I am reading Leon Uris’ “Exodus” for my bookclub. In a conversation about right and wrong between two of the characters, one says, “Foreign policies of this, or any other, country are not based on right and wrong. IT is not for you and me to argue the right or the wrong of this question. The only kingdom that runs on righteousness is the kingdom of heaven. The kingdom of the earth run on oil.” I had to look up the publication date when I read that. It was published in 1958. And here we are over 50 years later.
I am getting the feeling that this will be one of many posts to come that have the same theme. Something tells me that this is just the first.
It is 4th of July weekend and for the first time in many, many years, we are at home. We were a little out of our element not knowing what to do so for old time’s sake, we thought we would do a one night backpack up to a favorite spot of ours. We have been there multiple times over the years, before kids, with both kids, with each kid and now we thought it might be time to bring our 18 month old puppy along.
We left town at 4 and arrived at the trailhead at 5:00 in spitting rain. Knowing that the forecast was for clear skies overnight, we waited out the worst of it and then started hiking. It’s a quintessential hike. It serpentines perfectly along the north side of the valley. There are open traverses that give views of the mountains and ridges above. There are dark corridors where the trees have grown thick. The columbine are in prime, at times full fields of their blue and white faces.
We had to cross a few small snow fields and worried that our favorite tent location might be too wet this early in the year. But it was waiting for us, flat and rock free. We set up our tent, laid out dinner supplies, and settled in for a sunset filled evening.
Hallie, our pup, was loving every minute of it.
The trail is a dog on leash trail but we find that she is better if we have her off leash but wearing her shock collar. She can roam 10 yards ahead or behind without pulling me off balance with my pack. She knows now that once the collar goes on, she has to stay close. We have needed the shock only twice since we got the collar, just to get her trained. She is a pretty good dog.
We also brought along her tether so she would be able to move around at our campsite but not leave it. She managed to tangle herself up in branches and brush while we pitched the tent, but she was close by and out of trouble.
And then we needed water for our noodles. My husband volunteered to walk down to the creek, and took the dog. Off leash. He figured it wasn’t far, she was well behaved, there were no people or dogs within miles, and she needed to run. Well, we didn’t anticipate this:
Yes, those would be porcupine quills in her curious nose. She had run off into the underbrush all of 15 yards away from my husband and found the one porcupine in all of the Indian Peaks Wilderness area. And she just wanted to play. Hearing the rustle of an animal my husband jumped into the bushes and grabbed Hallie as quickly as he could, but not before her snout was fully slammed with quills.
We were able to pull out a few of the less embedded quills ourselves but Hallie quickly caught on that each tug was going to hurt. We knew they needed to come out and we were not the ones to do it.
So, we put away dinner, packed up the tent, reloaded the backpacks, and headed home. The sunset was beautiful as we walked down valley. Hallie didn’t seem bothered at all by the toothpicks in her face as she pranced through the columbine fields and crossed the creeks on the way down. We passed a few other late evening hikers, all of whom winced for her. She really didn’t seem to mind her face of whiskers.
It was a short walk back to the car and we arrived just as we needed to pull out our headlamps. We trundled back into town and showed up at the emergency vet at 10:15pm. It was 3am before we could take her home – quill free and very, very tired.
And we were worried that we wouldn’t have anything to do if we stayed at home on this 4th of July weekend. Sleeping in was first on the list.
I really don’t have anything to say today, except that summer has truly arrived.
Yet again, the words that I wanted to say or write were given to me by someone else. Here’s is today Poem of the Day from email@example.com.
While Ali was writing about the marginalized, women and people of color, these words spoke to my educator’s heart of the last week. I couldn’t believe how well Ali’s words captured what I have been feeling. After being pushed up against walls and peeling myself off to go in for another day at the office, I start again each day with trying to give hope. While I am sad and frustrated, I still get up each day and give my best to my students. I am there with a smile on my face and the same commitment to make it a worthwhile day for them.
And I work twice as hard, sometimes far more than twice as hard, but am expected to do more and be more and not be recognized for what I do accomplish. I am expected to give, but not expect anything in return. Things are not going well.
And I can relate to those crows. They are in fact grackels who are usually gone by this time of year but we can hear them yelling, truly yelling, at each other from tree to tree in our back yard. It was deafening and somewhat irritating last night. I feel like those grackels are circling around me sometimes; I am doing my work and doing more than my work again and again and again but no one is really listening or acknowledging. They are just yapping and yelling at each other way up above trying to get all of the attention.
Thank you Ali, for your words. I am not alone.
When they want you but they don’t want you. What a strange place to be. It’s worse than a rock and hard place because you can’t move the rock and you can’t maneuver out of the hard place because someone else is caving it in on you.
It has been made clear to me that I do not belong where I am and I am tolerated at best. But I am very, very good at what I do. I am told this continually by colleagues and by leaders, by students and by parents, by peers and cohorts. I know that I know what I am doing and that I do it well.
That creates both the hard place and the rock. I am too good to be allowed to go because I am good enough to leave. So I am stuck – here in no man’s land. This is not the way I intended to start my summer, or spend my summer.
