While sitting on the beach yesterday I was made aware of the fact that I’m not always living in the moment. My family members pointed out that I was sighing and asked me why. Upon reflection I noticed that my thoughts had strayed back to my job and the problems surrounding my school district. I quickly, and quietly tucked away those negative thoughts, but readily admitted that my mind is often plagued by the stressors created by my workplace. I made a promise to my family then and there that I would try to be present in the moment. That I would set aside the problems of school and fully enjoy this week. Isn’t it strange how easy it is to summon up negativity and dread, yet happiness and optimism is something you must work to find? Or maybe it’s just me? Perhaps most people don’t spend as much energy thinking about the what ifs in life. Or could it be that I’ve been spending too much time surrounded by negative thinkers? I know I wasn’t always this way. Once upon a time I looked forward to going to work every single day. Now I spend much of my time looking forward to weekends, vacations and summer. Hence, I’m often not living in the moment, enjoying what surrounds me today.
I recently started asking my students to record 3 things they are grateful for in a gratitude journal. I myself write along with them. We do this every single day. The rules require them to write about 3 different things every day- no repeats. This activity forces us to really look at the important things in life – the things we can’t live without, yet often take for granted. It has been about a decade since I last performed this activity for myself and with a class. It seems I have gotten off track during this time. I’m not the positive person I know I should be. So this reflective journal is one small step to get me back on course. I’m hoping it will help me dispel some of the negative baggage I’ve been carrying, and help me live more in the moment.
Ups and downs. Highs and lows. Ins and outs. Such are the unsteady currents of my life. Where I once knew tranquility and peace, I now find myself feeling lost at sea. I long for the days when I returned from work with feelings of accomplishment. Instead, I now find myself feeling depleted and spent. At times I dislike the person I’ve become-(quick tempered, defensive). So I’m left to ponder, will I ever get back to the serenity I once knew? Are those days out of my grasp? Should I have to work so hard to find peace in my life where it once flowed so naturally? Is this what some would call a mid-life crisis? Why can’t a day that starts off great, end in the same fashion? Why is there always something that sends me adrift???
I have been questioning, thinking, reading, writing, and listening in an attempt to seek answers. For every day that I feel renewed in spirit, there always seems to be another day where I feel defeated. I’m trying desperately to ride these waves, but I much prefer the still waters of bygone days…
It’s been a while since my last post. It’s not that I haven’t been thinking about blogging, in fact I guiltily think about it every time I pass by my computer. Writing is something that I have always enjoyed. Writing helps me most when I am struggling and need clarity on stresses in my life. Most people who know me, understand that writing a book is my life’s goal. It frightens me then, that I seem to be having difficulty coming up with topics to blog about. Isn’t a writer supposed to have numerous ideas from which to draw upon? Shouldn’t a writer have a lot to say? Can a person really call herself a writer if she is constantly wracking her brain for material to put into words? Or is this the consummate job of a writer…to always be on the look out for new schema? A well-known children’s author once gave me sound advice when I asked how she came up with new material for books after being published. She said “Just tell your stories.” At the time, her advice made sense and seemed like an obvious task. This past year I have been reading voraciously in the genre that I would like to write(YA Fiction). Sounds really sappy, but I usually gauge a book on its ability to make me cry. If the book passes this test, I am often left feeling even more inspired to write so that I, too, can have that same affect on readers. For me there is no better escape than reading about characters who need to be strong despite the turmoil and strife in their lives. If the subject matter is appropriate, I then pass on a book recommendation to my students. My students know it is my desire to write and they are constantly asking me how my book is coming along. It seems with every passing month, there is another reason why that book eludes me. I often say that time is my greatest obstacle, yet deep down I know that’s just an excuse. There’s always room to carve out time in a person’s life, especially for something you enjoy. Time is not the reason that novel remains unwritten.
Write about what you know is often another piece of advice suggested to aspiring writers. It’s what I myself tell students when they appear stuck and don’t know what to write about. I prompt them to think about topics that are meaningful and close to them. This year my students gave me that same advice. When I explain that the things I know most about are kids and teaching, they tell me to write about just that. I argue, who would want to read about students and teachers?, and of course they all profess that they do. (Kids are always so good for the soul).
I would like to call myself a writer. I think of myself as a writer. My students tell me I am a writer. Yet here I sit, searching for an idea so that I can “tell my story.” Doesn’t that seem like a paradox? A writer with no story? One of my first posts references the fact that I feel like a hypocrite when my students write and I do not. Are there more of you out there struggling with this very same thing? How can I feel so connected to the written words hidden in the pages of a good book, yet be incapable of finding my own topic worthy of writing about? In summary, while I know that the process of writing is no easy chore, my biggest obstacle is not the task of writing. Nor is it time. The biggest challenge that I face in this process is finding that idea. What is my story?