Emotional Clutter

The art of letting go.  I can’t seem to master it.

It’s not that I don’t want to let go.  I absolutely do.  After all, who in her right mind would want to hold on to every word, event, situation, and person that has caused her pain, sadness, frustration, anger, and self-doubt?

But I do hold on.

Today has been a particularly difficult day for me.  Part of it is because it is the day before I am going back to work, for the first time this school year.  I am feeling the same nervousness I feel at the end of August on a “regular” school year.  No matter how many years I have been teaching – this month it’s 17 – there’s still that feeling of butterflies in my stomach with every new year.  It’s difficult to let go of that nervousness.  I know it will be wonderful when I meet my students, and some of my nervousness disappeared last week when I saw some of my former students who were very glad to see me.  However, there are other things that I cannot let go of and which are completely out of my control.  Learning to let go of what other people – other adults – think of me is something I have been trying to do for YEARS, and, no matter how far I think I have come, I end up feeling self-doubt, confusion, and frustration, and I end up getting trapped in the middle of that emotional clutter.

Today has also been difficult because I am trying to let go of friendships that I can’t seem to resuscitate, no matter how hard I try.  Here’s the thing about me:  Friendships are high on my list of priorities and always have been.  Making time for friends is important to me, and I will do anything for my friends.  So, when someone decides that there’s no longer any point in having a friendship, I can’t seem to let it be and let it go.  I worry about what I have done, what I have said, what I haven’t done, what I haven’t said, and on, and on, and on…until I drive myself crazy.  I wonder how I can change this person’s mind, and if we’ll ever be friends again…someday.  There are times when I think I am okay with letting go, but then, once again, I end up feeling smothered by all of the emotions I am experiencing and I can’t clear that emotional clutter.

Though letting go would most certainly make my life easier and make me happier, I just can’t seem to get a handle on it.  And, quite honestly, I’m not sure it’s a “Shannon thing”.  I guess time will tell.

Tomorrow will hopefully be a less emotional day for me, or at least a day with more positive emotions than negative.  I can handle that kind of emotional clutter any day.


Warming My Heart

There really is very little I can think of that could warm my heart more than a genuine smile on the face of a child.

Several years ago, I wrote and self-published three children’s books.  The purpose was to do something creative that I had wanted to do for a long time, and to have a material example of following your dreams and accomplishing a goal for my kids to hold in their hands.  Upon writing them, finding talented illustrators (who would generously work for free!), and self-publishing, they went on a shelf, occasionally to be read to my kids and, once, to be read to my son’s second grade class.

Time slipped by, I went back to work, life got busy, my health became an issue, and I had all but forgotten the books placed on our bookshelf in the living room.  Until a random encounter on the street with one of my illustrators, Michelle Z (she illustrated book #2 – Sammy’s Rainy Day – And How It Went Away).

I had heard that she had been in my daughter’s first grade class to do some art lessons with them, and so when I ran into her, and after we had chatted about what was going on in our lives, it dawned on the both of us that we could inquire about going into that class to read our book and do an art lesson with the students connected to it.  Why not?  Wouldn’t it be fun?  we thought.  And, since my daughter’s afternoon teacher was one of my former students, I had no qualms about contacting her immediately and asking.  Her answer was “Of course!”  Michelle and I were excited about being able to share our book with some sweet six and seven year olds.

I decided to contact another friend who works at a school in a nearby town, just to see if there might be another group who would be interested in us stopping by.  To my surprise and to my friend’s credit, she immediately found 5 teachers at her school, of grades 1 and 2, who would love for us to visit and share Sammy’s Rainy Day.

I honestly couldn’t have imagined a more satisfying experience.  It left me with such a feeling of gratitude.  The kids were so attentive and so enthusiastic the entire time we were there with them, and we received so many “thank you”s and hugs that it was overwhelming.  How lucky were we to have not only gotten the chance to share Sammy’s Rainy Day with the kids, but to also see their happiness and excitement?  One class even wanted us to come visit them again at the end of the day so they could share an additional activity they did with the book:  a writing activity about their favourite part(s). They did a wonderful job too!

The smiles on the faces of the first and second graders we visited were the greatest gifts I think I could have ever received.  The best part was one of those smiles was my daughter’s.