A Short Spell of Reprieve.

I chatted with my assistant principal as we walked to our cars after the school play Saturday night, and the chat ended with a brief discussion about the broadcasting my and Stueve’s students do for football. If our team had won the quarterfinal game Friday night, there was a small chance we’d have broadcast the semifinal. But we didn’t win, so next Friday is open.

“I don’t think we’ll broadcast until December 15–that’s the first home basketball game,” I said.

“I think you’re right,” she said. “Enjoy the reprieve!”

I thought about that word–reprieve–as I drove home. I’m becoming more respectful of life’s seasons as I age. I know that summers will be slower-paced and need only be boring if I make it so. I know August and September will be frenetic but manageable. I know that January to March is a white-knuckled seat on Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride and I will make it just fine.

But I’ve never really given November the appreciation it deserves. It is a short season of reprieve. Classes are humming along, with tests and quizzes distributed evenly so I’m not overloaded with grading. No major school events like conferences or concerts happen in November. There’s no newspaper deadline, no sports that need broadcasting.

It’s a reprieve.

Reprieve 1

And when I look at what’s on the horizon…

Reprieve 2

So I shall relish November, this month of reprieve. It’s a necessary season that I vow to appreciate in all its reprieval goodness.

Friends at Work.

I’m at a point in my career where I’m looking at my next act, figuring out what I might be able to do after a teaching career. I’m not the retiring type, I don’t think. So I’m looking at options.

And what makes me the most nervous, more than learning a new skill or moving to a new place, is working with people who aren’t good, working with people I can’t call my friends.

That’s not the case where I currently work. I have a great lunch crew that empathizes and makes me laugh and think. I have other friends scattered across the building, and even the school district, upon whom I could call if I ever needed their particular area of expertise.

Lately, I’ve been feeling like pretty much everything I do has an expiration date. Maybe this is my mid-life crisis. But I don’t ever want to take for granted that for a few glorious years, I worked with some really amazing people who made me better, and who made my life better.

Foremothers.

I’ve done a share of family history research the past couple of years, and thanks to Google, I’ve learned quite a bit about the women in my family tree.

I’ve probably written about them before, but the Spurs are losing and I don’t feel like digging through my archives to check, so sorrynotsorry if this is repeated info for the more dedicated readers.

Today I sat in a meeting for a nonprofit I volunteer for, and I thought about how I got there. This nonprofit launched 10 years ago, and I’ve been a tiny part of it for nine of those years. I don’t do much, but it is one way I stay connected to an organization that is doing quite a bit of good in the community. It’s something I’ve often thought I should leave behind, what with the teaching and the journalism advising and churching and pianoing and writing and such that I overcommit to. And pretty soon, I’m going to add schooling back into that mix.

Occasionally, my mind drifted to the many things I do with my time, and I thought of my mom, who was always engaged in multiple endeavors while also raising her children. I thought of my Nana, who saw to it that a rough and tumble frontier town had access to the arts. I thought of my grandma, who worked at a time when most women did not.

I thought of my great-aunt who earned a PhD in Sociology from the University of Chicago in 1911, and a cousin, one or two times removed, who practiced psychiatry in the 1930s.

And further back still–foremothers who braved oceans and plains to leave their homelands and build lives in a new country where they could worship without threat of persecution, only to realize some Americans had yet to really figure out how to be nice to everyone. (We’re still figuring that out, aren’t we?)

Sometimes I go to bed so bone tired and I blame it on the pace of life and all of the things I’m asked to do with my time. But today as I thought of my foremothers and their hard work and community engagements, I wondered if they were equally bone tired when they finally settled to bed at night. I think they probably were.

But I take strength from their lives, and if nothing else, I want to live an equally full life so that a hundred years from now, when one of my siblings’ spawn adds me to their family tree, they can Google me (if Google still exists then) and draw strength from my life, and then carry on in theirs.

I Might Be Back.

Hi.

Remember me?

I used to write things here occasionally.

And then I stopped.

I’m not sure why, to be honest. Didn’t make the time, was too sad, didn’t feel inspired, felt too inspired–you name it, I had an excuse.

But like the swallows to Capistrano and the cranes to Kearney, I’m here on November 1, compelled to write about gratitude for another month.

And today, I find myself grateful for so many things, but especially grateful that I can write. Grateful for new months and the chance to recalibrate goals and expectations. Grateful I still have an avenue to publish my writing to tens of readers.

It’s November. Hold off on Christmas for a week or two, and identify one thing you’re grateful for. If you feel so compelled, share it in the comments.

I’ll be back here tomorrow, and I hope, most days this month to write a little more about gratitude. It’s tradition. And this time of year, tradition counts for something.

A Monday.

Here’s what I’ve learned in the first 7 days of November:

I have taken on too much, and though I’m so much better at staying on task and using my time, some days, time evaporates like water on concrete in Arizona summers.

It’s 5:35 p.m. as I write this, and in an hour I need to be on the road to west Omaha to attend a class on Judaism that will take up the rest of my evening. I have a list of tasks I didn’t come close to finishing today, tasks that really have to be finished by tomorrow night.

As frustrated as I feel near the end of the Mondayiest of Mondays, I’m trying to remember these things: laughing with my friends at lunch. My friend Mr. Reimer hanging out with my 3rd hour class while I tended to journalism business with Mr. Stueve–I didn’t ask Reimer to do this; he must have noticed I wasn’t in my room and commenced teaching my gaggle of writers. I’m remembering how much I adore my newspaper staff, and really all my classes. I’m feeling the warmth from my heater, after forgetting to turn it on and coming home to a 67 degree apartment. I’m sporting a new fleece hoodie, and my belly is full from a dinner of roasted chicken, green beans, and naan.

This November, I might not be posting daily the things for which I am grateful, but I’m trying to be acutely aware of how lucky I am. I send up periodic prayers of gratitude for all the little things in my life, where the whole is so much greater than the sum of its parts.

You should try it.