The Countdown #sol22 8/31

This year, I am unapologetically a countdown teacher. There is the weekly countdown to the weekend (three more wake-ups!) and the monthly countdown to the next break (thirteen more wake-ups!). 

When I taught high school for the first time, back in the early 2000s, I didn’t understand countdowns. I thought they were a sign of a jaded teacher who needed to find a job they would like better. 

Now that I’m teaching high school again in the early 2020s, I find countdowns surprisingly hopeful–a kind of daily discipline that reminds me that I can do hard things and there is always something to look forward to. Far from reinforcing grumbliness about my job, the daily countdown gives me a spark of positive energy. My mood is immediately lightened when I remember that I’ve already made it through one more wake-up. I’ve got this! I can handle whatever the day throws at me!

Just 13 more wake-ups until my spring break begins. Here are 13 things I’m looking forward to:

  1. Sleep. I never sleep in, but at least over break I can usually get another hour or two from 6-8 a.m. if I’m awake at 2 a.m. with insomnia, as I often am.
  2. Walks. My mom and I will try to take a daily walk through our neighborhoods, looking for signs of spring.
  3. Reading. Slicing is doing a number on my reading life, but I have a goal to finish 3 books over break.
  4. Letters. If I get behind and owe you a letter, I’ll definitely catch up over spring break.
  5. Ice. I won’t have to take a single sip of room temperature water for an entire week!
  6. Libraries. I’ll have time to take a drive to the Main branch, where parking is a bear but the reward is a vast Art Deco building with an eclectic collection (best to go hoping to be surprised rather than with a specific list) that I will have nearly to myself.
  7. Spring. I discovered last year that spring in Detroit is showy and long-lasting. I think the earliest blooms of spring will still be about a week out over my spring break, but perhaps spring will come a bit early.
  8. Art. The Detroit Institute of Arts has an exhibit on Artemisia Gentileschi and other women artists of the Italian Renaissance that’s a must-see for me.
  9. Introversion. Teaching is a very extroverted job. I’ll spend my week unapologetically introverting to recharge.
  10. Cooking. I might even try a new recipe or two.
  11. Hoodies. I’ve entirely given up hard pants, but I do save the hoodies for home. And I intend to live in them over my break.
  12. Commenting. I always try to leave more than three comments on fellow slicers’ posts, but on the busiest weekdays, I might only manage five. I’m looking forward to leisurely commenting on as many slicing as I can read!
  13. Cats. Whatever I do, I can be guaranteed a cat companion. My husband keeps me posted on their antics (which may only involve extremely cute napping since they’re a sleepy bunch) while I’m at work. But at home, I can see for myself. I can visit Marshmallow, a recent feral rescue who’s been adopted by my mom, as often as I’d like. And whenever Chipotle needs lap time, I’m there for him.


My theme for Slice of Life 2022 is finding inspiration in the writing of others. Each day I plan to find my slice in someone else’s words or forms. Today’s slice idea was borrowed from Ready for the Sunshine.






35 responses to “The Countdown #sol22 8/31”

  1. Writing to Learn, Learning to Write Avatar

    First of all, that cat is adorable! Second, you’ve given me a new lens on countdowns. I’ve always thought of them as a negative thing, but I like your positive spin. I think I’ll try it. And finally, enjoy that well deserved break!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Marshmallow is too cute! I’m enjoying my new spin on countdowns. Doesn’t have to be the negative I always imagined it to be!

  2. mythmakersunite Avatar

    Your cat is beautiful. I would want to spend more time with him. Your spring break sounds marvelous. It is the time of year we need to keep ourselves hopeful with the promise of a change in our current state of weather and work. Thanks for the inspiration.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I love what you say about keeping ourselves hopeful. And isn’t Marshmallow a looker? He’s so sweet too. It was hard to let him go to my mom’s house, but my cats aren’t welcoming to newcomers and her cats barely even notice when a new cat suddenly shows up.

  3. kmaitland1985 Avatar

    These ideas sound amazing! I am stealing this idea too. BRAVO

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Glad you found an idea you can use for slicing!

  4. aggiekesler Avatar

    Oh the joy of spring break! I love your list of to do’s…especially the sleeping in, reading, walking and noticing, and cooking parts. Ours isn’t until the second week of April, but I’m already thinking about what I’m going to do to recharge. 🙂

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      So wonderful to have a full week to recharge, even when we have to wait for it. I’m happy that my break is during March so I can have more leisurely slicing mornings too.

  5. TammyB Avatar

    I love this whole list but esp the one about ice water for all of spring break!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Gotta have my ice! I find it so much easier to stay hydrated when the water is COLD.

