Joy Is Not Made To Be A Crumb
Authenticity: When I Wonder If I Am Enough
I didn’t really set out to be a teacher – or a parent. I wasn’t a child who dreamed of my ‘perfect’ career or ‘perfect’ family. I didn’t have names picked out for my future children. I rarely thought about life too far in advance. I mostly did what I needed to do, took the side roads instead of the highway, and generally landed on my feet – often times a bit wobbly or off center, but not completely upside down.
At least not more than once or twice.
The fact that teaching and parenting have defined me for 27 years is really quite surprising.
I’m grateful for my teaching job. I’m told I’m good at it; I’ve stuck with teaching middle school, through three different districts, dozens of principals and multiple iterations of teaching kids. Yes, the content and class titles have changed, but not my focus: kids first, content second.
And I’m grateful for my parenting job. I’m thinking I’m pretty good at it; my oldest is graduating from college, my youngest from high school. Neither has been in ‘trouble’, they care about people and take their education seriously. They are good humans. And they still check in with mom and dad and put up with my innate tendency to worry and create elaborate ‘what if’ scenarios in my head.
And yet, still, those moments creep up on me, silent and stealthy and surprising with their intensity – moments when doubt creeps in, wraps like a tourniquet around my forehead and squeezes out my confidence. The moments that I’m learning to beat down, to thrash out at with a violence built up over half a century of battling self-doubt.
I’ve been rolling around this idea for awhile now, waiting for just the right inspiration – and today, the Universe responded with a quote from Coco Chanel in my “Year of Daily Joy” guided journal: “How many cares one loses when one decides not to be something, but someone.”
I honestly think that’s where I am right now: deciding to be someONE. I’m fairly certain it has to do with being 50+, with having a supportive husband who helps me along a path that just feels like the right one to take – even when I’ve got no other justification than that. I would bet that it has to do with feeling supported in my work – but administrators, colleagues, parents, and students who allow me to succeed and fail, who listen to my audacious ideas and trust me enough to join in.
Authenticity: loving fiercely
And I know for sure that my children, the two humans who have taught me the most in life, are at the core of my decision. Loving fiercely, parenting two spirits that aren’t afraid to call me out and show me their side of the story, enable me to look in the mirror every day and ask, “Am I enough by THEIR standards?”
Knowing that if I walk my talk, if I believe in my power enough to show them they can believe in theirs, is flexing my authenticity muscle. With every risk I take, with every failure and stumble and crash I hope I’m showing them that I care. That I believe in searching for fulfillment for myself and being open to what the Universe has in mind…even when I want nothing more than to stay under the soft covers of my bed and listen to the birds chirping outside on a cloudy morning.
Martha Beck says, “Refusing to risk is like allowing a muscle to atrophy; it doesn’t hurt, but when the muscle isn’t fulfilling its purpose, it loses whatever strength it has.”
I love thinking of these moments of wondering if I’m enough like a muscle I need to exercise. We all have authenticity inside, wrapping our bones and covering our hearts with abundance and love. Why have so many, like me, found it easier to refuse to risk, to scramble under the covers instead of undertaking the hard work of finding – and cultivating – it?
I have struggled most of my life with a paralysis of perfectionism. I don’t know where it comes from or why, and I honestly don’t care.
What I do care about, however, is how this paralysis impacts my ability to find authenticity-in my parenting, my teaching, my writing, and my daily interactions with strangers and friends. Part of that is recognizing that when the Universe sends me former students who remind me I was their ‘favorite’ teacher, or when my son responds with a hug to my request to spend more than an hour a day together, or when I connect with a stranger on Twitter who honors my work, I am making a difference.
Authenticity: Being enough
I care about authenticity. I also care deeply about being ‘enough’. So I’ll show up, I’ll puff out my chest when I’m feeling less than brave, and I’ll live. I’ll take the risk. I’ll flex the muscle. I’ll show the Universe more love. I’ll do things that I want to do, and I won’t let perfectionism paralyze me ever again.
The Great Heart of the World
I know what the cure is:
it is to give up,
to relinquish, to surrender,
so that our little hearts may
beat in unison with the
great heart of the world.
