to happen by then he told me, so it would have to wait until the morning. “Take this number and call in the morning, he added. So much for my “start laundry once I get home plan”.

I grabbed a taxi and went home to pout.

Sunday morning I had a slow start (tired plus a bit sick). When I got out of the shower I had three missed calls from the same number. Upon returning the call a man identified himself as with the airline and said he was already on his way with my bag.

Sure enough, just after noon, I got a call from the lobby of my condo to retrieve my bag and we were reunited. Then I began my slightly delayed laundry. In the end it could have been so much worse- just over 12 hours delay and it was on the home end of the trip. I am hoping that has earned me good travel karma for the foreseeable future.


***Former student, Zhi Hong, still slicing!

My OLW for 2018!


#sol18- January 2, 2018

Just a side note to begin- I have always been in awe of those writers who draft before Tuesday evening. I always tell myself I will. In fact, especially during March, I should, yet it never happens-until now! This post was drafted December 29 because I am heading off an adventure to India in the morning and I am not taking my computer. So even though I am sick and there are 101 things I could be/should be doing I am proud that I am making writing a priority (and I am definitely packing my notebook for some on the road writing!). How I will post the link to the TWT site remains to be seen.

With a lot of contemplation, I have decided that my word for 2018 will be challenge! I was actually convinced it might be another word until I looked that word up in the dictionary- a valuable lesson learned- my understanding of a word may not always be standard! defines challenge as:

1. a call or summons to engage in any contest, as of skill, strength, etc.
2. something that by its nature or character serves as a call to battle, contest, special effort, etc.:

Space exploration offers a challenge to humankind.
3. a call to fight, as a battle, a duel, etc.
4. a demand to explain, justify, etc.:

a challenge to the treasurer to itemize expenditures.
5. difficulty in a job or undertaking that is stimulating to one engaged in it.
6. Military. the demand of a sentry for identification or a countersign.
7. Law. a formal objection to the qualifications of a particular juror, to his or her serving, or to the legality of an entire jury.

8. the assertion that a vote is invalid or that a voter is not legally qualified.
9. Biology. the process of inducing or assessing physiological or immunological activity by exposing an organism to a specific substance.
10. Hunting. the crying of a hound on finding a scent.
verb (used with object)challenged, challenging.
11. to summon to a contest of skill, strength, etc.
12. to take exception to; call in question:

to challenge the wisdom of a procedure.
13. to demand as something due or rightful.
14. Military. to halt and demand identification or countersign from.
15. Law. to take formal exception to (a juror or jury).
16. to have a claim to; invite; arouse; stimulate:

a matter which challenges attention.
17. to assert that (a vote) is invalid.
18. to assert that (a voter) is not qualified to vote.
19. to expose an organism to a specific substance in order to assess its physiological or immunological activity.
20. Archaic. to lay claim to.
verb (used without object)challenged, challenging.
21. to make or issue a challenge.
22. Hunting. (of hounds) to cry or give tongue on picking up the scent.
23. donated or given by a private, corporate, or government benefactor on condition that the recipient raise an additional specified amount from the public:

a challenge grant.
My hope in choosing challenge is that it will remind me to live by what I believe- to keep it real. I think it is important to continue to better align my beliefs and my practices. I know it will be a challenge to move to a new school this summer and that traditional wisdom holds that the first year is for observing, but…
I want to challenge myself to seek out opportunities to be involved in the community (both the school community and beyond). I want to challenge myself to contribute as a teammate and a member of the leadership team. I want to challenge myself to keep growing as a learner to be a better teacher. I want to challenge the status quo- because we always have done it that way is not enough of a reason to continue that way. I want to challenge myself to keep the why in mind. I want to challenge myself to be more reflective and purposeful.
Beyond the professional, I want to challenge myself to be a better friend. I am an introvert and need to work on looking outside myself more often. I want to challenge myself to try new things. Travel often challenges me- and I definitely want to do more of that in 2018. I also want to challenge myself to have more of a life beyond school.
Challenge can be thought of a something difficult, but I am looking at it more broadly. I will keep coming back to these different definitions. Challenge has so many facets.
I am sure that in the coming days and weeks I will think of even more ways that I can use challenge to help mentor me this year.