I can't believe it's November. I can't believe how aware I am of how grateful I am for time. As much as I can admit to myself that I am not where I thought I would be, not doing what I had hoped or thought I would be doing in my life...I am okay. Relaxed even. Peaceful, maybe?
Last night I left my parents house and took the 40 minute drive back to our current home thinking how much I loved the winding back roads. I drove in silence with the dogs quietly breathing in the seats behind me. I didn't put the music on. I just drove and enjoyed the moonlight as my guiding light and thought of how much I don't miss the traffic and noise of the roads I used to commute on everyday. Sure, there were a dozen cars or so of incoming traffic that interrupted my moonlit drive but otherwise there was the quietness of the back road as my car drifted left to right, winding and looping in between the trees and beside the river to get home. I didn't feel rushed. I wasn't worried or anxious. I was just grateful, aware and present. Gosh that felt nice.
I tend to live in this above space above where my mind is constantly thinking about time, how I spend it, checking invisible boxes off an invisible list, wondering what I "should" be doing, and if that is "enough." I worry, overthink, project, and get stuck in analysis paralysis often. Although I am not as unkind to myself as I used to be, I still catch myself all the time being unkind and try to let the thoughts go like a balloon into the wind.
These past few months of not working and now working but only part time has disrupted the normal of what time felt like everyday.
Normal time feels drastically different. At first the slow pace made me feel panicked. I was annoyed with people who shared sage advice about enjoying the time and sharing the wisdom of soaking it in. I wanted to scream at them, "But I am not getting enough done!"
But the past few weeks have felt different. There is this relaxing feeling and realization about my present life conditions. The looming changes remind me this open time is special. Those people are right, I wont get it back. It's mine and it's okay.
I am healing from time sickness.
Today's centering thought from my meditation series was, "I restore inner balance when I live in the now." How wonderful is that? Deepak and Oprah's meditations are so great because they help me reflect in such a different way than I am prone to do alone.
Get this: The message of the day is about "time sickness". It goes on to say, "The psychological and physical pressures that we place on ourselves in trying to meet the artificial demands of a modern time schedule has been called "time sickness." We feel there is never enough time in one day to do everything we need to do. Then we feel guilty, frustrated, and anxious for not accomplishing what we hoped to do, taking us further off track. ...To heal this time dysfunction we need to change our experience of time."
Just what I needed to hear and sit in.
So I am going to stay humble in my time today. I am not going to worry about when my other job will start, how I am going to get out of debt, where I will live a year from now. I am not going to judge myself harshly about this pretend image of myself that I created and how I am not living up to her potential. I am not going to worry about things that I don't have, or a status I am not living up to.
I will, however, be thankful for the time to go on a walk with the dogs. I will relish taking my time not being rushed when I take a hot shower and do my "get ready for the day" routine. Because of this schedule, it actually allowed me to make a veterinary appointment for Violet this afternoon so I can care for her and still get to work on time. I will stay in the joy of going to work, even though it is only for a few hours, because I am serving other people that need help- and a few hours are better than no hours. I will get home with enough time in the day to still see my family before they go to sleep. I will give love and receive love. Because there is always enough time for those things when we are present for them.
Job searching to me is the equivalent to falling down the rabbit hole.
I go through various feelings about not having a job right now. Sometimes I am relieved, grateful, relaxed, and refreshed. Many times I am overwhelmed with feeling guilty, scared, worthless, good for nothing, worried, anxious and defeated.
Like I will never, ever, find something.
Like all the education I have and thoughts I think won't be of use. And that just sucks.
But I am applying to places. I spend time tweaking and revising my resume and cover letter to meet the different qualifications the jobs are looking for. The technical assistance, curriculum coordinator, and professional support for educator jobs are not plentiful right now. I try to be flexible, patient, and creative in the job hunt. Different companies, different vocations, different towns within an hour radius of where I live currently. I am up for a new adventure. I want to live, learn, and acquire new skills. And I need to in order to carry forward. I am an adult and I need a job.
For those of you who know me as an early educator and wonder why I am not applying to be a preschool teacher here are some answers:
Most importantly (and you can judge this however you would like) I don't want to. I feel done. I did my time and I know that there is a shift happening internally for me that is giving clear information not to be a classroom teacher right now.
Also, there is no classroom or school like the one I have just come from that will hold a candle to the developmentally appropriate and curiosity driven curriculum like the one I was able to have daily creative control over, implement, and participate in like the one I just left. Yes, there are jobs to be a preschool teacher and no, they don't pay well.Different than being burnt out, I can recognize that I am done. I am a great teacher but I cannot go back to a classroom and be a teacher right now.
So nope. I don't want to apply to those jobs. I can't go into a classroom exploding with primary colors, plastic toys, and boxed curriculum. I won't. I would rather work at Starbucks.
And I have applied there. Yup, I am not too proud for serving coffee. I love coffee. It is one of my favorite things in the world to smell, taste, look at, and think about. Coffee and I are friends.
