I am not quite sure why I am struggling to write here. I think, in reflection, part of the issue is that I am spreading out too thin. It feels like I have gotten myself down to a single cell unit spread over a wide span of life. Talking with David the other day, I noted that I often feel so overwhelmed with trying to remember all the things for the different parts and needs of our life. I have post-it notes, and lists, and to-dos on so many different platforms right now and remembering where those are is a job! Trying to be efficient, inspiring and supportive in the classroom for 8 hours a day, then cooking a nutritious meal for dinner, playing with intention and focus with the kiddos, connecting deeply beyond a “How was your day?” “Good, you?” “Good,” with David, and then somehow also fitting in time to teach/expose H + O to how to ride bicycles, swim, know their colors and letters, and have robust experiences and grade papers and give feedback and design lesson plans for school, and try to build my pottery studio is often invigorating and defeating simultaneously. I try to remind myself that all of this is like the breathing process. You take a deep breath in and find wonder in how expansive you can get your capacity but then you breathe it out and contraction is an inevitable part of the process too. I am not sure where in that “in and out,” I am currently. Half of my head says “contraction” there is not enough hours in the day or sleep and rest being carved out, the other half is fighting against the contraction and hoping to suck in more and more air but is somehow gasping still. It is not like I can change very much though. I want to be all the things, but I think I need to revisit some of my structures and processes too or maybe it is more my mindset and just giving myself a mental break from time to time, like taking a bath or not listening to podcasts every drive in to work so there is a little space of nothingness in a full day.
WHOA! I am never been so MIA from my blog. First, I want to apologize. The truth is that I was having a major writer's block, I have been feeling super overwhelmed, and have leaned into the 365 photo project as a way to keep me connected without having to commit to writing anything more than a sentence or two. The is for sure a hard season, for me and for many. The short days just send out strong hibernation vibes and the courses I taught this winter term were very demanding. Crushed under grading was the truth of it. This dynamic though was double edged. The students in my classes were curious, investment, high-achieving, and excited to learn which pushed me to raise the bar over and over again for them. I know, I know isn't this a teacher's literal dream? And, yes it was and is. But at the same time this meant more time crafting lesson plans, designing projects, and leaning into hard grading and feedback sessions. I stopped eating in the cafeteria in order to sneak in more time for grading and arrived to school an hour before classes and graded way past my bedtime. It was exhilarating but a bit disconnecting and definitely exhausting.
Most of these winter months felt hard to balance all the plates that were spinning around me. This impossible task of: being a wife, parent, daughter, friend, potter, and teacher had me thinking often of that story of the philosophy professor that has been shared throughout social media for years now:
One day a philosophy professor brought a large glass jar and some beautiful river rocks to class with him.
"Raise your hands when the jar is full," he instructed his students, and he began putting the big rocks into the jar.
Soon the lid would no longer fit, and all the students raised their hands to indicate the jar was full. The professor then pulled out a bag of smaller black and white pebbles and poured them into the jar. As the pebbles rolled down, they filled in the little gaps between the big river rocks.
The students smiled and raised their hands. This time the jar was completely full. Then the professor produced a bag of sand and began pouring it into the jar. When the sand had filled the tiny gaps between the rocks and pebbles he triumphantly placed the lid on the jar and asked his class if the jar was now full. They all clapped and agreed, “Yes, it is full!” At that point, the professor opened the lid and slowly poured two cups of coffee into the jar. The coffee completely filled the tiniest gaps between the rocks, the pebbles, and the grains of sand.
"Now, life is very much like this jar," he said.
The river rocks represent the most important things in life, such as your ethics, your family, your loved ones, your health. Even if you lost everything else, your life would still be full with these most important things in it.
The pebbles are the things in our lives that are pretty
important - but our happiness shouldn’t depend on them. Things like our job, house, car, etc.
Finally the sand represents everything else - the countless small, busy things in our lives. If we fill up our jar with sand first, then we won’t have any room for the river rocks or pebbles.
If we fill our lives with just the small stuff or the busy stuff, we won’t have any room or time for the things that mean the most of us.”
After a brief moment of silence one of the students asked,
"Professor, what does the coffee represent?"
"Ah, I’m glad you asked, replied the professor. "It means that no matter how full your life is, there’s always room for a cup of coffee with a friend"
I am glad this season in which my coffee pot was overfilling feels like it is coming to an end. The afternoons are sneaking in some more daylight and I feel like a switch is flipping from winter survival mode into a more calm, create, breathe, and explore mode.