I strive for balance in my life. I am still striving! There is so much I want to see, do, and accomplish and yet I have a strong need to be still, silent, and present with the people and places around me. In Chinese philosophy yin-yang describes how opposite or contrary forces are actually complementary,interconnected and interdependent in the natural world, and how they give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another. (Wikipedia) These competing desires in my life can actually complement and support one another if I take some time to notice.
This week I took “The Big Test” of the National Board for Professional Teachers. I have had this monkey on my back all year long. Though I felt very confident in my knowledge as a teacher and a literacy specialist, I felt an incredible amount of stress going into that testing situation. It was physically taxing on my body. One thing that truly helped me, was my ability to look beyond that stressful event and visualize how I would look and feel coming out of the testing center. I could feel the joy and deep sense of relief wash over me. I could see myself celebrating. I knew the deeper the sense of stress, the greater the sense of relief.
I was able to do this because for years after other stressful (physical and emotional) situations I took the time to stop and notice what relief feels like. I tuned in more carefully to the joy and release that comes from accomplishing something that required me to push myself in difficult ways. After runs that were challenging, I made myself zone in on how my body felt afterward. I tried not to move on to the next thing, but to be present and mindful. That helped me in future runs as I was feeling like giving up at times. I could tell myself, “Just remember what it is going to feel like when you are done!” And it helped, it still does!
As many of you wind down your school year and deal with the stresses of getting it all in, I hope that you will take the time after the students leave to be mindful and present with that sense of accomplishment for all of your hard work. May you find relief, joy, and gratitude wash over you and lift you. May that sense of accomplishment and triumph sustain you into the difficult or trying times ahead.
“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.” -Theodore Roosevelt
What’s On My Book Radar
Preparing for the National Boards seriously cut into my pleasure reading time. I am happy to say that I can immerse myself in wonderful books again. (This was one of the joys envisioned as I tried to look past that stress!) I found this wonderful gem of a book and thought it was perfect for the moment. The blurb on the cover reads, “Everyone has bad days. You have to make the good ones.” It was so fitting!
Just My Luck by Cammie McGovern brings us 4th grader, Benny Barrows who seems to be one of the unluckiest kids in his school. His best friend moved away, his brother is autistic, his father has an accident that ‘wasn’t his fault’. His mom tries to get him to help others as a way to help himself feel better and he keeps plucking away. But when his dad is hospitalized again he begins to wonder how they can overcome all this bad luck.
If you are looking to be inspired, if you are feeling down on your luck, if you are feeling a little sorry for yourself…you might want to pick up JUST MY LUCK. I’m glad I did.