I knew I was in the right place because I was appreciated for exactly who I was and my natural tendencies.
The email came from a colleague. She said that another colleague thought that I would have the agendas in my notebooks. As a writer and a very type A person, I keep a notebook each year for meetings and professional developments that I go to. Yes, they are labeled for the year, and every entry gets a date label as well as topic label. If an agenda is handed out or other small materials this all gets taped into the notebook. If there is no agenda, I write it in as it’s presented. Also, it’s a great place for ideas and my sanity during less-than-stellar presentations.
I smiled when I read her email with the dates of the requested material. She, has some of the same tendencies that I do. I went right to my notebooks and marked what she needed. She thanked me profusely and implored me to never throw away my notebooks because they might save a life one day since they have so much in them. I laughed and breathed gently. There was no judgment. There was was appreciation and respect. As adults I think that’s all we really look for. I knew I was in the right place because of my great colleagues.
I was tired, so I went to sleep early. I had a book to read, so I was looking toward to laying quietly in bed. Just as I had settled in, book in hand, reading light on, covers and pillowed arranged just-so, I heard it. A tiny scratching in the ceiling above my head.
I knew what it was, so I went straight to annoyance. I called my husband to come upstairs just to check and make sure what I was hearing was actually what I was hearing. He confirmed my fears.
To understand this current moment, I have to take you back to an earlier moment. Several months after we bought our house, we had some electrical work done which forced the electrician into our attic. The electrician said, “You have a bat.” That is exactly what we had. 1 bat. So, we called the exterminator and took care of if.
Now, what we learned from this is that bats can fit into holes about the size of a nickle even though they are fist-sized themselves. So, part of the extermination was to fill any possible holes. Also, it is illegal to kill bats in Michigan, so to “remove” the ONE bat, they have to install a one-way exit door.
So all of this took place about 3 years ago.
Now, the bats are back. I’d say one possibly two and the exterminators can’t do anything until it gets warmer out. So, I’m laying in bed and I can’t sleep because all I can think about is the bat scratching the wall in between the ceiling and the insulation. Now, you can sense my annoyance, and also, they have never been in my house, but it’s just creepy.
“Is that what you are wearing to church?”
“Well those are your gym pants.” He looks at me questioning if he should add more to this statement or possibly that he shouldn’t have said anything at all.
“They are not. They have pockets and buttons and zippers. And they are from Banana Republic.” While I answered no, they were not gym pants, I felt that I had to qualify my pants selection in my response.
I have worn this pair of pants exactly twice. The first time, my male colleague actually giggled at my outfit and this time my husband thought that I was wearing gym pants. Now, there was a point in my life where after these reactions, I would never had worn the pants again, but now I smile because they are too fun not to wear and I bought them for that reason.
These are skinny-legged black dress pants with small white polka dots all over them. My colleague giggled because he thought that the outfit wasn’t my normal put-together self. And he wanted to know if he could mix patterns as I had with my striped shirt and polka dot pants. My husband actually thought that they were my gym pants, I think because of the fitted factor. Oh well, they are different, but definitely fun!
Lunch with the kids. We call it #nozeros. It started at the beginning of the year to give kids another chance to get work turned in. It has continued as that, but also as a place of openness and giggles and today, sharing oreos.
The kids came in, with their lunches. Some needed to come in to turn in their reading log, others just wanted a place to hang and some came with friends. Some leave when they are finished, others stay and eat. I giggle at the stories they share and I know that these lunches are something special. It’s funny that there is no editing of stories when it’s lunch time – the typical filter is removed simply because of the timing. I was enjoying the time with the kids in a less-than-academic way as the question came, “Mrs. Gurney, do you want an oreo, I brought them for everyone at lunch”. I smiled and happily munched on a childhood treat.
“I’ll see you guys tomorrow.”
“In a like lion out like a lamb.” I’ve always loved that saying. It infers that through the month of March that the weather will have improved and give way to the kinder gentler April spring weather.
While I like this phrase in an ideal fuzzy fairy tale way, the reality is that I live in Michigan and it took me 1 1/2 hours to get to work this early March morning. March in Michigan came in like the lion it promises with frigid temps, ice, and snow. Leaving work, my car had a coat of ice chunks in it already and the roads had a layer of sleet making them slick. My should-be-mandatory-for-everyone-in-Michigan vehicle, an all wheel drive SUV handled the conditions wonderfully with a tempered patience and outlook for others on my part.
As I pulled into my driveway a relief washed over me and I smiled to myself thinking of March in Michigan. By this weekend it will probably be 50 degrees. Here’s to the lamb!
On my list today is teach the children – check email, respond to parent, boss, plan for tomorrow, grade essays, meet after school – check personal email, check traffic on phone, cook dinner – television playing in background, go to gym – music blaring and conversing with friends, finish reading for class on Wednesday, check phone messages, visit with husband.
Research says that our world is becoming increasing stress-filled, perhaps my to-do list emphasizes this. We are constantly connected to everything all of the time. In some ways this is good (thank you fellow slicers for your comments) and in others this is bad (that sale looked great and then I spent 30 minutes surfing the internet), but there are some ways to act on this stress.
One of these is to take mindful moments in your life. Very appropriate for slicing I think. So, as I take a deep breath in – fully extending my diaphram (yes, breathing is part of being mindful), I notice small things around me like the heating system’s dull constancy of rhythm that I never quite take in until all of the students have left the room and the click of the keys on the keyboard, as well as the noticeable voices in the hallway. But, better, I notice the freedom my brain feels as the words find themselves on the page and the story has been told. The freedom makes connections between seemingly separate things. Overall, I notice that because it is writing it matters. And the breath continues in, deeply, and out. I don’t have to remind myself – it comes naturally as the words from my fingertips. I scoffed at mindful and told myself I was being good to myself and then I discovered that I was writing only to-do lists rather than things that really needed to be written and so I proceed mindfully looking for small moments in my life with meaning this month with slices. Today, I notice the freedom to write.
The snow day was announced. The plans for the day ran through my head. I could still do everything. As the day came with a thankfully later wake up call, my plans were quickly rearranged. One appointment was rescheduled due to the weather, yet the roads were surprisingly clear. As with many teachers, give me an extra hour and I’ll make use of it. So, I did.
I called my hair salon expecting that others had cancelled and I was right. I could come in any time I wanted. Quick, choose one. Commit. Or I wouldn’t do it. “Okay, I’ll be there at 5:00pm.”
Greeting my stylist with smile and a hug, she looked at me inquisitively knowing that the schedule was off. I’d just been there a month ago, so a haircut wasn’t on schedule unless it was something different and different it was. Pictures accompanied our conversation , and the warm water washed away any remnants of worry.
The scissors came out and 4 inches disappeared. Chunks on the floor. Deep breaths in the chair. “Is the length ok?”
“Yes.” Because I can’t get any of those 4 inches back. Think about the short beachy waves that the Hollywood starlets have. Convincing myself, “You’ll make it happen.”
“Yes” You reaffirm, “it’s good.” And then even more landed on the floor as layers were cut. The blow dryer screamed hot air. Shake your head. Let’s add some curl.
It was done….
And I loved it. A quick change for a new season.