Spaces

Certain spaces
In this life
Feel empty
Certain spaces
In this life
Look dark
Even though
They are not-
Not completely-
Each of us
Fills the moments
Of our days
Each of us
Fills the span
Of our years
No matter
The length
Of said spaces
Even when
We are alone
Light remains-
Your light
May seem faint
For a time…wait
Allow me
To see it
And together
Our days
Will be brighter
Our years
Fulfilled

Yesterday was the last day of school. The last day of school for a tough year. Teaching and attending during a pandemic created challenges we continue to process.

Certain times of the year felt dark, frustrating. But as time went on, stresses seemed to lift a little at a time. We accepted our new normal and continued to do what we do.

As school ended yesterday, I was not prepared for the tears from students. Uncontrollable crying over the idea of leaving their current teachers.

Teacher friends, don’t ever doubt the influence of your light in the classroom. Even while dealing with our own concerns and fears, students saw lighthouses in the storm.

Now it is time to rest. Time to reflect. Time to stoke the remaining embers and prepare to see those faces smiling back at us in August!

Happy Summer! ❤

Unfinished

Surely by now
I should be
Finished growing
I’m certainly tired
And somehow, tired
Leads right to selfish
Question after question
How much longer?
When can I do
Whatever
I want to do?
Seeing the words
On paper
Saying them
Out loud
Makes me want
To erase them
Suck them back in
And yet, they remain
Telling me I still
Have lots to learn
And in turn
Lots to teach-
I saw it in their faces today
Thru smiles and frowns
Unfinished lessons
Unfinished me

This is the point in the school year where I find myself thinking, “Do I have the energy to do this another year?” I am tired and ready for summer. But interactions with students this week confirmed that I am not yet finished. And a time of rest will provide the energy needed to start another school year.

Today I had an arm wrestling challenge with four third-grade boys. Can you say end of the school year? One more week…

The Old Oak

A wooden backboard
Metal rim, no net
Nailed to an oak tree
The ground below
Covered with rocks
An uneven court
To be sure
Shaded by branches
And green leaves
The perfect spot
For a friendly
Game of H-O-R-S-E
Maybe one on one
Or three on three
Aunts, Uncles, Cousins
Lots of laughter
A few skinned
Elbows and knees-
Players are long gone
The old oak remains
Holding in its rings
The memories of
Summer days and
Basketball games
Played under its
Watchful care

I am, admittedly, not a huge sports fan. Growing up, I was never part of an official sports team. My thing was music.

I do enjoy watching the occasional college football game and March Madness basketball. Especially when the Arkansas Razorbacks are competing. Growing up in Arkansas meant being a Razorback fan.

I watched games with my family. Listened to my Dad and Uncles yelling at the TV. Learned how to “call the hogs.” Then went outside to shoot hoops under the tree on our gravel court.

I attended the University of Arkansas for graduate school. Met my husband, who was a tuba player in the Razorback Band. Watched our oldest son follow in his footsteps, continuing that Razorback Band tradition.

So, tonight I will be cheering on those Razorbacks as they play ORU in the NCAA sweet 16 games. It is sure to be exciting! And just hearing those hog calls is sure to bring back lots of fun memories. Go Hogs!

Welcome Back!

This week I was able to go back to my classroom for a short time. Take things off the walls, put away personal items, clean off my desk. Basically, the process of closing things up for summer.

Typically, this day happens in late May and is followed by a celebration with colleagues at a local restaurant. We congratulate each other on making it through the school year. We talk about plans for the summer. Not this time…

The building was empty, quiet. Only a few teachers are allowed in at the same time to work. The only sounds came from the precious workers in the cafeteria, busy preparing the food being distributed to our families.

My daughter, Rachel, went with me to help. Both of us wearing face masks. It didn’t take us long to get things packed away. I only had two small boxes to carry home-some personal piano music and my Freddie the Frog puppet.

The final step was turning in my keys. This action usually comes with a sigh of relief. A pause in responsibility, allowing rest after a hard year’s work. Not so much.

Once we were back home, I found myself feeling grumpy and irritable. I tried reading a little. I had a zoom meeting with my team-our last official one of this year. Everything just felt strange.

