Monday, September 12, 2016

Start Where You Are.

I'm reading two books that are powerful and healing, each in their own right.  One phrase from one of the books has latched into my brain, and it's what I tell myself now when I am overwhelmed by what is ahead of me, what I'm wanting to do or trying to do or afraid to do:  start where you are.

I've wanted to try to start writing again in this space for months and months and months.  I kept putting it off.  The expectations I place on myself can be crushing, and I resisted getting started because what if I can't find the time to write?  What if I can't make sense of the lags in entries, because some moments are too painful, some struggles are too big?  What if my voice becomes inauthentic?  What if I over edit?  What if I under edit?  (And what if I stop right now, doing both, since I also told myself I'd post as is, without the edits?)

Today was a horrible, worrisome day at the school where I work.  It was the perfect storm of awful, and it left me feeling defeated and shaken.  As I reflected on my day and why it affected me so much, I realized one beautiful truth:  I, along with many of my colleagues, left today feeling the same way - utterly defeated and distraught - because of the depth of our concern for and devotion to these kids whom we teach and care for and guide, as best we can, each day at school.  And so the weight of today meant something important to me - it is the weight of caring deeply for young human beings, the burden of that weight shared with my smart, kind, and compassionate colleagues.

I came home.  I headed straight for the gym, and was able to shed much of my yuck.  I greeted my children with honesty, telling them that I had had a really awful day.  But I also cared for them, showed them grace and kindness and patience and guided them through the afternoon hours, drying tears and holding small heaving shoulders as two boys cried out their frustrations and upsets.  Dinner, as it is most nights, was the great equalizer.  It was a simple enough meal, but it was a particularly victorious moment when Aidan exclaimed, "This is the best broccoli you have EVER made!" followed by Pax asking for leftover broccoli in his lunch tomorrow.

We chatted about our days, taking turns, and at the end Pax shared a homemade book titled "my love" that he had created in the minutes before dinner.  It was filled with pictures and simple sentences about the people he loves.

And so I held fast to each of these small victories.  Calmed and settled hearts; a nourishing meal with good connection to one another; a settling in for the evening.  Pax wasn't feeling well and went to sleep early, but not before a long snuggle in his bed.  Leo and I curled up on my bed for a long snuggle and a thoughtful reading of this book, which led to many questions and comments about powerful leaders and beautiful ideas.

When I returned from tucking Leo into his bed, I found Aidan sprawled out on my bed, flipping through the pages of "Of Thee I Sing."  After a long snuggle, Aidan told me how he thought Nelson Mandela and Sitting Bull were a lot a like, and that if Hillary Clinton wins the presidency, we'll refer to Bill as First Gentleman President.  All of these observations and realizations in the span of just a few minutes, sparked by a quick flip through of the book on the bed.  And suddenly I'm marveling at this 12 year old boy before me in a whole new way.  Seventh grade is the "sweet spot" of school aged people, the grade in which you are not ready to give up being a child, yet you are not quite ready to be a young person yet.  And so you dabble between the two, blurring the lines with your wisdom and perspective, balancing them with the desire to be tucked in, to be sung to before falling asleep.  Sweet spot, indeed.

And in that moment, in hearing my 12 year old describe the similarities between inspirational leaders from two very different times and places, to jumping into dialogue on what to call our first male spouse of the White House, I realized it was a moment I wished to never forget.  I wrestled the goodness out of the day, and there it was, curled up next to me for a long snuggle, three times over, with new knowledge and ideas and perspective to go with.

So I start where I am.

1 comment:

Susan said...

So good to see you back at two of the things you do so well.....reflection and writing.