Random thoughts from an animal-loving French prof / mom of three on things she finds beautiful, funny, sad, or strange.

Friday, July 10, 2015

The Art of Showing Up

Not so long ago I had someone offer what I'm sure she thought was "constructive criticism" on my performance at work, which she had found, well, lacking. I truly believe she meant well, but predictably enough, I got hurt, then mad, and by the time I went home, I was beating myself up over what she'd said.

Admittedly, it has not been my best year since entering the college teaching profession. It might even be one of the worst, given that the whole year has felt like a living illustration of Murphy's law. Since my writing coach is always saying "show, don't tell," here are just two examples of what I mean: 

-Lake Cumberland ER, October 2014. 
Yes, that is my daughter and me, each sporting a sling. Shoulder surgery and soccer injury. Oh, and she was dead-legged in an earlier match, hence the knee wrap. 

-My house, February 2015
Some of you may wonder what the big deal is. After all, in the polar North, this hardly constitutes a blizzard. Only problem is, I don't live in the polar North any more. On purpose. This is Kentucky.

This is just a taste. Don't get me started on the HVAC unit, or the water heater, or my son's episodes, or emergency IEP meetings, or my daughter's renal failure, or car problems, or the ACT, or college visits, or... or... or...

So yeah, it's not been my best year of teaching. I have definitely been distracted, and I hate that, most of all for my students, who deserve better. But it's time to grant myself a little grace too, something I'm just now learning to do. After all, it's pretty obvious that most of this stuff was beyond my control. And...in spite of everything, every time it was even remotely possible, I was there. Maybe I wasn't polished or put together, maybe organization became a distant memory, and maybe I was working off plan B or even C or D, but I showed up. I sat down with my students, and one way or another, we got it done.

It is true that we need people to be there in a real and productive way. We need effective teachers and doctors and people with snowplows and villages to help us raise our kids. But sometimes we just need people to be present. They might not know what to do or how to do it, but they muddle through with us anyway. They sit in hospital rooms, offices, restaurants, cars. They are THERE. Which, as it turns out, is almost always enough. So here's to the art of showing up, the one thing all of us can do.

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