A Matter of the Heart

I have a storage closet inside my music classroom. Shelves lining both walls hold musical instruments. There are stacks of chairs in one corner and drums in the other.

At various times in the year, certain sets come out.

There is a narrow walkway between the shelving.

More than once this school year, I’ve glanced in there with the following thought: would I be able to fit an entire class of students in here? I’m not sure. If I quickly moved some things out. But would there be enough time?

That is where I stop my spiraling thoughts. Any further, and they’d be unbearable.

Every day, I stand on the sidewalk outside my school. Along with colleagues and student volunteers, make sure kids get safely to their cars.

Several times during the year, I almost left my phone inside the building. But then one thought would invade-what if something happens? An emergency? And quickly, I’d put my phone in my back pocket.

I’m not the only one carrying the weight of such thoughts. But we rarely talk about them. Until another tragedy occurs and we realize it could have been our school, our students, or our friends.

I see the sweet faces of the Uvalde, TX victims in photos shared by loved ones. I see the desperation in the sobs of those left to mourn and question.

My heart breaks.

But my sadness quickly turns to anger as I listen to sound bites. As I hear political figures speak of rights instead of solutions, perpetrators instead of victims.

There are solutions. And please don’t tell me there are no laws or policy changes that would affect this epidemic of gun violence in our country. There are. And they are logical. Why do we refuse to take a stand in their favor? Well, that’s a matter of the heart.

https://www.nytimes.com/


Our descendants weep
As the blood
Of the innocent
Soaks the ground
Beneath the feet
Of misplaced allegiance

Outside In

Felt like a stranger
Looking in
A window
Confused by
The actions
Witnessed
Tones detected
Perceiving
A cycle
Of frustration
Embarrassment
Tears and
Exhaustion
Asking questions
Inside my head
What is wrong?
Why so upset?


Felt like a stranger
Looking in
A window
But I was not
A stranger
And I was not
Looking in
A window
It was a mirror
My reflection
In the panes-
A realization
That left me
Wondering
Whether to take
A step back
Or lean in closer

Admitting feelings of anxiety and depression is not always easy. And even harder to explain. This poem is an attempt to describe that feeling of being outside myself. Knowing my actions and feelings don’t make sense, but having difficulty controlling them.

I share because someone reading may need to know they are not alone. And simply put, it helps me accept my reflection with a bit more grace and understanding. ❤️

Take a Step

You haven’t been
Very happy
Lately

Humph!
I thought
Incensed

But I know it’s true
And those words?
Spoken in love
So, why is it
Still so hard
To admit?
As if speaking
The words
Out loud
Gives them power
When actually
The opposite is true

You’re right
I’m depressed
Not simply
End-of-school
Exhausted
Though also true

Today’s remedies?
Sunshine
Fresh air
Newly planted
Flowers
Only enough
Planning to
Ease some stress
For the coming week
Small steps
Moving me
Forward
Gentle reminding
Only I can take
Those steps
But I don’t
Need to
Take them
Alone…and
Neither do you

Reset Button

Is your phone not working correctly? Have you tried turning it off and then back on? Have problems with your computer? Same answer. At least, that is the answer if you ask my husband. And quite often, it takes care of the problem.

I’m starting to realize my brain works similarly. The only problem? My resets are not always intentional. It’s more of a hindsight experience.

Let me explain. My brain has been on overload for the past couple of weeks. Too many thoughts, dates, responsibilities, concerns, worries, etc. You get the picture. Partly because it is the end of the school year. The other part, well, that is for another day.

Gart and I drove to Arkansas last weekend to visit my parents. We took a personal day on Monday. On our drive home, I received a phone call asking me to play for a choir rehearsal Wednesday evening.

Yes! Sounds great! I’ll do it!

Of course, my answer came on a day I was not working. One day I was not thinking about all those upcoming events. Not thinking about how tired I would be after teaching all day Wednesday…

Wednesday arrived. I needed a nap between work and the rehearsal.

