It’s winding down. Coming to an end. Wrapping up.
No matter how you put it, my summer vacation ends in 48 hours, when teachers report back to the classroom for a week of professional development, meetings, and, most important, planning time to get ready for the new school year.
48 hours. At least 20 of those hours will be spent at our community pool, thanks to Mom Nature giving us a weekend with “an abundance of sun,” as reported officially by the National Weather Service. It’s a fitting way to close out probably the best summer I’ve ever had.
There’s no way I could ever list all the great things about these past two months, but if I had to start making a list, these memories would be on it:
- Florida. Without a doubt, this was the summer’s “big event” in our family. We did the daring thing and drove down to see my sister and brother-in-law, did the Disney Thing, and even spent a day in St. Pete in the Gulf. It was so good, we’re considering moving down there permanently to be closer to them. We’re even planning a return trip in December, at least for another week.
- Joining our Community Pool. The girls became members of the swim team, and we spent every day before our Florida trip hanging out at the pool, making many new wonderful friends and giving our children the opportunity to forge their own new relationships with the neighborhood kids. I cannot say enough about how great everyone has been at this pool, and we will be sad when the season is over in a few weeks and they close up for autumn and winter.
- Meeting New Writers. I co-taught a 3-week graduate course this summer, my fourth and final time doing so, and I met some outstanding and genuine writers who brew magic with their words. These are teachers from around the state who have unlocked their writers within, and I gathered much strength from them as a writer myself. It took some time for me to really understand how they made an impact on my life, and I think that I am now only beginning to understand the lessons they shared. I will miss teaching this course in upcoming summers, but now it is time for me to convert those many experiences into my own words as a writer.
- Creative Time. I’ve written more this summer than any other, except possibly in 1989 when I discovered my muse and used the healing powers of the pen to come to terms with my father’s death. I have been selfish with my creativity, blogging little but writing daily in my daybook and taking the time to sketch and paint–not for an audience but for me. The therapeutic benefits are even greater than I have ever realized, and it is nice to take the pressure off of me to produce something for a larger audience all the time. My belief is that being selfish in this way will help me refine my more public pieces and connect with my audience selflessly, giving them what they need without compromising the personal voice that allows me to write with a defined identity.
- Backing Off, Lightening Up, Giving Myself a Break. I’m too hard on myself. I always have been. There’s been this need to produce, to succeed, to thrive, to live fully by doing more, more, more. But I’ve been realizing–especially this summer–that living fully means less, less, less. A few weeks ago I got the news that our school’s journalism teacher was moving up to an administrative position in an adjoining county, and I was asked to drop my two sections of English 12 Honors and pick up the two Journalism courses. I decided to take the change in position, even though that meant not teaching some just incredibly wonderful individual in English 12. I know this sounds like more, more, more, but I feel more centered, more focused to handle the needs of our students and our school as I work with our major publication teams. I am a teacher, and a writer. I am not a writer who teaches or a teacher who writes. I am both. Equally. and I have stopped this internal push to ignore the many great things right in front of me and pursue something I think I don’t have. I’m settling down. Enjoying. Seeing the beauty in what’s before me, around me, within me. I have the greatest teaching job in the best school in the best county around, and I have the time to write. What more could I ask for?
Yeah….I think I’ll take those summer lessons with me as school resumes. The time spent with family, the relaxing hours by the pool, the magic of Disney, the warmth of the sun-soaked Gulf, the inspiration from other teacher-writers, and the feeling of living life at a slightly slower pace, where realizing the moment is great just because you are alive to experience it.