Sunday, December 12, 2010

Joy in all things--even the last week of the semester

Last night was one of my worst nights of sleep in history, if that's possible. I know I woke up at least seven times (maybe eight) between 10:00 PM and 7:00 AM. It felt like having a new baby all over again. Twice I dreamed about ballet--different things, equally stressful rather than relaxing--and once I woke up in an unrelated panic attack, pooled by my own sweat. Hurley made sure to get me up several times (our neighbors were having a party in their backyard so he felt compelled to check on them constantly) and E came home sometime in the wee hours. Ugh.

But this actually wasn't going to be a post about my insomnia or my Crazies. I caught myself yesterday morning in a bad case of the "I'll be happy when-s." This year I've been trying hard to be happy in the moment, to celebrate whatever I'm in rather than whatever finish line lies ahead of me. It's a small thing that makes a huge difference in my life. It's unfortunate that from a young age we learn those patterns: I'll be happy when school is out, when Christmas comes, when this school day is over, when I finish all my papers and take all my finals... but after college it's hard to live a life that way, especially if (like me) one is perpetually on the hamster wheel of the public school schedule. In the early years of my marriage, I used that kind of philosophy to justify situations that weren't healthy for myself or my marriage because I thought it would just get better in the future. It doesn't work in relationships or parenting. The time to be happy is now. I made up my mind this year that I can't live like that--waiting for something that hasn't happened yet--for the rest of my teaching career, marriage, or life.

Anyway, I caught myself yesterday. I had a horrible week last week--I was tired, grumpy, irritable, and just generally didn't want anything to do with my job. I'm burned out, I'm dissatisfied, I'm annoyed by all the incompetence that I see. I'm just tired. Without really thinking about it, I was mired in the muck of "I'll be happy when SCHOOL IS OUT FOR CHRISTMAS BREAK." Yeah, okay, P. You will. That's right. But then you have to go back to the same job immediately after the break. And it's not really helping anyone--least of all, you--if you tell yourself every day that you don't want to be there. I can't live for breaks or vacation, because most of life happens in the in-between. When I think about it, I love my job. I hate that (in a sometime effort at looking forward to the freedom of vacation) I convince myself otherwise.

Overall, I've had one of my best years of teaching. I think that's due in large part to my attempt to find joy in now rather than what I used to do, which was suffer through until later. That outlook helps me to say no to things, to prioritize, to organize, to celebrate small victories. If I'm going to be happy now, I'm going to be doing things that matter to me. Hopefully I can drum up some of that enthusiasm this week and open my eyes a little bit more to what's around me. Yes, I'm looking forward to Christmas break but that doesn't mean the next week has to be drudgery and misery.

After my little realization, I had a wonderful (longest ever!) swim at the pool and I tried to release some of the frustration and aggression I felt all week. I bubbled into the depths and tried to release the anger I was fighting. Let it go, give it away, I kept telling myself. I don't know if it worked, but I do know that I'll be trying to approach the last week of my semester with a little more joy and mindfulness.

1 comment:

  1. So proud of you for recognizing the need to live in the moment and be happy for little things!
    In other random weirdness... I dreamed over the weekend that I had to teach YOU a dance for GQ and I failed miserably! LOL!