Greater Joy Ahead

I’ve struggled with what to blog about this month. I usually look for patterns or the lessons the universe is trying to teach me and share those here in the hope of helping anyone reading it. I also try to think about and connect it to what is going on in the school year, since this blog is primarily focused on ways to support educators around self-care. **update: after I wrote this blog, I picked up “The Book of Joy” a book I’ve been reading, and the next chapter was titled “Suffering and Adversity: Passing through Difficulties” and it was all about this very thing. That hard times help us appreciate the good times and we experience more joy because of them. Now that is a good reframe! Keep reading to see my thoughts on that very thing. **
I’ve been contemplating what would be beneficial for us to think about, as we near the end of the school year. This is usually an extremely busy time for schools; staff, students and families. There is the end of the year push to finish all the curriculum, wrap up the classes and get grading done. There are various extracurricular activities, concerts, awards ceremonies, and graduations! And everyone is planning for the summer, camps, vacations and time at home. There is a lot to be done this time of year.
In addition to all that extra stress teachers are facing, student behaviors at this point in time in the school year typically magnify. The weather is warmer, summer break is nearing, and students get antsy. Everyone is ready to be DONE, looking forward to a change in pace (and place).
In the last month or so, I have felt that too. Not necessarily about summer break per se (although I do love summer!) but more about wishing things were different. Feeling done! I have experienced frustration and disappointment with the outcomes of a couple situations I was in recently. I have also been in conversations with a few loved ones in the last couple of weeks, who were experiencing similar feelings of uncertainty or upset and dissatisfaction with the results they encountered. Sometimes, it’s hard to except reality. Wishing people responded differently, or wanting more time to work on tasks, or hoping for better circumstances. Sometimes surrendering to what is, is hard!
In all those situations, my own personal ones and those of my companions, accepting the facts but then seeing the good in them helped to make them more tolerable. I’m learning that it is ok to feel your feelings. Sometimes I need permission from my closest friends to be upset and emotional. My mom has said, “Feel your feelings and think your thoughts but don’t think your feelings”. That is sound advice. Allow yourself some time to feel what you are feeling; stressed, overwhelmed, exhausted, frustrated, concerned. And then after just a few moments of that, those feelings will pass, and rationality can set back in. For me during those times, I benefit from processing with myself through journaling or talking with a trusted confidant and then doing something physical (taking a walk or going for a run or a bike ride). I imagine there are things that work for you, perhaps it’s painting or coloring or reading or hitting a punching bag. Whatever you need to do to get to a place of peace and calm, do those things. It’s ok to feel what you feel and to take care of yourself, especially when things aren’t going the way you’d like.
As an aside, I venture to think that is the case for those young ones around us as well, who are itching to get outside and not be in a classroom and who react strongly. Part of my work is to equip the adults in their life, in schools, to better help their students learn to feel their feelings in a healthy way.
Finally, once I have worked through what I am feeling and am able to think more calmly and logically I can often see the good in those situations. I am a believer that nothing in our life is wasted. Things happen for a reason and I am certain that if we pay attention, we can learn and grow from those situations, even the hard, emotional, frustrating ones.
When things are not going the way you’d hoped, what good can come from that? When students are misbehaving AGAIN for the third time this HOUR, how can we reframe that? When it seems that the pile of papers to be graded is growing not shrinking, what perspective can we embrace to maintain our sanity? My suggestion is feel your feelings and then look for the silver lining. Perhaps it could be, using their pent-up energy for some small group work, or a service-learning project or teaching a lesson outside. Maybe it is appreciating those papers to grade are a sign that students are still invested in learning and participating in the work you’ve assigned. Possibly you will see academic growth in the assignments they’ve submitted, and you can celebrate the impact you’ve had on them this year. What I know is that in all situations, however challenging they may be, there is always something for which we can be grateful. My hope is as you race to the end of this school year, you will be able to see the good in the things and experiences around you and you will head into summer with greater joy because of them.

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