I’m fresh from an exhilarating morning hill run with a dear friend who is also a teacher just as excited as I am with the approaching school year! I’m about to enter my school building, in fact, but felt the need to stop and reflect before charging through the rest of the day . . . .
While summer is flying away as briskly as it usually does, I reflect on life lessons learned or reinforced over the warm days. Reflecting on summer occurrences helps me mentally prep for the exciting new school year ahead. There were quite a few mini-lessons these past few weeks but the one that resonates louder than ever is make the most of this moment we have NOW. I’ve always believed living for today is essential: yesterday is gone and done, tomorrow is not guaranteed. My very first online post, Living in the Moment, illustrates such subject through a poem I wrote for my mother years ago.
The major reinforcer of this lesson is watching my daughter embark upon her senior year of college. Time flies more than we can foresee. — My advance apologies if I start to use a bit too many clichés. I tend to fall back on them when I philosophize. — I’ve told my colleagues who currently have little ones how much it seems like yesterday my girl was the same age even though it was two decades ago. Gretchen Rubin’s video illustrates how long days can feel as we trudge through daily responsibilities and routine; however, looking back, the years seem short. It’s a poignant video that reminds us to revel in the routine!!
As my students sometimes complain that Thanksgiving or Christmas or spring break can’t get here fast enough, I always, always tell them that they’ll look back fondly and school days won’t seem as long. Of course, they shake their heads disbelievingly but maybe someday they’ll understand. 🙂
Another reminder of what it means to enjoy our days stemmed from the recent loss of our pet of almost 16 years. Full disclosure: I am not a cat person by nature. I grew up with dogs and, until we rescued our Crystal cat from a shelter, I was very close-minded about those I viewed as “cat people.” Pet discrimination – guilty as charged. To this day, I would always pet Crystal much more roughly than she preferred. Anyhow, cats require lower maintenance and that’s exactly what I was seeking when I went back to work full time. Crystal charmed us with her tricks and companionship. She exemplified patience and unconditional, simple love. What better lesson is there to learn than that?! While I plan on getting a yellow Labrador or Golden Retriever in the future, Crystal will always hold a special place in the corner of our hearts.
Most negative incidents hold a very positive lesson within them. Perhaps we just have to be patient or look a little deeper. Case in point, my daughter sprained her foot badly at the very beginning of this summer. What was supposed to be her last summer running (sometimes, literally) around Chicagoland turned out to be many hours spent sitting. Flexibility is key in our minds even if our bodies aren’t always as flexible. What this created for us was an opportunity to spend more time talking, sharing writing, looking at old videos, reading recipes and relaxing like we should and usually don’t.
And so, as the new school year starts very soon, I’m grateful for the summer of reflection and the precious moments spent with the special people in my life. We truly learned how to revel in moments this summer – it was pretty awesome! The little downfalls we experience along the way are minor in the grand scheme of things. Looking forward, I’m grateful for new beginnings. I’m grateful for personal and professional possibilities. I’m grateful for the exciting unknowns.
I’ll be watching with a fresh viewpoint as I ask my students to reflect on their own work. I am anxious for the changes approaching at school: new iPad classes, remodeled building, new homeroom period . . . as these changes and more occur, I will remember that, however long a particular day may sometimes seem, the school year is indeed fast!! The end of the year approaches quickly; while there is work to be accomplished in between, it is the amazing students I teach that make the months fly by.