Words and Feelings Matter

These are some of the words and phrases that have become a part of my vocabulary over the last few months:

Lymphoma

Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma

Cancer

Tom Baker Cancer Centre

Full hip replacement

Physiotherapy

Neutrophils

Neutropenic

Hospital

Doctors

Hematologist

Nurses

Chemo

Stem cell transplant

Fevers

Dizzy

Tired

Blood transfusions

Blood counts

Methotrexate

RCHOP

Hair loss

C-T Scan

PET Scan

X-rays

MRIs

Injections

IVs

And, here are some of the, mostly unexplained and unexplainable, mood swings I am experiencing:

Bouts of crying without a reason. Like a couple of nights ago. My 14-year-old son heard me crying and tried to get me to calm down by deep breathing with him. When he asked me what was wrong, I couldn’t give him a satisfactory answer. Not last night and not the next morning.

Bouts of crying without a reason. Usually after I get back from a treatment at the hospital.

Bouts of crying without a reason. Feelings of frustration because I want to do stuff around the house, but can only do a little bit at a time.

Bouts of crying without a reason. Like now, though writing about it helps because this is my story.

Cross pasted to the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Tuesday Challenge.

Gratitude: Living a Victimless Life

I have to admit that for most of my life I’ve been a cup half empty kind of person. If there was a negative aspect to any situation, I could find it, name it, and make sure everybody knew about it. That’s how I assumed the role of “victim” early on in my life, unable to reclaim my essence by finding the good in everything and relishing the moment.

For the past few years, I have been attending The Centre for Spiritual Living, member of a network of new thought ministries, not to be confused with New Age thinking, with followers all over the world. It is non-denominational, embracing all religions, cultures, sexual orientations and races. The sermons are great and the music is spectacular.

When we go to “The Centre”, I can embrace the coming week with optimism and hope. And it is gratitude that helps me grow my consciousness about the world and my place in it.

So, what is the antidote to an orientation towards negativity and victimhood? It is an abundance of gratitude for the here and now, for the past and the future, for all that I am and can be. As our spiritual leader says: “If we do not feel grateful for what we already have, what makes us think we’d be happy with more?” And, “let’s make gratitude our default, not our last resort”. (Yes. I have my notebook with me and jot down some ideas and quotes I want to remember.)

This past Sunday, the sermon was about how we are constantly comparing ourselves to other people by thinking that their lives are better than ours: why don’t we have what they have? When we think this way we’re always missing opportunities to see what we do have and be grateful and happy for ourselves. Only then can we be genuinely happy for other people.

I take this thinking with me into this new staying-at-home school year and acknowledge all that I have (usually not material things) and all that I am grateful for.

I hope that if you’ve returned to school, are getting ready to return to school, or are starting a new phase in your professional life that you look inward and rejoice in all that you are and all that you have. Maybe even write it down as a reminder during those moments when you’re feeling low or overwhelmed. We all bring different gifts to the world; let’s affirm these to ourselves and live them in our lives.

Here’s wishing everybody a year filled with gratitude.

Cross posted to Two Writing Teachers Tuesday Slice of Life Challenge.

August…

As August unfolds and teachers head back to school, social media is buzzing with planning for the fall. And, my heart skips a beat; I won’t be going back for the start of this school year. It’s the first time in over 30 years that I will miss the excitement and promise of a new school year. And I’m struggling not to feel a heavy dose of FOMO.

I remind myself that I have other things to take care of, namely my health, but I won’t be idle. For starters, I have reading and writing plans. I will be working on a short story that I started last year and threatens to languish unless I continue to work on it. I will add weekly posts to my professional blog. I will write short columns for parents in my neighborhood magazine. I will read and read and read. The pile keeps getting larger every time I check Twitter.

I will be doing as much online professional learning as is available and I can handle: I have four book studies currently underway or soon to start. I am collaborating on two workshops for the fall. I have two online courses waiting for me to dig in – one on the science of happiness and the other one on classroom discourse.

I am also looking forward to some periods of rest to recuperate my strength. Family time will be high on my agenda.

I will create and live a vision that doesn’t include the physical schoolhouse building…at least for a while…but that may be just as fulfilling.

FOMO? I don’t think so!

Cross posted to the Two Writing Teachers Tuesday Slice of Life Challenge

Parenting & Teaching

Today was my 14-month old granddaughter’s first day in preschool. Throughout the day, my daughter shared pictures to our family chat to keep us in the loop.

We saw her eating at a table with other children. She ate all of her fruits and vegetables first.  

We saw her sitting in one of the teacher’s laps while listening to a story. Budding teacher’s pet? LOL!

We saw her sleeping in a tiny cot next to other children. She was covered with a blanket and had her lion with her.

We saw how happy she was. She didn’t cry as I had initially predicted.

I told my daughter to just take her for a couple of hours to see how she would do and then slowly increase her time there because I thought she might cry. She has been at home with her parents since she was born. I was using my experience with my own children to give her some advice. My daughter had decided her daughter could handle staying longer in daycare because she knows her child. And, she was right.

