October Tips: Alpacas, Appetizers & Autumn

Oct 10, 2023

Dear Together Friends, Fans, and Family

[starts with a sentence that I never thought I would utter] This past long weekend Dr. Together and I took EIGHT tweens/teens (all of our kids plus one friend each) to an alpaca farm on the Maryland / West Virginia border for three nights. (Author’s Note: Alpacas have the longest eyelashes I have ever seen.) Remarkably, I’m still in one piece. I packed a lot of Trader Joe’s mini-party-meatballs plus cornflakes and bananas and goldfish crackers and my trusty Crockpot. The Thule roofbox was bungee-corded carefully as an antidote to a broken latch. My 2013 Honda Pilot has a weird smell from said EIGHT medium-sized people. Yes, we had a project plan – of sorts. And yes, we created a lunch-order sheet for sandwiches (and one could argue that we should just throw the same sandwich at all the kids, but some are vegetarian, and of course they all have their own specific preferences).

As you all know, I love thinking about Togetherness outside of work. Togetherness can show up in all ways big and small – to bring joy, share the work, and generally help things run a bit more smoothly. And ‘tis the season, right? I am hosting my 2nd Annual DC Education Back-to-School-Besties-and-Bring-a-Board-Night this Friday, and you can bet there is a Google sign up sheet. See below for the options because we don’t need 20 cheese boards! Also, did you know you can make sangria for 20+ people in a five-gallon Igloo cooler? You are welcome.

Besties and Board sign up sheet as a Google doc

How about you? Any Togetherness Tricks you apply to NON-work life? Longtime Together Friend Ron G in New Orleans once sent me his project plan to maximize his experience at Jazz Fest, and I’m still dead on the floor from that one. And get this, my neighbor keeps a spreadsheet of how much Halloween candy was used each year, so he can purchase just the right amount. I love seeing Togetherness in service of pure fun and festivities – so send me all of your artifacts, and we can pop in in the next newsletter.

Oh, and thank you so much for your wonderful replies on last month’s newsletter about the September Swirl. A Together Reader wrote in about being in a true swirl because of no childcare, and she sent a message to her team sharing that information and also prioritizing which communication channels to use. Her reflection to me: “I sent the message below a few weeks ago when I was feeling really pinched for time and knew I needed to focus. I was proud of my learned instinct to send this for two reasons, 1) it gave me relief from the mental guilt I was carrying around for not getting back to people as quickly as I normally do and 2) as one of the older employees at the company I think this provided a healthy example for younger working parents. I hope people see that it is ok to admit when we are in a season of “too much”!”

And you all, it is not too late to make plans to join me in DC on November 2 for an in-person open enrollment class – with Mocktails with Maia to follow. And you may just want to gift yourself or your favorite educator a Together Teacher: Evening Edition ticket for tomorrow’s class! I hope to see you there!

#togetherforever #clipboardsandclogs


PS In the Together (Kitchen) Tricks category, I’m writing a blog post about your favorite Together lunches to pack for school, the office, the road, etc. This inevitably turns up as a conversation topic in every single one of our classes. Drop yours to me here – bonus points for photos! — with the “recipe,” why you like to pack it, and any other lunch-packing hacks. I promise I’ll write up my favorite kale salad for you.

PPS If you are wondering, wait, is this issue of The Together Tips SHORTER than usual, your eagle eyes are correct. Starting this month, we will begin sending TWO notes your way each month – including a new feature called Together Tours – where we spotlight people and their approach to Togetherness. Tell me . . . what would you want to ask someone? What types of people would you like to see featured? Things like . . . their favorite Together Tools, what they do to make the next day easier, how they protect time for focused work, etc.

PPPS Together gift guide for teachers, leaders, nonprofit folks, clients, or crossing guards? What ideas do you have for this year? Drop me a line.

Together Treasure Box

  • Does anxiety breed productivity products? Regardless, a powerful case for the simple pen-and-paper list. And yes, we are still huge fans of “breaking things down into their simplest component parts. Not ‘clean the apartment,’ but ‘vacuum’ and ‘take out the trash.’
  • Teaching students Togetherness? I’m a long-time fan of Mitch Weather’s approach to student executive functioning, and I got my hands on the manuscript for his upcoming release. A great combination of practical tools, relatable experiences and powerful anecdotes.
  • Loved these samples of Teacher Togetherness!  We at The Together Group loved this podcast with teachers sharing their best organizational tips and tricks! Jessie combines instructional planning AND timed tasks.