What a sweetly simple Monday off from school. A soft drizzle scattered throughout the day, providing a dark and dreary backdrop perfect for Halloween lights, pumpkins, and mums.
As I graded students’ essays, the gray mist had me daydreaming of some faraway rain-drenched isle. What better telly, then, to binge on than Shetland, the mystery series based on the Ann Cleeves novels set in Scotland. I mean, look at this…
And then back to this Netflix documentary for a break from the news of the day, which continues to be so loud, combative, and irritating to the spirit….
I find myself looking to the past for learning, inspiration and optimism, even hope.
A quiet day before heading back to the classroom tomorrow. Word on the street is that seniors are up to some shenanigans and will be cutting school for an extra long weekend. Fine by me. I have much more grading, reading, lesson-planning, and daydreaming of faraway rainy places to do.
The past few weeks have been challenging. Like so many people, my spirit is fraught and frustrated by the ugly tumult taking place in Washington yet I can’t look away. More than ever, I find myself searching for glimmers of hope, integrity, possibility.
Waking up to a cloudy October morning, I purposely treated myself to a quiet, restful day, doing my best to tune out the travesty of the Kavanaugh confirmation. I headed first to where I usually turn for rejuvenation and reflection: a morning walk in nature.
While I typically walk in silence to fully savor the sounds around me, this morning I popped in my ear buds to continue listening to an episode of On Being with two of my favorite poets: Padraig O Tuama and Marilyn Nelson. Pure, nourishing soul food….
Happy September, everyone! Someone told me yesterday that September is the new January, which makes sense to me. New notebooks and pencils. New shoes. A new season on its way (hooray, Autumn!!!). And if you’re a teacher like me, new classes with new students. A fresh new start!
This past summer I also plunged into a new hobby, which I look forward to continuing as a respite from long school days, adjuncting at night, the constant research and reading required of an English teacher, as well as those mountains of papers to grade:
sketching and watercoloring.
Thanks to Mary Ann Moss, over at Dispatch from LA, I splashed around with paints and water and a bunch of different inks and pens all summer long. Each morning I enjoyed another segment of her online course “Sketchbookery,” happily sketching and coloring spoons, shells, heirloom tomatoes, marbles, trees, toes (don’t ask). Even poor Edith Piaf got a turn. Letting loose under Mary Ann’s tutelage also reaffirmed a few lessons much more important than the accuracy of my fledgling artistry:
Playing and having fun clears the head and feeds the soul. Play and have fun daily!
Laugh at yourself. Then laugh at yourself some more.
It’s okay to make a mess. In fact, making a big splashy mess is quite fun.
Color outside the lines. Unabashedly. Wildly. Frequently.
Keep your eyes open to catch all those simple joys and beauties around you.
So off I go to begin the new school year with over 100 freshmen, sophomores, and seniors. I will be teaching a freshman course called Leadership, Honors American Literature to my sophomores, and Honors World Literature to the seniors. Lots of challenges, as well as moments to look forward to, ahead. And lots of breaks to breathe, rest, and sketch and color it all.
I hope you also make lots of time for yourself this September to rest, play, and take some time to look around.