I Remember November


I am missing a lot this November. I don’t just mean our normal holiday plans being curtailed because of the pandemic. I missing my November school routine. I am in a new position and school this year, as you know, and I find myself missing the routines and traditions of my previous community.

Right around now, my students and I would have been finishing our drama reading of A Christmas Carol. We would have talked about empathy, kindness, self-isolation, social duty, being a part of the world instead of closing ourselves off from it. We would have put our discussions and my admonitions into action by collecting food for local families to give them a hearty Thanksgiving meal when they might not have the means to do so for themselves, students sitting in our very period having sometimes been the recipients of that generosity. It made an impact for my teenage heroes to know that their schoolmates, classmates, a person sitting next to them could either benefit or go without as a direct result of their action or inaction. It was their chance to be Scrooge, either his old self or the new.

Then, next week, right before Thanksgiving, we would all dress up, pack our lunches, and pile on the buses to head into downtown Indianapolis to watch this story brought to magical life on the stage of Indiana Repertory Theatre. It was the official start of the holiday season for many in our school, that trip to the theatre. I got to take my students, many of whom would not have been able to afford it otherwise, to one of the most beautiful theatres in the state to view professional and young actors alike bring to life characters into whom my own students had breathed over the past few weeks as we read the play aloud.

I miss that this year. I miss tearing up as I broke down Marley’s monologue for students, his regret, his remorse, his wish he had done more but was now powerless to do anything at all. I miss hearing the sniffles scattered throughout my classroom upon Tiny Tim’s death and his family’s grief. I miss clapping my hands on my hips with my best Cockney accent and bantering with the student playing Old Joe as one of the washerwomen pawning Scrooge’s belongings after his grim future death.

I miss talking to my students about love, compassion, gratitude, generosity, starting over, doing better, having courage, and being kind.

“But you can still do that!” voices around me cry.

Ostensibly that may be true, but, right now, in the world and schedules in which we live, it feels as though there is no time. No time to stray down these paths of social-emotional encouragement, wellness, and growth. No time–regardless of what we have been told to the contrary–to set aside the academics and teach my students was is true and good and most important in the world. While intentions may be good in telling us that academics can be set aside, that sure is not the way it feels to me as a teacher. The impetus and imperative to produce grades and results feel as heavy and insistent as ever.

I am trying to tie these important values and character practices in to what we are discussing now in my new classroom, when we connect our readings back to our first quarters’ themes of Values and Justice, courage, integrity, and equity. I am trying. I promise you, I am trying.

But it’s hard. The soil of many souls feels frozen, walled off, and protected in these difficult times. We are facing more illness, more death, and even more separation as the times of coming together draw nearer and nearer. It’s hard.

I miss November.

Borrowing a Lion’s Courage


I have never seen myself as a particularly courageous person. I do not willingly rush into new things. I waffle. I drag my feet. I demure in preference of the safety of the Known. Even if I struggle in the Known, I often prefer that to the Unknown Struggle.

I feel timid in these moments. I feel weak and cowardly because I am aware of myself mentally recoiling at the thought of starting over or moving into the new and unknown. I hate that feeling. I hate how frustrating it is–for me and for the loved ones trying to help or encourage me in next steps.

It is days like these when I truly wish that I would find Aslan lying under the massive silver maple in my backyard, physical, tangible, touchable. I wish I could bury my fingers and face in his mane, breathe in the sunshine that scatters from it. I wish I could snuggle between his massive paws, reassured, and hear that gentle rumble of, “Courage, dear heart.” I wish to borrow it, wrap it up in my heart, strap it to my arm.

I want to be courageous. I want to be brave. I want to move forward into the Unknown. I want to be strong and take heart. I know that there is a new chapter awaiting me. I have been asking for it, and I want it. Stepping is scary. But I want to be courageous.

This month, I am going to try to start being so again. Walk with me?

On the Last Day of November


VŒ2

On this last day of November, I am thankful for so much and so many. I know that I will never name everything. But I will say this in particular, dear Reader:

Thank you for your love for my work.
Thank you for your patience with my silence.
Thank you for your generosity in your encouragement.
Thank you for your care.
Thank you for your trust in me when you give me parts of your heart to help hold, even if just for a moment.
Thank you for warm blankets and pillow forts for my soul.
Thank you for sharing my burdens, my joys, my laughs, and my tears.
Thank you for teaching me to hold space for others.
Thank you for reminding me to hold more space center stage for myself.
Thank you for your likes, your comments, and your shares. My words are not big but you make my heart feels so
Thank you for all you have done and all you will do, for who you are and who you will be in days to come.
I thank you, and I love you.