Be Still.

This week has been rough.

No real reason why, to be honest–I haven’t suffered any massive trauma or loss, I’ve finally (mostly) kicked this cold that’s been trying to make my life miserable for two weeks, and generally speaking, life is pretty good.

But every day this week I’ve felt dread, partly due to self-imposed expectations that in truth, might be a tad unrealistic.

After staying up way past my bedtime last night to try and catch up a little, today felt better, and when I sat down to my RSS feed for the first time all week, this was the highlighted article in my feed.

I had mentioned to a friend earlier this week that I couldn’t fathom how others handled life. I don’t have a family to take care of, no real responsibilities outside of my work. But since I started teaching 15 years ago, I’ve learned that if I don’t consciously force myself to settle down, work becomes my life, and I get so myopic that I can’t see beyond the walls of my classroom.

That’s what was happening this week.

So even though I have so much to do this weekend, I need to remember this:

I don’t believe God is impressed with an exhaustion. He isn’t glorified when you take on so many responsibilities that your soul floods with unrest and discontentment. Feeling burnt out isn’t a badge of faithfulness.

And I need to spend some time this weekend just being still.


The Word Of The Summer…

I’ve been trying to write an ode to the end of the year, but I’ve locked away all those emotions for the time being. I’ve said goodbye to some stellar seniors, with more goodbyes on the horizon, and change is always, well, unsettling.

Which is why I spent two hours after school today shopping.
This will surprise those who know me best, because I hate shopping. And I mean, I hate shopping.
But focusing on finding the right top to go with leggings was the only thing that mattered, especially since it meant I wasn’t focusing on any feelings. Deny, deny, deny–that’s the name of the game right now.
As I drove home, I thought about what happens after this week and all that I need to accomplish this summer. Fixating on an article of clothing and ignoring life isn’t an option in the next ten weeks. I decided I need a theme to keep me from just ending up on the couch binging on Netflix. 
I love the Latin origin of this word: disciplina, meaning instruction or knowledge. In this sense, discipline is the perfect theme for my summer, as much of what I must accomplish falls into the instruction and knowledge category. In fact, synonyms of discipline include train, drill, teach, and coach. All of these verbs will be happening in my life.
I’m ignoring the Middle English definition, which implies self-loathing or punishment. This summer is not about either of those.
It’s never been a strength of mine to create a schedule, a task list, a goal, and stick to it. Especially in these blissful weeks away from my classroom.
I love this story about the power of a password, and as I tell my piano students, the cumulative effect of repetition breeds improvement. 
So starting today, my mantra for the summer is discipline. Every morning, every evening, every minute I start to feel myself slip into the role of a mindless Internet surfbot, I must readjust with discipline. 
That’s not to say I won’t make room for matinee movies, for lunches with friends, for staying in bed until noon reading a fluff novel, or for an occasional afternoon with Netflix. But even with my leisure time, I will need to practice discipline.
So if you see me at Target this summer, trying on maxi skirts or tunics, please ask me what else have I done with my day. And if I can’t provide an answer that convinces you I’ve accomplished anything that falls into that instruction category, kindly wrest the clothing from my hands, walk me to my car, and tell me to get to work.

Can I Just Be A Kid Again?

When I was a kid, my favorite Monday night activity was when my parents took us to the public library. I would browse the shelves, deciding between Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle or Laura Ingalls, with the occasional Judy Blume thrown in. It was such a safe space, the children’s fiction section of the library. The short shelves within arms’ reach, the area rugs splattered on the floor, the chairs I could sit in and let me feet actually touch ground–it was nearly a second home.

Today, after some particularly frustrating events at school, I went to that library to return some books and check out new ones. I’m working my way through this list, and I wanted to read the rest of the books in the Betsy-Tacy series. They were there three weeks ago.

They were gone today, and even though they weren’t my favorite books, I was a little disappointed.

As I walked through the children’s fiction section, a young girl caught my eye. She had been sitting at a table reading a book when I walked in, and now she was on her way back to the same table with a different book.

I envied her.

Yes, I know much of the pressure I feel is self-inflicted, but much of it is not. I’m starting to buckle under the expectations placed on our staff this year, and it’s only the 3rd week. I already feel like a failure, and I’m having a hard time keeping perspective.

Seeing that little girl made me want to cry. I just want to sit in that library and read books at a table. And I don’t want to ignore my responsibilities–I want to not have them in the first place. (Any wonder I don’t have any kids?)

Every year the despondency hits me earlier and earlier in the school year, and I’m starting to wonder if it’ll just better for me walk away from teaching sooner than I had expected.

But I can’t walk away this year, so I’ll spend some time tonight grading and making some last-minute plans for this week. Then I’ll start reading the books I did end up checking out from the library, take a walk, do some yoga, and try to remind myself that at the end of the day, I can only do so much. 

And I’ll try to be okay with that.

What to Say?

When the phone rang, I just knew. It was one of those rings, and even though I get regular phone calls from my parents, I just knew it wasn’t good.

My cousin’s wife died in a plane crash in Guatemala over the weekend. Here is one news story about it. This is the organization that my cousin runs.

My parents called to tell me, just as I was readying Thursday’s auction post. I don’t want to take the focus from this wonderful outreach for the Nielsons, but if you wouldn’t mind adding one more family (Johnsons and Rowses) to your already lengthy prayers, we sure would appreciate it.

ETA: One other report

Olympic Fever

So we’re about halfway through The Games of the Twenty-Ninth Olympiad, and I have tried to keep up with all the coverage, but it’s hard to do! And I don’t even have CNBC, USA, Oxygen, Sci-Fi Channel, or any other members of the NBC-Universal family to keep me in the know. Just TiVo-ing the daytime, prime-time, and middle-of-the-night-time has overwhelmed me.

And speaking of TiVo, it is a mighty fine way to watch the Olympics. I can fast forward through the events I don’t care about (cycling, fencing) and get to the events I want to watch (or ogle…Michael Phelps? Aaron Peirsol? I’m totally single here!) I’m also enjoying Mary Carillo’s reports about China’s culture.

But school has begun, which means getting up no later than 5:45 AM, which means I am either exhausted from staying up late to watch the Olympics, or I go to bed when I should and hear all about the Olympics during the day. It’s a tough call.

But tomorrow is Friday, and I think I can get by with a little less sleep, so I will probably stay up tonight. Gotta have something to talk with the kiddos about…