November 19, 2021
A New Chapter Begins
My last live speaking engagement was in November 2019, a little more than two years ago. Things were changing and for the first time in 35 years, I had nothing on my calendar for the following semester.
Jobs in US school districts and schools had gotten scarce, and nearly all of my speaking engagements for the previous year or two were at conferences, private schools, or overseas.
Zoom, Skype, and other online video services allowed for a number of interviews, classes and class visits, panels, and similar exchanges, however I have not found this medium to be ideal for the type of work I do. (Maybe I just rely too much on the energy I get back from a live audience, but the connection just isn’t quite the same for me.)
Traveling seemed to be getting more difficult and more exhausting, even before the pandemic, and my attention shifted to a greater degree of care my mom needed during this time.
What’s Up with my Body Now?
I also had a few weird health issues of my own, including waking up on June 7, 2021 to find that nearly all of my hair had fallen out, leaving me completely bald shortly thereafter. (The photo on the right was taken about 2 weeks before, the last one with hair.)
This precipitated a series of visits with doctors and specialists, all of whom were sympathetic (if baffled) and unable to help much beyond that. The closest I got to an explanation was that the hair loss was maybe related to thyroid issues I’ve had since I was a kid (Graves Disease). Auto-immune crap. Sucked.
I spent most of the rest of 2021 in hats and scarves. (My head was cold ALL the time!) Even got a few wigs, which looked cute on, but I couldn’t stand how they felt. Otherwise I felt OK, though I avoided mirrors as much as I could. This really rattled me. Update April 2022: My hair has started coming back in toward the end of the year. It’s borderline cute now, looks far more intentional (if shorter than I would ever wear my bangs—the last bit to come in). At some point I will post a picture.
As if 2019-2021 were not tough enough, we had to say goodbye to our beloved Chaco in July 2020. We were told he was three when we got him in 2016, but later learned that he was actually 7 and had a number of health issues during the 4 years he was with us.
Losing a much-loved fur friend never get easy, although he let us know he was done one day after a slow walk when he simply refused to get out of the car.
He was done.
In no obvious pain, but he was just done, and that was his way of letting us know. There was grace in finding a mobile vet who invited us out to her home even though she was on vacation and we had never worked together before. She was wonderful. Plus, Chaco loved nothing more than being in the car, and the 45-minute drive out to her place was a wonderful last ride—and a familiar and comfortable place for him to leave us.
I have tribute pages to two of our other dogs (Chelsea and Shadow) on this site and will eventually put one together for this special guy.
Another Big Step: Closing the Store
Keeping track of what we had available and offering remaining inventory for the cost of shipping (unless you were local and stopped by to pick up what you wanted) has created an ongoing challenge for this website—just keeping track of what we still had and constantly updating prices and availability.
Although the “store” is officially closed, many of my products are still available, either in digital format, as a download, or through the publishers that have kept a few of my titles in print. I have updated the Products page and will continue to do so as the “reprint series” continues to grow. (These are books that have gone out of print and are gradually being revised and made available as paperback or ePubs on Amazon.)
Clearing, restructuring, and tying up loose ends
One major change in 2018 was a decision to dis-incorporate. I started out as a sole proprietorship in 1982 and incorporated ten years later. 2019 represents the 35th anniversary of Instructional Support Services (!) and as of the new year, we can replace “Inc.” with “LLC.” By the end of 2021, it just seemed simpler to let go of the LLC and conduct any business that came my way as a sole proprietor.
Continuing with this consolidation trend, I’ve been going through home and office spaces, downsizing papers and possessions bit by bit for the past couple of years. Although this process kind of fizzled out while I was dealing with my mom’s situation, I still have two closets and the garage, which I’ve managed to successfully avoid dealing with until now.
This past fall, I did a 90-minute webinar for Lorman, an organization I had done some work for in the past, and I also recorded a dozen video exchanges with my friend, Dr. Jared Scherz, who offers them through his Teacher/Coach website in the Marketplace section of his Teacher/Coach website. For the most part, my work on these two projects is done. The Lorman project died on the vine, but the work for Teacher/Coach is still available.
I have gotten a few inquiries about work but for the first time since I started this business, I haven’t had the time, heart, or energy to actively seek more work. I think my days on the road are pretty much done, but as I mention in my updated Services Page, I’ve left this particular door open for now.
One last go-round with this site
As our history page mentions, I launched a very basic website in 1997 and as the technological demands continued to evolve, created several other versions over the years. For the 2012 edition, I wanted a few features—specifically a search field and drop-down menus—that were beyond my coding skills, so I switched to WordPress and hired Tom Todd to help.
A few weeks ago, Tom called to let me know that I needed to update my site so it would work better on mobile devices. *sigh* I was about to tell him to let’s just let it go when he assured me that once he restructured the home page, I wouldn’t have create each of my 550+ pages from scratch. (Again!)
Although I’ve always been pretty involved in the design and coding, I just handed over the reins over to him to “make it work,” so for the most part, if you like this design and structure, you can thank him.
What you are reading now is official the fifth iteration of this site. I will continue to add content as the mood hits, and in the meantime, there’s a ton of content here. I assume that this will be my last major go-round, though I will keep the site alive for as long as it works and as long as there is a need for the content people can find here.
More details in Highlights and Milestones under 2021.
© 2022, Dr. Jane Bluestein
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