Thank you, July! On to a New School Year.
As usual, July slipped through my fingers and, here it is, mid-August. As I sat down to write this, I realized that I need to measure July’s productivity with a different tool than I do with my other months.
During my teaching career, and even before that, as a mom of school-aged kids, I created a July reset button. Even though it has been several years since I was a classroom teacher, my July life runs differently than the rest of the year. My post classroom years have built a life that is a different shape than my teaching time, so you’d think “the July’s” would disappear. Nope. I sleep in. I write less. I move back and forth between Michigan and Chicago, with a trip to Iowa thrown in. The only difference this year is remembering to always have a mask available, shopping less, and the heartbreaking loss of hugs.
Then August rolls in and I’m heads down again. I feel happier and ready to commit to work and life’s challenges with confidence. I start planning my school year schedule which, as an educator, never seems to change. With the pandemic, my schedule seems even more fluid and less certain since parents are struggling to give their children’s and their own lives some sort of structure.
I have decided that if this isn’t the year to see the world from a different angle, it ain’t never going to happen. It boggles the mind. Sometimes it is as simple as making sure I’m equipped with mask, hand sanitizer, and shopping list when I go to the store. No more just grabbing the purse and spending hours browsing. I try to see it as being mindful about my trips to the store, acting with thoughtful deliberation.
I ponder how the upcoming school year will affect my families – my son’s, my friends’, and my students’. Is it safe? Will the learning be enough if it is digital? What about the kiddos who need the safety school provides? For me, I see that I play a support role in this. My question to families as they struggle with these choices is “What does your heart say?” Listen to your heart. None of this is going to be easy. Hopefully, it will help us realize what is important and,maybe, we be able to reshape education into something better than before.
I worry about the anger and frustration of racial injustices in our country and world. It is about race, but I also see it about poverty and inequity. I’m angry, too. I’m trying to harness it in productive ways. This summer, my 11-year-old grandson Mark and I have read The Watsons go to Birmingham, and Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. We listened to Morgan Freeman read Congressman John Lewis’ last letter. I told Mark that as a white male, he has the most privilege of any person in America. (He knows that this is unfair. I didn’t need to remind him of that fact.) I told him that the Merediths are allies and we have a responsibility to listen, lend a hand, and be a voice for those who are being devalued by others. I know it sounds a little over the top but I believe this to the core of my being.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Make the most of yourself for that is all there is of you.”
I have determined that July is the power source, the charger for my energy to make the most of me. July 2020 was the turbo charger that I needed to help me move that way. It helped me find hope for the future, but it also reminded me of another quote – one I have stuck above my desk. It is from Marie Forleo: It is called hard work because it is hard.
We have hard, heart-centered work to do. Remember to breath, listen to your heart, and find the laughter filled moments within all the chaos.
All my love,