Dear Diary, I am on a journey.

This morning I was ready to have a 2 hour delay (a storm was coming), but get up early anyway and fit in some blogging before going to school. But then as I was eating my cereal bar I looked and school was actually cancelled! I have a Snowday, or rather an Iceday, so I got to sleep in and now blog. Awesome.

icybranch

During winter vacation I stayed away from my computer for the most part (in part because my hard drive crashed...but was recovered, thankfully). This was nice for a variety of reasons but now my blog feels lonely and neglected. And I have so much to write about. Fortunately, writing less up here actually got me in the habit of journaling again. I used to journal thoughts and prayers almost everyday, but I lost the momentum a few years ago.  Around this time last year I felt a deep need to journal again and did. It has been spotty this year, but this vacation gave me the space to claim the habit again. 

the start of a painting from vacation the start of a painting from vacation

In all this journaling over vacation I felt that I took some important steps in the right direction on my current journey and I would like to share (an edited version of) them with all of you.

21 December 2008
REMEMBER:
- LOVE and forgive; smile and keep love at the center of your interactions
- You are not stuck
- Let hurtful words roll off your back. Don't let them stir up anger, regret, and blame.
- It is never too late to follow your dreams.
- Pray for those who hurt you, because they are hurting somewhere too.
- Take joy in the joy of others (thanks for this one, Sarah) Pray for those who are too blind to see the joys around them.
- See the forest from the trees. Distance yourself enough from situations and problems to see people with the love of God (emotionally untangle yourself from the issues), then pray for the wounds and living-hells other people live with/in. 

the theme of my journey the theme of my journey

 

1 January 2009
A new year. I feel a mix of sarcasm about hope and newness, with a healthy dose of old-fashioned optimism too. This year was a pretty good one and I have hopes and dreams for 2009. 

Romans 10:8-13 (The Message)
So what exactly was Moses saying? 
   The word that saves is right here, 
      as near as the tongue in your mouth, 
      as close as the heart in your chest.
It's the word of faith that welcomes God to go to work and set things right for us. This is the core of our preaching. Say the welcoming word to God—"Jesus is my Master"—embracing, body and soul, God's work of doing in us what he did in raising Jesus from the dead. That's it. You're not "doing" anything; you're simply calling out to God, trusting him to do it for you. That's salvation. With your whole being you embrace God setting things right, and then you say it, right out loud: "God has set everything right between him and me!"

Scripture reassures us, "No one who trusts God like this—heart and soul—will ever regret it." It's exactly the same no matter what a person's religious background may be: the same God for all of us, acting the same incredibly generous way to everyone who calls out for help. "Everyone who calls, 'Help, God!' gets help."

art journal pages from advent art journal pages from advent

 

3 January 2009
Life seems to suck most of the time. 2 or 3 nights ago I was falling asleep thinking how lucky I was and how I have so much to appreciate. I thought of the immediate list: I was on my pillowtop mattress with my electric blanket looking through the streetlamp-lit bedroom at the custom decor and design of our bedroom. I felt like I always think I should on Thanksgiving - peaceful, content, and thankful. I rarely feel this way. 

It's not that  I don't slow down and stop. I stop, but usually in a foggy grayness of anti-motivation that is triggered by so many things that I think I have given up trying to sort it all out. I stop because I am so tired I cannot deal anymore. I stop because I feel hopeless or the situations I have put myself in seem hopeless. I stop because of the constant negativity flying from other people that makes me feel more hopeless than my own life does. All this stopping and moping makes me feel like I have the wasting disease...but what is being wasted is my life.

Writing all this is helping me feel better. I used to journal a lot.
New Years Resolution: Alway write when I feel lost in the fog.

I like that. That will be a good one.

dsc_0008-2

 

4 January 2009 (at church)
Depression is always present, now that I think about it. But the trick I am realizing is to think about it more as a dust storm in the distance that sometimes comes closer and is overwhelming, rather than thinking about it as a constant darkness outlining my entire life, which threatens to overwhelm by slowly encroaching in often without me noticing. If it is an outline - darkness around the edges of my life actions and  scenarios - there seems to be no getting rid of it, no distancing, no hope. But you can strategize protection from dust storm damage and perhaps one day the dust storm will die down or disappear over the horizon. For now it is always there - varying is distance - and it is a learning process.

