A Thank-You Note to Winter Storm Jonas

Dear Jonas –

I was mad at you on Thursday. You see, your predecessor prompted school to release early on Wednesday without much prior warning. The resulting exhaustion from trying to convince excited kids to engage in math instruction and stress from reworking lesson plans had me a bit raw.

And then you showed up. And it was unclear if you were a serious threat or a mere annoyance for Atlanta. And I don’t like uncertainty.

My blood pressure was elevated Thursday night as I obsessively refreshed the website listing school closures. I planned and replanned lessons in my head for every forseeable situation – normal school, half-day with these periods, half-day with those periods and no school but online learning. All with the goal of trying to stay on schedule for the planned test day.

Eventually, I collapsed into a fitful sleep while still awaiting news. The anxious planning followed me into my sleep and caused me to awake just after three.

Apparently the powers-that-be had decided that you were threatening enough that the children should be kept inside. I immediately went to my computer and spent the next hour writing and posting my online lessons.

And once I was done, the anxiety was done as well.

The unknown was now known.

Friday passed without incident. I enjoyed a morning treadmill run before my office hours. I indulged in a weekday lunch with my husband at our favorite Indian buffet. I relished the individual attention I could give to students without interruption via various forms of electronic communication. And I was appreciative that I didn’t have to navigate the streets as the temperature continued to drop.

I awoke Saturday morning to a light coating of ice and snow on the world, the frosting on the cake. The roads were largely unaffected so I merely postponed my grocery run until full daylight.

And that’s when it happened.

The snow, stopped since before I woke up, began to fall in earnest. Whipped by the wind into great swaths of ever-changing forms. I was driving down the road surrounded by the most graceful and fluid dancers, who followed me all the way to the store.

Breath-taking beauty.

So Jonas, thank you. Thank you for that moment that reminded me to be in the moment. Thank you for the lesson about releasing my need to control (I’m afraid I’ll probably need more – I’m in the remedial group on that one!). Thank you for the reminder that my worries easily grow too big for their britches and that I can trust myself to perform even without an abundance of rehearsal.

And thank you for having a bark that’s worse than your bite in Georgia. I enjoyed the snow and I’m glad it’s now gone. As for what you’ve done further north, I doubt you’ll be getting thank-you letters from them. Except maybe from the kids who are getting out of math class:)



Storm Warning

It’s always weird waiting for a storm.

What used to be hours of warnings heralded by a threatening sky and whistling wind has been stretched to days announced over panicked bits and bytes even while the sun continues to smile.

The advance notification is so important for saving lives and protecting property.

Yet it also leads to unnecessary worry and unwarranted anxiety.

I don’t think we’ve evolved as fast as technology in this arena.

We’re as likely to be destroyed by the media hype as by the storm.

Here’s hoping that Joaquin is more bark than bite.

And that the media has to find something else to sink its teeth into.

Life Lessons From a Mechanical Bull

English: Gator Conley on mechanical bull, inve...
Not the bull I saw, but I loved this picture! Photographed in 2007 at G’s Ice House. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

No, I didn’t ride the bull. What are you, crazy? I have a marathon this weekend and I would be way too embarrassed to tell people that I couldn’t run because I fell off a taurian hunk of metal in a identity-confused bar in an aging tourist town with its own character issues. No, thank you.

This is me sitting on a non-bullish seat. Notice the lack of movement.

But, let me back up a bit. I went with a group of friends to Helen, GA this past weekend for Oktoberfest and to celebrate some birthdays. Helen is 1/3 kitschy Bavarian-themed village, 1/3 mountain country town, 1/3 biker bar, and 100% touristy. It has some of the best people watching outside of California, especially during October with its combination of Oktoberfest and Halloween.

This guy sits motionless until someone drops in a tip. Then, he strums his ukulale. Nothing ever moves but his fingers. Creepy.

Back to the bull.  I used to see those things (real and mechanized)  all the time when I lived in San Antonio. I think they were a requirement in any venue over a certain size. I haven’t seen one in quite a while and I was surprised to find two mechanical bulls newly installed in a bar that catered to heavy-metal bikers just last year. I guess the cowboy-hat wearing set pay better. I watched patrons try their hand at riding the bulls. Most were thrown off in seconds. Then, partly to encourage participation and partly for the joy of it, the guy running the ride got on. Watching him was a completely different experience. This guy could ride. Now, I’m sure some of the talent came from the wearing of the cowboy hat, but I learned some other lessons from him as well.

Also in Helen. I bet this bird felt like he was riding a mechanical bull!

Look Forward

The launched riders had a tendency to leave their gaze where they had been rather than look ahead. The talented guy kept his eyes looking straight ahead, even though straight ahead kept changing.

Don’t Fight the Motion

The more rigid a rider, the sooner the bull would send them flying. In order to stay on, the riders had to move with the bull rather than fight against its bucking.


This word is stalking me.:) The unschooled folks grabbed onto the rope tightly with both hands. This left their body free to swing wildly too far to each side. Our guy? He left one hand free to act as a ballast that balanced his body’s movements. Pretty smart.

Have Fun

After all, isn’t that what it’s all about!


Now, I really have no desire to ever ride a mechanical bull (I know, I know. Shameful for a Texan.) but I happen to think these four lessons apply themselves rather well to life in general. Oh, and I would add one more for me personally: Bagpipes make better party music than polka. Just sayin.

The view from the cabin – a peaceful contrast to town.

Thinking of all of you in Sandy’s path. Hoping you stay as warm and dry as possible and that this storm doesn’t take you for a wild bull ride.