About a month ago we watched the movie Julie and Julia. I couldn't stand the thirty-something blogger. She was a self-absorbed, navel-gazing whiner. At least half of my strong negative reaction to this movie character, I recognize, was because she was a nice shiny mirror. OHHH SNNAAPPPP!
But I guess if people want to read my teaching reflections and inner dialogs and attempts at poetry, I enjoy writing them and that's reason enough not to quit or delete this entire blog. My birthday is coming up soon. And it's a brand new year. To celebrate both, a gratitude list:
1. Work. I had two splendid weeks off. I was not looking forward to going back to work after all that relaxing down time. I thought about getting up early and being on my feet all day and not being at home. Monday morning, however, when all 15 of my students were sitting bright eyed in their chairs, and we picked right up where we left off, I remembered how much I love teaching. I love the kids and I love the challenge of structuring lessons and organizing our time in ways that encourage them to construct and retain new knowledge. I like being in charge of a community and setting the tone for our social interactions. I cherish the individual relationships I build with my students. It's challenging and fulfilling work and having work that I love is simply wonderful.
2. My siblings. Over the Christmas break, the five of us were all together for the first time in over two years. We have so much inside humor and shared history and gentle teasing that it's hard for our partners or even our parents and cousins to completely keep up. We laugh and joke and poke and tumble around like the little cubs we once were. One of my dearest wishes is that one or two of them that live out of state will someday move back to Utah.
3. My parents. I'm grateful that they still love each other and that they take good care of each other. I'm grateful for how much support they've given me in the last two years and I'm grateful for every single thing they did that made me who I am.
4. Mikey. We make each other smile and laugh often. We enjoy doing many of the same things and have many shared beliefs. He is kind and generous and sexy and extremely honest. When people want to know what's going on with me and this Mike guy, I don't always know what exactly to say. We might start looking for a house soon, but we already have a loving home. We are creating and enjoying our own version of Happily Ever After. When I consider all the fears and trauma and loss of the last two years and then look at what the universe has given me in the form of this relationship, I feel an overpowering need to either laugh or cry in pure gratitude. It's like God keeps whispering, "I told you to trust me....." I both hope and predict that we will be happy together for a long, long time.
5. My body. I do my best to eat well and to exercise regularly. I go through cycles when I'm better at being healthy than other times, but I'm pretty good at keeping myself fit. Exercise feels good and summiting mountains feels amazing. I lost over 50 pounds two years ago and I've done a good job of maintaining my current weight. I feel good about how I look and I feel great about my level of physical fitness. Yes, I still have some insecurities and I have a few New Year's resolutions, including a bikini diet, but regardless of how I do in the next 12 weeks, I'm very grateful for my physical health and for a strong, fit body.
6. Friends and colleagues. I have several close friends who are also my coworkers. It's not just the work and the kids that I get to enjoy everyday at school, it's also Gwen and Steve and Cindy and Margie and our new principal, and Mike Harman, and all the other teachers and aides and our janitor and lunch lady. I'm grateful to be part of what our new boss refers to as "The Washington Family."
7. Blue Panda. That's my name, these days, for the all-loving spirit of the universe. I don't really have any idea who or what is ultimately in charge or if there is a consciousness that governs everything, but I do FEEL that beneath and between and inside and among all other parts of our universe there is also a LOVE that is larger and also more quiet than our capacity to understand. I believe that our imaginations are tools that are meant to be creatively employed to reach toward that love. And so, dear Blue Panda, thank you for this moment, and for the words to make meaning of things, and for the delicious and energizing panda-power that may come from an inner source or may come from somewhere outside of me, (although I am pretty sure that this distinction does not matter). Thank you. Yes. Thank you.