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Watching students as they register

Today is the final registration day for a very special program at my school. We have a program in which high school students may stay at the college for three weeks, during which they take courses, have activities, and meet people just like they would in a college setting. As I gaze around the registration area, I see expressions of nervousness, anxiety (from parents as well as students), and the beginnings of excitement. For many of these kids this is their first time away from home without parents or other family. All of these students have some sort of learning difference, some more severe than others. All have volunteered to take college classes during their summer.

My task in all of this is to direct the academics, place students in classes, answer any question they might have, and generally be the Doctor on the staff. I’m finding a lot of joy in this task, although I would never want to stop being a classroom teacher.

The really cool part of all of this is telling students what classes they will be taking. They were given a choice of a few electives and had to choose their top three. Somehow, every student got their first choice of elective. I think it must be all those resource management board games that my family and I play. This is how I feel right now:

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It’s wonderful to see their faces light up and the anxiety receded, even just a teeny bit. This is why I love what I do. I can’t really call it a job — it’s too much fun and joy to be classified as work.

I am well and truly blessed.

 
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Posted by on 07/12/2015 in Motivation

 

Lazy Summery Goodness

As I look around my house right now, it would be easy to focus on the half-unpacked boxes and general clutter that is left over from the move. But that’s not what really matters. Yes, I’m enough of a neat freak to want it all put away (now!), but have mellowed enough to understand life’s real priorities: peace and happy family members.

Tonight is the first full evening of summer, I think. I’m very glad for the hill and trees that block the summer evening heat after about 5 p.m., as it makes for a very temperate and peaceful living space. The cat has chosen some early favorite window spots, and particularly likes the wide window sills of this graceful old farmhouse. She can ward off any would-be avian, feline, and canine intruders from said window sills, but she mostly naps in the sun.

It is quiet. My husband is finishing dinner preparation, and the girls are quietly reading or playing games. At least I hope so…they’re past the age age where “too quiet” is a worry. I’ve been working on quiet projects that have resided on my summer to-do list for school. Each of us is absorbed, basking in the peace and safety of our little home.

It is in this lazy summery goodness that I contemplated a coworker’s suggestion that I should try for an ambitious and prestigious job change at my school. It would mean working 8-5 (conservatively) again and having only certain times allotted for vacation. Am I qualified? Yes. Do I want to go back to the 8-5 lifestyle?

That is the question, isn’t it.

It would be more money, but what would I lose? I have found that I enjoy my work so much more, now that I can choose my working hours (to a large extent) and have summers to work if I choose, rest if I want, and play with the girls whenever possible. In that realization — plus the fact that I am a teacher, which I would have to sacrifice for this other position — my answer was clear:

This peace, this lazy, don’t-have-to-rush, don’t experience the “wish it were Friday” feeling very often — this is worth more than money. Funny how peace clarifies priorities.

 
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Posted by on 06/22/2015 in Motivation

 

A home I never imagined possible

Our new abode is starting to look like our home. Most of the boxed have been put away. The kitchen is 99% put together, and the kitchen table stands ready for use. A recent view of the backyard showed some of neighbors:

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I never dreamed that I would live this close to cows, but they are remarkable. Quiet, peaceful, and altogether wonderful neighbors.

Our other neighbors include several types of birds, crickets, and frogs who aren’t as quiet, but their songs are indicative of the setting. I look through our eastern windows and have a view of the hills of western New Hampshire. The sound of an occasional train passing about 50 feet from our front door punctuates the day at various intervals. Inside the house, a sense of peace and calm prevails. This is the safest I’ve felt since I was a child. My children are finally safe when they step outside the house.

It’s the type of place that I have always sought. Thank goodness it actually exists and has found me.

 
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Posted by on 06/15/2015 in Motivation

 

Possessions

The house move is now concluded, and I have sat staring at the vast number of boxes that are yet to be unpacked and/or stored. I wondered many times, while trudging with yet another box or bag, why we have so many possessions. I remember having only a 1984 Ford Escort and about 17 boxes (shipped via UPS) when I first moved across country. This cross-town move took 283937465 loads, using both cars and a moving van…and for what purpose?

Don’t answer with logic. I’m already there. I get it.

