Last Saturday, I wrote about being on a school-free island and I talked about it as an unusual occurrence.
But here I am, sitting down to blog again and there isn’t much in my head. Yesterday at this time, I had 3 ideas floating around. But right now… no tengo nada.
So, I started to think about that. And I’m thinking, maybe it is ok. Maybe it is a good idea. Maybe it is healthy. I have to think about school Monday-Friday. Tomorrow, I have to plan. But today, I can turn it off for a few minutes.
This has got me thinking about something my Dad says to me. My Dad— a Navy Vietnam Veteran, retired fire fighter, a man who tried a handful of jobs between having to retire from firefighting for medical reasons and finding his true calling, and a recently retired Substance Abuse Rehabilitation Counselor—is a very wise man. He reads people. He can detect their strengths and their struggles. He can see their ghosts. He’s good at giving advice. He’s good at making you look what matters.
Whenever I struggle he asks me,
Can you change it? Is it your responsibility? And the extremely essential How important is it?
I always take inventory and answer the questions. And with that simple reflection, I am always able to reassess the situation and give it the time and attention that is accurately commensurate to its magnitude.
There’s something else he says to me, though. Something so pointed, so spot on, so therapeutic.
He can always read me like a book- even over the phone- and tell when it’s time to drop the phrase. It’s almost as if he can see my eyes bearing witness to the wrestling match inside my own head. He can sense the tension in my shoulders. He always directs,
“Laura, stop letting it rent space in your head.”
I’ll give you a minute to let that sink in.
Stop letting it rent space in your head.
It’s so simple. There’s nothing to the phrase at all. And yet, it is so genius. It so accurately describes the experience of having something on your mind. When something is bothering you, getting to you, worrying you, troubling you, it holds real estate in your head. It invades the brain space you need to let go, to relax, to have fun. It begins to consume you. You start to be owned by your problem instead of the other way around. So evict it. Stop letting it rent space in your head.
I’m realizing that I’m guilty of being a brain space landlord. I’m letting so much rent space up there that I’m not always fully present at home, or out with friends. I’m not reliably sleeping.
I have some big mountains to climb in my room. There is a sizable and growing handful of students that need my help and energy and attention. However each child needs specific and individualized supports in order to have a successful day. And just when I think I get the hang of everyone’s everything and am sure I know which combination of elements will best serve each of them, everyone changes his/her everything. Add to that, it is Spring, so all the children in the class have crazy energy and are all undergoing rapid bodily and cognitive changes. Plus some of the students who have spent the year being fairly well-behaved are beginning to try on different personalities like they’re costume pieces in the dramatic play trunks. Some of them are even trying on the behavioral challenges of their peers.
So, I am constantly thinking about what needs everyone has and how to help them while making sure that the support I give to one child isn’t a trigger to another child. And in between all this, I am trying to plan an authentic, engaging hands-on, child-centered, emergent curriculum and, THEN… oh ya know, run five- 8 hour days for a group of 20 kids.
So I’ve been letting lots of people and circumstances and issues and intentions and damaged self-perceptions rent space in my head.
I haven’t talked to my Dad much this week. But his voice has been there. “Laura. Stop letting it rent space in your head.”
Yes. I need to figure everything out. I need to plan for learning and plan for contingencies to support everybody. All this is necessary. But it isn’t necessary to carry it with me every second of every day. More importantly, it isn’t necessary to carry whatever guilt/anger/frustration/vexation/sadness/self doubt it makes me feel every second of every day. I need to compartmentalize. I need to box it away when I’m not directly working on it.
So today, my brain isn’t at school. For at least today, I’m not letting it rent space in my head. I can only hope I can get better at making more times like this. For now, maybe the best I can do is promise myself that on Saturdays, I’m going to evict all the things.