Working in that type of environment where I can serve, multitask and then go home and not think about the job would be a change I could handle. I could make some income but once I clock out, I can be in other parts of my life. Having just come from a place where I had to work daily to keep the balance between my real life and professional life, serving coffee for a few months would be a welcomed respite.
I know I can't do that forever. I am too much of an overachiever, over-thinker, and professional educator to do that forever.
But I can't find the damn jobs. The jobs where I can help support teachers, families, children...I don't want to be a teacher, but I do want to utilize my knowledge and experience in order to serve families and educators. I love presenting. Love it. But once you start searching around that rabbit hole you fall in.
You start feeling around in the dark for a flashlight and some semblance of key words and descriptions that fit your background and education but you come up with a flashlight that has bad batteries or a matchbox that got wet with matches you can't stike.
Sometimes, just sometimes, you put your hand down and feel a job. You scoop it in your hand and it feels like sand at the beach but the tighter you try to hold it and bring it closer to you, the quicker it slips out into the dark abyss and you just breathe deeply while trying to keep your cool.
I am told to be grateful for my time. Use this time. Use it.
Sure. Let me get right on that.
I watch my dogs relax so easily. And I wonder, 'how can I be more like them and just not worry? How can I shed the guilt and just be?' But then my mind remembers 'I need to get a job!' and the daydream disappears and I remember I am in the hole trying to find a job... Where are these things?!
So I try to go out and enjoy, read, relax, and remember that I am in a unique situation where I do not have to rush into the next job of my life. But I am me and sure enough, a few hours later I trip on the rabbit hole.
Some days the hole is really big. Today I fell head into the agony of the job search.
Last week, I was able to step over it. I applied for a few jobs and looked up toward the light and crawled out. It was lovely. I had hope, I felt grounded, I was trusting. And then last night I was filled with nightmares and despair and I couldn't breathe when I woke up. It feels like a literal weight on my chest. What am I going to do with my life? Or...what am I going to do right now to be productive?
So I am trying to be a trickster to the hole. Like make a deal and schedule time for it. I can jump in a few hours every few days. I talk to it saying, "Good morning! Let's find some jobs to apply to. What do you think we can apply for today?" Then I try to ignore the voice that responds with, "What do you mean a job? You are some kind of simpleminded girl to think you have anything of worth to get an interview at these places. Stop wasting your time." I recognize the voice as fear and try to reason with her until she resumes her spot away from me but the hole is big and her voice echoes.
Anyway, I schedule time with the rabbit hole. I apply to at least a few jobs whether I am overqualified or under-qualified so I can keep myself in the game. I think, 'How can I spin my experience to show I can do these things?' I try not to loose faith when I do not hear back from anyone about any of these positions. I try not to lean against the walls of the hole where there are roots poking and scratching at my inner sensitivities. I remind myself that I am worthy, loved, and capable. And that all of these feelings are natural and okay. But being the trickster is hard for me. Letting go of the control and jumping into the hole without seeing makes me want to vomit every.single.time. Being present and grateful for this is my daily challenge and gift. And in my peripheral is always the rabbit hole.
When I rolled over in bed a few mornings ago and grabbed my phone to do the rounds of Instagram and email checking I was excited to have received an email from a close friend and former colleague from school. This email was a call for help.
My incredible friend, mom of twins, and dedicated teacher was requesting very important details to a very coveted item that used to live on my desk.
She needed a stapler.
A person who doesn't deal with office supplies might think this is a trivial email. An email sent at 10:32 p.m. could be possible evidence of the seriousness of the issue. I mean, really, have you ever needed to staple something and the stapler you need isn't on your desk and you have to spend precious minutes locating it? Has it bothered you so much, and happened so repeatedly that you needed to send an email to a friend at night after your children have finally went to bed and you folded the laundry and cleaned dishes and maybe...maybe washed your face?!
You probably haven't had the later, but possibly you have had stapler location aggression, or stapler frustration.
Still no? Okay, well just imagine you need a stapler, can't find one but after a few minutes you finally locate one. You go to staple your pages and it jams.Jams!
So now you try pulling the stupid thing out of the paper. In the process you have also successfully created crumpled-edge-with-holes paper. Stupid stapler. Cheap thing!
Try again. You then try to staple your document (that you want to look clean and pristine) again. The second time the stapler goes down and you hear the "crunch" of the staple going in but then the stapler is stuck down.
It won't retract.
Well now you have to pull the friggin' thing. Which, of course, incurs more holes, more crumples, rips a little, and maybe it makes you want to just reprint the whole thing again so it looks professional but you want to be environmentally friendly and the whole thing that should have been easy and only take a mili-second has now become and hide and seek project with an extra round of steps, wasted paper, a broken stapler, and most importantly, a teacher about to blow their gasket.
After reading that we can probably agree that whether you need a stapler all of the time or just some of the time, having a working stapler is important.When such events happen regularly though, what you might need, is an Office Supplies Super Hero.
