Last year, my word was "lightening", and all year long I dedicated my energy to lightening the work world around me through my job as a literacy support specialist. I spent my year training teacher teams, supporting teachers and administrators, serving students in my district, designing curriculum, following leaders. To borrow a quote, It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. The model was not working. Too much of my brain space was scattered in small pieces across too many challenges that could not and would not be lightened by my efforts. No. Matter. How. Hard. I. Tried.
Fast forward to today. This morning I went out for a long walk. I could not run because my right knee is not feeling great and I'm wary of seriously injuring it. So, there I was, walking at a fast pace (no knee pain) and feeling surprisingly joyful. Not being able to run usually irritates me. I am a slow jogger, but I am dedicated to and dependent on those amazing endorphins that cheer the rest of my day after a morning run. I can count on one hand the number of runs in my life that have been easy. I started running late in life, and it usually feels less of a run and more of a workout. That's fine!! I love the sweaty, accomplished feeling that fills me up after my version of a run. Slow or not. Jog or run. 4 miles per hour or 5. Never matters. As long as the action was running and not walking.
So, why was I feeling so joyful this morning?
I have realized that the effort that is required during my runs, those workouts, taps into my cognitive energy as well. In other words, when I'm running, I'm so focused on breath, legs, distance, time, etc., that I don't have the capacity to think, wonder, ponder, plan,...enjoy. Kicking back my run to a fast walk has given me the brain space to think, wonder, ponder, plan,...enjoy the world around me as I go. I can watch the sun color the sky behind clouds as it rises. I can slow dow so as not to scare the deer or rabbits hanging out by the trails. I can listen for the eagle's cry and search the treetops for a glimpse. Walking gives me the space to fill up my soul with joy.
The same joy is present now everyday when I go to work. Kicking back to the classroom has given me the brain space, and heart space, to love what I do again. My days are filled with all the space I need to feel joy - the joy of teaching my twenty-one students, the joy of working with a brilliant and generous team, the joy of following leaders with vision who care about me, the joy of being in a community full of support and kindness. Teaching gives me the space to fill up my soul with joy.
What might have seemed like a step back has proved to be a blessed leap forward in my journey - as an educator and as a human being. I will choose joy this year. In everything I do. And I know that choosing joy is not always easy or intuitive depending on the circumstances. But, when soul recognizes passion, and passion finds expression, and brain and heart space both exist for passionate expression to build and grow, joy abounds.
Happy New Year! May you find joy in all that you do in 2020!