Saturday, June 13, 2015

Don't Waste Your Summer

Okay, so I am kind of one of those weird teachers. The ones that don't like it when school is out. Anyone? Anyone...?

I know that rest and breaks from the normal rhythm of school life are necessary, for both students and educators alike. It allows us all to recharge, give our brains time to soak in the past year, veg out for a little bit, and then return ready to take on more. But for me...breaks from school are pretty unsettling times in my calendar year. Not only am I missing my students and our classroom community dearly-- we become such a family, and I'm like a little momma hen puffing my wings out in pride and protection over my kiddos, and then suddenly it's all over, and they're gone-- but I can get intimidated by the wide open spaces that breaks from normal school-life can bring. (...did anyone just start singing the Dixie Chicks? You're welcome.)

You'd think breaks would be the easiest, ones where I'm not bound to a clock and a schedule, where I can go! explore! make! create! do! cook! clean! be a pool rat! (That last one kind of still happens.) But here is what occurs in my brain:

Summer is much time to do so many things! I could write more now...go to the my bible more...journal...write music...brush up on my piano and guitar skills...see my friends...get to know neighbors...spend time with family...learn how to cook different types of meals...and actually cook, at that...go to yoga more...maybe take a new cycling class...long walks in the neighborhood...go to concerts...actually see lots of work for our classroom and our class next year... what comes first? What do I do first? What's most important? WHAT DO I DO NOW?!

I tend to have a mini freak out in my brain, and then I get so worked up over everything I could do, that I end up not doing any of it, because I can't decide what should come first. It's like when we provide children with too much choice. When there are so many options, the thought of picking just one is overwhelming. Which is why I rarely ask my gifted first graders to tell me about their "favorite" anything, because seriously, how can we just pick one favorite food or memory or candy?

Because of all of this, I am determined now to not waste my summer.

At the beginning of the year 2015, I made a "yes and no list for 2015" and wrote down some things that fire me up and things that steal my joy, things I'm wanting and desiring for this year, all with the guiding hand of Jesus. I am really glad that I did that, and I felt that it was a healthy way to start "making life happen," and I still feel very deeply about all that was written. However, I feel like 1) I made a pretty long list of goals, and I did not sort them into short and long-term goals, but instead made them all into year-long goals, which I think has caused me to lose steam. 2) I feel like it's time to revamp it a bit and start fresh, with this blank-slate-of-a-summer in front of me.

Yes List for Summer 2015: (Making these more short-term and attainable!)

1) Daily reading, praying, journaling about the attributes of God and seeing God for who he is. I want to truly see him and time with him as beautiful and precious and something I cannot do without. During the school year, time is scarce and it takes lots of effort to be intentional. Now that I've got my days to fill, this needs to be what fills me.

2) BLOG once a week. I kid you not, I have so many pending posts that just aren't fully written or composed yet. I have made a running list of various topics that are hot and fresh on my mind in regards to life, education and teaching gifted & talented children. I can't wait to get those rolling out. I really intended to do it more while school was still going on, but it was lower on my list of priorities. My faith, my husband, my family (actual and church), and my students have to come first. One post in particular though that I am excited to share is: 9 Things I Wish I'd Done in the General Classroom with GT Kids. It is very personal and reflective, and holds a lot of real-life examples of how I wish I knew then what I know now.

3) I want to exercise 3 times a week. For me, that is an actual goal because it is not an actual reality. I don't have weight goals or strength goals. For me, the first goal is the going-to-go-exercise part. (I also would like to state that I am so thankful yoga is exercise. Hurray for finding a type of exercise that fires me up! There's no need to do some type of exercise out of guilt or because everyone else is doing it. Be you!)

4) Learn 3 new breakfasts, 3 new lunches, and 3 new dinners to cook for us that are easy and healthy for when school gets back in session. I tend to turn to the same recipes that I have memorized, which are yummy and packed with nutrition, but more variety wouldn't hurt.

5) Finish planning 4 PBL's for the first semester. I've got the base work for them started, now it's just time to finish them. I want to get these done before I return to school, because we all know how little time we have for consuming planning like PBLs can bring.

6) I moved classrooms before the school year ended, so I want to have our new classroom set up and loosely designed before going on a family trip in early August. I also want to make a few things for our new learning space, things I've realized would be helpful after my first year in GT education.

7) Spend more time in nature, whether on walks, in the gardens or parks nearby, hiking or kayaking or any water activities, because I really see and experience God when I do.

8) Spend more time with my neighbors and build deeper relationships with them.

No List for Summer 2015:
1) Over-scheduling every single day of my summer to where I have no time for the above yes list, especially #1. I don't want to be so busy making plans that I forget to rest and breathe. (I need to also remember that Jesus is my eternal rest and he is the air I breathe.)

2) Overspending. Okay, this one is weird for me to admit here, but let me explain. When I am home, I tend to be a nester- and I see all the things we could do or get or improve around the house. So then I take on little projects, get that organizational bin here, paint that desk there...and it starts to add up. Not to mention, my laptop and my phone become very easy to access and before I can say "Target," online shopping has sucked me in...and before I know it, I've spent all of our monthly house budget and my personal funds. And that is never fun. I want to be really intentional with how I spend my money this summer. Andrew and I are still tackling our student loans (1 down, 2 to go!) and we are trying to make good financial changes for us.

3) Too much screen time. How many hours of my summer could be sucked away from social media and screen time? Far more than necessary. It's so easy to pull up Twitter and browse blogs. It's so easy to open up Instagram or watch videos from Britain's Got Talent. (Anyone? It's so entertaining.) But I want to really fight against that constant temptation and fill my summer with more than a screen. I want to fill it with things far richer.

Things About Summer that FIRE ME UP!, and are all from the Giver of good gifts:

-pool time, pool days, lounging by, swimming in pools... #proudpoolrat
-the smell of Coppertone sunscreen just screams summer to me, and I love it
-the sun. So many things about the sun. It rises earlier, it sets later. It creates beautiful colors in the sky. It reminds me that Jesus's name is even higher than the rising sun. It shines on my skin and my skin glorifies the sun by changing colors-- it tells of its power and its story. Just like Jesus shines on us, and we glorify him with our life.
-being able to live in cotton Old Navy dresses
-many no makeup, no hair-hassle days...just au natural
-trips, vacations, beaches, water
-concerts in the twilight
-seeing Andrew during his lunch hour
-spending time with stay-at-home mommas or friends during the daytime
-lunch dates with others, because I can!, and because I get to stray from my traditional PBJ sandwich in the summertime

The possibilities that a summer hold are endless, but I don't want that to intimidate me anymore. I am so thankful for summertime and the time I have been given, and don't want to thoughtlessly let it go by.

Here's to not wasting my summer!

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