It’s worth making time to find the things that really stir your soul. That’s what makes you feel really alive. You have to say no to other things you’re used to, and do it with all your heart. - Roy T. Bennett
Truth: I don’t really know much about English grammar. I hated diagramming sentences, or even identifying parts of speech in school. It does not stir my soul. I can still play MadLibs without a problem, but if things get much more complicated, forget it. I think I got through those lessons because I have always read a lot, watched a lot of formal TV, like the NBC Nightly News (Brokaw era, baby!) and I could tell what “sounded right.” English teachers are rolling their eyes at me now. (So is my dissertation chair.) Look, I know what subjects and verbs are. In fact, I focus a lot on the subject(s) of sentences that really speak to me. I feel like it helps me get to the heart of the author’s meaning.
So when I read the quote above from author (and wise sage) Roy T. Bennett, I focused on the subjects and the phrases around them (look, I don’t know what to call the other words! See preface above. Also, I frankly don’t care.)
Things you’re used to
Most of what The Teaching Spirit is about is making time and finding a quiet space to figure out what stirs your soul, so that resonated with me. But what really grabbed me was the idea of letting go of things you’re used to. Then, Bennett goes beyond letting go, he suggests saying ‘no,’ which I feel is a stronger stance. When we get used to something, we do not want to let go. We get used to politicians and elect them over and over, even after they’ve checked out. We get used to our route to school each morning, and never go a different way. We get used to the role we play with our parents, and reprise it at each visit even though we are 40 years old. We get used to the worst parts of our work as educators, and stop resisting or figuring out ways to change. When we get used to something, we don’t even question it anymore.
My husband Rob is quoted in a song by a dear friend, Evie Ladin, a talented roots and old time musician based in San Francisco. When Rob was going through a very difficult time in his life, Evie checked in on him and he said, “I’m used to it. Feeling the way I feel.” As in, I’m stuck in this feeling and I’m just used to it now, it’s not going away. Evie, being a poet/artist/songwriter comforted him, but remembered the rhythm of his words and wrote a song about it. And guess what? Rob’s life got better because he pushed against feeling used to the sadness that was plaguing him at the time, and, well, he met me! Feeling used to something bad or something painful, is simply comfortable for so many people. It almost gets easy. Saying no, letting go and seeking change is uncomfortable and forces you into the unknown.
What are you used to that isn’t doing anything good for you anymore? Are you used to always going along with a colleague because it’s just easier? Are you used to being slighted? Are you used to spending all of your free time in the service of others, like your kids, students, partner? Yes, sometimes you have to pick your battles with colleagues, but being slighted and treated like a doormat is not okay. Yes, you want and need quality time with your kids and partner, and you do sometimes need to put in hours after school, but you also need time to yourself doing something that really stirs your soul!
The first part of the quote about making time to find something that stirs your soul is the most exciting part to me. What if you said that you wanted to try new things, then gave yourself time to reflect and listen to your own spirit? A good starting point might be to figure out what brought you joy as a child, and return to it. I don’t feel silly admitting that I recently started roller skating again and absolutely love it. It gets me into a zen state, just going around and around, blood flowing, air in my face. Reminds me of being a kid again - if only the DJ would play Bon Jovi and Debbie Gibson, I would be totally transported to my (Electric) youth! Maybe you’d like roller skating too. Maybe you’d like to start painting again, like my friend Stacy, who is currently posting the loveliest water colors on social media. Maybe you’ll be like Rob and start dating again.
Pushing through complacency is difficult. I know how to help people do that. Through deep listening, asking some good questions, providing opportunities to meditate and learn about your body’s own energy flow, I can help you ease into creative practices that really stir your soul. Check out the courses I have up on The Teaching Spirit, or book a session online. We will have fun together and I know you’ll walk away feeling better about how you work and how you live. And I promise I will NOT bring up interjections, prepositions or syntactic functions in any conversation, ever. (Are those even real things?)