Wednesday, August 17, 2011

In a Groove

The theme at yoga last night asked us to consider the grooves we carve in our lives as we make choices about how we spend our time and how we react to situations.  We make choices at every moment, every day.  I like a lot of my choices, but I realize that some of the grooves I'm stuck in aren't leading me where I want to be.  It's pretty liberating to know that all it takes is a slight shift and I can make a change in course.

A foot injury has taken a toll on my usual routines (and I really really like my routines).  However, I am realizing I can establish new ones that will allow for healing, and that may just offer up some new opportunities and perspectives.  Tonight I was driven to the pool by a need for movement and the oppressive heat that is taking a toll on me (as it always does in August).  Every time I breathed west I was afforded the most brilliant view of the sun setting beyond the storm clouds that hover (and don't ever seem to storm).  The combination of moving through the water, hearing the silence, and being treated to a visual show every time I breathed reminded me of the importance of simply taking the plunge (excuse the pun) and enjoying the time I have and how I spend it.

I've been having a difficult time getting into the groove of the new school year.  I feel slightly off balance as I have watched some of my plans fly a little lower than I'd hoped with my new group of students.  I finally remembered today that sometimes this just doesn't matter.  That it's more about the softness in your eyes, the love feelings, and the easy laughter that make things work.  It's not what I have written on the page as my plan.  It's not the handouts I make.  It's not the fact that the closure wasn't as solid as I'd hoped.  It's the ability to be real in the moment with a group of people who very much need for me to be.

Teaching is a pretty solid metaphor for life:  If you get flustered, everything gets worse.  If you laugh at yourself and the situation, it diffuses.  If you move through with love and not fear, things fall into place as they should.  A good plan is only as good as its responsiveness to the present moment.  And all of these choices become habits.  All of these choices inform the groove that is worn into the fabric of the classroom, my day, and ultimately,  my life.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Forgiving Me

I have spent the day in a flurry of lesson plan writing and handout printing.  And I realize I am back where I belong.  This realization requires some self-forgiveness.  I feel like I owe myself a huge apology for the past years of my life.  But I also have to remind myself that I wouldn't know that I am exactly where I need to be if I hadn't taken some it's a quandary.

So, to be concrete for a bit, here are the things I am sorriest for...Note to self:
1.  I am so sorry I didn't know what love was.  I am sorry I let myself enter a relationship that seemed like the real deal without noting all of the signs that it wasn't.  I promise I kept thinking that it could be.  I know, I know, no more Emily Dickinson and "dwelling in possibility."  I'm fully grounded in the reality of situations now.  I promise.
2.  I am sorry I let myself become depressed, and I am sorry that I didn't recognize that the reason for this was my choice in partner.  I looked for other reasons.  I ignored the one right in front of me.  I kept hoping it was because I was working so much.  Whoops.  Inverse was true:  I was working so much because I didn't have any reason not to.
3.  I am sorry that I changed my name.  I know, this is causing a huge series of headaches as you try to rectify it.  Maybe you can cut me some slack on this one.  Or not.
4.  I am sorry that I'm such a perpetual romantic that I never considered a prenuptial agreement.  Nuff said.
5.  I'm sorry I fought for resolving conflict and figuring out how to salvage a commitment.  I know your ego has taken a hit over this.  But, truly, I had to make certain--it was a big life decision, and not one that I had in my repertoire.  I had to act on my beliefs at the time.  I understand it was misguided, but it's never easy to simply admit you made a mistake.

I don't need apologies from anyone else, nor do I seem to have anyone to forgive but myself, and this seems to be the most difficult thing I've done in some time.  The scariest realization in the last while?  It's that there isn't anything I've missed about the partner I lived with for a decade.  This, in itself, deserves an apology.  There aren't any moments of "if only" or "wow, it was so cool when..." or "I loved how he..."  Wow.

If I can give myself the benefit of the doubt, and if I can stop beating myself up for my stupidity, I can enjoy what I do have:
1.  A gorgeous life filled with truly amazing people.
2.  Lots and lots of love.
3.  A job that is both challenging and truly truly amazing...on every level.
4.  A dissertation to write, that can finally be written...and well.
5.  A belief that the future holds more than I could have imagined just a year ago.
6.  A lot of laughter.
7.  Me.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

And we begin again...and again

The beginning of a new school year (as a teacher) brings with it an assortment of interesting emotions--sadness that the summer is ending, and that there's never been as much time as I'd hoped; excitement at the prospect of beginning fresh; mild anxiety when I realize I'm not as prepared as I thought I would be...lots of good lessons for simply taking things as they are and not as I wish they would be.

