First, an announcement: The Random.org generator selected Dani as the winner of Barbara Barth’s The Unfaithful Widow. Congrats, Dani! Pls send me your snail mail: mjcwriter”at”Comcast”dot”net. Thanks to all who visited and commented and to Barbara for her time 🙂
And onto Help for Hump Day…
I need to take this advice today. I needed it yesterday. Maybe because I sit in the watery sign of Scorpio, I FEEL everyone and everything around me with undeniable intensity. This comes in handy when my intuitive outlook can help others over a hump, or serve as a warning against red flags, or even kick motivation into high gear to get things done. I’m good at “reading” people. However, I tend to “read” a bit too much into things. Facial expressions, side remarks, even things unsaid dig deeply into my psyche. I take it all in. And now, I’m full to capacity and busting at the seams. Overfilled. Overwhelmed.
Teaching for the past two years has brought me such joy, motivation and satisfaction knowing that I’m inspiring young writers in their craft. Last night I had a difficult class. Students were getting off topic, talking over one another, yet not offering much feedback for our readers. To change things up, I held a mini contest: each student was to share their best writing tip for finding ideas or getting over the “block.” After voting for our favorite tip, the winner would get a small prize. Note to self: Do. Not. Hold. Contests. Instead of learning from each other, this turned into a match of cheat the system and vote for self to win the prize. The prize, which some thought would be $50 – No. OK, “$49?” “A new journal off the shelves!” “A free Starbucks drink!” Err. Too much shouting, not enough listening. And little to no gratitude for a “small” prize. After 20 minutes spent of our 60 minute class, two winners tied and selected their prizes from a bag of new Scholastic chapter books, highlighters, writers’ pins and such. Not sure anyone took these fab. ideas to heart. It’s painful when ideas float up and away from your students. It’s discouraging when an exercise flops. Lesson learned. Chalk one up for the teacher being “taught.”
Though, I somehow internalized this whole challenging night as a demerit to my teaching skills. What teaching skills? I asked myself as I browsed the bookstore after class. Graduate gift tables filled with positive books for teachers! (Who am I kidding?) Inspirational stories for Teachers! (I’m not a “real” teacher) Change the world, Teachers! (sigh) Quotes and encouragement for teachers! (ugh) Down. I. Go. Slippery slope into the feeling-sorry-for-self valley.
Writing is supposed to rejuvenate. Teaching is supposed to be light and fun and “unschoolish.” That was my original intent for my writing workshops, anyway. But, me being passionate and intense was transformed to serious and uptight. I don’t like uptight. Uptight is scowling, close-minded, slapping-ruler-at-the-ready (no, I would never strike anyone with a ruler, it’s old school imagery people, go with me on this.)
Ok. Here I am, resembling an overstuffed plush toy busting at the seams, uptight old biddy, with a feverish head ready to pop off.
How do I R-E-L-A-X? How do I Chill out?
Well, I blew up. Head popped. Tears flowed. Makeup ran. I blubbered and babbled to my husband, who listened patiently. And then he reminded me:
You just had a bad day
It’s been raining and gloomy outside; you had a long commute home from work and then went to teach.
You love teaching – you’ve been doing it successfully for two years.
Think of all the kids you’ve already inspired!
And, then, “Take a break, Mar. Maybe announce that next month will be your last free workshop so you can work on your novel.”
Huh. Can I do that? Do I want to do that?
I’m not sure yet. I do know the morning after a breakdown feels like I’m nursing a bad hangover. Though writing about it helps. And detaching myself by looking to non-teaching, non-writing tasks to keep my hands and mind busy. And breathing. And smiling. Just “chillin’ out.”
Want to witness more of my insane breakdowns? (Kind of like watching Jerry Springer to make yourself feel better!) Subscribe to this blog and get a jolt in your inbox every time a post pops up. C’mon, you know you want to…