The start of the school year had me opening my classroom door in a brand new building, with brand new students, brand new colleagues, and a host of brand new experiences just waiting for me. Learning to build and navigate professional relationships all over again was challenging. Relearning how to make friends took some time and self-reflection. Like most people, I came with a back story – mine however, seemed to stand in the way of building relationships the way I once would have. For ten months now, grief has been a very prominent piece of my life, of who I now am. Some days it defines me, other days it crushes me, but most are somewhere in between. Understanding it all is a challenge in itself, never mind living it. I started this blog a few years ago as a way to reflect on teaching and education and my experience with both. I wrote only about those topics. The more I wrote, the more I realized that writing was freeing. When my brother passed away, I began to write about grief. Writing about him and my shattered world was healing. It helped me understand this new world I was wandering through. I spent my hours at school doing what I knew how to do – teach. I quickly learned that if I just focused on those 28 little faces, then I could get through the day.
As those first few weeks passed, I realized that I wasn’t just getting through days anymore, but I was actually enjoying them, living them. I was slowly picking up the pieces. I was developing relationships with the people around me – I was finding my place in my new community. The less I focused on just getting through the day, the easier it became. Little by little my professional relationships became stronger and some have turned into real friendships – something I had never expected. At some point, when the fog cleared for a brief moment, I looked around and realized I was amongst people who were passionate, kind and genuine. And suddenly it felt like everything was going to be okay.
So I suppose if there’s a take away here, it’s simple: If you’re struggling, put whatever you have, big or little, into what you know how to do, what you’re passionate about. It’ll help you live in your moment, even if only for a moment. Stop and look around every once in a while when you can…you’re probably surrounded by some pretty incredible people, people who have undoubtably picked up some pieces along the way with you. And for those of you on the other side, staring into the eyes of the struggling soul, never underestimate the power you have. Those pieces you unknowingly picked up along the way may have been the difference in someone just getting through another day and actually living it.