Here I am at the final Friday of my summer.
I started this final Friday in a great way, having coffee with my best friend! We had not gotten to catch up all summer, somehow, so starting off this day with a visit was wonderful. I love our visits and wish we had them more often, so when we do get together it’s a special treat. But it’s also something I plan to build into the schedule a little more often, whether it’s coffee in the morning or a drink on a Friday evening. It’s something that is important and will go into the goal-setting category as I go into the fall.
The other wonderful way I will spend part of this day is with yoga. On Fridays this summer I went to class with Yoga Becky. Her class always calms me and helps me feel a little more centered. This fall I plan to add Friday evening yoga happy hour as a goal. What a great way to end a week and start a weekend!
But right now, on this final Friday of summer, I feel the need to summarize what I’ve done over the past three months, acknowledge where I am, and think about where I want to go from here.
What have I done? I lost 35 pound this summer! Whoo hoo! I’m not done, though. I have fifteen to go by my birthday, but I know that will happen because I am on track. With school starting next week, I will have a schedule to help me stay on track. Although this summer my motivation kept me on track with food and exercise, as time goes on, a less full schedule makes it harder for me. So I am actually looking forward to the start of school.
Next? Organization! I worked at trying to figure out my goals and then actually planned for those goals on a weekly basis. Reflection and goal setting have been crucial tools for me this summer. I now plan to use those same tools in my professional life. In fact, I will be doing a little goal-setting and planning later today. I am also learning how to jot when the ideas hit me. For instance, yesterday I had some goal ideas while in the car. Having no paper handy, I grabbed my box of kleenex and jotted my goals on the side. Any port in a storm, right? So those got transferred to a more traditional spot and now I am working on those.
When I return to school, knowing that I have 10 years until retirement, I am planning to spend more time focusing on specific goals: setting aside planning time; spending time each week to send notes to kids (I bought four boxes of blank cards and my first roll of stamps – the plan is to write a note to each kid and send it to her or him at home via snail mail; everyone loves to get snail mail, right?); reflection time; professional reading/research time; and time at the end of each day for a mini-meditation before I leave the building. With the morning meditation I currently practice, I have determined I would also like to end each school day with five minutes of quiet before I leave so I can leave in a peaceful state of mind rather than feeling frazzled and frustrated.
Knowing that I will be spending 10 more years teaching, I have also resolved to change my mindset. No more whining, bitching, and/or moaning. This is my life and I will make the most of it. I will find classes to take to get 10 more credit hours and move up on the salary scale to make this count. I will also try to do a better job of being a good role model, both to my students and to my colleagues. Whining gets me nowhere and has no payback. None. Not even in the sense of releasing frustrations. I now believe that bitching about my job gets me nothing and only leads to more complaining. It does not help. So I am going to refuse to feed that particular beast. Don’t be the problem; be the solution. The end.
Final takeaway (honestly, I hate that term, but unless I can think of a better word choice, for the moment I’ll have to keep this one): mindfulness.
Since returning from Kentucky, I have spent five minutes at the start of each day meditating. Some days it’s been really great. Some days, I struggle to empty my mind of crazy crap. Such is the nature of my meditations. But, regardless, I have spent my first five minutes sitting quietly. And I plan to continue that practice every single day. Why? Because I believe it has helped me calm down. I don’t think I swear nearly as often as I used to, and believe me it used to be quite a bit. Plus things don’t rev me up the way they used to. I’m a little better at accepting things like getting stuck in traffic or having to change plans at the last minute. I recognize when I am getting angry and that helps me diffuse it. Not always, but more often than before.
It has also helped me slow down. In a previous post I talked about slowing down time. In the past week, I have had trouble trying to get back to this. So today I am making a more conscious effort to focus on being mindful, being aware of the world around me. Earlier this week, I listened to an interview with Jon Kabat-Zinn (note: this link is not the interview I heard; couldn’t find it, but here is another) about mindfulness and his study of it, and it got me thinking. I always want to share mindfulness with others in the hope that they will take it up. I especially wish my husband would try this because I think it would help him in more ways that he realizes.
But I also understand I cannot control what others think, as much as I wish I could. In my mind, these practices would be infinitely helpful. Yet, as helpful as I think they would be, I also understand that this is something I cannot really control. So, I will simply pass along what I can and know that, when I toss it out there, it is out of my control. While this is a topic my therapist and I have visited more than once, and likely will again, I am trying to let go of that push to control the world and people around me. I have to accept that I can control me and no one else. Again, the end.
So, as summer comes to a close, I have made some positive life changes and am working to incorporate others. I feel like I am finding who I am, and I am changing who I was into who I truly want to be. One point where I truly realized I had made progress was when I was at the bookstore perusing magazines. I saw several touting mindfulness and how to become happy. Rather than think, “I need to buy and read that,” I thought, “No. I don’t need to buy that one. I’m already working on it.” What a stark change for me, and a big “Aha” moment.
This summer I’ve felt successful in lots of ways, and I am coming out the other side of summer a new person, one I feel more comfortable and happy with. The end. Or, rather, welcome to the new beginning.