If 2020-2021 has taught me anything it has most taught me the necessity to relax. With so much happening that none of us were expecting, I learned to value time with those I love, respect and enjoy being around.
I learned that some things I once viewed as necessary may not have been so important. This also helped me to find more balance in my life, with personal life, work life and my spiritual life. When one part overwhelms the others exponentially, the equation of our lives can lose focus.
Spending time doing nothing, alone or with others, is not a waste of time. I have found a lot of calmness, peace and time to think more clearly in those moments. Relaxing is not a bad use of time. It provides us with more time.
Laughing, dancing and talking with friends and/or family are some of the best forms of relaxing that I’ve experienced over this past summer. Finding who you need in life helps us to stay healthy, happy and living the lives we are meant to live. It also helps to keep us accountable.
Relaxing definitely looks different at various times and can be very different for each of us, but it is so crucial to our mental health. While we should all take care of our physical bodies, this past year has taught us so much of the importance of mental health for all of us. No one is one dimensional. We are multifaceted for a reason.
If you need more balance, make it happen. Value yourself. Value others. Make it happen. You may need to start small, or you may be able to drastically change your life immediately, but whatever you do . . . relax.
As a proud citizen of this nation, especially having lived in the NYC metro area during 9/11 and then seeing what occurred at the Capitol in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, I have so many feelings and thoughts.
I am angered that people like those who caused the rioting insurrection were able to even get that close to the Capitol, let alone within it.
I am completely disappointed that law and order wasn’t in place far sooner in a manner that would have prevented what happened.
I am saddened by the deaths and huge amounts of those severely injured.
I am still aghast that those who represent our states on one of the most important days had to fear for their lives and go through all they did.
I am at a loss that in a time when our nation has endured so much and still has so much fear related to COVID-19 that a human who’s supposed to lead this nation that stands for democracy has instilled such additional levels of fear on top of the flames of all of his insane rhetoric on a worldwide stage.
While this nation won’t ever forget the act of insurrection on January 6, 2021, I will also fondly remember . . .
The power of people who worked together for the better good.
The day when Georgia’s senatorial race made major history on Tuesday, January 5, 2021.
Reverend Raphael Warnock became Georgia’s first African American senator who is the pastor of the church founded by Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rev. Martin Luther King Sr.
Jon Ossoff became Georgia’s first Jewish person elected as senator.
Together they changed a strong red state with the help of many people of that state to a blue one.
When our nation’s government officials didn’t fail democracy on January 6th, to make sure that law and order, that the ways of our democracy would prevail before they left the building that hours before had brought many of them terror.
When social media (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) took away the current president’s ability to worsen an already terrible barrage towards violence, at least through those mediums.
When Twitter stated on January 8, 2021 would permanently ban this president from ever having an account again. Perhaps this will lead to others getting the same ban due to the extreme harm done against humanity.
I will also remember discussing what occurred at the Capitol on January 7th with my middle school students, because what they knew, how they thought and felt about the insurrection and how democracy still prevailed afterwards, instilled in me an even deeper hope in he future of our nation.
I know that generations caused a lot of harm in our nation, but along those paths, we have begun seeing tremendous amounts of evidence that the tide is turning and a better sun rising in more ways than one.
I choose to not let all of the horrific acts reign stronger, but rather be a stark contrast to what all the good that is rising up in phenomenal ways towards a more perfect nation. No land is perfect, but I can see a better one across the horizon.
Today was a GREAT day as a teacher. I had class discussions with groups in every hour of my day today about what happened yesterday at the Capitol. I allowed those who wanted to discuss or learn through the discussion to stay with me in the main part. The others who wanted to get work done were allowed to go to their own breakout sessions.
These 12-14 year olds continue to inspire me about what the younger generation will do to bring about more good into the world. They were articulate and able to explain with facts and reasoning. They are so very aware of far more and are not only thinking deeply about all they see, hear and witness. The passion in their voices and faces was something you could feel inside.
Some teared up openly, being moved by what they were feeling and seeing, but trusting us all to witness it. Middle school kids. I saw people understanding one another. I saw people being real. I saw students who joined with the intent simply to watch and listen, and then join the conversation. When I talked with them about the importance of them continuing talks like this with their families, friends and whoever they can, they made it clear to me that they would.
