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.

Conversations

I spent part of today talking quietly with individual students. We talked about their responses to a survey I had asked them to fill out yesterday.

These brief talks with my students felt strange at first; it wasn’t until later that I realized why.

Nevertheless, I continued to meet with my students throughout the day. I didn’t ask them about every response they gave on the survey, only those that stood out for me in some way.

The conversations were enlightening: my students want to be heard. And, although I thought I had been listening, maybe I hadn’t.

And, that’s why these conversations felt strange at first. I realized that it had been a long time since had I sat down with any of my students. I had been far to busy “doing” instead of listening, talking, and learning from them. I had neglected our classroom community. And, that’s why these conversations felt strange.

So, what did I learn today? Simple: I need to take the time to talk with my students, one-on-one. I need to do this as often as possible. I need to give my students many opportunities to think about things that are important to them. To tell me what’s bothering them. To make sure they feel reassured that I am listening to them.

Not rocket science, but certainly an important reminder as we head into the last half of the school year.

Thank you to Christina Nosek for sharing her Google Doc on social media. It gave me a place to start having these much-needed conversations.

Cross posted to Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Tuesday.

 

Today

I’ve been staring at a blank screen for the last 10 minutes.

I don’t know what to write about.

I had an idea for today’s slice earlier in the day. But I didn’t jot it down and now I can’t remember what it was about.

Every so often, I draw a blank about what to write. Where to start. How to continue.

Some days, I just settle for nothing or close to nothing.

Some days, I just start writing something. Anything.

Some days, that’s enough. It’s enough to put myself out there. On paper. Online. To make my mark. To say: I. Am. Present.

Today I am present.

Crossposted to the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Tuesday.

 

 

 

Conversations – They Really Do Help!

Sometimes it only takes a conversation to address a problem and find a solution. In fact, most problems can be resolved through conversation. (If only world leaders thought so, too! Perhaps many wars and battles could have been avoided…)

Kids rise to the occasion and respond in mature ways when they are trusted to do so.

THE PROBLEM:

a messy classroom; materials not returned to their places; everyone waiting for someone else to tidy up.

THE SOLUTION:

–I will make sure that students have 5 minutes at the end of class to clean up. – Everyone will take care of their own materials. – Everyone will remind someone at their table to tidy up if they’ve forgotten. -Everyone will pick up materials and garbage off the floor, the living room area, and the carpet area. -No one will leave the class until the room is ready for the next activity.

It worked like a charm. All. Day. Long.

So simple, yet I didn’t address this problem with the kids right away. Instead,  I kept nagging and nagging and nothing changed.

Sometimes, it only takes a conversation to make things better.

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

Yoga and Living the Life of a BADASS

I finally went to a yoga class this afternoon. Although I’m not a big yoga person, I have enjoyed going to yoga in the past. However, it has been a long time since I’ve gone; I am intimidated by the usually more experienced participants that populate yoga classes. So, instead of plowing through and not caring what others thought, I chose the easy way by sitting out.

But this is my year of being a BADASS and there’s no turning back.

I had to go.

I had to conquer my fears.

I had to stop caring what others would think of me long enough to focus on myself.

And, right now, I feel pretty proud to have gone to a yoga class that, while not rigorous (that’s my pre-badass self speaking – hard to shut her down completely, yet), certainly allowed stretching, moments of mindfulness, breathing and meditation.

I really needed that.

Can’t wait for next week’s class!

Cross posted to Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Tuesdays.