It happens. Maybe from a bad dream, maybe from a tough night, maybe from stress and worry. And sometimes, in certain seasons, it happens much more often than we feel is okay. Let me tell you of my own experience and the “light bulb” moment that God graciously gave me last week as I was dealing with this.
Last week, as I was in a “funk” (probably from unnecessary stress), I flooded my day with prayer. Any quiet moment I got, I would just say a simple prayer, asking God to fill my heart with his joy and love, to take whatever it was that was causing my sour mood and replaced it with gratitude and generosity and patience. It didn’t happen right away. And even when it did happen, I didn’t notice it until the next quiet moment I had.
As I was going about my day in my bad mood, focused on myself and trying to figure out what I wasn’t getting that I needed (Because that MUST be why I was grumpy, right? Wrong.), right before lunch, my biggest and noisiest group of students came in for class. I was flooded with at least eight kids who were having a tough day and needed some support. As I spent the next hour talking with them, helping them, easing their stress, my own stress and negativity quietly retreated.
So it’s summer, and that means I have some time “off of work” (even though we teachers still do plenty of reading and planning throughout our “off” time). However, it also means I get to do that work while binge watching Netflix! My choice for this summer is Jane the Virgin. It’s not at all what I expected (which is a good thing). It’s cute, cheesey, captivating, relatable (surprisingly, considering the main plot), and includes everything from family matters to mystery to sci-fi to romance. So, on a side note, I’m highly recommending it.
Anyway, I recently watched an episode in which Jane and her new husband (in a minor but poignant scene) prove to one another–and I think to themselves mostly–that settling down and starting a life together has not made them boring. It’s comical and cute, but I think speaks to a real issue that can creep into the heads of those settling down–be it by yourself or with a partner. In the moment that I watched that scene, I immediately felt uplifted, that I too could be “not boring.”
It’s incredible that in the midst of celebrating family, friends, and all we are blessed with–especially the birth of our savior, Jesus–we often find ourselves weighed down by the stress of plans, finances, and deadlines. Even as we were hanging Christmas lights, I ended up breaking a bulb, we bought an extension cord that was too short, and the little errors sometimes seemed to be bigger deals than the joyous occasion that makes us want to decorate in the first place.
The point. So as I struggle today to remain clear-headed and calm, I decided just to make a list of the things that I’m thankful for in this moment. As I did, the heaviness seemed to dissipate as my annoyances and worries were out-shined by the love and joy in my life. Below is my list (and yes, some of it is cliche, but those are often the things I need to be reminded of the most because they are so easily taken for granted). In my description of each thing, I chose to leave out any negative details (like the fact that my cat likes to make a lot of noise in the middle of the night and wake me up) to help myself focus on the positive.
The challenge.I encourage you to make a list of your own; it might just turn your day around.
It’s been a difficult school year for me. And yesterday was particularly difficult. I was feeling down, feeling slightly defeated, feeling inept at my job. A few things then happened, though:
- I got an out-of-the-blue message from a past student, “just checking in–I hope all is well.” I mentioned briefly that it had been a rough day (as I was at the end of my day) but that overall life is going wonderfully (which it absolutely is, but that’s sometimes difficult to remember throughout a tough work day). We then entered into a conversation in which this now grown-up reminded me that I am good at my job, that I make a difference, that I impacted his life.
- I was reminded by this simple conversation that I have a box of letters that students have written me, and it is a solid reminder that I am doing good work here. This box is currently packed in a bigger box as I prepare to move houses, but just knowing it exists was surprisingly encouraging.
- I had dinner with my family. They always know how to cheer me up and build me up. They listen and share in my plights, validating how I feel, but also bringing kind words to remind me why I do what I do.
- I got a sweet note from my incredible fiance. He had earlier placed it in my lunch box, to find when I packed it this morning. His encouragement and love fills me up and gives me more love to share with my students and the world.
Yes. Terribly so. While this sometimes proves useful (keeps me from getting into some troubling situations), I would say that it presents an equal amount of difficulties for me in my adventures and relationships. I over-analyze everything. And, well, nothing is perfect, which means that overthinking highlights those flaws for me. Every. Stinking. Time.
And if I’m being completely honest, I think it’s gotten worse since being engaged. Being the biggest decision of my life, I am overthinking and over-analyzing more than ever because I want so badly to make sure that each decision is the right decision for my fiance and me and that it is God’s will for our lives.
As the school year is fast approaching, I’ve been spending time setting up my classroom, my teacher website, my lesson plans, and all that other fun stuff. However, I will admit that last weekend, I was wishing I had just a few more weeks before going back.
Now that I’m actually delving into the heart of my preparations though, I am excited for a new year, new students, new opportunities, but I also relish in the familiarity of it all. The previous dread of going back to work has turned into joy sprinkled with a little anxiousness. While many of you may not be teachers, I think there is something to be learned here about “getting back into the swing” of anything, not just teaching.
This summer was the first summer in ten years that I did not have a job to report to. I decided it was time to take a step forward and use my time during these months to build a foundation for my passion of writing. This has been a tricky thing as I’ve realized laziness is incredibly easy.
As I’ve spent my summer mainly in the comfort of my home, procrastinating things such as cleaning the house and doing laundry, I’ve had plenty of time to focus on the planning of weekend trips that I’m taking. Some involve just my boyfriend and me while others involve a large group of 10-15 friends, and most are somewhere in the middle. This is an exciting process as I love to travel, and most of these trips also take me out of the 100+ degree weather to a place with mountains and pine trees.
There is another side to planning, though. The frustrating side. And anyone who has planned a trip for more people than just themselves has surely experienced this. Trying to coordinate schedules to find days when everyone can travel, trying to find the perfect time to leave, trying to decide who will drive, figuring out what food to buy, and then delegating responsibilities for all of the involved measures.
I had the privilege of getting to know someone new last weekend while out camping. And just in that short weekend, I feel that we got to know each other and share some personal insights about life and people. We got to learn from one another, and I cannot speak for her, but I feel I grew a little from that experience, from understanding someone else’s perspective.
Meeting new people is not always as pleasant as my recent experience. In fact, looking at all of the news headlines over the last week, the last month, meeting people is rather a scary thing. There seems to be an influx of terrible acts done by one person unto another, and it is disheartening to say the least. There are many other words to describe it, but I’ll leave that for another time.
I give swimming lessons twice a week to two completely adorable kids. The youngest is two and sometimes only swims for five to ten minutes before deciding he’s done for the day. And it seems that when he makes up his mind about something, there is no changing it. So we have fun while we can, and when he’s done, he’s done. He’s two, so he’s allowed to do that.
The oldest is nearing five and loves to swim. I started lessons with him last summer, and he has come a long way since then. In fact, he’s come a long way just this summer already. I don’t think he realizes it though. He simply shows up, swims his heart out, and keeps making progress. At the beginning of the summer he would not swim without me holding onto him. Now, once he learns how to effectively take a breath while swimming, he will be able to swim by himself across the entire pool.