The music that I had little time to practice before rehearsal was by Mozart. Now, I have some pretty mean sight-reading skills. Legendary in some places. 😉 But an hour and a half of sight-reading Mozart? Well, there was no room for any other thoughts in my brain.

After rehearsal, I somehow drove myself home, made a cup of tea, and crawled into bed. When I woke up the next day, my body was tired. My brain, however, was calm.

Laughing to myself, I realized playing all that music was like hitting a reset button. Perhaps I should add sight-reading to my weekly routine. Do you think it would ensure a correctly working brain? Worth a try!

Renewal

The ground swells
From soaking in
The tears
Of so many
While the sky lowers
From the weight
Of sighs rising
In desperation
Space in between
Shrinks from
Surrounding
Pressure
Creating
A fear of
Imminent
Suffocation
What happens if the two meet?
The groundswell
And the lowering sky
I don’t think they can.
Other elements
Are at work-
Kind words
Caring smiles
Acts of courage
Delivering
Deep breaths
Of fresh air
A rebirth of hope

Many things feel heavy this week. Today, I was encouraged by the power of kindness. I also noticed our azaleas are about to bloom. Both helped lift a bit of the weight. 💛

Inner Voice

My brain hurts
Well, actually
I think it’s numb
Tired body
Tired heart
Words are
Bouncing
Around
In my head
Aim is off
Can’t seem
To find
Their way out
Maybe for the best
Probably wouldn’t
Sound the same
If I said them
Out loud
Perhaps writing
Them down
Would help…

Today, I…
Need to rest
Don’t want to listen
Don’t feel like engaging

Whew! Think I feel better!

After writing this poem, I had a revelation. If I feel this way some days, so do my students. And while I can put my feelings into words, that is not always easy for children.

Ok, so maybe this wasn’t a revelation, but it was a reminder. I need to be aware of facial expressions, body language, and tone of voice-mine and my students. Tempering my actions and reactions by keeping the clues close at heart. ❤️

Somewhere Between

The morning sky
Matched my mood
Midnight blue?
Hard to tell
Before sunrise

Glance to the right
A tiny streak of light
Somewhere between
Pale pink and white
Off in the distance

Glance to the left
Both me and the sky
Somewhere between
Asleep and awake
Moving forward

Traces of hope
One seeking
One displaying
As darkness
Transformed
To daylight

Conversation in the Sun

One lonely
Bloom
Fighting
To stand up
Underneath
The weight
Of recent winds
And rain
A tiny speck
In the vastness
Of this world
Has anyone noticed?
Bent so low
Only able to
See my shadow
On the ground
As the sun
Shines above

Hey! Over here!
Bend your ear
My way
It seems you have
Grown weak under
The pressures of
Life in this garden
Don’t lose hope
Rest, recharge
Together

Our roots will
Grow stronger
And you will
Once again
Stand up tall
Your face
Soaking up
The sun’s rays

What Was I?

A calm voice
Soothes the heart
Like a quiet breeze
Soothes the rose

A harsh voice
Stirs up conflict
Like a strong wind
Stirs up dust

What was I today?

The boisterous wind
Leaving friends
And strangers alike
With dirt in their eyes?

The gentle breeze
Leaving nothing behind
But the faint memory
Of a well-timed smile?

What will I be tomorrow?

The Oklahoma winds are strong this week. A chance of storms in our forecast. The last two afternoons, outside car duty, have left me with dirt in my eyes. That unpleasantness caused me to think of how I react in certain situations. I have a choice to be calm or stormy. Tomorrow, may I lean more toward the first.

Tug of War

Parading around
In costumes
Recognizable
Masks
Distracting me
From the struggle
Taking root
In my soul
Feelings
Can be sneaky
That way

Tricksters thriving
On energy
Expended in a
Tug of War
That leaves
Me trying
To pull the rope
From both ends
There will never
Be a winner
Only the need
To let go
Of the rope
Even if
It means
Falling
In the mud

I often talk about poetry being therapeutic. This poem is a perfect example. It did not provide answers to the questions on my mind. However, writing the words down provided some tension relief. It also reminded me I don’t have to have all the answers right at this moment. Maybe you can relate. ☺️