Sunday, February 13, 2011

TSS - 2.13.11

We are finally beginning to thaw from the Blizzard 2011.  It was 45 degrees and sunny on Saturday and it had been so long since we had experienced temperatures above freezing that it felt like a summer holiday.  While I wasn't quite as radical as some who wore shorts and flip flops in the slush, I did shed my coat and enjoy the warmth of the bright sunshine.  We are actually supposed to hit 60 degrees on Wednesday - a far cry from the -15 degrees we suffered a week ago.

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.

Due to Mom's continued health issues (see below) personal reading has once again taken a back seat this week.  As I sit here and stare at my library pile - I am apparently hungry for non-fiction material.  I continue to read a little bit each week of The Happiness Project and The Gifts of Imperfection and many of the library acquisitions are a result of that reading.

Last but not 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.


  1. Oh, my thoughts are with you on this journey.

    My mom died almost three years ago, after "fading" for awhile. She was fortunate to have hospice care in her own home, with caregivers. She was 93 when she died, so we all clung to that thought, knowing she'd had a long and good life.

    Your book stack does sound like quite a journey all on its own.

    As for fun....since my "official" retirement five years ago (I retired from one 27-year career to then work another three years in a similar capacity), I have really focused on fun. For me, that's writing, blogging, and reading.

    It is sort of "work," in that I'm trying to finish another novel and I'm "networking." But it's so much fun that it doesn't seem like work.

    And I've managed to do the things I need to it is possible. Hope you try it, and do not wait until you "retire."

    Here's my SUNDAY SALON

  2. Here's hoping a little warmth hits your week! We're supposed to be in the 60s and 70s this week, too, and I couldn't be happier.

    Molly, my heart is going out to you and your family. I don't think I realized that your mother would be taken off all medications but I'll be thinking about you.

    You make such a strong point about significant and urgent and at 29 I have trouble confusing the two as well. How does one go about changing a mindset that has been set in place for years? Baby steps, I guess...

  3. My thoughts and prayers are with you as you care for your mother, Molly. Confusing the significant with the urgent is a problem for many of us.

  4. This post pretty much just makes me want to give you a big hug, Molly. I'm sorry to hear about your mom and I'll be thinking about you both.

    In terms of your borrowed books - I'm so glad to see The Heroine's Bookshelf on there. I think it's a perfect read for stressful times. I have already bought the two books in there that I hadn't already owned and can't wait to get reading them, too.

  5. I think that when you are trying to find balance in your life the pendulum swings wildly for awhile, but eventually finds its comfortable spot in the middle. My thoughts are with you. :)

  6. Molly, I can completely follow your reasoning in your personal section of this post. I can only tell from my very own experience that your responsibility WILL NOT fly out the window. I don't know you in person, only your thoughts that you put down so clearly in this space, and from those I think you're just not the woman to be irresponsible. My own experience, however, is that I developed guilt (even Brene Brown couldn't change that) and that is very hard to overcome. I haven't been successful in that yet, and I'm trying to figure out why there is so much feeling of guilt on my side. The reasonable voice says that this is ridiculous, but it is often silenced by other voices that I still can't quite name. It's a journey...

  7. I hope and pray that this is the move that your mom needs. Watching your parents age is so difficult. My thoughts are with you and your family.

  8. Molly, you have my thoughts and prayers as well...I'm sure that your mom cherishes being able to spend her last days with you.

    I do agree with you that we each have to take time for ourselves. We can only be what we are to others if we remember that our own souls and selves have to be nourished as well.

  9. Ah, Molly, what a week and journey you have had, and will continue to travel on. All you can do is what you think is right, the best that you can, but always be sure to tend to yourself as well. Not always easy. My best to you in the week ahead.

  10. Your last paragraph moved me to tears...everything you wrote is so true. It's so hard to make time for ourselves. I think society makes demands on moms and women in general.They're to be the caretaker of all with no one to take care of them. My heart goes out to you and especially during this trying time with your mother.


  11. I can't even imagine the difficult journey you are taking right now. My prayers are with you as you spend these days with your mom.