A great stapler is no joke. I have one very such stapler. It is a very special office item. In my previous job it lived on my desk and it wasn't a travel office object. It was the best stapler in our building. Anyone could use it but they needed to come to my desk and keep it at my desk. (A teachers desk has a lot of materials on it. Some teachers are able to have more things on their desk than others. My desk was a minimalist desk and my stapler was bright purple. I knew if that sucker was gone and I was on the hunt to have it back.)
This handy-dandy super-stapler I am referring to, of course, is an "easy touch stapler." You know the kind that has the bigger handle that can staple like 25 sheets with very little effort and come out perfectly each and every time? If you haven't had experience with an easy stapler and you have to staple something more than a hand full of times a year then please-stop reading this and go onto Amazon or drive to a office supplies store and buy yourself one. It is worth the money. Just type "easy touch stapler" then enter your budget, color preferences, and brand and you have a winner.
Back to my friend. She needed a hero and pronto.
The time stamp was an indicator that even though she really had a million other things to be thinking about and processing this one thing was bugging her. She needed something to be easy. And I did take my stapler with me to New Hampshire. I had thought about leaving it and passing it onto her but I really like my stapler and all of the magical easiness it aids with.
At 5:00 in the morning post email, I went straight to my Prime account, ordered her one, and sent it straight to her classroom. I let her know that the problem had been fixed and to be on the lookout.
It is nice to be someones hero. Especially if it takes so little time and effort. A teacher has to staple so many things. Sharing office supplies can be tricky. For some ungodly reason there is only one good working 3-hole punch there too. Maybe my next mission as Office Supplies Hero is to buy another 3 hole punch for that space. I don't know but small matters are important.
There is nothing more frustrating than trying to locate a three-hole-punch so you can add a journal page to the classroom binder when you have a million other things to do. Maybe the only other more frustrating thing if to locate the 3-hole punch after a failed stapler attempt but I digress.
The truth of the matter is: there are many things that are a luxury to teachers. Time is at the top of that luxurious mountain. We don't want to detract from that experience.
So I felt helpful. I felt grateful for the mission. And now my friend has to worry no more about stapler troubles.
Within the past month I have sold my house, left my job, moved up to New Hampshire, and moved in with my sister-in-law...in her basement. Typical Millennial, right? Well, it turns out it is not so simple. I would like to view myself as super brave and divergent rather than an entitled self victimized gal of my generation but in the end it matters how I choose to view this. I choose the blank slate. So here is how it went:
My husband, our two dogs, and I lived in Rhode Island for almost ten years. We lived in cool places, made wonderful friendships, and walked most of the dirt paths that had a trail marker on them (and some that didn't). Professionally, I was able to work in a phenomenal school with an incredible team of educators who daily left me in awe of their care, advocacy, and dedication to developmentally appropriate, intentional, and joy filled days along side of children and college students. It was hard work but good work. But life as it turns out...isn't about work. Even the good work. We realized that we missed two things: our family and then mountains. Both were calling us back.
Besides that, there was the rock we were tugging around with us too. I think some might know this rock as DEBT. We lugged it around everywhere. It weighed us down. We couldn't dodge it. It was always there causing me to stub my toe directly in it and scream out in frustration, "I did everything right!!!! I went to school! I got a good job. I am a good person. What the frigggggggg!!!!!!" It's a big rock.
Side note: I really like collecting rocks. I stack them. I write memories on them from the places they came from. I even make up stories about rocks. But this rock sucks. And I didn't like it in my collection. I am currently trying to relocate the rock to the bottom of a large abyss so that others might not stub their toe on it.
As a classic Millennial...I indebted myself to tremendous school debt that I couldn't escape from and truth be told, I am not skilled in the art of money. I like it. I like sharing it and having it. But I am not the best at figuring it all out. Or saving it as it turns out. Whenever we would save, a vet bill would happen or something on the house needed fixing. We couldn't catch up. We were just always skimming by.
Outwardly, I was successful and happy. I was in a lot of ways happy and successful. In reality, I was living pay check to pay check, slightly above my means, using my credit card when an emergency did arise, and trying to act like I was fine. But it was tricky. I had been bitten with the traveling bug. I found out I couldn't have children naturally (or with the help of medical alternatives) despite many different tries. I found that I was becoming a human "doing" not a human "being". And I was opening up spiritually in a way I hadn't expected. A way that left me wanting something different. Maybe adventure? Maybe a blank slate? Whatever it was, it wasn't what I was doing or where I was at.
We had real choices, my husband and I. Good choices. We could have stayed in Rhode Island in our adorable little cape in the sweet neighborhood where Mike and I both had solid jobs. We could have continued to spend two out of four weekends traveling to New Hampshire and trying to pack in all the mountain time, family, and friend time we could fit in and then haul the dogs back into the car back to go back to Rhode Island. In about 15 years (or a miracle, a job change, or second jobs for both of us) I would finally pay off my schooling. Maybe I could teach night courses and try to earn more to pay off more debt but that would mean less time with my family. I also didn't think that all the hours of grading and attending to my computer along with trying to fulfill my actual job duties to the high level I was accustomed to would have done anybody any good.
