May Tips: Cat Cones, Cantilevers & The (VERY COLD) Chesapeake

May 7, 2024

Dear Together Friends, Fans, and Family,

What I thought and hoped would be kind of a chill April and May (with some super-cool school visits in the Bronx and Brooklyn) got usurped by The-Cat-Who-Swallowed-a-Penny-And-Needed-Emergency-Intestinal-Surgery and Kid-#4-Who-Saved-The-Soccer-Game-But-Sacrificed-A-Thumb. Somewhere in the midst of finding the right-sized cat cone to prevent said cat from munching through her 14 stitches, and a late-night trip to Home Depot to wrap my kid’s cast in bubble wrap and duct tape so he could go back in goal (doctor-cleared) last weekend, I was reminded that Togetherness requires flexibility. There will never be a week or month that goes as planned. I repeat, there will NEVER be a week or month that goes as planned. Anyway, for those of you who grapple with the fine balance between systems and spontaneity, here is a bit of what helps me get through some messy times.

Duct tape and bubble wrap make Kid #4 game-ready in goal!

  • Humor. Dr. Together is legitimately the funniest human I know. He can make light of any situation. Which is great because at 12:30 AM when you are on the phone with the emergency vet about the post-op cat released with the wrong size protective cone, with each of you on your stomachs peering under the king-size bed and trying to coax out BambiTheCat, humor is about the only thing that is going to get you through. Also, maybe me saying to the vet on speaker phone, “Could you please come over here and help us?” Are you the humorist? Or do you have any nearby? Or can you put some stand-up on a streaming service?

BambiTheCat aka The Penny Swallower wearing her Cone of Shame.

  • Anchors. I have written about Minimum Daily Requirements a bit, those small things that keep you tethered to each day, no matter what, but I realized there are some larger things that can really help you keep a grip when the unexpected comes. For me, it is two really tough, long swims on Thursdays at 6 AM and Sundays at 7 PM. I literally construct my weeks around joining my Cat Lane Ladies – even after being up until midnight with the aforementioned Cat Situation. What anchors do you have in place that steady you no matter what? (Side note: Wish me luck because I just completed racing here and will be here in the next month – and that Chesapeake COLD water and the Choptank River 2-miler in a wetsuit will be a legitimate challenge for this 46-year-old.)

Together Triathlon #13 done and dusted, with an Arctic Swim Badge to boot.

  • Grace. As I signed off a few weeks ago to head to NYC for work and fun – and apologized to my team for missing a few things – Ana on our team dropped the kindest note in our Slack channel reminding me that it was okay, be gentle, and go have some fun. I felt badly I was holding up a few things, but having people around you – at work and at home – that you can candidly say, “This week kicked my butt, but here is where I’m at, here is what I am late on,” and have that welcomed is so refreshing. And it may have been the moment when I was on the sidewalks of Brooklyn on a bird walk with some first graders when I finally took a big old breath. Who gives you grace? How do you give it to yourself?
  • Novelty. Stay with me for this one. While I love an anchor in my week, like the swimming mentioned above, I also crave novelty. Maybe it was several decades of very frequent Together Travels, but I do love exploring, changing up my routine and such. While my kids were with their dad for Spring Break, I took myself to the hills of western Maryland and West Virginia, and I found myself at a music venue called The Purple Fiddle (highly recommend) and then out at Fallingwater checking out Frank Lloyd Wright’s magnificent cantilevers. Having some novelty – admittedly mostly the planned kind – helps make sure I don’t slip too deeply into the ridges of routine. This helps me stay flexible when the cat swallows the penny and my whole week is upended. Do you invite the novel? How so?

Fallingwater brought a lot of joy and wonder!

In the meantime, if you need to find me in the month of May, I will be teaching up a storm, organizing the 8th grade graduation dance at Kid #2’s middle school (I’m deep in, y’all, DJs, photo booths, glow sticks, the WORKS!), supporting another teen through four AP exams, trying to keep my heart rate down as a #soccergoaliemom, and just making it through May-hem.

#clogsandclipboards #togetherforever


PS After visiting a few schools in NYC this past month, I’m thinking a lot about what makes a great teacher workspace. Anyone have cool ones? Places that allow teachers to focus? Or dreams of what would be in one? Send them to me here.

PPS If I don’t send a newsletter in June, the Choptank River got the best of me. Kidding. I think. Open water distance swimming is not for the faint of heart.

PPPS I have a lot of Together Live Classes this summer (heyyy Charlotte and Brooklyn!), and we just posted an open enrollment in-person Together Leader in Houston on October 24. Come meet me and let’s get Together!

Top Together Tributes  

  • Use those small pockets of time. By minimizing time spent on more frivolous activities (doomscrolling, anyone?), you can maximize your time doing more meaningful things. You’d be surprised what you can get done in 10 minutes.
  • What if you could optimize your school’s schedule? Friend of The Together Group Ben at Creo Prep has created a schedule and school culture that allows teachers more time for instruction *and* protected prep time!
  • Hiring season is upon us! Our friend Omar at DRG Talent says that detailing core competencies in your job descriptions is key to attracting great talent. Be sure to check out our next Together Tour to learn more about Omar and how he keeps it all Together!