    On a side note, I'm glad you picked up the Berry poems- he really is wonderful. :)

  12. I'm glad you are blessed with such a wonderful and amazing class. I'm sure that is a true gift.

    I'm sorry about what you've been experiencing with your mom. It sounds like they are just trying to keep her comfortable and let her die with dignity and comfort. I'm sure watching her experience this brings home just how short life can be ... if we don't make time for fun, we might miss the opportunity. I'm sure you are responsible enough that you won't run off and forget everything just to pursue fun. But please treat yourself!!! Hugs to you during this difficult time.

  13. Molly, glad to hear our classes are going well.

    I hope that u enjoy Finding Your Own North Star (I liked it), and I loved what you said about:

    "I am realizing that the old adage is true: life really is too short to spend time on the insignificant." ---- I think about that all of the time am find I will no longer finish an inferior book, as a result, or do anything that I really don't want to do, simply because someone thinks I should.

    Happy Valentine's Day Molly, and have a great week.

  14. Someone recommended the Martha Beck books to me. She's funny and she definitely knows her stuff, however I was already so well versed in coaching that I learned nothing new. You've been reading many books in a similar vein; it will be interesting to see what you think of Martha. She's quite brilliant.

  15. I'm so sorry about your mom. I'll keep you in my thoughts.

    When it comes to having fun, take it. Balance is important and I'm sure you'll figure out a way to balance your happiness with your responsibilities.

    Take care of yourself.

  16. I'm sorry to hear about your mom's health troubles.

    I do think it's important to take time for yourself, and to have some fun. I'm sure you'll do fine with balancing that.

    I'm glad to see that you have such an awesome class to teach. :)

  17. We'll be praying for you, your mom and your family. It's such a difficult time to go through. Your mother is lucky to have you.

    I'm sure you will find your "balance" with adding some fun to life. You are absolutely right about priorities and focusing on what really matters.

    God Bless!

  18. I will keep you and your family in my prayers Molly. Watching a loved one go through the process of dying is a life altering as well as affirming event. You are right about every minute counting. I have a good friend of mine dying from brain cancer right now and her journey has put a lot of things into perspective for me.

  19. Oh, Molly, you are so inspiring - and this post made me cry, too. My heart is with you on your journey. I share aspects of this journey with you, that sense of loss of self in fulfillment of things that seemed more practical and realistic and expected. And that question - what will happen if I do give myself fully to this expansion and focus of self? I'm trusting that my world will expand with me.

    I loved your list of books - I've read Martha Beck's book and really enjoyed it, and will be adding many of the ones you've listed to my own TBR. I enjoyed A Year By the Sea very much, so will definitely be looking out for The Second Journey.

    And as always, reading about your teaching, I find in myself a wish that I'd had a teacher like you in my life. You are truly gifted as a teacher - the passion and enjoyment you get from teaching is so apparent in all your posts. Your students are very lucky indeed.

  20. Oh Molly, I'm sorry about your mother. Spend as much time as you can with her, the books and everything else will still be there afterwards. That's my thinking, after watching a friend die two years ago, having another co-worker discover a life-changing health-issue two weeks ago,and having emergency surgery myself a few years ago. Be good to yourself at this time, Molly, and even while you see your mother when you can, take some time for you too.

    Maybe, you've done your 'duty', and it's time for you to expand creatively and play.

    I'm so sorry though, and send you lots of caring thoughts and hugs.

  21. Molly, reading your posts it really shines through how wonderful a teacher you must be. I would have loved to be in a class like the one you describe.

    And I'm so sorry to hear about your Mom. My mother passed several years ago after a brief but painful bout with cancer and spent time in a palliative care unit. The time with your Mom is precious indeed. I will keep you in my prayers.

  22. Hugs Molly! I love your list and will likely refer to it. LOVED hearing about how special your class is this year (and marveling at how you were able to conduct it at a coffee shop???)
    I must say that I doubt you will need to worry about the FUN taking over if you were to choose more of it. Actually, you might expect to appreciate the choices of responsibility and see the joys in it as you balance the balance, so to say. I currently am gaining an appreciation for work and other 'chores' as I choose them rather than have to do them and also really analyze the joys that come from laying in the sun, having time to read, etc that I get to enjoy because of my blessed circumstances.
    Hugs for your mom, too. Hugs hugs hugs.


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