But being in our home, with good friends, and good jobs...it was a good choice. I could listen to my podcasts on the way to work, fill up my inner cup as best I could with positivity, and maybe get around to writing that book I wanted to write. Did I mention I want to write a book even though I have no training or experience? Yeah, there is that too.
Many people would have stuck with that safe road or "path" or whatever you would like to call it. There it was: the reality of our quiet (somewhat stressed but sweet) little life in Rhode Island.
But it always came back to missing New Hampshire. I saw it in Mike's eyes. And each time we drove back to Rhode Island I felt it in my heart. We were missing my niece and nephews special events. We were missing dinners, and walks, and sunsets with family.I missed my dad. I adore my dad. And after a lot...A LOT of talking and considering, we came to a decision.
We made the decision of option number two: to give up the house, the quiet, the good jobs...and move back to New Hampshire.
So we manifested some cool energy, got a lot of support from friends and family, and what seems the blink of an eye...badda bing badda boom we figured out a plan and were able to move up. We needed to sell the house with a profit to pay off the debt we aquired and one of us had to get a job with healthcare. The housing situation was imperfectly perfect because we were going to move back into a house with Mike's brother and his girlfriend. Not ideal, it was a very small space, but also ideal, because the rent (if you could call what they wanted rent) could allow us to continue to work towards our "clean slate." Wow. The Universe does indeed work with us. Incredible.
I think we all assumed that I would get a job easily but as it turns out, Mike was the bread winner. With the help of my step-mom and Mike's experience he was able to land a wonderful job...with...wait for it...healthcare! And me? With my schooling, drive, and experience? I would certainly get a job- no problem. It would come soon. Anytime. I am so ready to serve and learn and grow!
Fast forward three months. I have no job. As expected, I am losing my sense of my identity. What is my purpose? What is my next move? What the hell do I do?
It is the strangest thing. I have been a work horse my whole life. I am a classic high achiever and recovering perfectionist.
I do not know what to do with this gift. This time.
What do you do with time? I spent a few weeks at my parents house while they were away in Alaska (yeah...I did get some of that travel bug from them) and that was nice. Lots of time with the dogs, in the hammock, in nature by the river and in the woods. I saw my New Hampshire friends which was soul quenching and relaxing. I certainly spent a lot of time with family. I meditated, read, and listened to podcasts.
We finally moved into what would be our actual space: my sister-in-laws basement. Which although was unexpected, turns out to be quite lovely. Again, very Millennial of me to be recovering from debt with no job living in my families basement but it is actually a gift, I assure you. I am grateful and humbled for sure. We have a whole space to ourselves but we also get time with my niece and two nephews. We are in the middle of the woods looking out into trees. For all intensive purposes we met all of our goals. We sold our house, paid off some major debt, one of us got a great job with healthcare, and we are spending copious amounts of time with family and nature.
So then what? Everything should be good, right? It is....but. (Always a "but," right?!) But then there is time to fill. I know myself well enough to understand that I need accountability and progress. If there are no extrinsic motivators telling me how to be productive and accountable then I will set mini goals myself. I will use my new book Getting Grit to help set a stage for goals both personal and professional goals.
To help keep track of these goals, I got a planner.
As much as I do feel like something wonderful is going to come I need to feel like I have some control over my life. The Universe did not support all of this happening without a purpose for me. I did not jump out into the proverbial net in order to fall through one of the holes and grab for dear life at a thread hanging down (it is hard to hold onto the net with the DEBT rock weighing you down even more). I am trying as best I can to be in the "flow" while still holding a paddle and steer when and where I can.
So I got a planner. And I am setting goals. I am tracking my "Grit" as deemed by Caroline Adams Miller. I am listening to Brené Brown and Liz Gilbert for their wisdom in understanding myself as an emotional creative being. As small and uneventful they are, I am goal setting. And I am going to write because writing makes me happy. It makes me feel naked and vulnerable. But I am also completely okay with being imperfect. I can totally flex my humility muscle.
I like my planner. Today I applied for jobs and changed all of the addresses to the correct/new NH address.Tomorrow I am meeting my dad for coffee, bringing the dogs swimming, and going to Zumba. I don't have anything written down for Friday. Saturday I am having a spa day with my girlfriend and having a barbecue at her house. I don't know about you...but that sounds like a wonderful to-do list (the grit part comes in when I applied for all of those jobs that I am either under-qualified or overqualified for but need a job so applied anyways. Damn that humility). And if a planner is what I need right now to be feel in control, accountable, and happier then I am 100% okay with it.
Onward to the blank slate. Which is messier than imagined but oh, the adventure!
"Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage.
Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness."
Recently, I completed my first 4000 footer in New Hampshire. It had been a plan for a long time coming, stemming back a few years ago when on the way to our friends house up in northern New Hampshire, my husband and I were admiring the mountains from the car. Admiring soon turned into an argument, a confession really, which basically stated: since I moved us to Rhode Island I was responsible for shattering his dreams of camping, hiking, and completing all the 4000 footers in New Hampshire.
Well, didn't that just put a damper on the ride?
At the time, we were grossly out of shape and I was struck because, I literally had no idea that the man I had been with for almost a decade had this yearning to hike. And then I was almost dumbfounded by how ludicrous it was to think we could just go do one of those. I really didn't appreciate the idea of being told I couldn't do something because of how far away, out of shape, or inexperienced I was. I am stubborn like that. In our relationship, we rarely argue about anything, so this particular disagreement stuck with me.
So began part of the journey in becoming more healthy and having a goal to hike. Flash forward three years, hundreds of hours and miles in nature, 140 pounds lighter between the two of us, and add a healthier mind, body, and spirit and we were ready. As ready as we could be to start this journey.
With the support and encouragement from our best friend, and blessings from our families, we put a date on the calendar. I am sure most people would think maybe we were making a big deal out of this. But there was history to this hike, and it was a big deal to me.
We would hike Mt. Moosilauke as our first 4000 footer. This one was specifically suggested because it was an "easier one" to begin with. I would personally not describe it as easy, more like moderate, but we did it, and every step was worth it.
It was a beautiful day. We arrived at the base by 8:45 a.m. The mountain is 4,802 feet high, and I have been doing mostly flat walks in Rhode Island to prepare. The summit was about 2.5 hours to the top. As good of a time as any to begin our journey as official hikers.
As we readied to begin the trail, I can see Mike's best friend ready to run up the mountain. Mind you, the two friends we are hiking with are in extraordinary health. One is running a half marathon the following weekend and his girlfriend teaches bar class and pilates at a gym. I already knew I was in trouble. Mike felt he had something to prove and was gearing up to keep up with the crazy couple. I wasn't in any hurry to prove anything to anyone. I was just happy to be experiencing this long awaited challenge.
It came as no surprise that they did get ahead of me rather quickly. I started to have an inner battle with myself about pushing harder, staying with the group, being good enough to push forward, calling myself all sorts of names. I began taking deep breaths to calm myself down. I began to feel something happening when I looked ahead at the trail. A self assuredness and self acceptance as I told myself, "Go at your own pace. There is no rush, there is no race. Just go at your own pace."
So that is what I did. I stopped when I needed to stop. I rested when I needed to rest. I took photos of the views and the things close by me like ferns, streams, and flowers. I drank water when I was thirsty.
There were definitely times when my heart felt like it was going to explode out of my chest. When my legs were straining to lift high enough to grip onto the next tree root or rock formation. When I felt insecure as people in their late fifties and sixties were passing me with ease and familiarity. But I thought to myself, "Go at your own pace. You are fine where you are. You are doing incredible things. Just go at your own pace."
My lovely hubby ended up pulling something in his leg in an effort to keep up with our friends who seemed to be flying up the mountain, and ended up peacefully walking with me. Well, mostly peaceful-he was in a lot of pain and I forgot to pack medicine.
Just as promised, the views were stunning. Just stunning. Words cannot capture the awesomeness of the foreverness you feel when looking out at the mountains. I heard birds I never heard before. The smells of the forrest filled my lungs with pine, and earth, and wind. At times, I heard nothing at all. The silence was peaceful. Stillness.
As we got closer to the top, the trees started to become sparse and break. Rocks became more familiar, bushes surrounded us. The wind began to pick up and the air became crisp.
And then there it was. The summit. Just...wow.
We stayed up at the top for over an hour eating our PB&J's, fruit, and trail mix. It was the best. We did it. We made it to the top. Even at my own pace, I made it!
As did countless other people of all ages, shapes, sizes, and backgrounds. There were mothers carrying their three year olds in one of those special backpacks (talk about being in shape!), there were father and sons, people with their dogs, couples who were not aware of the temperature change on the top who looked cold, and older folks who looked so peaceful and experienced, that it made my heart smile. A dad carried his infant in the pack against his chest, the baby must have been only months old. One guy with a thick Boston accent and a Red Sox hat was even in flip flops. I cannot imagine what he was thinking when he decided on that foot-ware choice.
But we all had this shared experience of climbing this mountain and looking at the beauty around us. They all went at their own pace too. We all made it up, each one of us with such unique journeys that brought us in this space together, and it was so special. I can now understand why the climb is so worth the effort.
The climb down was another journey in itself. Mike and I climbed down together, slow and steady to accommodate the pull in his muscles. I was my usual forrest self, enjoying the nature in my quiet way, giving thanks to all surrounding me as my legs started shaking of their own accord at times and my tired feet began to slip. We invited our friends to meet us towards the bottom as they bounded with effortless energy ahead of us, still so encouraging and supportive.
