missing peace

So I’m sitting in a staff meeting and it hits me … calmness.

The surprise bumps into me enough that I check my phone expecting to see a notification or email pop-up –  but the buzz is in my head, not on my device.

No warning, no *ahem*, no ‘scuse me’.

So, I make space for it.

Still, with a little side eye, I wonder what the heck is it doing here. And funny it gets right up beside me, almost in my lap PDQ.

It feels … good, but foreign.

I lean into it a bit.

To not notice in the first place – that I am not at ease, relaxed, or chilled-out – can  be attributed to my manic state over the past three months.

Three months of head down, stone grinding, growth mindset madness. No complaints. No excuses. Just that fact.

I joined a new school and new department this year. Net result = near vertical learning for me. Lot’s of compass bearings whacked. Social connections thinned. And still, expectations of self efficacy are through the roof. Cruel and ironic, but that’s how I had to roll.

14 years of teaching experiences did not prepare me for the space that would be generated between me and my comfort zone. And that going for something new, could distract me so completely.

My team is great. But despite that, the pressure to deliver is greater.

Geez, have I really been that stressed out? At some point did I pop out the other side of growth mindset assuming that heart palpitations, sleeplessness, and anxiousness was a standard dress code?

These feels, or non-feels I guess, came on as I started to think about volunteering for a committee. There is something about this new school that has me checking my six on the daily. But in a good way.

I am constantly seeing peeps that are energized and activated. Considerate and connected. Chatting and leading and creating. And its getting in my head.

As a habit, over the last 10 years, I have not actively pursued any extra committee work. Between learning to survive in EDU, do my job well, and then joining the dad-hood – my commitments to my family pushed pretty much all other professional growth to the fringes.

80 days into the semester, I finally feel like I can come up for air, and check out the view.

Looks good.

Feels different.

There’s gotta be something clinically significant about this. No time to break that one down though – not now, but maybe in another post.

a very good day

My day is split between two portfolios.

In the morning I work with an ASD community class. In the afternoon, I support a grade 12 learning strategies class.

This broad context constantly reminds me of the beautiful and incredible complexity that comes with working in Special Education.

I have ups and downs, like most teachers.

I’m stressed. I’m anxious. I worry. I teach. I repeat.

Today I was reminded of the good stuff, the pulse quickening, heart softening, mind expanding good stuff that sometimes gets pushed out of view.

The gravity in my day is heavy. Too heavy. I question the physics. Most times though, I accept the day as it seems … a grind.

Today was a very good day.

When attendance is low, I have fretted about lost learning time and bemoaned the challenge of re-calibrating my long range plans. Today, instead, we the few sat and talked, and invited other hall wanderers into our space. We talked about post secondary hopes, and the trouble with dating outside of our culture, and what our plans were for the holidays. It was intimate. It was safe. It opened up ideas. It opened up people.

When I am disconnected from my students, I usually up my social game with exuberant hellos in the hallways or meeting and greeting at the front door of the school. Sometimes it works, sometimes not so much. Today I dressed up. I thought about how to communicate happiness and joy without the obligation or confrontation. And I wore my outfit from my house, through my commute, to a Walmart stop, into the school, and for the rest of the day. The students noticed. They smiled. They high fived. They connected with me.

When it feels like I am still a stranger in my new school, I’ll hide out in my office. I answer emails that aren’t a priority and plan lessons that may or may not get used. Today, I wandered the halls between periods, knocked on office space doors, and ate lunch with colleagues. I said yes to dancing on stage for students. I laughed. I smiled. I felt safe. I opened up.

In the future, I will return to this post.

It’s a great reminder of a very good day.

tomato

Is it ready?

I’ve asked myself that question, the question really, several times each day in the last month.

On the tail end of June I planted 5 tomato seedlings at the side of my house. Full sun. Rich soil. Big idea. There was no plan. Ironically, there was hope though.

By common measures I planted kinda late in the season. At frost break, plants go in and I missed the mark by about a month and half.

Watching a tendril turn to branch, then to flower, and finally to fruit became both an agonizing exercise of the-pot-ain’t-gonna-boil-if-you-watch-it and a necessary redemptive gesture in the light of my delayed start of my vegetable garden.

I noticed little. I looked a lot.

Yet each day, a change happened.

The proof sits on my sill.

And I still ask – ‘is it ready?’

#canIeatthemyet?

The juvenile plants became hashtags in our family convos. My son in particular would ask to eat the tomatoes at least once a day. Our meals were punctuated with disappointment – ‘Daddy you know what would taste great in this salad … our tomatoes.’ The question became synonymous with ‘how ya doin?’ And as disheartening as bad weather.

Do I pick it? Prune it? Leave it alone?

At some point observing the cool hidden growth happening on the daily, shifted to craving an outcome. And with that, an expectation. And with that, my mind became fixed. I guess the slight rosy blush appearing on the butt sides of a few tomatoes hyped me up a bit.

The image of eating fresh produce from our own garden made me impatient.

Suddenly I felt conflicted with what ifs. What if I pick too early? What if I pick too late? What if what if what if.

What if I mess this up, now? So close to an end.

Google didn’t help.

Neighbours had different opinions.

The local garden center encouraged me to join a Facebook garden group. Unfortunately for me, the chatter was consumed with the woes of lawn grubs, so no hits on my inquiries.

Fate made the decision easy. A thunderous rainstorm shook one of the plants enough to damage it. The sole survivor now sat before me on the window ledge.

Am I ready?

The ripening process fascinates me.

As the fruit sits contemplating its own mortality, slowly decomposing, it becomes the ideal version of itself. Gaseous eruptions cause the skin to redden and the flesh to sweeten. The mind boggles.

And I have continued to watch, with nervous anticipation, as the blush tide rises up to meet the sunshine falling in from the window. Two watermarks slowly meeting at the middle. Top reaching down. Red chasing green. Inside emerging outside.

My teacher side clucked condescendingly. ‘You should have mapped this out ahead of time.’ And more pointedly. ‘While we’re talking … why didn’t you capture any pix?’ I mute the mental memos for a minute. What this moment needs is for me to get comfortable being outside the centre of it.

Picked at the peak?

There is a burr on my conscience – I did not get to make a decision about picking the tomato myself. The second stinger is that I still am unsure about whether the tomato is ready to be eaten.

It does not look like the tomatoes in the store. The rules I know do not apply. This is an unmediated outcome. And the sense that I have of being a passenger is unsettling.

Maybe my teacher side is right. Maybe I should have captured some media along the path. Maybe I would have developed some deeper understanding of what is going on just under the skin. Maybe the sequenced and posted story of my garden could have unlocked the deep almanacal truths of farming. Maybe next time.

I’m good for now, being confused.

The tomato did this on its own.

It didn’t need me.

 

tomato on Medium.