I reflected on Biblical teachings about how a person must abandon possessions to commit to following  Christ.  During these reflections, I thought about how simple and joyful life could be with few possessions. How there would be fewer items to guard, protect, hide, or explain. How moving on would be as simple as packing your few items and just going. 

But then the trappings of, well, adulthood crept in. All the school projects, the cast worn for someone’s first broken arm, the first set of ballet shoes, and countless pictures of times gone by. What of these things could I part with? All, if necessary. 

None, because they are what makes a life.

 
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Posted by on 06/08/2015 in Motivation

 

I know I’m smart. Really.

We are now officially mid-move. About one-third of our possessions are moved to the new place and certain places in the house are starting to look familiar. Between juggling the move-in to the new, move-out from the old, and the 50 million other things in my life, I’m starting to question my intelligence. I know that I have moved before — too many times!– but this time is different. 

Maybe it’s my age. Or that too much is going on. All I know from time to time is my name, where I currently live, and where the new place is. Ask me to put one of the seats back in the car so my children may ride safely, and I draw a blank. Or ask me what’s for dinner. Both will earn you a blank stare for a moment or two while I try to sort out the task.

Overload? Yeah, probably. 

I keep reminding myself that this transition will be over soon. It needs to be, because I really do have ton of work to do. Don’t ask me what, precisely (see “blank stare”), but some part of my consciousness knows.

I think I’m experiencing an I/O error. Hopefully, my brain will be back on line soon. 

 
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Posted by on 05/26/2015 in Motivation

 

Miami Reflections

This weekend, my co-author  and I spent the weekend  in Miami Beach at an accounting coference and delivered a couple of standing-room-only presentations.  I find myself with many reflections circling my mind  and thought I’d  catch them as they pass.

1. Miami  is lovely in places, but when the  low is 82 degrees, I’m just not thrilled. All that makes it bearable is the continuous breeze.

2. People here are far more into glittery  fashion than I’ve ever seen.

3. I’m out of practice  with big – city noise. So not alright anymore.

4. More money than sense in Miami.

5. Need to make a bingo card for all the odd sightings, like string bikinis on wearers that missed the idea of a weight limit.

6. Convenient  off-water boat parking. Hmm

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7. I am so not cut out for living somewhere  like this. Really not.

 
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Posted by on 05/16/2015 in Motivation

 

…And just like that — BLAM! — hope arrived

Early spring was a challenge this year. between the psychological issues, having to find a new home, revising my textbook, wrapping up the spring semester, and the gazillion other things on my plate, getting through each day sometimes seemed like an impossible chore. But like the phoenix of one of my alma maters, the fire only made me stronger and life more beautiful.

The family is doing much better and each of us has become much stronger, more balanced in our approach to the stressors that nearly derailed each of us. Like previous challenges, this recent round made us bonded more tightly to each other.

We have a new home and will move into it around the end of this month. This is a major feat because finding good, habitable rentals to accommodate a family of four is difficult in our town. We live in a lovely, historic area where many properties date back to the early 1800s. We found a cute old farmhouse in a very peaceful area with enough legroom and separate bedrooms for each girl. Those rooms may help us avoid some of the pre-teen sibling rivalry that is inevitable. We found out late Thursday, in speaking with the owner, that the house sits on 200 acres f rollings hills, forests, and waterfalls well away from the center of town where we currently live. I can hardly imagine what 200 acres looks like, but my dad gave me some perspective, based on a park near where I grew up. We hope to complete the lease execution in the next couple of days, and then it’s just a matter of time. And packing. And moving everything a whopping five miles. Ugh.

My own schooling is now completely and, as my husband puts it, I have three masters now. Technically, it’s one masters and two master’s certificates. It’s what will ensure the comfort and safety of my family’s foreseeable future, and that’s all I need. My students have finals next week, and I get to watch them squirm for a couple of hours as they realize that they didn’t study until the night before the exam, despite my strong recommendations.

Then I get to travel to Miami and present three sessions at a national conference. It sounds much cooler than it probably is. It means that I have to prepare three presentations and deliver them, much like a meeting at school. But I get to do that with one of my closest friends and see a part of the country I’ve never seen. I’m looking forward to it, although I hate leaving my beloved Vermont.

From fear and pain came hope and beauty. Amazing how things work themselves out.hope-in-hand

 
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Posted by on 05/09/2015 in Motivation

 
 
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