When the new year rang in, I chose a mantra or theme to keep in mind as 2020 unfolded. "Embrace the chaos and choose joy!" Hell, I even crafted a little sign to proudly display these words in my home as a visual reminder. These words were a seemingly perfect fit. My life has always been at least a little chaotic. I don't think I've ever known it to be otherwise.
Are you one of those people who is content at all times? Does everything seem to work out perfectly in your favor? If so, lucky you! I have never been that person. And try as I might, I know I never will be. Admittedly, there were times in my life I felt there was a "dark cloud" hovering above. But most of the time, I have a deep knowing that every challenge I've ever faced has made me all the wiser. I refuse to let chaos interrupt my intentions of living life in a positive, upbeat way.
When the pandemic hit, I was in shock like most of you. I couldn't possibly wrap my head around the idea that it was going to last for months on end or maybe even longer. I am an elementary school teacher. We were told to go home and not to report back until further notice. Days turned into weeks. Weeks turned into months. Only a few of my public Pre-K students were showing up for "remote" learning. The extra time quarantined at home turned out to be a blessing in disguise for me. I had just started writing my book in January. So when March rolled around and the world as we know it came to a screeching halt, I found myself getting grounded and retreating within. My deepest thoughts began pouring out onto the pages and I was finally stringing words that would become chapters.
I probably should have felt guilty about the time that was granted to me. But I didn't. And I still don't. I am a firm believer that there is a lesson to be learned for all of us during these unprecedented times. I knew with certainty I was going to make the most of this forced time at home. I knew with certainty the Universe was telling me it was time to share my journey with the world. I joined writing groups and watched webinars to ignite my new path as an aspiring author. This would likely have never happened if the pandemic didn't grant me the much needed time for this level of self exploration.
I also knew many others weren't feeling the same level of gratitude that had taken over my life. I had close friends and family members who lost their jobs or means of income during the onset of the pandemic. Friends who are business owners were forced to close their doors. People all around the globe were dealing with sick or dying loved ones. Surely, they were not experiencing the "silver lining" as I was.
While my bonus time at home was appreciated and productive, I knew it would eventually have to come to an end. (Part of the reason I was hell bent on making every moment of it count!) You would think that time would pass slowly while stuck at home. But it was just the opposite for me. Days flew by and before I knew it summer was coming to an end. This meant it was time for "Back to School." It was time for me to personally experience the Covid-Coaster.
For the first time in months, anxiety showed back up in my life. How will we do this? What will it look like? What if a student gets sick? What if I get sick? Questions that had plagued front line workers months earlier were now hurdles that we in education had to face. It is difficult to see the road ahead when there is no experience or expertise to guide you forward. School districts everywhere were charged with the task of coming up with safe and effective plans to return to learning.
My district opted to offer a remote and hybrid option. I knew I desperately needed to return to teaching children in person for my own well being. As much as I used my time at home to my advantage, I was ready to go back to work on a daily basis. I personally thrive on routine and interaction with others.
On the morning of September 2nd, life as I knew it changed once again. It was my turn to feel the wrath of the dreaded corona virus. The superintendent had called my team in to tell us there would be no Pre-K program in the public school sector due to budget cuts from the pandemic. This would leave us teachers "displaced." However, the district coincidentally had some classroom vacancies so I was placed in a third grade at a different school building. I was to pack up and relocate my belongings. Not the way I had hoped to start my 22nd year of teaching. School was set to start remotely the following week and I was trying hard to swallow the pill of my new reality. I should mention, I consider myself a primary teacher. Working with our youngest students is where I find I am at my best. Still, I had no choice in the matter. I began studying the third grade curriculum. Something I had never laid eyes on before.
Just two weeks later, after wrapping my head around all things third grade, I was informed there would be a vacancy in yet another building teaching second grade. A much better fit for me since I have taught this grade level before. Thankfully my seniority in the district landed me the position. There I was, three weeks into September, and packing my belongings yet again. All of these changes and uncertainties combined with the new health regulations and guidelines made for a less than desirable start to the year for me.
I could be angry. I could be disappointed. And while I felt those emotions for a hot minute, I am not. Every single one of us will have our own story to tell of what happened to us during the pandemic. It will be our version of history. I am a firm believer that the Universe has my back in all situations. That there is a plan bigger than the one I can imagine. When we are uncomfortable, we learn things about ourselves while gaining necessary wisdom. (Ask me how I know!)
My current predicament reminds me of one one of my favorite quotes...
Nothing ever goes away until it teaches us what we need to know.
Sometimes that means we must do hard things. I can and will survive this... just like all the other obstacles life has presented me with. And you will too!
What challenges or hurdles have you had to face due to the pandemic? What blessings have come from it? If you look close enough, you'll see that you have silver linings in the discomfort as well. How will you retell this piece of history in years to come?