When did life and work and responsibilities become some urgent? In most aspects of my life, it feels as though the to-do list has quadrupled…the immediacy of task completion has amped up…and many people that I encounter each day seem to be intensely working at the aspects of their life. Why the rush? Why does it all have to be so hard? Where is the fun?
Just last weekend, my college-freshman niece commented. “Gosh, some days it would be so nice to live Nana’s life.” You see…Nana is retired, she has time to read, craft, quilt, garden, bake, meet her friends for lunch or coffee… So, it made me wonder…do we really need to wait til retirement to savor in the joys of filling our days with the things we love? Is it possible to make a little fun along the way?
And then again this week, the Thursday night guest speaker at my “Leadership for Teaching and Learning” class challenged us to develop our Attitude of Gratitude…to seek the things in life that give energy rather than take energy…to measure what we treasure.
So, allow me to share a little bit of joy that I have discovered this week…
Taking time for breakfast…coffee/cream, scrambled eggs, green juice…yummo. *joy*
Sharing conversations with a wonderfully wacky fourth grade teacher that has welcomed “Shirl” into her classroom – the students take turns having her at their desk, accessorizing her as they wish. They treasure the sheer happiness on her face, despite the many challenges that she has faced in life… Awww…humor and fun and a little bit of craziness in an elementary classroom. Such fun! *joy* This same teacher has a gumball machine and Judy Blume and a colorful little rug outside her classroom door. *joy* They still work on standards-based curriculum…they will be tested with the OLPA , the MCA, the WIDA, MONDO and Everyday Math…AND they still laugh and live in community. Refreshing.
Another energizing school visit took me to a high school in the city…Demographic data: African American 21%; American Indian 2%; Asian American 53%; Caucasian 9%; Hispanic 15%; Free and Reduced Lunch 85%; Special Education 14%; English Language Learners 38% – a complex school with a very diverse gathering of students.
I sat in the library after school during a session called “Let’s Get Poppin” where students worked on homework with teacher support, with the promise to get popcorn and bus tokens. Cool idea. *joy* And then as I was leaving, the lobby area was filled with groups of students…talking, working on homework together, listening to music, dancing, and playing this fantastically colorful piano. *joy*
And finally…last night it was cold and Halloween and I was whipping up some homemade caramel corn while Bob took a former student out and about in our community for a little trick or treating. Si Poo arrived in Minnesota when she was in 5th grade, as a Karen refugee from Burma/Myanmar via Thailand. She is now in her second year of college, studying criminal justice. We have become great friends through the years. So last night, she drove out here to the suburbs with her sister, niece, auntie and a few cousins to trick or treat with Mr. Lein. She sat at my kitchen counter munching on caramel corn and drinking hot cocoa with me as she filled me in on the news of her life, and we video chatted her cousin in Bangkok baking cakes at work….yep *joy*
I will continue to make my to-do lists, and keep up the pace with the demands at work and grad school…AND I will seek joy. I will take the time to look up and notice the sweet moments…to communicate and listen with the people around me…to smile and laugh and not take things so darn serious. Hope you will too!