On Friday of last week, I closed out my twelfth year of teaching. After teaching for more than a decade, I still find the profession highly rewarding, but also very challenging.
At the end of every school year, I have a ritual where I stand in my classroom with the lights off. I take a few minutes to reflect on the year as a whole, considering everything from failures to victories. While the walls can boast many days of laughter, I can’t deny it was a tough year. After a few moments of contemplation I realized this was the year of letting go.
In the space of nine months, my life has irrevocably changed. I am still the same optimistic and happy person, but I’ll be honest in admitting it has been a struggle to hang onto the parts of my personality that matter the most to me. The changes around me range from deep personal losses to trivial, stupid things that are simply gone. Either way, where I started in August is very different from I where I am in May.
A number of things have changed both personally and professionally, some of which are so new I’m still trying to wrap my mind around them. There are, however, five things that have sunk in and I’ve figured out how to let them go in different ways.
I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to say goodbye to her as I still feel her presence. She left us back in December, but in many ways it’s like she’s still whispering in my ear. I treasure that feeling, but Friday nights just aren’t the same without seeing my Grandma across the craft table. I haven’t made a card or scrapbook page since she passed and I think it will be a long time before I pick up another rubber stamp. On the bright side, I swear she’s right by my side as I knit. She was a master knitter and whenever I get stuck, I always seem to find the answer and I like to think it’s from her.
2) Nearly Perfect Attendance.
From my first day on the job, I hardly ever missed a day of work. I’ll take a personal day or two around my birthday, but that’s it. This year I missed a ridiculous amount of work due to health issues, a funeral, and family emergencies. Perhaps, it’s my tendency towards perfectionism, but I felt incredibly guilty for missing 9 days of work. It’s a matter of personal pride to do the very best work I can and to be present for a job I am paid to do. Letting go of that pride was hard to do this year, but I also realize I didn’t have much of a choice. Sometimes there are things beyond my control.
Five years ago, my school switched over to Apple for all teacher issued laptops. I was skeptical at first, but within a week I was a total convert. My transition was so complete, I turned off my PC at home and just used my work computer for everything. My MacBook traveled all over the country with me to workshops, vacations, and writing retreats, (including London). I wrote my first novel and part of my second on that laptop. This year, they gave us new computers and I had to return my faithful old friend. Call me crazy, but I had a relationship with that laptop and the break-up hurt. Luckily, I now have my own non-work related MacBook Pro, but our relationship is still pretty new, (my weird sense of humor is part of this list item, in case you haven’t noticed).
4) The Office and Twilight
This is going to sound crazy, but just roll with me on this one. Back in 2005, I started watching a little show called The Office. After a couple of episodes, I was obsessed. Obsessed to the point of going to the 2007 Office Convention in Scranton. For me this was more than just a show as it got me writing again after a 5 year hiatus. I wrote analytical posts about each episode and gained a strong reader base, which gave me the encouragement to keep writing. I am still writing today because of what The Office gave me: Inspiration and Confidence. The Office came to an end on May 16 and yes, I cried. That being said, my work keys are still securely fastened to a Dunder Mifflin lanyard, (I will always be an Office fan).
Twilight also came to an end with the released of Breaking Dawn: Part 2 back in November. For five years, I fawned over the books and movies, drooled over Edward and idolized Stephenie Meyer’s courage to re-imagine vampire lore. Beyond the fandom, my foray into novel writing began on the night of Twilight’s movie release. I think I’m still in denial that all things Twilight have come to an end, but I did pack away all my Twilight posters. Next year, I have no idea what posters will hang on my “fun wall” in my classroom. Superheroes, maybe?
During the last week of school, I found out the district made an executive decision to replace all chalkboards with whiteboards. I am devastated by this as my chalkboard is something I really loved in my classroom. The dark green keeps the room warm and cozy (instead of white and sterile). Next year, I am stuck using stinky markers and I have to figure out how to keep those boards clean (which is by all accounts impossible). Never mind the glare. The one silver lining? I think I remember seeing dry erase crayons at Target. That could be fun.
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Instead of fixating on what has changed, I’m choosing to be curious of what lies ahead. I am so thankful for my family and my home. More changes are on the horizon, but my anchors remain firmly in place. Letting go is a natural part of life and makes way for new paths.
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