Hurry Is Beside The Point

hurry is beside the point
Hurry is beside the point

Hurry is beside the point, useless, an obstruction.
The thing is to be attentively present. 
To sit and wait is as important as to move.
Patience is as valuable as industry.
What is to be known is
always there.
When it reveals itself to you, or when you come upon it,
it is by chance.
The only condition is your being there and being
watchful.
                                                                                             
~ Wendell Berry

I love how the Universe sends me these gentle reminders – just a few evenings ago I was biking home from teaching my home hospital student when I snapped this photo. The air was cool (we’ve had a string of days reaching into the 90s), the last bits of the sunset glowed over the trees, and, looking ahead, I saw these four letters: S-L-O-W. I listened, remaining diligent to my quest for picking up clues when they are presented to me. Somehow, the bike home was just a little more magical.

During the last few weeks of school there are so many emotions churning…students stressed and tired, teachers stressed and tired, the bittersweet anticipation of summer coupled with the sadness of leaving a community we so gently created all year long. I find myself breathing deeply, letting go, smiling more, and looking into the eyes of the children I’ve spent the last nine months with. I’m trying to be there for them, trying to be watchful to their emotions – trying to give them a safe space to be honest, to cry if they need to, and as one of my kids asked yesterday, to take a nap on the beanbags at lunch if they need to.

It is in these ordinary moments that we must remember to sit and wait, to practice patience and kindness, and to remember to trust the journey, wherever it may lead us.

The Universe sent this poem to me via First Sip.

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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5 Key Times To Go With Your Gut

More and more lately, I’ve experienced moments when my intuition speaks to me. You know that feeling, right? Sometimes it’s telling me that I’ve left something behind as I’m rushing out the door, late for work. Or that I’ve forgotten to turn off the burner (sorry, John, I know you hate it when I do that).

It’s regularly something mundane, uneventful, or routine in my everyday life.

No big deal, right?

5 Times To Go With Your Gut
Listen for Five Key Times To Go With Your Gut

Well, not so fast. I’m beginning to realize that those ordinary reminders are a sort of entry-level intuitive practice – a life pre-test, if you will, priming me for the big time.

Kind of like a warm up before a track meet. Or studying for a final exam.

I’ve had these intuitions my whole life, and I’ve spent a large chunk of time basically ignoring them. I would tell myself to stop worrying, that I really did lock the door or let the dog back inside the house. I’d chastise my anxiety-ridden side and shut down that little voice that was trying to help me out.

But there’s something about growing older and wiser that prompts me to stop and take notice to that tiny message gnawing in my ear, a bit of a call to attention on a Universal level.

And as I pause and consider the whispers, I’m realizing that it dives deep below the surface, offering me more than just a simple hint; I’m learning that the Universe is tipping its hand and showing me a clearer path. After recognizing the penultimate power of my inner voice, I’ve realized there are:

Five Key Times To Go With Your Gut:

1.  When choosing a major

By the time I settled into college and figured out what I was doing, my choice of a major was clear. I went with what I loved to do: read and write. I had no idea what an English major would offer me in terms of employment, but I did know that if I had any hope of completing college in a timely manner, I needed to be studying something that I was passionate about. My boyfriend (now husband) was equally ambiguous and settled on music as his course of study. One takeaway I have from our decision is the multiple conversations we would have with fellow undergrads who would exclaim with awe and a dose of jealousy that they too had wanted to be a music major, but their parents insisted on something more practical.  So while those computer studies students of the late eighties may in all likelihood be tech wizards and multimillionaires, I often wonder if they really satisfied their soul with their bank accounts.

2.  When your friends are making a choice you’re not certain about. 

Oh, to be thirteen again. Or nineteen. Or twenty-three. No thank you, really – watching my middle school students go through the most awkward phase of their lives is painful. Transitioning from childhood to teen is rife with struggle. Daily, my students are bombarded with choices about who to listen to, what to do and who to be. My own children, sixteen and nineteen, grapple with similar but different issues about studying and college and majors and where to live. One thing I’ve learned from listening to my gut is that when I feel uncomfortable with the choices in front of me, I should listen to my intuition. Excusing ourselves from situations, blaming our parents for having to leave a party or ask for a ride home is exactly what we should do when we know our friends are acting questionably. Chances are, they are tussling with the same dilemma and would appreciate you giving them an ‘out’.

3. When you’re choosing a life partner. 

I’ve been with my husband for just over thirty years – we met when we were teens and became instantly attached to each other. At nineteen, I had no idea that I would marry this delightful man – at least not for the first three months. But I remember a moment in September 1985 when my gut whispered in my ear and I announced that he was the one. Two kids later, he still is. “Choosing” isn’t really an accurate term – I believe that “recognizing” a life partner might be more accurate. With so many marriages falling into divorce after only a decade or so, recognizing the person in front of you as the one to have by your side on life’s journey is one crucial time to go with your gut.

