Wednesday, February 22, 2017

A Box of Rocks

Janey* had tears in her eyes on the first day of preschool. The tears stayed for days and days. Our fragile looking student is a fair haired, blue-eyed beauty who we call “Princess”. She did not want to be at school. 

The heart breaker was that she could look just fine from behind, sitting on the floor surrounded by building blocks. But then you’d look at her face and the tears were silently streaming. Janey cried quietly, not wanting to make a fuss. When we talked to her, she stared back into our eyes  with the silent tears falling. 

Two things were  important to her in the following days of school. She would smile through her tears and whisper, “My blankets in my backpack!”. The memory that it was close was soothing to her little heart. 

The other thing that could make our little blonde princess smile was collecting rocks in the playground. “These are for Nana!” she say with excitement and anticipation. We had to start limiting the number she could stuff into her pockets. She would carefully line them up with on the cement curb around the playground.

The quiet tears continued for a few weeks. But slowly we got to see a little smile emerge bit by bit. Janey has learned that we are safe. Recently that smile has grown big and full. Preschool is no longer a scary unknown place. Our Janey likes to be called a princess and loves to walk into the room full of friends. She has blossomed! 

The teachers and kids all had three weeks off over the Christmas Break and we worried about how some of the nervous ones might not want to come back to school. My co-teacher and I stood at the entrance to our class ready to give hugs as each student came in. 

Janey arrived with a big smile and two small gold colored boxes in her hands. She proudly offered them to us. She had brought each of us a back-to-school present! Inside the boxes were a little collection of her treasures, rocks. She pointed one out that was shaped like a heart! 

Now it was my turn for silent tears. 

* Not her real name. 

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Sunday, January 8, 2017

Number One Blogging Rule

I am doing something that is probably NUMBER ONE on the official "Do Not Do" list for bloggers; I am blogging without a plan or direction or message for this post. Bad bad blogger lady! I just feel like writing and since I haven't talked to you here in a while, here I am. Who knows where this will go?

It is a cold-ish Sunday afternoon here in North Texas. 42 degrees is NOT cold according to most of you, but I will just say that the tiny bit of snow from 2 days ago is still visible in the shady sections of my yard. So there.

My dog, Layla is curled up in a tight ball next to me on the couch and my legs are wrapped in a comfy blanket, stretched out making a bridge to the coffee table. I am so ready for Christmas Break to be over. My preschool closed for 3 weeks and I miss the kids, teachers and challenge. Christmas was wonderful, but staying home all day everyday is not a place I want to go back to.

Starting this "little" job at the preschool one block away from my house has changed my life. Very unexpectedly. You guys, I published a book in February and thought it would change my did not...not at all. But this 2 days a week preschool teaching job has changed me and how I see myself.

I do not know how to explain it and I am not sure that I should try. There are many aspects of this change that I feel inside. I love the challenge of this new adventure. It requires all of me. This is not the kind of position that one can do halfway. At least I know that I can't. Walking into a room with a dozen two year olds and staying there for 5 hours requires planning, resources, energy and lots of love.

I've had good days and bad days. I've had more than one day when my truck drive home was full of tears and self doubt. I have dragged myself into my home, plopped down on the couch and not moved for hours. Other days I have come home and immediately spent the next 4 hours working on plans for my next day with the students. Physically and emotionally this job has drained me. But creatively it has energized me.

I am crazy about researching for lesson plans and new art projects. It fills my thoughts at night when I should be sleeping. Slipping out of bed and down the hall to my desk in the middle of the night has happened more than once. I know, crazy huh? There may or may not be a small stockpile of empty toilet paper rolls in our spare room closet. I know why teachers become hoarders, can happen so easily.

I love the people I get to work with! They are funny, creative and talented women. It has been difficult to make friends in a new state and these women are definitely counted as friends now. Hubs was shocked at how often my phone started binging away with multiple texts from day one at this job. I love that! I like who I am with them. They bring out my best and I feel strong and confident around them. This has changed me.

Another surprisingly simple change has been the act of making my own money. What a difference  it makes after years of "our money". I actually bought a book the other day without one bit of discussion! Ha! My paycheck is very small, but it's mine. :)

Physically, this job has been good for me. Yes, my feet hurt and my back aches, but I have also lost a little bit of weight, yay! Since I am away from home and my couch so many hours a day, snacking is not happening and I am more active. When we go back after the break, our classroom is now up a flight of stairs so I am excited about getting into better shape. At 61 this can only be a good thing!

Maybe that last line is the point of this post. I will be 62 next month. SIXTY-TWO! My identity has been altered once again and my heart is happy to embrace whatever is next for me. Yes, I am still a writer, even an author, but a writer needs to live in order to produce a reason to write. Most writers dream of quitting their day job and giving themselves completely to the craft. But for me, it was a negative experience to be alone too much. Too much introspection led to too much worry and anxiety. 

At the doorstep to 62 I am full of creative ideas, sticky hugs and new friends to add to the old. It's all good for the recovering church lady these days and i am thrilled to be able to report that!

Thanks for reading me...

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