Today, when I got home from work, I had the pleasure of using my favorite feature of my new home. Today was a long day. I work in the school system again, and while I love it, and the school I’m in is fantastic with warm, inviting teachers, great administration and kids with great attitudes, I always feel like I am judged for any free time I take. Those who work in the school system know how valuable free time is. With less and less money going to the education system these days, teachers are asked to step up more and more with their expectations during the day. Right now most teachers and school staff I know rarely get a minute alone. They are teaching the kids, at recess with the kids, at lunch with the kids, handing most of the kids off to their parents, but then staying late for activities. After that they plan for the next day. Even though my graduate schooling and my license qualify me for much more complicated activities, one of the best things I can do for a teacher is to be in the lunchroom when they need to use the restroom. Because this is precious time that they have to negotiate for. As part of my job I can’t be alone with the kids or be responsible, but I can help another teacher watch 40 kids. And give a hard working teacher 5 minutes of respite from her class.
So when I have 10 or more minutes of time in between my groups and I have a chance to sit down at my desk, there is this pervasive feeling of guilt that seeps in. I can’t help it. I know that I have every right to sit down and take a break. Every human has that right. The fact that teachers don’t get it is appalling. So I get swept up into the momentum of everybody doing something all the time. Nonstop, all day long.
This came up for me today because I was sitting at my desk, eating my lunch, and doing my encounter forms on my phone. So I wasn’t even actually taking a break, I was still working. And someone came into the room and I heard myself telling her that I wasn’t sitting here texting, haha, I was actually doing work. What the hell? I don’t have to explain myself to her. I don’t have to make excuses to put my feet up. In fact, every fiber of my being believes that mindfulness and meditation are important. I’ve been completely abandoning that at work.
So, today, when I got home from work I did not go inside and get on the computer and continue the go, go, go mindset from school. Instead I did something that always brings me back to the present. I lit a fire. Lol. My husband and I collect all of the cardboard boxes when we get something shipped from amazon and we pile up all of the magazines that arrive at our house. Today I took a huge box full of papers to the firepit in the backyard of my house, piled on some sticks and branches that have fallen around the yard recently and lit a big bonfire. I stood there and watched the flames. When it started to die down I got a stick and poked at the magazines that always have just a little more fight in them, opening up the pages to start new little fires. I poked it and prodded it and threw on some leaves and altogether left the school day behind me. And it felt really, really good. The primal heat and edge of danger that a huge fire brings keeps your concentration on the present moment and is a meditation like no other.
I am making a commitment today to figuring out how to be an example for the kids and the staff. I am not sure how, but I need to stand true to my values. I don’t need to be a busy bee, bouncing from activity to activity making busy work so that I’m not sitting still. I believe in stillness and I am going to somehow pass that along. It’s going to be a challenge, but screw it, I’m done with pretending. So tomorrow I’m going to sit at my desk and do absolutely nothing. And see what happens.