Inside my tennis hat brim
“Do what you love”, it challenges me
“Love what you are doing.”
I do love exactly what I do
I just struggle to love doing it
Sometimes the strangest things speak to you, like the inside of a Life Is Good hat. It told me just those words above and I had an aha moment. I love teaching. I love the smells of a school, the walls of a classroom, the hugs and eyes and movements and words of the students. I truly love everything about it. When I am teaching, the rest of the world disappears and I am in my flow. It’s my zen place, my happy place.
This past year, however, I have not been loving doing it. Mostly because it involves so much more than just the students and the classroom and school building. All of the otherness has beaten me down in a surprising way. So, I am trying to find a way to bring back the love of doing it. I have thrown the dice up in the air, hoping they land in a new arrangement that will lead me to again love doing what I love to do.
I have officially been banned from making any travel arrangements for our family. Instead of writing a blog post this evening, I have been making changes to the flight that I incorrectly booked. Last year, I was so proud of myself for booking two super cheap tickets for my husband and son to fly back east to look at colleges. Thank goodness I checked the day before because I had booked the 11pm arriving at 4am tickets instead of the 11am arriving at 4pm. That might have been grounds for divorce had they gone ahead and not double checked.
Well, I just did it again. I am flying solo to meet my son, trying to arrive at the same time he arrives by train. Again, I thought I got a sweet deal. Instead I am out $75. I had to cancel the flight and rebook it because, yet again, I booked for the evening instead of the morning. For some reason, those pm and am things are tricky for me.
From now on, my husband will do all plane reservations.
Just slow down. It is that panicky time of year when positions and jobs are shifting and moving about. Instead of slowing down and thoughtfully thinking through our options, we are rushing to post an opening in fear of losing out on the best candidates. And in our rush and hurry, we forget to take care of ourselves. We seem to have forgotten the care and keeping of humans. When a team member leaves for another school, it should start with a celebration of their steps forward. It should be filled reminiscing about happy memories and well wishes for the journey ahead. It should be tended carefully with sincere gratitude for the many years of service.
It should not be met with immediately posting for that vacancy – a space, a blank instead of a person, a teacher, a professional. Slow down and take care of each other.
I haven’t checked into my WordPress account for the past week. That is good. It means I have been busy enough to keep me off my computer. When I logged in to my feed today, I scrolled past the last few days of One Word Prompts. Today’s word is bitter. My mind immediately went to several situations at school that are filled with bitterness. A lack of awareness, an apparent inability to connect, and excuses for inattentiveness have caused intense, intense bitterness. There are bad feeling amongst employees, between parents, between staff and parents, pretty much between everyone right now. I keep thinking we have nipped it and moved on and then it rears its head again. Bitterness is really hard to get rid of. It lingers, it feeds on itself, and it grows out of control when it isn’t directly addressed.
Was it totally ironic that today’s word is bitter and two days ago the word was better? Just one letter changed but what a significant difference in how those words make me feel. So, how do you go from bitter to better.
I’ve learned a lot in the past few weeks about taking care of others that might makes things better.
Listening is imperative. Not just sitting through the conversation but thinking about what the words mean when the come from a certain person. Finding the source and not relying on the ones who are just fueling the fire. And knowing that sometimes all you need to say it, “I hear you”.
Being aware is necessary. Sometimes we learn more by just watching the way others behave. Observing actions and interactions can sometimes tell you more than a face to face conversation with words.
Spending time together is critical. Relationships are built on common experiences. If you don’t make the time to be together, there is no bedrock. It doesn’t have to be fancy time – just ordinary common experiences; eating lunch together, sorting library books, going through the lost and found pile, going on a field trip.
And finally, emails do not take the place of a conversation, phone calls do not take the place of a hug, and good intentions do not take the place of being wholly present. Perhaps these are ways we can get better.
It’s Tuesday and I’d like to share what I have been reading. I received an email from the parent of a student my now 20 year old son went to school with K-5. She was letting friends know that a book had just been published about her son titled Just Elliot. I immediately hit the link and ordered the book from Amazon. (It’s just a little to easy to do that but I was grateful in this instance!) While I waited for my copy to arrive, I did some searching about how the book came to be. I found this beautiful blog written by Elliot’s mom. As I read her story, I was taken back to when we first met their family, when our boys were in 1st grade together. At the time, the students surrounding Elliot did what many young children do – they accepted Elliot for who he was. Probably not all of them, but from my memory, Elliot truly was Just Elliot to most of the students in his class.
I was warned the I might cry when I read the book. I knew I would but when I did read the book I understood why I had been forewarned. The character who is Elliot’s best friend is named after my son, my now college freshman. I cried for Elliot and how many will not have the opportunity to know him because of the predeterminations they will make of him. I cried for students in my class who will be prejudged by their behavior and not for who they are. I cried for all those years of motherhood, hoping that I was raising kind children and finding out that maybe I did do something right. Or maybe that’s just the way my son is. He would have accepted Elliot because that is Just Sam.