My friend Faith and I had a conversation this summer about the fact that we had alter egos: "perfect Faith" and "perfect Lisa" out there somewhere who woke, ran a few miles, sipped green tea, and were always calm in the face of any circumstance (of course the list could go on and on about what these perfect women would do with their days).  I like the idea of this perfect me living out her life in a parallel universe.  She gives me something to aspire to, though I think she might be a little boring in her perfection.  :)

And my classroom is more akin to the real me than the perfect me.  I like to think I'll paint the walls, line the window sills with plants, have the year's lessons completely planned in advance...but the real me spends too much time thinking about the big picture, wrestling with concepts that make the most sense to address, and then, when the year is about to start?  I need to reign in this thinking and make it concrete enough to implement.  And I put this off until it cannot be any longer.

Regardless, I love beginning again.  Each day.  And knowing that all along I've been here...that it's all just a continuation and refinement of previous experiences.  I love stumbling through.  I love having something to work toward.  I love the fact that what I'm working toward, and what I consider important to focus on shifts and changes.  I love the fact that some of these areas of focus remain constant, because this shows me who I am, who my core "me" is.  I continue to work on living a life that is both true to my belief system and in a way that puts positive energy back into the world (I fail on occasion :).  I continue to work on being compassionate.  I continue to allow my heart to break wider and wider open to take in all that's around me.  I love that love is a renewable resource.  I continue to acknowledge that the world is not always fair or kind.  And I acknowledge that I hate bearing witness to that, especially where youth are concerned, but it is the truth of the world we live in.  I'm pretty sure the perfect me is working on a lot of these same things.

Thursday, August 11, 2011


I didn't know I was someone who couldn't see themselves clearly.  I've always prided myself on allowing myself to be exactly who I am, and to feel comfortable in my own skin.  I've looked around at my friends and thought, "How can you not see how fully amazing you are?"  There's a generosity that we hold for others that we don't always for ourselves.  I know I've considered this many times.  Today my therapist offered me an alternative word for "dork" which was "genuine."  And I am sitting with this.

I spent last weekend with a friend who is about as genuine as they come.  We  hadn't seen each other in a number of years, but we fell into step as if there was no time between us.  A genuine connection between two people who are fully able to be genuine with one another.  There are so many life events and societal factors that cause all of us to retreat from our true selves, to step behind some easy facade that seems to be co-constructed by doubt, fear, and unease.  When faced with a facade I recoil.  It would be infinitely easier to hide behind something that's been condoned by society (or our perception of what's been condoned) as if we were teenagers who needed to wear the right brand of jeans in order to feel okay about ourselves.  We've been taught this for so long.  It's a challenge to not literally buy it all.

I'm turning 41 years old tomorrow.  I'd like to believe that I don't need a facade (or botox or a butt lift).  I'd like to believe that I won't worry ever again about what someone else thinks of me.  I'd like to believe that I can move through life never doubting that who I am and what I do is just fine.   I'd like to believe that everyone around me can do the same.  Maybe the most generous stance I can take is to allow everyone else to sift through their own stuff as I do mine.   I'd like to believe that the value of each of us is found in what makes us exactly ourselves, and what allows us to offer something new and unique to the world.  The benefits to society would be exponential.  I can't imagine what there is to gain from hiding.


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Grounded...or at least not in flight

I received a text message today from a man I met recently.  He told me that he had jumped out of a plane--a first in a series of firsts for him since his divorce last year.  I realized that what had been plaguing me in the past weeks, as I embarked on a series of work trips that alternately exhausted and invigorated me, is that I am looking for less redundancy and more new experiences in my life.  I don't want to do things for the sake of their being "new" or "different," but I also don't want to fall back into patterns of too much work and sacrifice and not enough play and frivolity.  However, I'm also recognizing that much of what was causing the feeling of redundancy was my mindset.  

What I want is to make certain I move forward through time being very purposeful about how and why I spend my time and energy--as well as the frame of mind I'm cultivating while doing so.  I don't think I'm alone in this, and I also think it's one of the most challenging aspects of life.

I've flown about the country this summer for a variety of reasons, and each offered something beautiful, challenging, and that taught me greater patience.  I also realized, however, that I am in need of tending to the world I inhabit for the bulk of my time.  I'm approaching the beginning of a new school year (tomorrow) and I realize that the patterns I build in my everyday life are what are going to define how I feel and, ultimately, are much more important than any planned vacation or escape.  My day to day reality is what is my life for the most part.  What I want is a continued focus on what's surprising and beautiful, unique and powerful right here, right now.  I don't want to miss out on my world because I'm looking for something "bigger" that removes me from it.   It's a pretty big life I live.  I need to remember this.