Sunday, February 26, 2017

Not What I Expected

 Lists.  I am a list maker.  I enjoy the feeling of crossing off items of a to-do list.  I feel productive when I can check the box "done."  Call it control, call it organization, or perhaps it's just my way of attempting to remember what I need to do.  I do have trouble remembering things.  I mean I can remember to do the laundry, but I feel more satisfied when I actually pick up a pen and draw a dark ink line through the word that says "laundry."  Laundry is a jerk anyway--always multiplying.  When I cross it off the list, for just a moment, his mountains of wrinkled cotton and unmatched socks are not victorious.  Memory.  Lists.  Control.  Expectation.  There is a connection.

     Lately I've been keeping a mental list of things that are happening that are not what I expected at all.  Things that happen that are outside what I would list.  It's weird and sometimes wonderful.  Usually wonderful.  Some of them have literally taken my breath away.  I had this feeling I need to write them down.  If they are written down, perhaps I will remember them more.  Perhaps I am being tugged at by a power greater than myself to feel gratitude for them.  Whatever the reason I chose I write about a few.  It's been months since I've blogged; so, here goes.

  • Kindness notes.  During the month of February, Chancellor Middle School is writing notes of kindness.  Students can write them to each other.  Teachers can write them to students. Teachers can write them to other teachers.  The notes get posted on various bulletin boards in the hallways of the school.  I have seen my name on many.  Students have written them to me!  These notes were so unexpected.  So beautiful.  So kind.  My heart is touched.  I never would've listed one of my character traits as "kind."  I guess I've turned a corner.  :)
  • Valentine's Day.  A student gave me a small box of chocolates.  John grilled steaks and came home with fancy cupcakes from my favorite cupcake shop.  There were roses.  Sydney wore a skirt and a fancy headband to school (she never dresses like that anymore).  
  • An observation drive-by.  In the world of education there are few things that will make a teacher sweat more than the unannounced observation.  I've survived a few this year already.  However, a couple weeks ago during my advanced English class BOTH principals and five higher-ups from Central Office were in my the same time!  I have 34 students in that class.  They were all working quietly on an assignment.  I was buzzing like a bee to each flower in an attempt to sprinkle assistance and collect knowledge from as many students as possible.  It was stressful to be looked at by seven adults at the same time.  They milled about the room taking photos of my bulletin boards and reading over my lesson plans.  I was certain I was a sinking ship.  Then, something unexpected happened.  One of the Central Office commanders commented that it felt "cozy" in my room and he liked the "learning environment."  
  • Weather.  Last week the weather in Virginia was more like mid to late May than late February.  I've heard people commenting that it's global warming.  Those comments sound so doomsday-ish. I chose to ignore those comments and lifted my face toward the sun.  Yesterday morning, I met my favorite running friend and we conquered the hills of Fredericksburg for seven miles.  It was glorious.  There were daffodils and cherry blossoms.  There was good conversation and vitamin D, and sweat because it was 70 degrees at 8 a.m.!!
  • A new student.  Early, last week a shy girl was delivered to my class during second block by a student aid.  She has large dark eyes and a beautiful smile.  She wears a hijab.  She is a Muslim American.  Her home language is Arabic.  She told me she enjoys reading and is working to make her "writing better."  She stood beside me in the hall during the morning announcements on Thursday and we said the Pledge of Allegiance together.  My throat felt tight and my heart smiled.  She looked at me, smiled, and then walked off to her homeroom.  In that unexpected moment I felt a connection to something much bigger than myself.  
  • My niece on Facebook.  My niece posted a link today to a 90 second video of Robin Williams.  In the video he spoke about how he made his life spectacular.  Ryleigh and I both adored Robin Williams.  His movies and humor were like nothing we will ever see again. His words reminded me to focus on the good. We likely to see "the bad times" as he worded it, but we get to make life spectacular.  

     There have been days since school began in August that I have felt so tired I didn't know where the energy would come from to do it all again the next day.  Where would the patience come from?  How would I mark off all the things on my to-do list?  Most days something magical happens--something I can't explain, or I'm too tired to try to figure out.  I go to bed at 9 o'clock because I'm exhausted, which gives me the energy to do it all again the next day.  With John's help, we decided the kids are old enough to do their own laundry and suddenly the mountains became molehills.  I do think though that a big part of it is letting go of the expectations.  I haven't expected any of the things on the list above to come to fruition.  They just did.  It is magical and it is spectacular.  In my collecting of quotes I recently came across this one from former NCAA basketball player and coach, John Wooden.  "It's the little details that are vital.  Little things make big things happen."  My list is little things in the big picture of life.  Small ripples in a pond.  Small ripples can have a big and lasting impact.  My lists are a small part of my life.  Letting go of my expectations feels big, but perhaps it's a small action that leads to a lasting imprint in my life.

Thank you for reading.