#sol20- May 19, 2020

Something I have noticed is this time is really demanding so much rebranding. Schools have had to drastically change their model, as have so many businesses. I have tried to support some local businesses because the economy here in Cambodia is fragile in the best of times, so I keep my eye on Facebook (in this part of the world Facebook is the primary news source).

Ministry of Cat is a local cat cafe, that had to close due to the virus and successfully fostered out all of the cats that had been living there awaiting adoption, but they did not have a huge menu (or big staff), so takeout wasn’t really something they could offer. They pretty quickly pivoted and ran a successful GoFundMe campaign to raise funds to keep their rescue operation and continued offering boarding facilities (super smart, as some expats did flee).

Then they did something totally new- they started a “line of homemade culinary products, straight from our cafe’s kitchen. Inspired by the traditional tapas bars of Madrid and Melbourne’s hip cafes, prepared in small batches and using time-honoured recipes, our condiments, sauces and relishes will enhance any dish.” Over the last few weeks bit by bit they shared the vivid descriptions of the products and I was hooked. They then built interest by sharing that deliveries would only be made twice a week, ooh, exclusivity! I perused the options and was sold on the “opening week” specials with free delivery of you ordered three jars.

Saturday my big day arrived: eggplant chutney, kefir, and dulche de leche- a rather eclectic range, is what I chose. Then those smart rebranders snuck this postcard in my delivery bag:

To top it all off, each of my choices is YUM! So, why yes, I will be subscribing, but once or twice a month… they might have dropped the ball there- I would have happily committed to a weekly delivery! I can feel good supporting a local enterprise and eat well too!

Writing from My Heart and Not My Head


#sol20- May 12, 2020

A few weeks ago I saw that TCRWP was adding July sessions of reading and writing institutes. I have attended the writing institute twice (and been rejected for the reading one twice) and my summer was clearly not going to be the summer I pictured, so I looked at the email. The June and August applications had been available back in February and I will admit I felt a sad pang when I did not apply. Now this email had me wondering. Everyone’s summer was being turned around, I rationalized, but the June sessions were likely already over full and the August ones take place once I am already back at school (will that be a thing, I wonder). The July dates were newly announced, so I clicked through.

It turns out that the July sessions are only for newbies, so that narrowed my options- I could only apply for reading. Knowing it would all be via Zoom and for one week I rationalized that I could make the crazy timing work (it is 13 hours later here). I would still have a week once it was finished to readjust my body clock to local time.

I took the next step and opened the application. It was really only one essay question, asking which professional books have informed my practice and how. One question was manageable- I could do that I told myself. But, to protect my ego, in case I got rejected again I just couldn’t spend a lot of time agonizing over each word, I just had to write from my heart and not overthink it. I chose to write about the professional books that I had grabbed from my classroom to inform my reading instruction while we were moving to virtual learning (Reading Strategies, DIY Literacy, and Comprehension Connections and one I bought on my Kindle since, Start With Joy). It was a quick write-less than 10 minutes. I just shared why they were the books that I needed with me right now as I embarked on planning literacy for our team.  Then I pressed submit.

In retrospect, I knew I should have spent more time on it, but at that point, it was too late. A few days later I learned that the July sessions would start earlier in the day to accommodate people attending from Europe, Asia, and Africa, and that sort of felt like a good sign.

Last night I looked at the calendar and realized that although it felt like a long time ago that I had applied it really had only been 2 1/2 weeks and I knew from the past that it usually takes four weeks to find out anything. I began to feel like it would all work out and that I would get in. Then this morning… there was an email. I did get in and knowing I have that to look forward to made me smile all day! PD really keeps me energized and I am grateful to get to learn more to do better.  Now my heart and head will be more full!

90 Days of Gratitude


#sol20- May 5, 2020

The Gift of Reconnecting- it sounded like just what I needed.  Kavita Tanna from Inspire Citizens and Tonya Gilchrist from Erin Kent Consulting were facilitating this five session workshop last week and the week before. There were about 12 of us, from all over the world and it was a breath of fresh air for a total of five hours. The takeaways were many, but one of the lasting things is a reminder that gratitude is something that can be learned, practiced, and is so beneficial from every angle. A challenge that Kavita mentioned she was going to take on afterward is a 90 Day Gratitude Challenge. She shared a booklet she was going to be working from and that was the nudge I needed.

It starts with a rationale and research. You get tips for building habits. Every day starts with a quote- I LOVE quotes! There are three simple prompts: “I am grateful for___. because____.” “What am I looking forward to today (or tomorrow)?” and then one unique prompt for each of the 90 days.