When we reached the bottom, it was around 4:00 and I was so proud I teared up. We had done it. It was more than I could have expected or dreamed of. And we went together, at our own pace, where the sun met my face to give me kisses at the bottom as I stretched my body. What a climb.
I don't know if Mike remembers the argument in the car that day so many years ago. I don't know if he understood how much I appreciated his candor at his yearning for the mountains. I know that it changed my goals, my approach to nature, and eventually helped me to see that I needed to make dramatic changes in my life to be able to be one with the mountains. I am a self admitted dreamer. My head is literally always in the clouds with things I want to do, places I wish to visit, and experiences I yet to have. But this helped my head meet the clouds. To become one with them and share that moment with my dear love and best friend. It was so bonding, and grounding for us as a couple and as individuals.
I am so grateful that I was able to keep the mantra of "Go at your own pace" throughout the walk. It was a blessing I truly needed to gain self acceptance and find the capacity to keep on going throughout the challenging walk. I will keep that mantra with me as I move forward in all the directions my path is leading me to. It makes me feel empowered and safe.
And now...I am ready. Onto the next.
With love and honest,
Brittany- your forever dreamer.
-My work is nestled in the middle of an odd spot with no easy commute per say to arrive to the university. All one-lane roads, each route with its quirks. Each with its pros and cons. Some have coffee spots. Some are more direct. Some have the least amount of traffic lights and others have farms.
The most favorite way I to go to work is by a back road that leads through the farms and woods in South County. The loopy S-curves along with the slight up and down of hills surrounded by greenery reminds me so much of New Hampshire yet here I go on my way to work in Rhode Island. It still makes my soul feel at home.
Sandwiched right in the middle of the commute is a sod farm. And today I just had to stop and take a picture.
This farm and its grass fields have brought me so much joy over the past seven years of my life. When I used to open the school, I would relish the mornings to leave while it was still dark out and arrive at the fields just in time to watch the sunrise over the tree tops.
Each season lent itself to magical colors. I would almost always roll my window down, even in the cold, to feel the air, breathe in the scent of the farm, and just embrace the quietness of a farm not yet awake. The pinks of morning so often lost by my attempts to capture it on my camera. I remember becoming so sad when the clocks would change and I would arrive post sunrise. But after a few days I would find something new to love about the farm and just enjoy the fields once again.
Many years into my commute, I look forward to spring coming when the dirt is turned and the grass becomes much like moss across the land. It looks like green peach fuzz. And then all of the sudden its getting taller and the first round of mowing happens. Its predictable and calming.
Then the grass is ready to be cut and rolled. The pallets get carefully spaced and stacked ready to hold the weight of the impending grass. The field looks like it gets a hair cut. It makes me smile. And then after a few days it is seeded and green again.
There is a peacefulness I get from watching the farmers out there day after day seeding, watering, fertilizing, cutting, and gathering their grass. Its continuous, dependable, and such a circle of life.
The grass is planted, it grows, and just when it is perfect it gets cut below the roots and relocated to a new place where it will have to figure out how to begin the process again. In its place, other grass will take root and grow. In its place, the same farmers will tend to it in the same manner. And it is all so marvelous.
This field in the photograph was different though. It had intentionally been allowed to grow tall and turn golden. I watched the breeze enter into the meadow and push the grass this way and that shimmering in the sunlight. I wondered over the past days how much longer would the grass grow before it would be rolled together?
Today it had been cut.No longer did the grass glow in the sunlight nor did it get relocated to regrow. It will serve a different purpose. The rolls of gold will nourish the land and the animals around it.
And those rolls of hay were gorgeous.
I don't take this way to work everyday but I take it most days when I can. Because why wouldn't I want to embrace how wonderful it is to pass these farms? To smell the air? To swerve along the roads.
Today I got to stop and capture the moment.
Did you ever have one of those days where you just needed to put yourself to bed? I had such grand beginnings of a day. Morning meditation, yoga, hot shower, morning coffee on the back deck with my husband and dogs, a new audio book to listen to on the way to work...but then:
Hello PMS. Hello Grouchiness.
I was so grouchy about such stupid things. The way children spoke to each other at work. The neediness of an assistant. Tears forming for no reason. And a heaviness, a wave of tired that hit at around 2:15 that I couldn't shake.
I left work still trying to convince myself of a grand afternoon. I drove home debating with myself about whether or not to take the dogs to my favorite park. The internal dialogue annoyingly tossing the idea back and forth, "By the time I get home should I pack dinner first to bring with us since the walk usually takes an hour and a half? Should we eat before we go? By the time I get home, get dinner, pack the dogs and drive to the park will I have enough time to do the big loop?' and the other thoughts crept in, 'Goodness my back hurts. Why am I so tired? I am totally PMSing. I friggin' hate this. But I should go walk. I know I will be happy once I walk." I spent half my ride home thinking about this. What was wrong with me? Even my internal dialogue was making me crazy. I couldn't turn myself off.