God can bring light out of darkness. He did not create the darkness because everything he created was "good."  Sarah Buteux, transcribed as best I could during the sermon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



darkness crowds the edges darkness crowds the edges



 

 

 

 

Later...
I don't think my students know that I love them. How terrible is that? But it begs the question, do I love my students? I know I used to during my first year as an intern. I feel like loving students isn't sustainable, or is it? Does loving them take that much more energy. Not really. I spend a lot of energy being annoyed and upset with my students. Patience and frustration take equal amounts of energy, but for some reason frustration is always easier than patience. 

During my first year my students knew I loved them because I took my own time to help them, I wrote them personal letters when an issue came up, I gave them gifts, I held hope for them, I believed in them and told them so, I knew what they did after school, I went to school dances, I hung out with them, I went to their dance performance, I got them water during a game, I went to their games, and I smiled at every single child everyday. 

Is that sustainable? Yes and no. All the evenings and extra time may not be, but hope is sustainable if I only had enough in myself to get by. I loved those students that first year in part because they were my first kids and in part because most of that population desperately needed someone, anyone, to love and believe in them. I think it was easier to show that I loved them because they had such need and so many holes to be filled by my love. But I just don't know where my hope came from back then. Was it just because it was totally new and I was new to the stresses of teaching? Is it possible to have hope years into teaching?

But now I am so tired all the time. The constant mayhem and antics drain me and I get so frustrated with them and the system too. I think some of them know I love them.I think some of them know because of how much energy and creativity I put into my lessons. But there are kids that I just adore who think I don't like them at all because I get so annoyed at them. They never stop talking, interrupting, and can't possibility listen to 2 minutes of instructions. But they are good kids. It's like Fred Claus says, " ... there may be kids that are scared, or not listened to, or upset ... but there are no naughty kids, Nick ..."

I need to show my students that I think they are awesome and I want to know what's going on in their life. I need to put my energy into the things I love about my job, including the kids, because everything else about the job is at least a little less important. 

the kitchen set from one of my class' chemistry skit...aren't they amazingly creative? the kitchen set from one of my class' chemistry skit...aren't they amazingly creative?

 

6 January 2009
I had a mini-freakout tonight when I found out there are going to be 2 Squam Art Workshops this year; one on textiles in June and one on painting and writing in September. There are many reasons why I wish I could attend both, but that is not the point here. I really wanted to go to both and was staring at the registration dates, cost, and the wonderful lists of classes and it all made me feel so sad, trapped, and helpless. Life was foggy again.


BUT then a voice (sounding a lot like Judy Wise's voice...hmmm) broke through. The voice of reason - containing the words I know in my head are true - never usually breaks through the fog I put myself in. But this time it broke through and in one breath - kind of all at once and more like a sense of peace washing over me - it said,
   Slow Down.
   You'll figure it out.
   You don't have to do it all right now.
   Give yourself the time to grow.
   You are young and you have so much of your life left to figure it out.
Then, of course, a sense of amazement washed over me as I thought, "Oh my gosh, the voice of reason has broken through. The words I know to be true and hear from others all the time have come to me." I REMEMBERED in a time of feeling foggy, sad, and desperate. People often remind me of this truth when I feel foggy, but it has not really helped in the moment. It needed to come through, break through, on its own for me to really utilize the truth given to me. You see, usually the fog takes me; it takes me down and it takes a lot of energy to come back up. But not this time. Progress!


the woman I painted in Judy Wise's class at SAW 2008 the woman I painted in Judy Wise's class at SAW 2008

thoughts after SAW 2008 thoughts after SAW 2008

 

So there it is. I have never been so personal on my blog before, but I feel greatly blessed by those who are honest and write about their personal journeys so here is a piece of mine.