Sunday, February 15, 2015

Feb. 15, Sunday: More Snow, and Some Reflections

So, I was supposed to be in Portland enjoying city life with my world's best friend in our traditional weekend away, but the weather report (dismal, verging on terrifying)led to cancellation. On first glance, we have no other options till summer. . . . which is disappointing, as is the fact that the "bombogenesis" storm has turned out to be bad, but not historic. With all this suffering, I'd at least like an historic event. So the start of my vacation--much desired, despite/because of our rash of snow days--is a little blue, a little colored with "If only," "It's not fair," and "Why couldn't," none of which are phrases I enjoy.

Since everything in Ellsworth is closed today--church, Y, restaurants, stores--and since it is nasty outside with a strong wind, temps in the teens, and "only" a foot of snow due to fall, I was looking for a workout on line. Checking out Tara Stiles's yoga-based website, I read an essay she'd written in which she said she doesn't do resolutions for the year, but instead adopts a mantra. In the midst of my restless/sad/guilty feeling about my cancelled weekend and my disappointed friend, I remembered my resolution for my year--something I'd adopted even before I read her reflection. It's been useful for me already, though I had lost sight and touch with it in the blizzard blues of this weekend. My goal for 2015 is "Enjoy," plain and simple.

When it first occurred to me, that one word goal seemed trite, even fatuous. However, it kept surfacing, even though I usually adopt action-based goals, and I have been good about keeping them. In early 2000, I decided to floss regularly, and now I feel strange when I skip that step before going to bed. Last year I decided to call my mom weekly; a year and change later, it's a rare week when we don't chat for at least ten minutes. But still, somehow, that New Age-y, 70's-ish word, overused by check out clerks and wait staff the world over, kept surfacing. "Enjoy." Finally (since New Year's resolutions are supposed to apply, kind of, at the, y'know, start of the year), I gave in, and thought I'd try it, secretly a little embarrassed by its easy familiarity.

What I've found, and, in this latest re-discovery of it, realized, is that my easy peasy resolution is deeper, challenging, and more valuable than I thought. Trying to enjoy my life, my decisions, and the passage of time forces me to acknowledge my choices and my role in shaping my own life. I teach ninth graders, and after 28 years in the classroom, their quirks and habits are familiar, smart phones and Facebook notwithstanding. But every day I have a choice: I can roll my eyes, sigh, yell, scold, and make us all miserable and stressed, or I can acknowledge the fact that despite my awesome lesson plan on supporting a thesis statement, my students are going to be fixated on the fact that I have chalk on my butt, laugh at the whole situation with them, and go on. Last week--the week before vacation in a winter that's been full of bad weather and planning/replanning/starting and restarting for teachers--a group of us had to present to the school board about our new ninth grade program. My day then started at 5:30 am, got me to school at 7:30 am, continued with back-to-back meetings at 2:30 (I ran that one) and 3:30, and then would finish with the Board at 7 and a 30 min drive home around 8 pm. I don't like meetings and I don't like changes of plan, so I was pretty whiny in my head for a while, but then I remembered my resolution. "Enjoy" forced me to see the situation differently, to celebrate the gorgeous knitting project I had to work on in my meetings, to notice the beautiful scenery I drove through en route to school, to celebrate that my colleagues are dedicated, gifted professionals, and, best of all, to head out with a friend to get take-out dumplings for dinner before the meeting instead of staying in my room trying to correct a few more papers. Tiring as it was, the day was a good one: I look back on it with a smile rather than a groan, and I was able to start that transformation early on by remembering my resolution.

This cold, snowy, disappointing, unplanned-for, cabin fever-y weekend, "Enjoy" will rouse me to fuller awareness and living, too. I have time with people I love in the house I love that I didn't plan for: what can I do with it? Well, there's a sweater I can finish knitting, a bunch of new books I can read, and some letters I can write. As far as I know, "Parenthood" is still up on Netflix, and I'm only on season 2. There are snow shoes and scarves enough to go around once I get restless, and since it is mid-February, this weather will end in about a month. I can't change the weather, I can't rewind time so that we make other plans that wouldn't need to be canceled, but I can accept and embrace the experience I'm in now--with joy, with awareness. Off I go, reminding myself that after I've called my mom and flossed my teeth, there is a rich, varied, and interesting world out there to experience and appreciate.

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