Tag Archives: Lessons

Finding Gratitude in the Dark Spots

“When you stop moving, you die.”

It looked like we were ballroom dancing, our arms meeting to form a circle. It was his job to push me out, it was my job to hold my own. He was stronger. He won. My shoulder lost.

November started with a lot of pain. As a Waldorf games teacher, I was sent to a training to learn how to teach Greek wrestling, javelin, discus and long jump to fifth graders. As with any good teaching, we learned by doing. However, I only made it partially through Greek wrestling before I sprained my shoulder. A small little muscle underneath my blade wasn’t as strong as my will. It tore in my stubborn resistance and released a flood of emotions. I cried. I was embarrassed. I sat out and watched with jealousy as the other teachers got to throw the javelin and leap through the air.

Still, even through all the pain, I was determined there had to be some silver lining to my temporary disability. The impetus, perhaps, to finally coax my determined toddler to sleep through the night without my constant soothing. A deeper empathy for how my students feel when they get hurt and can’t participate. An appreciation for being able bodied. Something. There had to be something good, to make sense of that much discomfort, that much challenge in doing the simplest tasks. Apparently you need your shoulders for just about everything. Even laughing.

Thanks to three weeks of physical therapy, my shoulder now only hurts in attempting to do things like push-ups or down dogs. The doctor was right. I was still young enough to heal quickly. But, she also changed my perspective with one simple sentence.

When I asked about keeping my shoulder immobilized, she told me, “When you stop moving, you die.” Of course, there was nothing imminently deadly about my injury, but her point hit home. It’s so easy for injuries to become our excuses to no longer move, which in turn feeds more dire health consequences. I get it. The healthiest old people  are those who haven’t stopped moving.

So, on this weekend full of gratitude, I’m choosing to be thankful for what’s hard. Hurting my shoulder was hard. Encouraging my daughter to sleep without as much comforting was really hard. A lot of this month sucked. But all these challenges made me determined to never stop moving. It was my weakness, my lack of upper body strength, that failed to protect a tiny little muscle that was the key to so much pain. I’ve avoided lifting weights pretty much my entire life, but now thanks to my shoulder and that doctor, I’ve learned an invaluable lesson. Move, even when it’s not comfortable.
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Week 18: Gingerbread & Rainbows

I did not expect the world to end today. However, it did feel different this morning. The sunrise was spectacular. A full rainbow danced across the sky. Happy laughter floated through the halls, a sweet friend and coworker newly engaged. Kids with sticky fingers and smiles as they constructed gingerbread houses. So much excited energy for winter break.

I was presented with a lesson today. Sometimes we need to embrace things as they are instead of fighting for control. I forget this when I teach sometimes, expecting students to act a certain way instead of gently guiding them in a mutually agreeable direction. I’m learning.

12/21/12 will go down as a good day in my book. Struggles, messes, laughter, and beautiful skies.

“Please Mrs. M, can’t you stay just ten minutes longer?”

Those after school words mattered most of all.

Rainbow

Sunrise

Gingerbread

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Lessons Learned from Three Teachers in a Prius

When I was first invited on a road trip to Olympia and back with three other teachers on my team, I was hesitant.  As much as I hate to admit it, I am particular.  I like to be in charge of trips, I like to control my own time.  Knowing that my travel companions can be more boisterous and free-spirited than I normally am, I worried I might feel out of place.  Thankfully, I pushed myself outside my comfort zone.  Here is what I learned from my adventure:

1.  We all need to get out of our boxes from time to time.  It’s so easy to surround ourselves with people that are like us, which are undoubtedly wonderful people, but it is also important to get out there in this big world and meet others who are different.  Not only did I bond with my team of teachers in an entirely new way, but I also met a lot of travelers whose stories will stick with me.  A woman from Wisconsin with her two dogs and a cat stuffed into her station wagon, the old man by the sea, a transplanted waitress from Placerville now living in Reedsport, a starving young artist selling t-shirts in Portland…  The list goes on, you get the point.  I met a lot of really friendly people wanting to talk.  Some I met because I traveled with a car full of extroverts, some I met just being me.  Their stories were fascinating, my notebook now full of characters.  Nothing sparks the imagination like the half-told stories of strangers.

2.  Sometimes you have to go in circles to get where you’re going.  My mom likes to say I’m a type 3 personality, insinuating that type A isn’t enough to describe me.  Accordingly, I’m usually very impatient with being off-schedule because I try to stuff so many experiences into each day.  However, on this trip, since I was not in charge, I just sat back and let things happen.  Sure we got lost and time disappeared sitting in the car, but that time going in circles ended up holding its own adventures.  At the end of the day, we always ended up where we were trying to go.

3. Laugh, a lot.  Four women in a car for five days makes everything funny.  Never in my life have I laughed so hard or so frequently.  More than anything else from my adventure, I will remember the distinct laughters of my travel companions and the fun we had in every moment, whether it was stuck on a bridge in Portland or waiting for coffee at a Dutch Brothers.  After all, anything in life is better if you keep a good sense of humor.

Our little road family in Waldport, Oregon.

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