After spending the morning decluttering my classroom, I think I can safely say that my class is now less cluttered than my mind.
I need to make space in my classroom because the fall brings an avalanche of unknowns and I don’t want to get crushed under the weight of the unexpected. I need to be ready for classes to be back to (near) normal (whatever that means). I need to be ready for my students to be here, but to stay at least a meter apart at all times and not mix with any other student groups (no recess, no lunch program, no sharing, no collaborating…) I need to also be ready incase I am expected to run an online classroom with some kind of learning groups (or something).
With all that in mind, I am decluttering and minimizing all that it is in my classroom (except books, they stay).
Also, with all that in mind, I find there isn’t a lot of room left over in my mind for anything else. I am a teacher, but that is not all that I am, and it is time to gently place the unknown in the corner and start to declutter some of this thinking, hoping and planning for next year.
It is time to make space for my stories again.
Since March 13, I haven’t had space to write. My mental and emotional space has been filled to overflowing and the stories in my head have become eerily silent.
This isn’t the root of the problem, it’s just a symptom.
The root is that I have let myself get so wrapped up in the drama that education has become that I haven’t left enough space for being present.
It’s only nature that has kept me sane. Week after week, no matter what was happening in the rest of the world, we have gotten out into the woods with our kids. We’ve been hiking, climbing, exploring and adventuring in just about every green space in and around our city.
We did it for the kids, but ultimately also saved ourselves. The outdoors was really like a soothing balm that could transform even the worst day.
Outside I felt clear and at ease, but the moment we would return home the cloud of the unknowable would descend and I would be lost again in a haze of technology and unquenchable needs.
Now, I want more.
I don’t just want to soothe myself by being outside, I want to reclaim the space in my head and my life that has been taken up by this pandemic. I want to make room for magic and wonder.
Of course, the only one who can give me back my stories is me. I can blame the government for the games they have been playing and the limbo they are keeping us in for another month.
I can blame the challenges of learning Seesaw, Google Meets, Epic, NetMath and all the other online platforms that I was suddenly supposed know for changing my computer from a tool for creative expression into a symbol of frustration and work.
I’m pretty sure that blame is not the answer. If blame were going to give me peace and mental clarity, I think it would have happened by now. I’m pretty sure that the answer is somewhere inside of me, somewhere buried under the layers of fear and uncertainty, somewhere waiting and wanting to get out.
The problem is that I don’t know how exactly to turn my stories back on. It’s all well and good to say that I am ready to access this mental space, but the question remains, how?
So, I’ve decided to WOOP. Never heard of wooping? I hadn’t either until earlier this week in my course on the Science of Wellbeing(check out woopmylife.org for more info.) WOOP is an acronym that stands for
It is a way of setting goals and really figuring out what is standing in the way of achieving what we want in life. I’ve never tried it before, but I’ve also never had writer’s block due to a pandemic before, so maybe it is a good time to start.
My wish? I had to mull this around for a little while, but I decided on: to get my stories back flowing in my mind. In my experience, if my stories are in my head, writing is not hard.
My outcome I’ve decided is to rewrite a book I wrote a few years ago called Dimension Quy.
My feedback from the publishing world on Quy was that it was too long and should be split into 2 books and that’s what I’d like to do this summer.
The obstacle, when I searched for it, hit me kind of hard. I thought my obstacle was time and space, but really, when I started to let myself delve a little deeper, my obstacle is: Why bother?
What’s the point?
I have written a lot of things. Short stories, picture books, chapter books, poems, songs and even the outline of a movie script (which is ironic since I don’t watch movies), and it all sits lonely and readerless in my computer.
The point of writing is to connect to readers. The point of writing is to share stories and sharing means that I have to put myself out there. In short, I have to commit to trying to find a publisher (again).
P stands for plan and the plan is supposed to be a way of overcoming the obstacles. So, for now my plan will be, when I feel hopeless, I will think about the different ways that I can share my book and put it out into the world (starting with reading it to my own kids, a ready made audience!)
It’s the night of the last day of school and I have figured out my obstacle and have a plan for reclaiming my mental space over the summer months. Not bad eh?
I also have a glowing sense of appreciation for you. You, my reader, are what has kept me writing this blog no matter what has been happening in my life in the past couple years. Sharing and connecting with you has given me the space to keep writing, to keep growing, to keep wondering. Whether you have read one blog, or every blog, you turn this writing into a connection. You give me the space to keep growing.