Maybe a nap would help. Clear my head, at least. It did not completely change my mood, but it did allow some perspective.

It’s no surprise I was feeling strange! This is not how the school year is supposed to end. It is supposed to end with celebrations, hugs, goodbyes, and even a few tears. Those things will not happen.

I was missing that “Hooray for summer!” time with colleagues because I missed the “Hooray for summer!” time with students.

My classroom is empty. Ready for a fresh start. Hopefully, that fresh start begins with a happy, “Welcome back!”

Freddie will be making appearances in some upcoming Zoom meetings. 😉 ❤

Beatles Kind of Day

Although I enjoy many genres of music, I’m a creature of habit when it comes to everyday listening. You can pretty much count on 80’s music or NPR from my car radio. If I do play iTunes, it’s usually James Taylor, Chicago, maybe Toto or REO Speedwagon. They never get old.

These summer days, though much-needed, are sometimes difficult for me. I enjoy reading and catching up with friends, but those can’t fill every minute. Honest reflection says I function much better with the routine of school days. It is part of my DNA, I suppose.

Our house is currently on the market, so I have created a bit of a routine. Necessary in order to keep the house ready for showing. General picking up, dishwasher first thing in the morning, wiping down countertops, dusting, etc. During the school year, these are not daily occurrences.

For some reason, this morning I decided to add mopping to my list. I had the time and energy, so why not? About the time I finished, my husband called. Would I mind bringing something to his office? Of course not! A reason to get out of the house!

Which brings us back to my music. When I got in the car, the radio wasn’t going to cut it. I plugged in my phone and scrolled through iTunes playlists. The Beatles Essentials. Perfect! Press play. Drive. I listened there and back, singing along, noticing words I’d previously glossed over. This made me smile.

While I was in Gart’s office, I received a text. Request for a house showing at 5:45…glad I mopped.

There was still some picking up and dusting to be done at home. And cleaning music would be required. “Hmmm…think I will just keep it on this Beatles playlist.” And that is what I did…all afternoon.

Even after the cleaning was done and I sat down to rest, I wasn’t ready to press stop. A sudden realization; this music had positively impacted my whole day. I felt happy and relaxed.

One song stood out above the rest today. Thinking about the words makes me smile.

🎶In a couple of years
They had built a home sweet home
With a couple of kids running in the yard
Of Desmond and Molly Jones
Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da, life goes on, brah
Lala how their life goes on
🎶

If you haven’t listened to the Beatles lately, press that play button. And maybe, just like me, you’ll realize how much you needed a Beatles kind of day. ☀️

Good Books, Good Friends

Summer break is here! I always look forward to having time to read for pleasure in the summer. Get lost in a story, feel like I’ve been introduced to new people. A couple months ago I bought a book with that thought in mind. I began reading it this week.

After the first chapter, there was no doubt I would not be able to put the book down. So, this morning I made a deal with myself. Reading would not begin until I had at least cleaned the kitchen. My plan was to clean, read a few chapters. Do a little packing (we are also moving this summer), read some more, and so on.

Well…the kitchen is clean. And I know the end of the story.

What a beautiful story. And though I couldn’t wait to reach the end, I felt sad upon arrival. The characters came to life. I could see their faces, hear their voices. As I was reading, I knew I would miss them when the story ended. Almost like friends who were moving far away.

One particular passage caught my attention. It was as if there was a stop sign on the page. Smiling, I read it again. After the third time, I wrote it down.

Universal truth: some people you’ve known since birth and you’ve just barely met them; others you’ve known for four years and they’ve been your friend since before you were born.

Marisa De Los Santos

What a sweet reminder from my first book of the summer. Certain friendships (and books) seem to transcend time. Once they are part of your life, you can’t remember a time without them.

Here’s to a summer filled with good books and good friends.

Teachers in May

The school year is ending
How can that be?
So much left to do
I can barely breathe!

Tired, walking slow
To my room down the hall
My thoughts start to wander
Does my job matter at all?

Deep down in my heart
I know that it does
But right now, I’m weary
My brain feels like fuzz

Bring on the coffee
Some chocolate, too
For the next few days
That will get me through

Reflection will come
There’s no time today
I’ll wait for the sun
And a clear summer day