The moment I got home the tiredness was so prevalent and the aching in my lower back so intense I just went in the backyard to the swing. There was sunshine and dog love and even green leaves. Lawn mowers and weed wakers could be heard every few houses. It was peaceful and still early enough to set off to the park.
But bed also sounded so great. My inner voice whispered, 'just go to bed'. But I wouldn't be that girl. That person who can't flipping handle an afternoon on a perfectly good day. I was going to try this out. I hate thinking that I didn't make the best use of my time.
By the time my husband came home I let him know that although I had the best of intentions, my body wasn't wanting to do what my mind had set out to do. Lets just try to have dinner and then maybe go for a walk. And apparently, in the meantime, subconsciously, try to read my mind so I don't have to say words because when I do they come out annoyed for no reason.
Which wasn't too long before sharp tones slipped out to my husband who didn't hear what I said twice. Side note- I hate repeating myself.This is at all times, not just when I am feeling like I am today. I repeat myself all day long with children (developmentally appropriate for them) and I hate doing it when I come home. So when I had to do it with him twice and he wasn't hearing me, I lost it. And he gave me that look like, "Why was she so crazy just now?" Because I am overreacting and I'm grouchy. There was no reason for me to have a sharp tone. I just didn't have the energy for a filter.
As we ate dinner my internal dialogue was awful. So much so that I made myself nauseous and didn't finish my dinner. I asked politely if there was a Red Sox game on that my husband could watch tonight. And then I did the only reasonable thing to do when one goes into these types of horrible hormonal moody modes.
I put myself to bed. I gave in. I helped myself and those around me.
I went upstairs and slipped into our comfortable bed, got my headphones, and meditated for an hour. I put a heating pad on my lower back to ease the ache. It didn't fix it but it was nice to be by myself in the quietness, stillness, and oneness of the day. This is what I needed today. It was beautiful outside and walks make me happy most everyday but not today. I needed to put myself to bed.
I know everyone has days like this. Not this carbon copy but days where you have this awareness that your patience filter is low and things are just off. Don't get me wrong either, I still had a good day. I know I have a blessed life with people that love me. I live an awareness and gratitude of my abundance. I dream and make adventures with each passing day. But today, I just needed to get the hell away from everything and be in bed. And some days, thats okay too.
When I woke up this morning I was first aware of the quiet and stillness. I could hear the gentle sounds of breathing while my husband slept next to me-a sound I don't often get to hear, as he is always up before me, an early bird to his core. I could hear my dog Moose stretch his big golden body on the carpet by the foot of the bed, releasing a full sigh for the effort it took to move from his restful state. But all else was silent. The house wasn't awake yet.
When I dared to open my eyes and reach for my glasses I could make out movement past the slots from my blinds. It was snowing. On April 3rd.
I could have been upset. I could have been annoyed by the fact that it is 32 degrees out when only two days ago I was driving home with my windows down, hand out the drivers side trying to catch the warm air in my hands as I stopped at each light. But instead, I marveled at the snow.
It was just so beautiful, peaceful, and delicate. There was no wind to hear, no birds busily conferencing about their morning nesting, no neighborhood dogs alerting their owners to the bag floating past their yard.
There was just the gentle flutter of fluffy morsels moving toward the earth.
After letting the dogs out back to do their morning business and comically bound in the unexpected white playscape, I observed out the window aware of the chill in the house. Despite the chill in the air, I felt grateful for this moment of watching the snow kiss the daffodils awake. Gazing through the window a thought came into my awareness,
'I wonder if the daffodils would think this is magical.'
Because for a daffodil, I imagine, the touch of the snow on top of their yellow petals is an event only felt once, maybe twice, in their short lifetime. Maybe the snow makes them feel like they are dressed up for a ball, bejeweled with the most miraculous draping of pearls, crystals, and diamonds. Perhaps the weight of the snow makes them bend in ways they hadn't thought they could experience with just the mass of their stalk and the movement of wind. I imagine them to be excited like children watching the landscape change for the first time, spellbound at the purity of the white contrasting the spring colors that had resurfaced.
Did it tickle them?
I wonder what a daffodil might think of this. Certainly, it would not get annoyed but accept the different transformations weather can bring. I will also then, take this moment for what it is.
To watch the snow cling onto the bright green buds on the bushes, the see the ice hang onto the branches while dustings of red leaf buds scatter below, these are clearly oxymorons of kinds. But maybe magic none the less.
The snow created a vibrant and contrasting landscape onto my simple backyard. The bright clover and jade greens of the grass poking up here and there and deep chocolate browns of the mud against icy white of the accumulation.
The snow was gone by lunch.
The daffodils bright yellow once again unadorned by the white as gusts of wind pushed them off. My house returned back to the familiar noises of weekend business. The birds outside began chirping. After all, they were very behind schedule in their meetings.
