During the first week of the new semester, I had my students pick a "Word of the Year" and write about how that word represents their aspirations. (Here's mine.) They came up with great words: sacrifice... creative... fearless... inchoate (no, really).
This morning, I had them journal about how they're doing so far. I thought I'd do the same.
It's actually a good time to check in. My word is "equanimity" and it's been a stressful week. Monday felt like a Thursday and the couple of days since have just dragged. My students are uncharacteristically sluggish and unresponsive. I'm on-edge and distracted. I think it's because we all know Chinese New Year break is right around the corner.
January was stressful as a whole, too. I took a quick trip to the Philippines to see my ailing grandma, which was wonderful but exhausting. I have an ongoing travel conundrum involving a whole mess of logistics that make my head and stomach hurt. I made a last-minute decision to do some freelance reporting, which prompted my friend to ask: "So, how's the equanimity going?".
(You know what's funny, though? The one time I really lost it — my cool, that is — is when I found out we didn't have enough eggs to make dutch babies for brunch. I don't know why, but that totally stressed me out.)
All that to say, I give myself a B for equanimity so far. Majorly "losing it" just once isn't so bad, right? But I have gotten snippy other times (one involved a tiff with Anna before school started — so not cool). I'm wondering now if my students' listlessness would've bothered me less today if I weren't feeling so blah myself.
There's definitely room for improvement.
And there's definitely room for grace.
I meet with a group of 8th grade girls once a month as part of our chapel program here. Yesterday, we were talking about good decisions and why it's important to stand fast and resist doing harmful things (like underage drinking) even when there is peer pressure. It's really important to me that they know following the rules and "being good" is for their protection but has nothing to do with their value as human beings. I told them my job — and our job as a community — is to be here in the event that each of us makes a bad decision or have a hard day.
The times when equanimity has felt out of my grasp, my community has saved the day.
Today I tweeted out a cry for help between classes ("Crappy day. Need caffeine. And chocolate. Or cake. Or... oooh... poutine.") and my friend C showed up in my classroom five minutes later, armed with a cakey chocolate and coffee treat.
I then spent my lunch break sitting at her desk, chatting and feeling myself cheer up by the minute.
I am so, so thankful I have friends who sit and listen to me vent when I'm having a bad day. (I'm especially thankful for friends at work.) I'm grateful my lack of equanimity is tempered by the equanimity of my friends.