The theme of my last blog post over three months ago is that I survived my first and last year teaching, and I had no idea what would be next. Here’s the Sparknotes version of Summer 2018. I do have a legit blog post below, so if you have a short attention span, spare yourself and scroll to the meat.
I follow @ByMariAndrew on Instagram; she has become quite a social media sensation over the last couple of years, posting thoughtful watercolor doodles of hurdles most 20-somethings face, like overcoming uncertainty, finding purpose, falling in love, heartbreak and loss, and discovering yourself. She recently published a book, the driving concept of which is that there is no perfect map to adulthood for anyone, and some of us need an extra bit of wandering along the way. I ordered it on Amazon, and each night before bed, I flipped through a few pages, consoled that a stranger could so perfectly illustrate many of the trials and personal developments I have experienced over the last few years.
Explorer though I may be, I like the idea of a map to follow. I kind of thought I had a direct one — college, grad school, travel, settle down, teach. A modern American Dream, happily ever after. But the map went rogue on me, because this first year teaching has continued to be a slog. I wrestled with my dissatisfaction through the Spring and dialouged openly with administration, but I ultimately submitted my letter of resignation back in March and will not be teaching next year. I am leaving on good terms, but the job journey has been feeling a heck of a lot more loop-de-loop lately.
Hello from the end of a blog-writing hibernation! As usual, winter was a bleak season for me. There have been big happenings that pushed me through the gray months of January and February, namely buying an adorable HOUSE! But that deserves its own post. This-coming weekend, I am heading up to Virginia, reconnecting with the pieces of my heart that I planted in the Shenandoah Valley in college, celebrating my newly ENGAGED best friend, and attending a Rotary Conference where I will be a guest speaker.
In the weight of summer humidity this past July, my sister Rosa Marie and I painted a consigned hutch that would go in the Greenville apartment I would be moving into the following month. As we rolled and brushed in the garage, we listened to a TED Radio Hour episode titled “A Better You.” One of the speakers, Matt Cutts, decided to try something new every thirty days, which is about how long it takes to develop a habit. Since beginning this practice, he has done all kinds of things – some ambitious, like climbing Mount Kilimanjaro; others are quite simple, like practicing gratitude, or taking a picture or complimenting his wife every day.
Teaching this past week was hard. Today I spontaneously ended up at a women’s retreat with Rosa Marie that included a 20-minute writing workshop and an afternoon hike. Here’s a window to my soul, and the way I felt the Lord speak to me this morning.
I’ve placed puddles all around you. Walk along in the aftermath of the rain pouring into the holes in your own pores. I’m filling them up. You think you have face planted. You think that you should wallow in a muddy 3 foot circle of stagnant, dirtied water. But I let you fall into that place so that I can pick you back up out of it. So that the next puddle that comes along is not unfamiliar to you.
In the Humanities class I co-teach, we’re currently exploring Restorative Justice as an alternative to punitive discipline and determining how we could institute it in some way at Carolina High. One fundamental component of RJ is building community and social-emotional skills by circling up. This past Tuesday, the last day of school before Thanksgiving break, I decided to use a form of circle time to practice oral communication and a spin-off of the circle: a thankful semi-circle.
Students were given a topic based off an old Mohawk tribal tradition giving thanks to ancestors and the natural world. Groups of eight students gathered at the front of the room and one by one went up to the podium to share something they were grateful for in relation to their topic. Among grandparents, water, trees, and the earth one group had the word “birds.”
The first week I moved to Greenville, I decided to train for a half-marathon. Within thirty minutes, that decision jumped to training for a full. For years I have been a casual runner, but I had never clocked more than eight miles at a time. The initial 13.1 miles have always been a bucket-list item I knew I was capable of. The 26.2 seemed inhuman, which I guess was the appeal. It was a reach, a stretch that would take a lot of discipline, pushing myself beyond anything I had ever attempted. As I wrote in the September moving-to-Greenville post, I knew I would never have more time and less commitments than I do right now. I’m only responsible for myself, and I’m not committed to a gazillion different activities yet. Training would give me some built-in routine in this new life chapter.