Thursday, November 17, 2011

FInding Joy in Unusual Places

The news out there is not very uplifting right now. The economy, the resulting job market, the crazy political upheaval, being in a profession that is being scrutinized more and more. Yet, the one thing that I have been trying to do is relax, be thankful, and find sparks of joy. I have learned in my older age, that I need to take time for myself. I need to let things go. I need to say no more often. It's liberating. I also need to be thankful for all that I have, including a job I love, a house, food on the table, and family and friends who love and support me.

The joy strikes me at some of the most unusual times and places. A couple weeks ago, Stein and I were out for my birthday. We put our name in at a restaurant and then decided to walk around downtown while we waited. At one point, we went into a store that sells all kinds of trinkets and gifts. It's the kind of store that sells everything from cleaning supplies to wax lips to jewelry.

The woman working at the store was in her early 20's, and had such a fun, laid-back personality. While we were looking around the store, an older man (60ish) came into the store and talked to the woman. They greeted each other like friends. I gathered that he was the owner of the used bookstore next to the shop we were in.

After we bought the things we wanted, she said, "Oh, and now you get a token to play our game!" She then explained that they had a Bozo bucket-type game set up in their window display, and if you made it into the cup, you would win what was in that cup. As Stein stood near the cups taking aim at one of the prize cups, I noticed that the woman and man were outside looking on like spectators. When Stein's token made it into a prize cup, they both started cheering and jumping up and down. That made me laugh. It also made me feel good. It didn't matter that we only won a finger-puppet-like "We're #1 pointer finger hand". It really is the little things.

Hope you're finding and spreading joy in places big and small.


Next Tuesday after school I will officially be on Thanksgiving break. I can't tell you how much I am looking forward to the break. Nothing has changed with my class since my last post. They're still great. I am constantly receiving compliments from other teachers. I am constantly telling people that I have to count my lucky stars. And I do.

It's more that the things surrounding my class have really worn me down. Since the beginning of the school year, I have had curriculum night, parent-teacher conferences, national tests for the students, state tests for the students, and report cards. Not to mention after-school meetings for professional development, and staff meetings. Oh, and then "life stuff": out-of-town visitors, dinners with friends, planning for Thanksgiving, keeping up with stuff around the house.

Surprisingly, I haven't felt extremely overwhelmed by it all. Time has flown, but while the time plane is flying by, I can see it's a full flight. I am comforted by the idea that time will go by, things will get done, and anything stressful will end eventually.

I am equally surprised that I haven't felt the effects of the weather turning colder and the daylight getting shorter. In fact, I feel like the change in light and weather has made me a bit more productive. I get home and start to speed up a bit thinking that we're near bedtime. Then I look at the clock and there are still 2 hours left. I feel like it's a gift. (Talk to me in the dead of winter and I'm sure I wouldn't say the same).

May your time be full, and you find a spark of light in the darkness.