They are so clearly disappointed in so many adults who exist now and in years past who refused to see so much of the wrongs that have been done and are still doing. They want and plan to do better. To hear how many have already chosen to get involved with other causes on behalf of those like them and those not like them, because they’re human beings and not because they were made to is POWERFUL!!!
Then, in one of my final hours of the day, as I explained what they could discuss with me today if they desired, one of my middle school boys who is normally quite shy said the most amazing thing to me in the chat of our remote learning forum. He said, “I really appreciate how you always create such a safe environment for us. Thank you.” I told him how much that meant to me and asked, “Are you able to explain what you mean by that?”
Then he answered the best response. He said, “Well, you understand us middle school kids. We feel awkward all the time. I don’t even know how to really explain, because you know, it’s awkward. All I know is that you make us all feel less awkward.”
To top it off, this very shy boy then chose to join the conversation and keep his camera on. He didn’t speak, but his face spoke volumes.
THIS IS WHY I ABSOLUTELY LOVE TEACHING, in spite of this horrible year. For my students allowing me in like they do, whether in remote or in hybrid while also going through so much, inspires me to pick myself up and keep doing what I do.
What we educators do each day, in and outside of school, matters to so many generations. That’s a gift I will never take for granted, and knowing how many of my former students over these past 24 years have gotten in touch with me and keep me in their world, reminds me to never forget my WHY. When yesterday one of my early years of teaching middle school kids shared a post of how she feels as a black woman who is now a doctor making a difference in her own right, I told her how very proud I am of her. Even so many years later, they still appreciate knowing that their educators still care about them.
The more humane we can make this world, no matter what we do, is what we all should aspire to do. The kids are counting on us.
So many are looking for 2021 to help us heal from what’s happened in 2020. Deaths of loved ones. Isolation. Lockdowns. Normal education having so many shifts. Fears in various forms. Faith and hope shaken up. Places shut down. Shortages and hoarding. Events cancelled. Places of worship shutting doors for weeks and months on end. Political unrest in ways never seen before. Racism and prejudices becoming harder to ignore. Loss of jobs, food, homes, relationships, and the list goes on and on.
I get it. I have faced a lot of that myself, as I’m sure you have, too.
There’s not a single human who can rescue us. God does all He can for us, yet we humans don’t make it easy. We never have.
We want life to get back to normal, while much of what was normal needed changing. Normal doesn’t exist.
We want masks gone. Not seeing full faces is not in our nature.
We want to hug and touch others. Humans crave connections.
We want to be there for our loved ones in the hospital or in adult care facilities. Going through hard times alone is not what we were meant to endure.
We want to gather with others for weddings, births, funerals and celebrations. Life milestones are important.
We want some sense of predictability we can rely on, after all of this. Yet, when was life ever predictable?
2021 will not erase the past and it will not entirely fix the world. However, each of us can do our parts and be the change this nation and world needs, be truly selfless and the best versions of who we each are meant to be in the time we have on this planet.
We can each make the differences that are needed, making life easier for all. Each of us have purpose and it is those purposes within us that are parts of so many solutions. There is much to be changed, no doubt.
However, if we truly consider our fellow humans and other living creatures that inhabit the land, sea and skies, as well as the planet itself and our Creator, life in 2021 can be the turning point that can finally get us all on the right path.
By truly choosing to see others as humans who have their own burdens, we can have more compassion.
By truly listening to understand, rather than to have our say, we can have more empathy.
By giving of the resources we have to those in need, we can heal.
By trusting those who have proven themselves worthy and by giving the benefit of the doubt to others till shown otherwise, we can have more respect for others.
By seeking truth and not just trying to confirm our own conceptions, we can have better discernment.
By doing all we can, by valuing the lives of other, we can have more unity.
While we head into 2021 in a matter of hours, reflect on what you have learned during this past year. Reflect on the good moments, because they also happened even if some were different than prior years, and learn from the bad ones.
While no year can fix so much, we can shift the trajectory too many of us have been on and begin moving into brighter days, weeks, months and years. We can leave a better legacy for those who come after us, rather than leaving behind more heartache.
May we all see the pandemic end or at least lessen to a huge degree soon.
May we give, love, laugh, and enjoy one another more than ever before.
Let’s make 2021 the year we all begin to heal and help others to heal, because we seek to make our lives and those all around us the best examples of ourselves that we all need. When we are each on the other side of Heaven, may we truly do so knowing that we were “good and faithful servants” to all.
Healing comes in many ways. Seek and you shall find.