Return from Philly, Escape from Jury Duty, Heartwood, Leveling Up Tools, and Ryan’s Beard…

I missed monday because I had jury duty which was a bummer but I did not get placed on a jury and I did do my civic duty so that was no big deal (besides being mildly bored for a day when I could have been at school). I also voted Tuesday morning! Very civic week all around.

We went to Philly and Abby’s parent’s house last weekend! It was an awesome trip. I wish I had more photos but I took most of mine on something called “real film” so they are not instantly available – I will post them when I get it developed. Here’s some photos I did take:

I did not include the week number in the title of this post because I’m learning that if a thing I’m doing feels arbitrary, I don’t have to keep doing it for continuity’s sake!!!!! (Knowing this rationally and acting on it are different things. I’ve been in the former state for a while, it’s the latter action that’s hard for my Virgo self…)

It’s good that we’re practicing getting out in the world because we skyped @mjuliacordero and some of the Heartwood crew this week and our teens were so excited/are talking about coordinating a trip to Atlanta now… (You can check out a photo on our instagram.)

I finished two big projects this week! One is the Gameshifting board I’ve been working on with my spawn – it’s taken a while to get all the materials but today we finally had everything we needed. @simoneboss @spino @zoe6 and Demian helped with design and execution and I think it turned out fantastic.

The other project I did this week was impulsive, but incredibly satisfying. Since I first started at ALC (last September) the game room closets have been an explosion of orphaned board game pieces, mixed-up playing cards, magnet tiles, lincoln logs, random dice, marbles, go stones, shredded boxes and more things to horrify a Virgo such as myself. I didn’t go on a field trip yesterday, which is my usual Thursday activity, and so I found myself with a whole day to tackle something new and that something was that chaos closet! I didn’t take a before shot, but here is during/after:

It’s not perfect (I wish I’d had time to label things, and there’s still a basket of all sorts of random cards in there that need to be sorted into their respective games…) but it’s MUCH better than it was and it was so satisfying to see how much more space there was in there when I was done.

Bonus photo: Ryan came back from the park today with flowers in his beard and it was rad…

Last week, this week, Halloween, Wave Hill and the MELICORN

week 7!

Can you all read the writing on my whiteboard mosaics? I’m aware my handwriting is not the clearest and this photo is kind of blurry…

We’re still talking about holding boundaries. Here’s some of my thoughts about it from this week…

Brooklyn Museum Trip 

We went to the Brooklyn Museum yesterday! It’s one of my favorite museums in New York in part because the Visual Archives area. I love how eclectic the collection there is and it’s so cool to see a random collection of lamps next to statues next to tea kettles next to chairs next to ivory carved miniatures…


Friday Gratitudes

I’m grateful for trees and the beautiful weather and the blue October sky and patience for working through things and my fellow ALFs and double-field-trip-weeks.

Holding Boundaries, Helping, and Bob Ross Sprouted! [the first six weeks]

Hold Your Boundaries!

The first 6 weeks are done! I spent some time this weekend reflecting on where we’re at right now, as a community, and the biggest challenge I see people grappling with is holding boundaries. What do I mean by that?

What is a boundary?

A boundary is a limit. Knowing your boundaries means that you know the limits of the things that make you comfortable. When you start to feel uncomfortable, anxious, or stressed, in an interaction with another person, they have probably crossed one of your boundaries. I like the suggestions in this article for figuring out where your boundaries are.

What happens when you don’t hold your boundaries?

The most immediate consequence of not holding your boundaries is unhappy, upset, or resentful feelings. The secondary consequence is insecure or frustrating relationships with others. Both lead to the breakdown of trust and feeling of security that are necessary for our community to thrive.

If you don’t set firm boundaries, don’t articulate where your boundaries are, or you let people cross your boundaries without consequence you will probably feel angry, frustrated, or resentful. Resentful is when you let a frustrated or angry feeling build up inside you until you feel ready to burst with it! Recently, I let this happen to me with a person that I love. The result was that my resentment built up and built up and built up until I couldn’t deal with it anymore, and we got into a big fight where we were yelling and screaming at each other on the street. It was awful, and I still feel bad thinking about it.

If you don’t tell people your boundaries, the consequence is that they won’t know that they’re making you uncomfortable and will probably continue to do the thing that is making you uncomfortable! If you tell someone your boundary but don’t reinforce your boundary when they continue to break/push it, the consequence is that you’re sending that person mixed signals about your boundaries – they will probably feel confused about where your boundaries are and continue to break/push them and make you feel uncomfortable and start the cycle all over again.

But I don’t want to be mean!

The number one reason I hear people at school give for not holding boundaries is fear of being mean or upsetting someone. It’s true that sometimes, holding your boundaries can make other people unhappy or even angry.

Here’s the thing: if you don’t articulate your boundaries then you are resigning yourself to being the one who is unhappy or angry. You allow the threat of other people’s feelings to rule your life. You won’t feel safe or secure in your relationships. By not articulating your boundary, you aren’t giving the other person a chance to change the behavior that is upsetting you, but you are guaranteeing that they will continue to do the thing that is making you uncomfortable!

Often, it’s not enough to just set a boundary – you have to hold it. If you tell someone your boundary but don’t reinforce it every time someone pushes or breaks it, you’re sending that person mixed signals about your boundaries. They will probably feel confused about where your boundaries really are (they’re not in your head, after all, and need your feedback to know how you’re feeling) and will continue to break/push them and make you feel uncomfortable and start the cycle all over again.

Setting a boundary is not being mean. Setting a boundary is clarifying what you need to be in relationship with another person. Setting a boundary is showing others how to be kind to your self.