While the day remains frosty, the sun is still shining around us and the blue sky promises different kinds of magic to come. I am so happy for the daffodils and the quiet enchantment they experienced in the early spring morning.
Photo credit to Stuart Gaffin from http://blogs.reuters.com/environment/2008/05/26/there-is-a-time-for-everything-and-its-changing/
My blog is a bear coming out of hibernation. A hibernation I never intended to take but a siesta from blogging it turned out to be. Deep in the forrest of my mind, my blog was nurtured safely within its den- processing, dreaming, and organically shifting while the world around it remained. When I wanted to wake it and post a new understanding the bear just took a deep breath and shuddered as it remained asleep in its dreamlike state. It was tired from all the soul shifting and needed the restorative energy enabled only by the winter break. Hibernating is a lot of work after all.
My Blogger Bear still processed my life through many colors, sounds, emotions, and knowledge within its dreamlike state. And I know from experience that in dreams, anything in the universe is possible.
It had far away adventures, heartaches, laughs, the monotonous routine of the everyday but the excitement of tomorrow. It was excited about all the time we shared in nature, the moss we touched, the water we listened to as it ran through the cracks of the creek. It enjoyed the time with friends, dog snuggles, sticky notes shared between husband and wife, and the dream of the big change that had yet to manifest.
Although in real life it took months to resurface it seemed like only moments to the bear. And much like in dreams, while waking up into the functioning digital blogger bear world, it was hard to begin to describe all the magical adventures and happenings that occurred during sleep.
So it is ready now that spring is here, to resume the digital story telling of my life as I understand it.
Let me begin by saying I know next to nothing about poetry. I don't know the types or correct stanzas etc. I know sometimes poems rhyme. They have a rhythm. And Lord knows, I choked through Chaucer in college. Maybe that is when I decided poetry wasn't for me and I was okay with it. I haven't studied the greatest poets, and I don't think the poem I am going to share is great. But it came out of me. And I want to share it.
Today, I just finished listening to Elizabeth Gilbert's Big Magic and she really helped me to think about writing with the idea of creating for myself. That I shouldn't write with the intention of helping others but that in writing and sharing, others might connect and explore creativity (and other emotions) within themselves.
With both of those ideas being shared, I got heavy news tonight. News that made me sad. Thinking about it makes a lump in my throat. It's heavy. The news makes my eyes water. And my ears swell with pressure. But it also made me think. What new understanding am I gaining with this experience? What about my relationship with change? Why do I accept it? Why do I embrace it so much more than others?
Well, everyone has gifts they bring to the world. For some of us, the gifts are apparent. My dad has the powerful gift of affirmation. My mentor has the true gift of listening. My husband has the gift of being lighthearted and loving. The gift I came into this world with is resilience. It comes from practice but it also comes from embracing change. Moving with change so that I can help others in their journey. I remember hearing the phrase, "With the wind comes change." And so I went to write because writing makes me feel better, It helps me think and understand myself better.
And then this poem thing came out. So I will share it in it's imperfection:
If you, Wind, are Change, then I am the sail.
I stretch and embrace you,
I pull you, and use your force to guide me.
If I am the sail, then my heart is the boat.
Together we will journey, across the waters of life.
She brings on passengers, who we take with us to other lands.
New lands that help us discover that you, Wind, are not always scary.
You are joyful, and surprising.
Your swiftness guides us, gently at times, and speedy at others.
There are times, dear Wind, when you blow so hard,
A tear will appear on my body.
Before I can adjust myself, you gust and I rip open.
The gaping hole leaves me trembling and self-doubting.
Hard to navigate. Exhausted.
But then you are gone, and I am stagnant.
I am lost at sea. Unmoving. Waiting. Confused at times.
My heart waits too, rocking in rhythm of steady ocean below.
As we wait for your return we mend our spirits
And use the reflection from the ocean to help us gather our thoughts.
We dream of where you will take us, what new experiences you will bring us.
And it is in those moments of waiting when I feel you.
You brush up against me, a tickle, so soft it awakes me from my dreaming stupor.
And at first, I resist you. I wiggle and flap. I sway the boat, my heart turning with me.
Persistent, you surround me
All I know to do is envelop you.
I am taking you with me.
New passengers are coming soon.
My heart is calling them to wonder with us.
Patched, I am ready. Eager to travel, impatient to serve.
And together we will all journey.
Because you are coming. You always do.
So, I ask you...If the wind is change, then what are you? My poem, maybe not even a poem by poetry standards, but a poem none the less to me, is my way of exploring my relationship with change. I will edit it some more later. But for now it eases my heart. I know so many incredible things are coming.And that it is okay to breathe through the lump in my throat. And that my wind is bringing me to incredible new sights.
Brittany Courchesne is an early childhood educator, teacher mentor to teachers in training, public speaker, and blogger.