So, here I sit on day 5 and I am up and down, often within the span of 10 seconds.  I am grateful that I am taking the time to document the good and see that sometimes it is the anchor to my day.  It reminds me there are good things going on in my life amidst all the not. I made the decision some years ago that I was going to be the person who smiled- not in that fake, saccharine way, but in a genuine, I am a happy person way.  Holding on to gratitude is something I need right now and these 90 days will help to grow me. Today I had to write about the biggest accomplishment in my personal life and without question, it is raising two sons. Pausing to reflect on them I could see them both at their own crossroads right now- one “graduating” from law school on Friday and the other starting a teacher certification program this week. Can another person be my accomplishment? I guess not, really, but loving and being loved is an accomplishment, right?

Random thoughts on my Tuesday.


A Visitor- Good or Bad?


#sol20- April 28, 2020

I was in full suds mode washing my dinner dishes when out of the corner of my eye I sensed movement. Now, I live alone and I live in the tropics, so movement usually means an unwelcome pest.

Did I want to investigate or should I file that under the “it’s better to not know” list of things I am better off pretending I do not know?

Well, curiosity got the better of me and happily, it was a tiny gecko. Waaaaay better then the monster cockroach I was starting to conjure up.

Geckos always cheer me up- if I have to have “wild” animals in my apartment who wouldn’t want one that eats bugs? For whatever reason, I only ever see tiny ones in this apartment and they are so cute. I love on the tenth floor, so have no idea how they get up here or where they go when they get big. The pictures below may or may not be the same one I saw that night, but definitely the same size. I threw the playing card down so I could show how tiny it/they truly are. I love the chirps they make and I love that so far they are afraid of me and never come too close.

After being in my apartment alone for so long I have to say I welcome gecko companionship- is that weird?

Creative Problem Solving or Dumb Luck?


#sol20- April 21, 2020

They say “Necessity is the mother of invention” and I like to think of myself as a kind of workaround wizard. I can often figure out ways to solve problems (especially those connected to technology) that work, although they are not necessarily the most efficient/easiest. I came across Gwen Blumberg’s genius workaround video for getting your phone to act like a document camera so that you can create split screen videos on the Facebook TCRWP site the week before last and I was all set to make my own version over my break. But here’s the thing, I am also lazy and was lacking a few supplies I saw as key (strong magnets).

Previously I had dug out my very old personal document camera. It is at least 8 years old and while it was safely ensconced in a case I had no idea where the disk was with the required software (nor do I have a computer that could access said disk). I halfheartedly plugged in my doc camera and was not really surprised when it did not seem to work, so I put it away again. But Gwen’s video was so tempting and split screening sometimes would be so useful, so then I turned my research/problem solving brain on.  What if some of the apps she said were necessary could also help me with my semi defunct doc camera? The visualizer app seemed to be the key (and it is a free app, so no worries if it failed).

A little time Googling and a little experimentation and it turned out I could indeed make it work with my doc camera! I could split screen! It also makes some read alouds easier, although not always.


Just a practice shot! 

It is little things like this that are making me smile right now! See, now I just have to find reasons to use it.

Strange Times Indeed, When I Voluntarily Exercise


#sol20- April 14, 2020

It is Khmer New Year, sort of, so I have break. Officially the holiday was postponed last week by the prime minister, due to the Corona virus and the tradition of traveling to the provinces for the holiday. Travel between different provinces is forbidden and people have been encouraged to continue working, with the promise that it would be made up once the current crisis is over.

Aside from that, there have not been many precautions taken in regards to the pandemic aside and I feel like I am at a bit of “higher risk” as I had lung surgery (and half my lung removed) when I was 13. Consequently, I have been more “socially isolated” than most people I know here. The official rate here is pretty low here (122 as of yesterday), but that seems mostly due to really low testing rates. Health care is lacking here, so my best plan is to not get sick, right?! I am comforted that most of the teachers from school have also stayed here. But as time passes I am more and more wary and really only am going “outside” to go downstairs to collect grocery deliveries.

I LOVE walking and miss it (my apartment is in a great neighborhood that many might not walk in, but I used to). So Sunday, push came to shove and I decided I had to get moving. I went on the Decathlon website and made my purchases, grateful for free delivery.

Today the order came: a mat, shorts, flip flops, sneakers, and… an exercise bike. The website advertised 45 minutes of assembly. I HATE assembly. After unpacking I can verify that I still HATE assembly and find visual directions quite confusing. I took off all the plastic, made it through the first few steps relatively easily, figuring out the screws, washers, etc. It was only near the end that it got really challenging. The directions clearly said one person was all that was needed to assemble it, but really, holding the handlebars while getting the three screws in-challenging! But I did it! I made it through all nine steps and sent a picture to a friend.

“It looks great! Does it work?” she asked.

“I need to recover from assembly stress,” I replied. I was actually feeling pretty proud that it had only taken me disc one of Hamilton to get it done (that might be more than the designated 45 minutes, but, whatever!).

My curiosity got the better of me and a few minutes later I donned my new sneakers (to be worn only inside, now I have no excuses to do a little yoga, Pilates or something else too) and climbed aboard.  I am the opposite of an exercise lover, but it was actually fun to watch my speed, heart rate, calories burned, etc. It might not be the perfect living room focal piece, but hey, there are benefits to living alone- nobody is going to tell me it looks out of place.