The same is true about teaching. We give each other advice, suggestions and encourage each other, but in the end, we all learn by doing. Some things may come easily and others will take some fine tuning. It’s a career long challenge to get teaching right and we are always on that journey. We’ll make lots of mistakes along the way. We will develop strong opinions about different approaches and practices. But if we are to get better we must learn from our students. We must have faith in what we know about teaching and get better at our profession through knowing our students.

So happy for my granddaughter. Can’t wait to get more pictures tomorrow.

Cross posted to the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Tuesday Challenge.

 

Cancer

It has been a long time since I’ve posted on my blog, but I have a good reason for my absence.

I have cancer. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, to be exact.

So, you can see why I have been MIA; my attention has been elsewhere, of course. Not surprisingly, my energy level has been less than stellar. So much so that I was unable to read or write for three months. (My family was extremely concerned about this as I’m an avid reader and love to write.) Now that I’m slowly getting back to myself, it feels good.

I’ve hesitated to share this news publicly because a cancer diagnosis feels like it changes everything. And it does. Everyone looks at you differently and you see yourself through different eyes. It took a while for me to feel OK about talking with anyone, including family and close friends, about my condition. But I think it’s time. I’ve come to terms with my health and what I need to do to get better. Plus, this experience has taught me so much about gratitude and the generosity of family, friends and even strangers.

Life is full of surprises. We may be going on full speed with our lives and, without warning, something changes. We’re not ready for it. (The truth is we’re never ready for it, but there it is.) I was in denial for a long time until I couldn’t turn my back on what was happening. I finally embraced it and I’m the better for it.

I am learning to be grateful about what really matters, which for me is easier said than done. I am learning that I am often preoccupied with unimportant – in the big scheme of things – worries and obsessions. In particular, I am finally coming to terms with the fact that my extreme focus on my job and all the conflicts normally associated with that have for too long negatively impacted the rest of my life. As difficult as this is (old habits are hard to break), I want to change this. I need to find new and healthier ways to continue to love what I do as a teacher while finding my way back to myself and my family. I am calling this balance: a much needed adjustment to how I live my life.

So, I am grateful for this new opportunity that life has given me to get it right. To fix what is broken. To have faith in myself so that I can be a happier, better version of who I am. To rejoice in all of the people and things that I am thankful for. To take (real) risks and to trust myself that everything is as it should be.

On this journey I have encountered the generosity of others. I bask in the love of my family as they continue to care for me, letting go bit by bit as I get stronger. Friends check in on me and let me know that they care. Strangers have shown me that kindness and empathy are still relevant. And I’ve discovered that, despite my worst fears, no one looks at me differently.

So, here I am again.

Cross posted to Two Writing Teachers Tuesday Slice of Life Challenge.

March Slice of Life Challenge – Day #1

March 1st has come around much too quickly. I’d forgotten that this is the first day of the March Slice of Life Challenge

Where did January and February go? I was caught unawares but I am here now.

This is the time of the year when I wish for a do over with my class. There are so many things I would do differently. And, while that’s not possible, the next best thing is to keep moving forward.

The story of January and February:

  • A theatre residency.
  • A guest speaker came to talk about air quality.
  • Several days in January that were full of author Skypes.

So, I’m being honest when I say that I’m glad February is over and that there are no new things to try to fit into our already full day. I’m looking forward to going back to a normal schedule.

Not sure whether I’ll slice every day in March, but I am definitely going to give it a go!

Happy Slicing everybody!

Cross posted to The Two Writing Teachers March Slice of Life Challenge.

 

 

Book Nerd

I am a book nerd. But that’s not a strange label to have, at least not in this group. I am sure that many of us, if not all, who share our slices every Tuesday on the Two Writing Teachers blog are also book nerds. I’m not alone. I know that. But I’m coming to a strange realization: I am buying or borrowing more books that I can reasonably expect to read.

My mission is to make a dent in the hundreds of books I own plus the others that I can’t seem to stop buying on my Kindle or in print…before I buy or borrow another book. Wait. Did a lightning bolt strike me on the head? No? OK. It’s not so bad, then.

Today my students and I talked about addiction to the internet, devices and social media. I came clean ’cause I know I am drawn into the digital world as much as the next person. And, then someone said: “But there are good addictions”. And, while this may be true, even good addictions can get in the way of other activities or people in our lives.

So, I am going to confess.

I am addicted to buying books, borrowing books, having books, and wanting books.

I think this is one of the good addictions, but when I’ve spent a small fortune throughout my career and still haven’t read even 1/3 of the books I own, I have to take stock.

I have to stop buying books and catch up with reading the ones I currently own. That’s too bad because it seems that almost every day I hear about another great professional book that I must own. When this happens, my adrenalin speeds up, or whatever it is adrenalin does, and I eventually cave in and buy the book.

But I’m at that point where owning or borrowing books is not enough. I need to read them, too! (Actually, I need to write my own!)

The truth is that this is a recent problem; I was better at reading all of the books that were in my possession, borrowed or otherwise, before Twitter and Facebook. However, the power of social media is slippery and pulls me in bit by bit. But I can change this. Whenever I am tempted to reach for my phone to check on social media, I will grab the book I’m reading instead.

How about you? Do you have a book BUYING or BORROWING addiction? How are you transforming it back into a READING addiction instead?

This post was shared on The Two Writing Teachers Tuesday Slice of Life Challenge.