Thursday, May 4, 2017

Behind the Scenes

WARNING: A moment of transparency, and a rather long post ahead. 

Yesterday, I had my 3rd teaching evaluation of the year and the administrator asked my students a variety of questions, one of which was "Does your teacher demonstrate enthusiasm in her job?" One dancer laughed and said, "She has more energy than the rest of us every morning." Since this was a student I've known years, I later confessed that I'm usually faking my 6AM energy, but that by pretending I'm excited in beginning of each day, I usually make the energy become a reality. (With the help of my 9AM dose of caffeine and B vitamins, at least until it wears off.) She was surprised that she didn't know how I'd really felt all this time.

 And I realized several of my mostly-on-line friends have mentioned similar ideas recently, with kind words about how fun or funny or happy my life seems to be.  (Although those who know me best can attest to what you're about to learn...And I offer you all a HUGE thank you for supporting me, or for even putting up with me.)

 So here it is: I'm EXHAUSTED.

I don't have a perfect life and I don't pretend to. Yes, I find beauty and humor and inspiration all around me in life.  I take pride in my work and I want my students to have the best experience I can give them, so I try not to show when I'm tired or sick or emotional. But that doesn't mean I'm immune to fatigue, frustration, depression, anxiety, or stress. 

My sleep disorder has not gone away, even though I don't often talk about it. Sometimes, I'm not sure which is more painful--the nightmares or trying to wake up from them. My house is often messy because I'm too tired to clean it and my make up often looks less than picture-worthy. I'm still figuring out what to do with my grownup body image issues. I'm working two wonderful jobs which I love dearly, but which each take a lot of time and emotional investment practically every single day. I know it's possible to do both of these jobs with less time or energy, but I sincerely value my opportunity to invest time in my students and coworkers who need it. That means I sometimes sacrifice the time and care I should be investing in my loved ones or in myself. I struggle to say NO when people ask for help or favors, so I overcommit myself then struggle to succeed. I worry obsessively when I'm not meeting expectations in my work or when I'm disappointing people who know me behind the scenes.  Sometimes I make dumb decisions that I later regret. I'm far from perfect. 

When it comes to posting on SOCIAL MEDIA though, I figure we could all use a little more positivity on our newsfeed so that's what I try to focus on. I'm not trying to create an unrealistic image of the blessings vs the struggles in my life; I just know it wouldn't do much good if I shared every little negative experience on here. I guess from this post, I hope you appreciate that there's more to each of us than what you usually learn on social media, and I hope that you appreciate the positive, thought-provoking, inspirational, or amusing things that we can share with each other online. Even if it's a super tired picture of me trying to take a nap on a messy closet floor at work. 


[Insert evidence here.]

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The calmest Trump conversation you've ever heard

I was trying to catch up on email during a coffee break, but I got distracted by the two gentlemen in their 60s-70s who were talking at the next table. 

The younger one was answering questions about how people can have so many opinions about President Trump all the time. The gist of his answer: Trump writes short notes on electronic media and shares them with anyone who has a computer via a place called Twitter. So people aren't just responding to his policies or his recent military actions; they're also interacting with these notes, which at times are actually quite brash or vulgar. 

Both men continued evaluating the pros and cons of various ideas, asking sincere questions and giving thoughtful answers, comparing recent events with past wartime experiences, and maintaining a perfectly relaxing conversational tone. 

Their conversation was so completely opposite of the hype and drama we've become used to on social media lately. It made me wonder how many of today's kids will grow up without ever engaging in thoughtful conversations like this with their elders. 

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Then back to work, and my next class observation included a chance to read through a newspaper from 1918! This yellowed, tattered artifact was so fragile yet still strong enough to be here 100 years later--and to think it was originally read by people who are probably no longer here to influence our daily lives! Significantly older than the gentlemen whom I'd admired earlier this morning. The early 1900s had never felt as close, as real, as they did when I held that paper today.

I'm so grateful for the chance to eavesdrop on those two gentlemen this morning, and to leaf through this 1918 newspaper. I imagine that we could all benefit from more frequent connections to our past--as grandchildren, or as citizens of a collective history. It might even just help us return to that sense of thoughtful calm from our past...You know, like from the days of WWI...



Sunday, April 16, 2017

5 Minute Message


I haven't written anything here in a long time. Well, I haven't *finalized* anything here in a long time anyway.  I have plenty of half-drafts tucked away behind the scenes. But I haven't had enough time to fully explain and revise anything lately...And honestly, it seems like I haven't had enough time to accomplish anything in life up to my standards lately, so writing something here certainly wasn't a priority. 

But today, I heard a message that was so short and simple that I knew I had time to reiterate it. And more importantly, I knew I *needed* to share it. If any of you are wrestling with these same struggles lately, I hope this 5 minute post will uplift and redirect you (as it hopefully will do for me too)! 

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Many of us have figured out how to live successfully behind the facade of "I'm all good, I've got it all figured out."

But this is a terribly stressful way to live, and it still doesn't resolve the emptiness, fear, or pain we feel inside when we look beneath that facade. 

The good news is that there is nothing we have done, or will do, that could make God love us any LESS or any MORE than he already does. Grace is not about US and our issues or accomplishments; Grace is about HIS LOVE. 

We already ARE loved. We don't have to pretend. Or work to accomplish it. Or worry about losing it. We just need to accept it. And begin to live in gratitude rather than in pretense. 

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If you didn't get to hear this message in person or via live stream, I encourage you to check back here in a few days once the video has been uploaded. The sermon is short and powerful, and the music is skilled and moving. Even when I don't seem to have time for everything I want to accomplish in a week, I always end up glad that I made time for services like this: 

https://eastpointchurch.com/talks/