So now I have the rest of break to start some healthier habits.


Emails That Make Me Cry


#sol20- April 7, 2020

In the past three days I have received three emails that made me cry. One was from a friend’s mother, who has become a friend as well. She was offering me a place to stay in case I decided to leave her and go to the US. I sobbed reading her kind offer.

The next was for a totally different reason. A friend from junior high school (which was a loooong time ago) sent me a note to join an uplifting message email chain. While I liked the idea I felt I could not do it justice at the moment so sent her a quick email declining.

Her response:

That was cold.”
I cried thinking that in my own busy world I was letting down a friend who may have really needed this positive email chain.
I then wrote her a longer email and assured her that I had not meant to offend her. Her next response:
“No worries! xxx Tam”
So, of course, I sent her another email reminding her that I love her. Now I need to find a great poem to send her way.
Today’s email that made me cry:
“I am not sure how to get on to zoom on a iPad.”
This from a student who has not yet participated in online school. He is reaching out to try to connect with the class and I sobbed with relief. We then had a series of back and forth emails where I coached him as he downloaded the app, etc. Hopefully, he said,  he will join us for Morning Meeting tomorrow.


I know I am not alone in feeling my emotions more strongly at the moment, but these three emails remind me that love is always the right choice. I am grateful to have so many wonderful people in my life and I miss them irl.

#SoL20- Day 31-Wow!


#sol20- March 31, 2020

Well, there you go, 31 days “in the books” for the sixth year in a row.

I actually entered this year with great trepidation. I was invested in the #100daysofnotebooking and felt busy enough with that. Somehow I still signed up (and to be a Welcome Wagon volunteer too). I rationalized that I could do my best and would not be hard on myself if I did not succeed.

I will say that there were many days I was not proud of most of my writing, but I showed up-every single day. I made comments on my new slicers’ posts each day and a few extras too. It felt like a marathon.

I was surprised that I stuck with it (my time zone means that one day I snuck in one just before the deadline). I was also surprised that I did not use any of my old standby favorites (currently, top tens, etc.). I was also surprised that I had views from 14 countries-something I have never looked at before. I also discovered in my stats that this is my 484th post!

So many slicers’ words stuck with me and I value the community here every day. I already know I will be back next year (hopefully better prepared).

For now, I go back to my notebooking- today is day 91 of the original 100. This too will continue. Next Tuesday will find me here on TWT again.

Tomorrow the Classroom Slice of Life Challenge starts and we are not in school. I have no idea which of my students will take it up, but I am ready to be their cheerleader.

Thanks for being part of the community here. It means more than I can say, especially now.



#SoL20- Day 30- I Choose Joy


#sol20- March 30, 2020

Today I choose joy- joy in the form of a bar of soap! A simple bar of “kitchen soap” that has been sitting on my shelf for maybe two months unopened.

When I saw Bumblebee Cambodia Soap advertising dishwashing bar soap I was intrigued. Would it be s good as what was usually found in a plastic bottle? I am all for supporting local businesses and more sustainability, so I decided to order two bars to give it a shot. But still, they sat- I still had my plastic bottle after all.

Finally, yesterday I could squeeze no more from that old plastic bottle and not having another bottle in reserve I had to make the change, so…

I was surprised right away while washing my breakfast dishes. It got my sponge all sudsy. It felt good in and on my hands. It smelled good-not overly scented but clean. I’m sold-this little bar of soap brought me joy today (and that is a good thing, so I do not need to write about my tired eyes, burned soup, or a disappointing meeting decision).

Today, I choose joy in small things.


#SoL20- Day 29- My Virtual Social Life Begins


#sol20- March 29, 2020

The new kind of fun- a Zoom happy hour. A friend in Kuala Lumpur brought us together for our first such event. Friday night I noticed a “home care kit” advertised by a local distillery. I do not drink often, but when I do I like gin and I had finally just tried out this place that happens to be on my street at the start of the month.

Screenshot 2020-03-27 at 8.07.16 PM

Since we were going to have a happy hour I thought I’d splurge. After making my order a few minutes later I walked down the 10 flights of stairs to pay for my purchase- both of us in masks. Then it was time for a quick shower before our meet up.

My next challenge- I had no idea how to make a gin and tonic, but thank you Google- sorted that. Just in time I slid into my seat and entered the (virtual) room. Linnea and Kim were waiting, but ack, my sound was not working, so I backed out and entered again and all was fine.

We spent over an hour chatting and laughing and catching up. Linnea’s sister who is visiting was in and out. It was all so lovely and made me ever so grateful that technology allows us to be together is a new way.

Next up, Linnea has e-vited us to dinner on Tuesday where she wants us to ogle some new recipes she is trying. Living alone I think I am going to have to start some of these events myself so I have some outlet other than work! It is a strange new world, but today I am grateful for friends!