While I enjoy teaching all my classes and each student is indeed a unique pleasure, every once in a while I am fortunate enough to have a class that is so extraordinarily special that I instinctively know I am blessed with a class that I will remember always. Such was the case with the first class I ever taught: 6th grade in 2001; and then again my Brit Lit class in 2007; and finally this year's English Comp class.
I was both thrilled and anxious to begin teaching this college level class. I have always joked that I prepare all my students - even those 6th graders - for college rather than the next subsequent grade - but I really didn't know if I had the ability to truly teach a college course. Some of these students are truly gifted and while I was sure that I could learn from them, I wasn't quite so sure that they could learn from me. Now that we are nearly half way through the second semester I can honestly say that this has been a truly synergistic class and I will miss each of the students greatly when they graduate at the end of May. We have all gelled so well that at this point we look forward to seeing one another twice a week. We can all begin to recognize one another's writing because of the unique voice and because of that, we know one another's strengths and weaknesses. It is a class that truly cares about one another - and takes responsibility for each other's successes.
On Thursday we decided to hold class at a local coffee shop. We are in the midst of group edits where each student reads aloud their essay and the rest of the class offers useful comments. Every single student arrived to this off-site location on time - and the majority of them stayed about twenty minutes after class time was over. They remained focused - despite the constant comings and goings of other patrons, and they voiced a desire to do this again. What an absolute pleasure to teach those who want to learn and how truly blessed I am to have this awesome opportunity.
The Happiness Project and The Gifts of Imperfection and many of the library acquisitions are a result of that reading.
- The Heroine's Bookshelf: Life lessons from Jane Austen to Laura Ingalls Wilder by Erin Blakemore - this book has been reviewed on several bloggers' sites over the past couple of weeks and I was thrilled that my library had a copy for me so quickly.
- The Second Journey: The Road Back to Yourself by Joan Anderson. This books was recommended to me by my sister-in-law because I absolutely adored this author's previous books, most notably, A Year by the Sea.
- Excellent Woman by Barbara Pym (fiction). After reading JoAnn's glowing review of this novel, I absolutely had to reserve a copy for myself. I am unfamiliar with this author, but I hope that I have the opportunity to try her for myself some day soon.
- The Collected Poems of Wendell Berry. I was inspired to select this book for a number of reasons: Serena at Savvy Verse and Wit is hosting a poetry challenge that IF I were participating in challenges this year would certainly be at the top of my list; Carrie at Books and Movies is hosting the Wendell Berry challenge which has been showcased by several of my favorite bloggers; and Liz, my sister-in-law couldn't praise this author enough (a rather convincing recommendation coming from a librarian).
- The Soul of Money by Lynne Twist mentioned in Brene Brown's Gifts of Imperfection. She quoted a passage from the book on scarcity thinking that described me to a T. I thought I might see if this author had any other insights into my own soul.
- Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment by Tal Ben-Shahar. Another book mentioned by Brene and one that I thought might marry well with the Happiness Project.
- On Becoming an Artist: Reinventing Yourself Through Mindful Creativity by Ellen J. Langer I honestly do not remember where I heard of this author/book, but the title is very intriguing to me.
- Finding Your Own North Star: Claiming the Life You were Meant to Live by Martha Beck. Actually Liz recommended another book by this author, the Joy Diet, but after doing a bit of research, I thought that perhaps this book might be a better choice for me right now.
- Quilting for the First Time by Donna Kooler. Well, I don't sew a button on a shirt, but lately I have been drawn to the timeless tradition of quilting. I LOVE the colors and, somewhat surprisingly, the mathematical calculations involved in piecing together a quilt. I am afraid that my perfectionism will get in the way of my enjoyment of this hobby as a relaxed method of artistic expression, but I definitely plan to give it a try.
Last but not least....my personal life this week has focused on my mom. Without going into great detail, she was released from the hospital to hospice care on Tuesday. She is currently off all meds except for those that can keep her comfortable, and she is rather tired and weary from it all.
I think my library book list reflects this journey that I have traveled with Mom these last few weeks. I think I am perhaps trying to learn how to live life more fully by watching my mom die. I have focused so much on doing a good job (whatever job I may be doing at the time: teaching, parenting, etc) and I have poured so much energy into other priorities that I have forgotten - or ignored - Molly.
I am realizing that the old adage is true: life really is too short to spend time on the insignificant. My problem has been, however, that I have confused significant with urgent. Being creative and having fun has always taken a back seat to the more serious aspects of life like earning a living and being responsible for others. I think it is time for the pendulum to swing the other way and for me to learn to prioritize some fun in my life. I think I am afraid, however, that once I start to have fun that I won't want to stop - and all responsibility will go out the window. I suppose I will have to learn to trust myself that won't happen.