Tuesday, June 19, 2018

PTSSD...otherwise known as post-teaching-summer-sofa-disorder

Last fall, when I decided to teach, I thought, "It is going to be great to have summer off!"
Then I taught. For a whole school year.
And now I am realizing,

Even when you are not teaching....because summer is here....
What in the world?

I am pretty sure this year has actually re-wired my brain.

All of my thought processes are still being filtered through a teacher-y lens.
BING- my eyes are flying open at 6 am of their own accord.
I have been waking up a little scared and breathless, 
wondering if I forgot to grade something and nervous that I am actually missing class.

As I lay in bed, with the sun barely peaking through the clouds, I have to talk myself down and say,
"Sue...it's summer. Relax. RELAX!!!!!" 
(when you yell at yourself in your brain...it is the opposite of relaxing.)

Even though I want to read great fiction -
I can't stop thinking about the new grammar textbooks that I will have next year.
And the motivational self-help book I ordered.
And the summer reading that next year's class will be reading.
And what kind of theme should I go with for Lit next year?
The real question is....should I start lesson planning now?

Should I start pre-labeling files and sorting vocab worksheets
and reviewing classroom management principles
and reading up on Shakespeare's young adult life in preparation for next spring
when I take the class through Midsummer Night's Dream?
Should I? SHOULD I?

Mercy days.
That is what my Grandma Blakeley used to say when things got wild.

I do need some days full of mercy and calming ointments and maybe a spa right about now.

Because a strange juxtaposition has taken place.
While my brain may be on teacher auto-pilot,
hashing out the inner-workings of next year,
my legs have stopped working.

They have gone on strike.

All I can do is lay on the couch 
and watch British mysteries and drink seltzer with lime.
And munch on tiny squares of dark chocolate.

My brain is all-in for keeping up the growing and learning and re-org and tight scheduling.
My body? Not so much.

It has given notice.
Post-teaching-summer-sofa-disorder has taken me down.
My limbs are in full rebellion.
The only thing that they will allow me to do is sink deep into
the sofa cushions and snuggle under a throw blanket.

I have decided to go with it.
I'll start lesson planning in July.

For now....if you have need of me...you know where to find me.
I will be on the couch.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

let's talk about my tight pants

You guys.
I completed my first year of teaching just two days ago.
I know.
I can't believe it either.

Mostly because of how tight my pants are.
These could be possible titles for my next book.

Crazy Tight: The Story of My Pants
Cheese, Chocolate & Chips: A Recipe for Life's Tightest Pants
A Year in the Life of a Newly Minted Middle School Teacher: How I Ate My Feelings

This has been a year of change.
A year of leaping out of my comfort zone.
Being stretched. Being challenged. Being uncertain.

My pants tell the tale of this past year:
2 different house moves.
A career shift.
Working full time outside the home.
Mom grief
(feeling like I missing out on my own kids lives by working full time outside the home)
Mom guilt
(feeling like I chose to miss out on my kids' lives by working full time outside the home)
Mental, physical and emotional exhaustion. (daily)
Drive-thru dinners. (almost daily)
My inability to leave the couch after 6:30 pm.
My sister, Jenny, leaving the state. (I miss her like crazy)
My friend, Jo, leaving our school to go out and change the world. (I will miss her like crazy)
Crying jags (my people keep leaving)
Waking up at 4:30...most mornings...not on purpose.
A 4-month-long sinus infection. (Ew.)
Grading papers (this is no joke, ya'll)
Mothering teenagers (also...not a joke)

I think I gained about a pound a month.
Hence, the tightest pants. Even tighter than Jimmy Fallon's.
You may be wondering, "Why the tight pants, Sue?"
I will tell you why.
Because if I feel out of control and tired and undone every single day...
I will be eating chocolate every single day during my prep period.
That is a given.

My pants tell the story of how I felt this year:
Uncomfortable in my own skin.

Life has a way of doing this to us.
Have you noticed?
When you think you have something locked in -
like your job or your marriage or your health or your purpose in life?
You don't.
It changes.
It shifts.
So you have to change and shift.

Some of us find that exhilarating.
The rest of us eat entire bags of Baby Belle cheeses from Costco.

Scott has been a rock.
Encouraging me...EVERY DAY. Cheering me on. Loving me in spite of my wildness.

And in the middle of all my crazy I have found an unlikely connection with my students...

I found that when I was looking into the glorious faces of my middleschoolers
with all their joy and angst and Lord of the Flies survival skills at work,
I wanted to say...

"I feel exactly like you feel right now! Weird. Ungainly. Uncertain. Not sure what
is exactly going down with all the hormones. Life feels wild."

But then, because of all my years...
and all the days that Jesus has worked in my life,
all the changes and shifting that He has wrought in me through the years.
I also wanted to encourage them...

"This is a cuckoo crazy season of life. But YOU?
You are going to be okay.
You may not feel great about yourself or how you are doing right now.
You may be struggling and hurting and longing for a different life.
But the good stuff is coming. It really is.
All the joy and hope and peace and lack of acne?
Right around the corner. Just give it a couple years. I have been there. I know."

And I do know.

This is not my first rodeo.
It won't be my last.
(note: I have never been in a real rodeo but the metaphor felt right...or is that a simile? Never mind.)