4. When life gets hard.

Thirty years ago when J and I started our journey together I couldn’t have fathomed the bumps -ok, the moments-when-I-felt-life-was-hammering-me-with-devastation. At 50, I’ve experienced the blessings of life as well as the challenges and am learning to go with my gut when I don’t know where else to turn. I’m learning not to think so much, not to give in to the paralysis of getting stuck in my head. Instead, I’m trusting to just take a plunge, hold back, or say no. My intuition knows what it is doing.

5. When you think you’ve left the teakettle on. 

Yes, this is a perfect time to go with your gut because it in these ordinary, extraordinary moments that we are our best students. If we ignore the little message the Universe sends us every day, how can we train ourselves to trust the mightier directives that come our way? The next time you wonder if you left your shopping bags in the back seat, or if you forgot to turn the water off in your roses, just take a breath, listen to your gut, and say a little ‘thank you’ to the Universe for showing you the way.

When was the last time you listened to your gut? What did it tell you?

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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Beauty, The Brave, The Exemplary, Blazing Open

daffodils

This week El Nino backed off, and the sun smiled on us with 70 degree days. Everywhere I went, the violets popped their purple and white heads, the daffodils unfurled into yellow trumpets heralding spring, and the finches and flickers and chickadees flock to the feeder in glorious song. It’s hard not to think about spring, and the emergence of new life just below the surface.

birds at feeder

Oh, this world. This humble and silky life. Thank you, Mary Oliver, for reminding me to fill my arms with flowers, to be wild, and  that “there it is again —
beauty the brave, the exemplary, blazing open” trusting the journey to spring .

Peonies by Mary Oliver

This morning the green fists of the peonies are getting ready
to break my heart
as the sun rises,
as the sun strokes them with his old, buttery fingers

and they open —
pools of lace,
white and pink —
and all day the black ants climb over them,

boring their deep and mysterious holes
into the curls,
craving the sweet sap,
taking it away

to their dark, underground cities —
and all day
under the shifty wind,
as in a dance to the great wedding,

the flowers bend their bright bodies,
and tip their fragrance to the air,
and rise,
their red stems holding

all that dampness and recklessness
gladly and lightly,
and there it is again —
beauty the brave, the exemplary, blazing open.

Do you love this world?
Do you cherish your humble and silky life?
Do you adore the green grass, with its terror beneath?

Do you also hurry, half-dressed and barefoot, into the garden,
and softly,
and exclaiming of their dearness,
fill your arms with the white and pink flowers,

with their honeyed heaviness, their lush trembling,
their eagerness
to be wild and perfect for a moment, before they are
nothing, forever?

~ Mary Oliver

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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Summer Isn’t Just For Vacation

Summer vacation is almost here – teachers- are you dreaming about your summer vacation yet?


Growing. Trusting. Dreaming (big). Discovering. Feeling alive. Blooming.

The verbs jump from the calendar as I turn the page to August. Yes, yes, yes! Kelly Rae Roberts may not be a classroom teacher, but her artwork aligns with exactly what I’m feeling this month as I transition away from my only school-free days (July) and into a month of endings, movement, preparation and goodbyes.

Summer vacation is a teacher’s curse and blessing, all wrapped up in one big present you’re not always sure you want to open. For teachers, summer isn’t just for vacation.

I’ve always lived by the school calendar; I’ve never had a ‘real’ job that wasn’t in education, and I mark the passing of time by the start and end of the academic year. January may be the time for most people to make new year’s resolutions, to reflect and reminisce and plan and prepare, but for teachers, that happens as the August days sizzle, the vacations are in the rear-view mirror and the summer mornings still offer time for quiet contemplation.

Map Maker's Children book

Since my first official teaching year started in 1991, August has been bittersweet; the slowness of hot July days or travel to exciting locations has dwindled into something more real. The teacher dreams begin, so familiar yet absurd; not being able to find my classroom, suddenly teaching Spanish, or being unable to literally see my students due to the reconfigured classroom and the complete classroom chaos caused by custodians insisting on vacuuming in the middle of class to prepare for the ‘dress rehearsal’ haunt my sleep. The summer vacationto-do list, looking so ambitious and completely possible in mid-June, now is merely a half completed reminder of all I didn’t do. I quickly count down the ‘free’ days I have left, knowing that most of them will be consumed with lesson planning and classroom cleaning and meetings and meetings and more meetings, until one day the alarm will scream and I’m back in the rhythm of school.

At the risk of sounding ungrateful for the summertime freedom, I am not – without the unscheduled days of July, I’m not sure I could have sustained this job for two decades. After nine months of living by school bells that tell me when to talk, when to move, when to pee and when to eat, the endless moments of absolutely no expectation are sheer bliss.

on top of a NY mountain

They are the days I grow and dream, the hours I discover myself again away from my ‘teacher’ persona. They are the moments for my children, for me, for feeling alive and allowing my passions to bloom outside of the classroom. Summer mornings spent digging in the dirt of my garden, righting the chaos I allowed to grow forth in the spring, rejuvenate my spirit. Hiking seaside trails with my children, the wind on my face and the sun on my shoulders, restores my connection to the world. Baking bread and cookies and creating a meal full of love, my daughter by my side, deepen my relationships.