Holding boundaries can look like…

…saying “Stop” or “Stop rule” when someone is doing a thing that makes you uncomfortable, and explaining to them what you need them to stop: “Stop rule on following me, I need some space right now.”

…articulating “if…then…” statements to illustrate where your boundary is, and how you plan on reacting if it is crossed: “If you keep ignoring my stop rule, then I won’t play with you anymore.”

…explaining your boundaries before you start a game so that other players know how you want to play: “Let’s play dodgeball, no headshots allowed.”

Weekly Mosaic

I broke my streak by not posting this on Friday! I am bummed. My mosaic isn’t as detailed as it has been in previous weeks – blogging time got cut short and our energy was very raucous so it was hard for me to focus enough to finish.

Bob Ross Update

He sprouted and made a friend!

Poem of the Week

Just as relevant today as it was last week – thanks Shel!

Pain and Practice

[The writing in this blog post is an excerpt from a Free Write I just did with Iphy, Hannah, and Doug. I will explain the rules of Free Write in another blog post… but not today cause I’m running out of time…]

I can feel the muscles in my hand straining and sore (have I written so much or just put too much pressure on it? There’s a metaphor there). My hand muscles and face muscles are sore as I relearn the feelings of their regular use – my flute embouchure has gone to crap (sorry about the language but it’s true – I used to be able to do 2 octaves of chromatic-scale longtones before I got fatigued and now after just a few notes I hurt).

I am thinking about skills that take muscle practice in part because I was talking to Serena earlier about lifting and how much I miss it. My body still hurts from Wednesday’s game of Shark Tag. Even though the stiffness is kind of a pain (pun possibly intended) I am trying to mentally frame it as something positive: a reminder that the micro-tears I am causing in my muscles with practice will heal stronger and grow my endurance; that ignoring my body does not make me disembodied; that I am more powerful when my being inhabits more than just my head.

Here’s this week’s mosaic!

[click to enlarge]

Whiteboard Mosaic Blog! [first full week]

This summer I discovered a new reflective tool that I love: done column mosaics! They’re exactly what they sound like – you take all the stickies from the “done” column of your Kanban and make them into a mosaic (maybe doodling between them, maybe not, maybe writing reflections between them, maybe not…). I like that it’s a flexible medium for seeing what I’ve accomplished; as a self-reflective human, I’m always interested in what Past Mel was up to, as a Virgo, I hate the redundant work of rewriting things from my Kanban and as a serial-notebook-keeper I don’t like to leave things out of my personal records because then I won’t know that I’ve done them! Done column mosaics have been the answer for me, and so here’s this week’s!

Cookie n00bs – Star Wars Edition

Nancy admires James’ tiny Yodas
n00bs hard at work cutting out cookies!
Xander shows off his marshmallow Storm Troop Cupcake
Xander shows off his marshmallow Storm Trooper Cupcake
Oliver made Chewbacca and Jabba the Hut
Oliver made Chewbacca and Jabba the Hut
Aniyah shows off her creation
Aniyah shows off her (slightly frosting-bloody) creation
Saylor and Yoda!
Saylor and Yoda!

This week we made and decorated Star Wars cookies in cook n00b with Nancy! Initially, Nancy and I were worried that the cookie cutouts wouldn’t look good when they came out of the oven, or that that would be too complicated to decorate. What we forgot to consider is how creative and adaptive all the kids are! We were blown away by the variety of Wookiees, Yodas, Vaders and C-3PO’s (and even a Jabba the Hut cupcake!) – such a good reminder for us grownups that things don’t have to be precisely perfect to be beautiful, creative, and delicious!

Halloween, Procrastination and Pavlova

Even though I was sick, I came in on Halloween and am so glad that I did – everyone’s costumes were so creative!

img_2057Iphy as a Holy Cow

img_2048Sterling as Nightmarionne

img_2049Anakin Skywalker and Kylo Ren play minecraft

img_2050Doug as the poo emoji (Timo wanted to know why he chose the iOS version)

img_2054Saylor as a scary park ghost

img_2055Iphy painted my face and I looked v scary.

My old friend Procrastination is back – as soon as I opt into a challenge it whispers “What if you just made it up tomorrow?” and I respond “Great idea, Procrastination, let’s go grab some coffee and catch up!” And every time I kick it down the road, Natnowrimo gets bigger and scarier. Stories are hard. I’ll work on it this weekend XD

Today we made Pavlova with Nancy and Alex at my first ever cook n00b!

img_2067 img_2068 img_2070 img_2071 img_2072 img_2074

semi-solid cheese fondue and dark chocolate pretzles

This week I learned that you can make cheese fondue without the wine (and it’s still delicious) and that when dark chocolate fondue is bubbling that’s because it’s hot enough to burn your mouth. I learned to watch out for goggles from mischievous players perched on the top of the bookshelf in the library, where the vantage point is perfect for ambushing unsuspecting humans, and that I like playing the goggles game even when I have to put my shoulder to the ground because it’s still not losing, and that it’s okay if I don’t play werewolves on a day when everyone’s energy is feeling overwhelming (in fact, it’s better to stay away because quiet places pop up all around school while a rowdy game of werewolves is happening). I was reminded that sad frustrated humans are still accountable for their actions and that’s more than okay – it’s important. I learned that variables in Python are more flexible than they are in Java and that talking through the architecture of building a game before writing code is much more comprehensible than just starting with the build. I learned that the pen-pineapple-apple-pen song has it’s own wikipedia page. I learned to knit but not yet to perl, to cast on and trust that at the end of all these stitches I will learn to cast off.fondue!soldering lessonsAbby teaches Timo to knitJiana's doodles Sterling was trapped in the magical land beyond the self and needed the power of friendship to release him