  6. Terje Avatar

    You have a wonderful break waiting for you. Great list, 13 more days to go.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      12 more wake ups now LOL.

  7. Teachingnest87 Avatar

    There is nothing wrong with the countdown especially after the last two years. Pandemic teaching has taught us what’s really important and taking care of ourselves is number one so we can take care of our students. I can so relate to introversion. I sometimes ask myself how did I end up in an extroverted profession as an introvert. Second grade takes a lot of energy which doesn’t leave much for anyone else. I’m on spring break now so when we return the countdown to the last day will begin. It sounds like you have plans for a wonderful spring break.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Second grade must take so much energy and extroversion! I teach 11th and 12th graders and on a low-energy day, I can restructure plans to give myself a little more sitting time. Not really possible in 2nd grade! And YES. We have a strong sense now of priorities and the need to take care of ourselves–in a system that isn’t designed to take care of any of the people in it.

  8. Juliana Ellington Avatar
    Juliana Ellington

    I love your take on teacher-countdowns. One more way to stay positive by reframing, isn’t it? I’m looking forward to the walks and your visits to Marshmallow.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Reframing is my life, as you know!

  9. arjeha Avatar

    I have always been a fan of countdowns and see nothing wrong with them. After all, don’t we count down to the dropping of the ball? I think there is an excitement we feel as our countdown nears its end. Marshmallow looks like a cat that just you just want to cuddle. Beautiful picture.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      He is a very photogenic cat. I hadn’t even thought about how countdowns could be connected to excitement such as dropping the ball. I love this as a reframe!

  10. Denise Krebs Avatar
    Denise Krebs

    Elisabeth, I love your thirteen countdown, and your thirteen sweet things you are looking forward to. Simple pleasures stated in one word. May the positive energy sparks last throughout your countdown.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Simple pleasures are the best, I find. It is good to be easily pleased by small things!

  11. Shaista Avatar

    I love your plans! As an introvert, I totally feel you! Our spring break is 9 wake-ups away, and I am absolutely stealing your idea!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Ooh, only 9 wake ups! Wonderful!! And we really do need our introversion time to recharge.

  12. Trina Avatar

    You can make it to break! Your 13 reasons list is great. I cannot wait to see what you find on your many walks with your mom

    This year I have had more countdowns too…more than I ever had in all of my teaching!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Countdowns are getting me through the year for sure! I hope there will be some signs of spring on those walks.

      1. Trina Avatar

        March is the best time to notice spring creeping in.

  13. Book Dragon Avatar

    What a gorgeous kitty! I m sure lol the felines in your life will adore the additional attention during the break.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      They will be so happy! Their transition from being virtual during January to being in the building during February was rough. They missed their extra lap time and attention.

  14. jarhartz Avatar

    Oh Marshmallow. Such a wonderful picture. My Spring Break is later this year.. not until April 11. So I haven’t gotten to day counting. i’m at week counting.

    I love how you are viewing the countdown. As a way to acknowledge the hard work you are doing. Daily. What we do is very hard. Physically, mentally and emotionally. We bring all of it every day. Looking at the number of days left is like seeing how many laps to go in a race. We are looking forward enjoying what we accomplished and getting a nice break>

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Isn’t Marshmallow beautiful? Not a great coat for a feral coat though. So many mats! I love the metaphor of laps for our work–how many laps are left. That’s so helpful and wise. Also April 11–wow– that is late!

  15. langoschh Avatar

    I loved reading your countdown- teaching is hard and there is nothing wrong with enjoying the slower pace that breaks allow!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      You’re exactly right: nothing wrong with enjoying the slower pace of break time!

  16. BeReal81 Avatar

    I almost didn’t leave a comment, as you were at 13! 😜
    Your slice made me think more about what I want to do, not only what I need to do on an upcoming extended weekend. Making a list of what to look forward to is a great idea!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Oh I like that–what we WANT to do, not just what we NEED to do. I’m afraid I rarely want to think about what I need to do at home. Too many have-to’s at work–I just need a break at home. Which means a lot is going undone this year but that’s ok.

  17. theteachingbee Avatar

    Your list has given me all the excited feelings for break now too and I might just be inspired to create one of my own!
    Also, isn’t it silly that I once thought those countdown teachers were jaded too?! In the end, I love my school babies, but I love my baby babies at home even more!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      It was fun to think about my list of what I’m looking forward to! And yes, we can love our work and enjoy our students and still look forward to unstructured days when we don’t have to work!

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