Summer vacation squashes into six to eight weeks of restoration, moments of anticipation that began last October. That’s when the back-to-school adrenaline usually wears off (for me and the students) and I begin making my ‘that-can-wait-til-vacation’ list, tasks that require more concentration/dedication/money/brain power than the weekends from September to June offer. Teaching isn’t just a 7-3 kind of a job, after all.

So as I turn the calendar one more page, I’m struggling with what-has-yet-to-be-done. The to-do list sits half completed. The days with my girl dwindle before she moves away again, and I find myself choosing between her and it. I know the moments are precious; I know that the filing can wait. I trust that I still have growing and dreaming and discovering to do.

Summer isn’t just for vacation. Summer is for feeling alive, for blooming back into me.

Summer Isn't Just For Vacation

 

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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A Year of Accidental Life Lessons

Dear Son,

Last August 3 I’m pretty sure I was sitting in this very spot, looking out this same window, thinking about my kids and how much I missed them. It was quiet without you both here, and I’m pretty sure I was anticipating your sister coming home from Mt. Hood that day, knowing I’d have a few days left with her before she left for college. I know I was wondering about you, and that I sent you our usual good morning text saying something about having an awesome day. You texted me back from the ski lift, and I was sure you were safe.

I was wrong.

A Year of Accidental Life Lessons

Your dad and I took our bike ride early that morning – it was going to be a triple-digit day – and we stopped for breakfast on the way home. The pancakes were huge, and I remember wishing you were there with us. We talked about how strange the upcoming year would be with Lily in college and you living back in Tahoe. We’d be empty nesters, and I wasn’t ready for it. I remember thinking about that year, and the next and the next and trying to predict what life would be like.

I had no idea.

Before I’d even gotten back in the driveway, my phone was ringing. I knew that if your coach was calling, it couldn’t be good. From that moment on, I gave up predicting…and just took life moment by moment, taking in the accidental life lessons as they arrived.

skiing accident

Life happens and show gratitude.

When you were lying so still in the hospital bed and I knew life was going to be very different from here on out, I momentarily panicked. How would I help you adjust? How would you go to school in a wheelchair and would you ski again and why did this happen to you? For all those moments of worry, all I could do was take them one moment at a time. Deal with what was here, now, in front of us. Accept the help being given. Trust that all will be well, and things will work out. And be grateful – do you remember our three gratitudes? At the time, they sometimes seemed silly – grateful for new water bottles with straws and free movies and Top Ramen – but boy did they make a difference. They made us laugh, made us think, and reminded us that we are OK.

You are stronger than you think.

You’ve always been goal oriented, driven, and focused – and physically strong. That’s what made you decide to move to Tahoe and dedicate yourself to ski racing. The accident squashed that dream, but your mental strength helped you when you couldn’t move or walk or stand anymore. You learned how to get yourself off the couch, into a wheelchair and ride in a car. You figured out how to navigate school, how to rip around on crutches, and even jump in a bouncy house.

cast into the car

Family is there for you, even when you don’t know what you need them for.

Without your dad, your sister, Grandpa Bruce and Grandma Sue, I’m not sure what we would have done. When we were stuck in Portland, your grandpa knew just what to do; we got the right doctors, the best treatment, and he decided to do the 10 hour drive to get us home when I had no idea how to get you on a plane. Your grandma knew to stay home and care for you so I could take Lily to college; she even put the kitchen back together after the flood while I was gone. I didn’t even have to ask either of them – they both just knew to step in when I couldn’t do it all by myself.

friends at Target dorm shopping

Friends can fill in the missing spaces.

I wasn’t sure how I would get your sister ready for college; all our planned time ended up just being a passing hello in the airport as she came home and I left to take care of you. Stephanie invited her home, took her dorm room shopping and elevated her ‘Tahoe mom’ status to another level. She even sent texts with silly Target shopping photos, just to make me feel included. I cried tears of sadness when I saw what I was missing, but the happy tears came once I realized what a great friend I had to count on.

When people show you who they are, believe them.

Kindness is free, but unfortunately, we learned some people don’t realize how easy it is to give. We’ve both met a few people in the last year -family, friends, teachers – who surprised us with their inability to look beyond themselves and that made us sad and sometimes angry. I think we’ve both learned to appreciate the kindness of those around us, and let go of the people in our lives who’ve shown us they’re unable of caring. Not the lesson I’d wish for you to learn at 15, but an invaluable one nonetheless.

Son, I can’t say that if I could ‘do over’ the last year I would want to do this all again. No mother wants to watch their child in physical or emotional pain. And I can’t say that I’d do over the tears or the worries or the uncertainty about our future. But these life lessons? I’d do these over in a second. It’s the experiences in life that are our teachers, the moments in life that push us to learn who we really are.

Wishing you a year full of love and (less painful) life lessons,

Mom

On the recovery couch, one year later.
On the recovery couch, one year later.

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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