Both my daughters (see above) are eloquent writers, not only apples falling close to the tree, but trees in their own right. My teacher-colleague-daughter Talia just posted a reflection on Facebook about summer for teachers, using the brilliant metaphor of the airplane oxygen mask. I proudly share it here. I should also add something she didn’t—that she went to a one-week writer’s workshop in New York to further develop her 5th grade language arts curriculum and spent another week getting her new room at school ready. So it wasn’t all beaches and (sun) cream!
Today was my last day of summer vacation.
You know on airplanes how they say that you have to put on your own life mask before assisting others? Summer is a teacher's life mask, so we can assist others full time the other ten months of the year. I grabbed it eagerly and have been pulling deep breaths all summer long. It’s easy to fall into a trap of feeling guilty about having a two-month summer when so many only get three weeks. To feel guilty about taking all the time for myself- “I should work summer school and make extra money. I should spend a month working on my curriculum. I should use the time to do some overdue house projects...”
I had a summer that nourished me to my core because I took it unabashedly for myself and I am grateful. I am grateful for the chance to travel- to climb warily out of comfort zones, to get lost on purpose: I spent a mapless day wandering the streets of Barcelona, danced until I couldn’t stand anymore at an outdoor music festival on a lake on the Pyrenees, and hiked nine consecutive days in Swedish Lapland. I am grateful for friends who graciously hosted me, opened the door and let me right into their European lives, for such quality time with my chosen family amidst a general friend culture of a brunch here and there.
I am grateful for the opportunity to disentangle my phone from my palm. I am grateful for my tent, which was my home for half the summer and the many paths that gently guided me. I am grateful for time with my family, playing together. And lastly, I’m grateful for the time to read and write regularly, a practice that grounds me emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually. I wrote in my journal every single day and I read ten books. And now, I feel refreshed and ready to assist 23 others. . .
One last inhale of oxygen and a steady reminder to myself, to you, to everyone to grab that mask on the weekends and strap it on tight because getting through the school year should not mean holding your breath.