This post is part of the Just Write link-up, a weekly exercise in free writing ordinary and extra-ordinary moments. I am not so good at writing about single moments yet, but this is, indeed, a free write. In fact, I ended up writing about something entirely different than I was planning- a typical free-writing characteristic for me.
I am drinking hot chocolate made from the last of my Equal Exchange cocoa while I write this. Choosing fair trade chocolate has become a simple, non-negotiable way that I can support healthy families, economies, and communities. Anything that involves food and community easily pulls at my heart strings.
10 years ago, I made a decision to go to college for a degree in secondary education. I was not always in love with my decision, but I chugged along and achieved my goal. I worked as a substitute teacher while I transitioned to my new multifaceted role of youth pastors wife, then landed a job as a pre-GED teacher in Reading. It was a job that left me frustrated many days, wishing for something else, running back to my old numbing agent (stuffing my face).
Teaching is not something that pulls on my heart strings. I did it because I wanted another opportunity to get to know and speak hope into lives of teenagers. My number one goal was mentoring teenagers because I was a teenager when I started the whole process and I saw the need (including for myself).
I remember turning down the first opportunity to teach GED classes because it didn't fit with my goals.
I don't completely remember what had me going for the second one, but I think it had something to do with proving I could do more financially and professionally than substitute teach. It was more about my pride than anything else,I think.
Not my heart strings. Teaching didn't pull at my heart strings.
My pride led me to a job...with adults. Not teenagers. Adults who'd dropped out of school for one reason or another, who felt angry, discouraged, overwhelmed, unsure of what to make of the little white woman fumbling her way through how, exactly, to meet the widely varying needs of each student at the same time.
I fell in love. Still not with the teaching, but with the students. They opened up my world like no one else. Some of them let me into their worlds, shared their stories, taught me more about life...and I did the same. I coveted smaller-group times so I could see that light bulb moment. You know, that moment where something just "clicks" and becomes like second nature? I love that.
I discovered that I am not a great teacher, but I am a really good tutor.
I discovered that many people living here now have the same heart-strings-pulling effect as food and community.
I came home many days feeling so drained, but I just knew I was gathering all this experience for a reason. (Sound familiar, Katie?)
This morning, The New York Times posted that Reading is at the top of the U.S. poverty list. You know, the city full of people I fell in love with.
My head is spinning because that kind of news feels like an insurmountable wall. But I will find a crack, a hole, a ladder...because I'm kind of bent on staying here. This is my city now so I am responsible for being a part of it's restoration.
I still haven't learned.
I've been eating (mostly) well, taking walks, reading, drinking lots of water, putting my feet up, and keeping up with my prenatal yoga classes...but sleep?
Well, I've been getting what I can, but I've been staying up late(r) to get some cuddle time with Tim since 1)I need that and 2)I sleep in a fortress of pillows. My body still wakes up in time to get ready for work, or earlier, despite the fact that I am now without a job. No big deal, right? I just take a nap after lunch to make up for the hours not slept the night before. Bada-bing.
Except I haven't been getting those naps in the last few days...partly because Baby Boy seems to want to break out his boxing skills whenever I lay down. I absolutely enjoy those little performances. I can't help but smile, but the lack of sleep caught up with me today.
I was pretty much non-functional. I was craving too much food, as my body usually does when it hasn't had enough sleep for too many days in a row. I was worrying about silly things (I'm going to get too big; my husband is going to think I'm boring) and really not wanting to do anything...and then around 6 pm, I got a half-hour nap and felt alive again.
Ready to put together intelligible (although likely uninspiring) words. Ready to make up an action plan for the coming day. To go to bed at an hour early enough to allow me to forgo a nap should Baby Boy choose to use my nap time to put on another show for me.
Because he probably will.
What do you do when you're out of energy? Do you stop and rest? Push through? Something else? Please share! I'd love to read any ideas you have!
I believe that God desires to restore everything that is broken. I believe that can begin to happen now, but in our broken world, things being torn down is all too easy...and sometimes not even intentional.
I want to be a part of the restoring.
I work with people who are in poverty, underprivileged, and from different cultures than the ones I grew up in. I find it to be hard work. I come home tired and ready for rejuvenation. I sometimes succumb to the siren song of too much comfort food. I flip-flop between wanting to quit and determining my best option is to stay. I talk a lot about work after work hours, and it is usually on my mind.
Can I tell you something? Despite all my efforts, it is often hard to tell whether my efforts are "paying off." Whether they mean anything. For fleeting moments, I want to quit and take any job that means checking things off a list and being done. I want to quantify my work.
But I know that's not me. It's not how I was made. I do believe I am made for messy work that shows up in crooked lines on graph paper. I can't tell you that what I am doing now is the best thing for reaching my objectives, but right now, I don't know of a better alternative. When I do, I hope I go there and do that.
Part of me want to stop what takes up so much of my energy right now and do the things I love- write, do all things domestic, spend lots of time with my stay-at-home mom friends and give them chances to leave the house child-free. I could. I have the green light from people whose opinions I greatly respect.
But I'm not sure.
I want to be a part of the fixing, the healing, the making things like new. I am well aware that I need those things for myself, too, but it doesn't make much sense to me to sit until I am completely fixed. I'm a restless kind of person who finds people so easily wiggling themselves into her heart. It's hard to ignore that kind of thing. (And also? I find it so much more likely for me to heal and learn and grow while I am in the midst of the same thing with someone else.)
The restoring might not always include a paycheck.
Or a broken-down city.
But it needs to be there. I've determined that much to be true.
In the meantime, to those who have listened to my almost constant stream of back-and-forth work-related musings, thank you. You help keep me sane. From here on out, I'm aiming to refrain from using up most of my air time talking about the same things.
Instead, I'm going to (try to) take it one day at a time.
Today, I will prepare lessons as best as I can. I will practice a little yoga and otherwise do whatever I need to do to fill up my personal tank again. I will go to one of my favorite cities to visit and meet new friends and share life.
It's going to be a beautiful day.