Sometimes we have to let go to hold on

As we face a school year like no other, I keep thinking back to a conversation I had with my superintendent when my mom was losing her battle with cancer. It helps me remember that sometimes we have to let go in order to hold on.

It is no secret that I battle with my weight. I mean, I could try to keep it a secret, but the fact that I fluctuate up and down five sizes from year to year makes it pretty obvious. I am determined to never give up, to never surrender. Sometimes my determination works, sometimes it doesn’t.

On this particular day many years ago, I was confessing my frustration with my bad eating habits and lack of exercise to my boss. She sat me down, looked me in the eye, and said, “Let it go.”

I was completely shocked. She typically encouraged me in this area, often sharing new diets or exercise she was trying. I think I just stared at her for a few seconds, stunned. She must’ve noticed my surprise because she went on to offer an explanation.

“Allyson, you have all you can handle right now with your mom. You need to give yourself grace, and you need to take some things off your plate. You can worry about your weight later. Right now, just focus on taking life one day at a time.”

She was right. Because, honestly, whether I fretted about my weight or not, I was gonna be gaining some lbs. That bacon blue cheese burger from the restaurant around the corner from the hospital was giving me life right then. And I needed all the bits of sunshine I could find, even the greasy ones. Her idea to drop that boulder of guilt made me instantly feel lighter.

Educator friends, we are dragging around boulders of uncertainty right now. We are planners. We are dreamers. We are organized, even those of us whose desks are buried in piles. We live by scope and sequences. There is no set sequence to COVID-19. Our lives were completely uprooted overnight last spring and we held on tight to the thread of hope that we could start the fall in a normal fashion. That thread has slowly unraveled as the summer progressed and we are in mourning.

We know we will be okay. We know that we will eventually get accustomed to our new temporary normal. But, gosh darn it, we don’t want to! We want to plan and dream and use the skill sets we have so carefully cultivated over years or even decades. We want to greet our students with high fives at 8:30am and fill them with fascinating learning all day until we send them off with a hug at 3:30pm. We will get there. We will. Just not yet.

So, what are you holding tightly to right now that you could let go? For me, all those years ago, I needed to let go of worrying about my weight. But, right now, exercise is giving me life rather than burgers (thank goodness). But you will no judgement from me if you are in the burgers-are-life phase.

Do you need to let go of your scope and sequence and instead focus on one day at a time?

Do you need to let go of guilting yourself for not feeling very creative right now and instead celebrate simple ideas and new skills you have learned?

Do you need to let go of wanting things to be “normal” and instead trust that you can do hard things by putting one foot in front of the other?

Do you need to let go of looking at social media controversy or filling your head with Pinterest-y ideas and actually just take a break from thinking about school all together?

Do you need to let go of wanting to hug your students and instead dream of ways to show love and build relationships from a distance?

We have a small day camp at our elementary school and I saw two of my kindergarten students there last week. They were standing in a socially-distanced line and they yelled out when they saw me.

“Is that you Mrs. Apsey?”

I greeted them through my face mask, making sure I expressed affection with my words because they couldn’t see my smile.

Then they said something that killed me.

“I just wanna hug you so bad!”

Their balled fists at their sides and their squished up faces told me that they meant it. Really meant it.

Looking at those sweet faces, I wanted to hug them so bad too. But they didn’t need my arms to know that I love them.

I said, “Let’s do an air hug.”

We all put our arms out and made a hugging motion.

“Now, wrap your arms around yourself and squeeze.”

They squeezed. And laughed.

“That’s how much I miss you and love you!”

And, you know what? It worked. Their eyes lit up and they felt my love.

I am air hugging you right now too. Put your arms around yourself and squeeze. Do you feel that? It’s the collective love from all your fellow educators going through the same range of emotions, giving all of us a new thread of hope.

What do you need to let go in order to hang on right now? What boulder can you kick to the curb rather than drag around?

We will get through this. We will come out the other side better than before. Because that is what we do.

We are educators.

four booksCheck out the #SerendipityEDU books on Amazon by clicking HERE! Each book is filled with inspiration to help us discover the gifts in along life’s journey. With the addition of my newest book, a middle-grades chapter book called The Serendipity Journal, there is a book for every age level. There is no better time to start looking for happy accidents!

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