So I am giving myself the same talk I would give my middleschoolers.
"Sue, your pants may be crazy tight...but you are going to be okay.
The good stuff is coming. It really is.
All the joy and hope and peace and roomier pants?
Right around the corner. Just give it a couple of years.
(My teacher friends tell me that year #3 of teaching is magical...like the aligning of the planets.)

If you see me fast walking around my neighborhood, pumping my arms like Rocky Balboa,
know that I am not going down this tight pants road without a fight.

But also know that I have two months off (can I get an amen and a double hallelujah???)
to date Scott,
to connect with my boys,
to visit family and eat bok choy...instead of chips and salsa.
And I have two months for Jesus lift me up, set me to rights and restore my soul.
Another shift. Another change. A new season all together.

Even with tight pants.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Heading in to sorrow....looking for joy

WARNING: Sadness, tears and possible gnashing of teeth will occur in this blog...but please read anyway...because there is also a great awkward story and who doesn't need a good laugh in the midst of crying?

Today I am going to meet my sister, Jenny, for coffee and a pedicure.
We have lived within 30 miles of each other for the last 14 years.
And in 3 weeks...she and her family will be moving to Colorado.

My sisters are my dearest friends.
My confidantes. My sounding boards. My people.
I like my people close. Within shouting distance.

I told my sister, Erica, on the phone,
"Everyone leaves me. First, you. Now, Jenny."
There was a pause on the other end.
"Sue...I left over 20 years ago."
So what?
It may have been two decades ago.
But no one likes to be left.

When Erica left, I couldn't even say good-bye.
I was newly dating Scott at the time.
While Van and Erica were packing up the moving truck and heading out,
I drove the hour from Santa Cruz to Scott's home in San Mateo.
He held me in the car while I sobbed.
I was crying so hard....that I passed gas.
It was one of the darker, more horrifying moments of my life.
That made me cry harder.
Because of the humiliation.
Luckily, Scott was not put off by it. He just hugged me and told me he loved me anyway.

He does say, however, that this was the gateway moment that allowed gas into our relationship.
Up until this time, he had let himself be tied up in knots until the end of our dates.
My slip up allowed him to let go...literally. He felt free.
I am still super sad about that.

Back to my sister, Jenny.
We have lived these last 14 years out with no regrets.
We have gotten together whenever we could.
We have watched each others kids grow up.
We have been there on each other's darkest of days and most joy filled moments.
That is all I can say...lest, I put my head down on my computer and sob like a baby.

So for the last two months, I have known the day of Jenny's departure is coming.
I have been doing a lot of preemptive crying.
I think it the unraveling of my heart.
The loosening of the bond that ties me to Jenny to
so that I can send her off into her new adventure with joy.
With encouragement. With the knowledge that I am so proud of her,
and I love her and she is one of my most favorite people in the world no matter what.
Even if she is moving far...far....far..........far away.

I know that Jesus is leading the way in the Moody family move.
I want to be able to shout out,
"Go with God!" instead of "Stay with me!" when they drive away.

My sorrow comes from knowing that we will never be the same.
From knowing that we will be living complete lives far apart.
It is a kind of good grief. I have had the goodness of our closeness.
That part of our relationship is ending. Hence, the copious amounts of tears.
I will miss her. With my whole heart.

My grief over Jenny moving is added to other tears in my life at the moment.

This year, shifting from writer to educator,
working from home part-time to working outside the home full-time,
moving from our family home of 11 years to the tiny house then to our new house,
there has been a sense of loss that I have been wrestling with.

All good things taking place.
No tragedies.
And yet...I have cried. Almost every day. For the last 8 months.
I actually didn't know I could cry that much.
I am not even wanting to cry. Tears well up in my eyes without any warning.
It is making me feel crazy.

I think my tears are so at the ready because I feel like I have lost myself in so many different ways.
All the change has upended me and left me raw...with heart hanging out...open and vulnerable.
Jenny's leaving just makes it all the more apparent.

I texted my friends a few weeks ago, since Jenny's imminent move has heightened the crying jags.
I said, "Please pray that I can stop crying. It is out of control. Make it stop."

Then my good friend, Jane, texted me back and in all of her wisdom said to me,
"Sue! You are having to let go of who you are to embrace who you are becoming.
Be gentle with yourself."

Be gentle. I am better at berating myself. Telling myself to pull it together.
Irritated that I can't control my emotions, for crying out loud. (Literally).

Sorrow is a heavy, deep thing.
But love....love is the thing that buoys us up.
The love of family and friends and mostly...Jesus.

Weeping may endure for the night. (or for 8 months)
But joy comes in the morning.

That is the promise that comes from the One who loves us most of all.
We don't always understand why life takes the twists and turns that it does.
But His love, makes a way for us to look past the present sorrow, and know that joy
will come again...some time...hopefully, soon.

Jesus is close to the brokenhearted. To those of us who are experiencing loss
in a million different ways. He is pulling us into His arms, filling us with strength,
inviting us to look beyond what we are feeling and recognize who He is.

The Healer. The Provider. The Deliverer. The Giver of all Good Things.
The Lifter of Our Heads.

He is love.
And His love will lift us up.

He is going to walk with Jenny and her family when they move into the unknown.
He is placing a steady arm around my shoulders and reminding me one more time,
"I will never leave you or forsake you."
He wants to do the same for you. Wherever you are at right now. Whatever state your heart is in.

That is the truth of who He is.
Love upon love upon love.

And that is where the joy comes in.