I'm hanging out in Gambier, Ohio for a few weeks this summer, and then I'm headed to The Porches in Virginia for a much-needed 10-day retreat. I love it there. Porches. Quietude. Mountains. Rain. What could be better?
This summer I've been working on what I want to work on. After a couple of years of super-duper-teacher-overload, I'm trying to reframe and blankslate myself. It's a tough thing to do.
Sometimes we get so caught up in the stuff of life, we forget that we are the reason we're here. Like, on the planet. I'm always drawn to Neil De Grasse Tyson's video "The Most Astounding Fact." I show it to my students all the time because I want them to remember that they are beautiful living breathing human stars. And so am I.
I was taking some time this week to nap and rest after the 14-16 hour days of the last two weeks, and I found myself going through my email account and looking at several old, saved emails of projects and newsletters and other things, and I found lots of beautiful things that I just forgot existed.
We do this work and then we get sidetracked. It's important to keep pushing.
"The Work" is us.
Today is the 8th anniversary of my Grandmother's death. I wrote a brief essay about her and read it last week to the kids and the staff at the KR Writer's Workshop in Gambier, Ohio, and I thought -- yeah, those summertimes with my grandmother were the best. We'd sit on her porch and drink coffee and I'd write and she'd read and then we'd ride the roads and pick up watermelon and dinner and truck parts for my paw paw's logging business. . .
I miss her.
Mostly, I miss who I was when I was with her --
Grief changes us. The deaths of people we love changes us too. That's ok -- we don't need to mourn our old selves. Instead, we can marvel at how we're evolving. Evolution. That's a good word.
Next week when I'm at The Porches I want to blankslate myself. What I mean is, I want to sit down and have a talk with Kirsten and say "Girl, what is it you want now? What big dreams do you have now? What kind of work are you going to do now?"
Dive deep. Ask the tough questions. Write out the manifesto.
Set the tone for the next 5 years.
Some people do this at New Year's, but for me, Summertime is a good time to start fresh, and then when my birthday rolls around in October, it's a great month for that quarterly review.
Three questions to ask:
1. Where is your joy?
2. What are you willing to do?
3. Have you told you lately that you love you?
see you on the flipside,
I am tired of reading self-help books. You know what I mean? Those books that are just like "be more positive" and "if you bring the energy to you, it will come" and all that stuff. I'm a positive person and I really believe that the way we react to things in the world has a lot to do with how we do or do not find joy in our lives. It's tough, though, especially in these current times, trying to figure out who we are and how we can cope when everything around us is going crazy. Then a few years go by, then a few more years, and maybe you're like me and you've found yourself just like "Who is THAT person?" every time someone snaps a picture or you look in the mirror.
I work with teens in the summer, and every time I'm around them I feel like a teen too! That's the thing they never tell you as you're growing up. At some point, you will ALWAYS feel like your 16, or 22, or whatever age you IMPRINTED on yourself. So you'll be walking around at 35 years old and be like "Wow, I feel like I'm 18?!" In some ways . . . and then you'll be like "but my body" or "my mind" or "my life" aren't what I thought they'd be.
That's the hard part.
And when life throws you for a loop -- forget about it. You're just like HOW CAN I SURVIVE THIS?!?!?
After my father died, about a year later, I was cleaning out the trunk of my car and I found a box of exam books from a class I'd taught the semester he died. They were there, ungraded, rubber banded, with all my student's names on them. For the life of me, I could not remember what happened. Did I tell them that I lost them and re-do the essay? Did I just delete that category from the final grade? I dunno. What I do know is that when we're in survival mode, a lot of stuff slips away.
Sometimes, one of those "stuffs" is ourselves.
I've been thinking a lot about how to get my 'sizzle' and my 'bounce' back.
I'll keep you posted on how that goes.
In the meantime, what's your big dream that maybe you forgot a little bit about? Are you going after it?
It's 1am here in Ohio and I'm thinking about my big dreams.