I was unsure what to focus on for this week’s blog post, but I realize it would be remiss not to write about going back to school. Yesterday marked the first day of staff orientation, and it was definitely different. We were isolated and separated, spending the majority of the day alone in our classrooms attending and completing virtual professional development activities. It could have been frustrating an disappointing and overwhelming, and at times, it was all of those things.
But I’ve decided to make a more concerted effort in my professional – and personal – life to be happy. That doesn’t mean I can’t express sorrow or frustration or anger, but it does mean that when the option presents itself, I’m going to choose to be happy. I spent the day with good friends who happen to be colleagues, and celebrated a professional achievement with those same good friends. Most of us were happy to see each and be together, even if the circumstances were not ideal. But the smile and warm reunions and the genuine joy I was able to observe and participate in left me feeling better than I’d felt in months.
This morning, I walked the boardwalk near my home and when people smiled and wished me a “good morning,” I was instantly happier because I felt connected. With the sunlight streaming down and the smell of the sea salt in the air with the constant shushing of the waves, life was beautiful. I felt beautiful in a way I hadn’t in a long time. I thought of the good fortune I’ve had, and the good fortune I was honored to have family and friends and loved ones share with me, and it was all so beautiful.
I want to feel beautiful every day. And yes, shallow though it may seem, that involves makeup and clothing. If I like the reflection in the mirror, it’ll be easier to find other things I love about myself, the real things that matter. I want my insides to match my outsides because feeling beautiful inside and out makes me happy. I would also venture to hypothesize that being happy makes others want to be around me. I had all these admittedly somewhat obvious revelations this morning, and it truly inspired change.
I want to keep that change going when I see my students this year. Some will be coming into the building, and some will not, but the joy I offer should be the same. Love is the most important thing (in my opinion), and the connections that come from love – and there are so many different kinds! – should be preserved always, but especially during these strange times. I want to be a beacon of happiness for my colleagues and for my students. I want to enter the building and have people come and greet me, not shy away with anxiety. I always want to be surrounded my people because, as a quote I found on the internet so blatantly stated, “Love fiercely. Because this all ends.”
I guess I had a kind of a revelation yesterday when a friend whom I hadn’t seen or spoken to really since March was surprised to find I was happy. It made me question how I’d been presenting myself if the idea of me being happy (and grateful) would be so unbelievable, especially to someone who supposedly knows me very well. It’s so easy to give in and be negative, and times we should to give authentic vent to our frustrations and maintain a healthy, emotional balance. But given the choice, I’m going to be happy. I want my students and colleagues to leave my classroom smiling. That’s my goal for this school year. (It should be noted that I want to lose weight, get accepted into the University of Limerick’s Creative Writing MFA Program (again), and finish Moody Blue and find a publisher).