~ Henry Miller
Every morning for the last eight days I’ve walked into my classroom, taken a big breath, and remembered why I am there. I’ve tried to focus on the love I have for my students, my colleagues, my job and the buildings that help me engage students and build their confidence. As I plug in the twinkle lights that light up the walls and fill my diffuser with lavender, I’m purposefully sharing my love. I stand at the door and greet my students by name. We high five, hug, smile and chat to ease our way into building our little community. I scan their faces for highs and lows and try to notice something about each one. My simple rituals help remind me that school is a place of love for me – that school is where I see the great heart of the world every single day.
Where is our great heart of the world? There are so many ways we have been loved in our lives – so many ways we can SHOW love in our lives. It shouldn’t take tragedies and politics to remember the profound power to be found in love – think about what would happen if you spent five minutes today just writing a list of all the places, all the people and pets and experiences in your life RIGHT NOW where you see love…it would feel so good. It might even balance out all the negativity we see around us, help heal the pain and wrap our arms around those we don’t even know, but those who are collapsed in anguish.
I found this Henry Miller poem about the great heart of the world on the lovely blog, a First Sip – and it just felt like today was the right time to share it.
Sending you all great big love today, and every day. Be sure to share some of your own, too.
I’m so excited to be part of the Hyperdocs Hangout On Air! Today I’ll be interviewed by the HYPERDOC GIRLS – Kelly Hilton, Lisa Highfill and Sarah Landis! I’m such a hyperdoc fanatic – if you love hyperdocs, or just want to know what they are or start creating hyperdocs for your classroom, join us LIVE at 4:00 on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018!
Can’t make it live? No worries – you can find the recorded hangout at this link: www.bit.ly/hyperdochangout10jw . You can watch it over and over again!
We’ll be chatting about all things HYPERDOCS – including challenges, my ‘aha’ moment, how to get started, inspiration and how hyperdocs have transformed my teaching.
Are you wondering what all the hype is around hyperdocs?
You SHOULD be! Hyperdocs have absolutely transformed both my teaching and students’ learning. The organization, creativity and collaboration in my classroom is higher than ever before!
I’d love to share some of my favorite hyperdocs with you – just use these links to make a copy and add them to your teaching tool kit!
Hyperdocs from my English classes:
Hyperdocs from my AVID classes:
Are you looking for a specific type of hyperdoc? Would you like help? Do you want to COLLABORATE? Have you used one of my hyperdocs and made it BETTER?
I’d love to hear from you! Please comment, tweet, or Facebook me – and please join us or watch the recorded hangout!
Join us LIVE at 4:00 (PST) on Tues! https://t.co/rN6H63lqR4 We are so excited to chit chat w/ @mamawolfeto2 writer of https://t.co/nWJyX6jFnX • Google Certified Educator • #HyperDoc fanatic • English/AVID teacher @kellyihilton@lhighfill@SARAHLANDISpic.twitter.com/RVacPhqV4l
— TeachersGiveTeachers (@TsGiveTs) February 17, 2018
I write frequently about education and college – mostly from the point of view of teenagers. But can parents go back to school successfully as well? Going back to school for adults certainly has unique challenges, and yet plenty of people do it and manage to juggle studying, their family and sometimes even working too. If you’re thinking about doing it, don’t rush into it. There are a few things you might want to think about first to help make it a success!
Can Parents Go Back To School Challenge #1: Find a Flexible Way to Study
One way you could choose to do postgraduate studies when you have a family is to find a flexible way to do it. This could include finding an online course, which often allows you work at your own pace or at least makes your learning and study times more flexible.
Can Parents Go Back To School Challenge #2: Take on the Challenge as a Family
If you’re going to go back to school, you need to get the whole family on board. They don’t all have to love the idea, but it can require everyone to pitch in. Maybe the kids are going to have to take a bit more responsibility for themselves or your partner is going to have to be there to support you.
Can Parents Go Back To School Challenge #3: Find Out How Your College Can Help
A lot of colleges can offer support and resources that help to make things easier. See if your local college has a family resource center or something similar that could help you out. Many colleges offer blended distance learning and occasional face to face contact that are perfect for parents.
Can Parents Go Back To School Challenge #4: Focus on Your Future
If you’re ever unsure or ready to give up, think about what your studies will be doing for your future. The right choice of degree could have a huge impact on your life. At this point in my career, going back to school may not be monetarily sensible, but I’ve been able to channel my love of learning in different ways!
I love this little infographic – hope it inspires you parents to go back to school!
Infographic On SBU Online’s Graduate Degrees