Monday, January 9, 2012

When Life Takes Over

I'm not a person who makes New Year's Resolutions because I have the bad habit of making self-improvement lists nearly every week and then losing the list, so making a list for the new year seems redundant and futile.  I have drawn some conclusions about my life though after looking at the last time I blogged (September 11) . . . I can't seem to handle a blog and my job at the same time.  Hmmm.

Some reflections since September 11th . . .

It's been a really tough semester.  

That's about all I can come up with.  We lost so many people to layoffs at my school that it's no longer possible to just do my job without adding in tasks that use to fall to others.  That means longer days and more frustration because I can't seem to do anything well.  I knew it was going to be a tough semester so I keeping to my yearly tradition, I bought myself a notebook in September.  This notebook becomes my companion and my memory throughout the day and every once in a while, the recipient of one of those self-improvement lists.  During the day, I jot down names and details of children that I see along with requests made by colleagues.  This year, I bought one with a message that I thought would help me get through what I knew was going to be a challenging year.  The front of my notebook says "Keep Calm and Carry On."  My cute little red notebook has mastered its purpose because I've stayed surprisingly calm, I'm still carrying on, and I can tell you exactly what I dealt with on whatever day you ask me about.  I have one lingering feeling of non-calmness though - a feeling of lower standards.  The lowered standards are there because I've been forced to lower my expectations for how much is humanly possible to get done each day.  They loom over me each day and I seem to have accepted them with very little fight.  Perhaps that's the magic of learning to "carry on."  learning that sometimes, simply carrying on is enough.  That's a hard one for me to swallow.

There's a story behind "Keep Calm and Carry On" that you probably already know, but in case you don't, I'll share.  After the outbreak of World War II, the British Government commissioned an agency to create morale boosting posters that would be on display to help citizens throughout the difficult days that were sure to be ahead of the country.  Two of three posters that were created were posted throughout Britain but the third, "Keep Calm and Carry On," was never used.  It was only to be used if Britain was invaded by Germany.  When this didn't happen, most of the posters were destroyed.  A bookseller found a copy years later and the poster is now reprinted on mugs, tee-shirts, iPhone covers, and on the cover of my memo book.

Simplistic but full of wisdom when you can't seem to handle all that life throws at you.  My joke to people when they see my book is that it is my new counseling program.  When I am in the midst of things and some drama comes my way, I pick my book up, show it to the student(s), and then I go on to the next issue that's in my face.  Of course I haven't done that, but many students have noticed it and asked about it's meaning.  The best answer I've come up with so far . . .

"Don't let outside circumstances get you so agitated and excited that you can't put one foot in front of the other and keep moving forward.  And then move with serenity and peace, knowing that you're doing all you can at the moment."

That's my version of the poster and I'm trying to stay in that thought.  Not rocket science, but sometimes the simplest things are overlooked.

I certainly can't end this blog on too serious of a note, especially since it's the first in four months.  So I have to end with another little piece of advice. . .

 . . . If you find that it is just not possible to "Keep Calm and Carry on," try to "Keep Calm and Carry on Hooping."  Being a child of the 50s and 60s, I know that this works when all else fails!