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Frustration, Beanitos, et al…

Not only has the weather been extremely crummy for what seems like eons – and we Oklahomans don’t do so well when it’s cold and dark day after day after… wait, where was I? Oh – in the past few weeks, I’ve had one good friend who suddenly found herself faced with an operation to remove a tennis ball sized tumor from her brain – they got 90% of it – and another, more of an acquaintance, one of those guys who was The Great Guy of your class? who suddenly died.

I don’t tell you these things to bum you out, but to let you know that, though teachers sometimes seem heartless, we get that you’re going through things too. I honestly believe though, that there’s a sort of compartmentalization that takes place, due to age or natural inclination, or working at it, where you can be going through all kinds of things – or standing rather helplessly by while your family and friends are going through things – and just: go on.

That’s really not as lame as it sounds – there’s an awful lot of life that just has to be gotten through, and you have to show up to get through it, as much as hiding under the covers for a month seems like a life raft. While talking and writing out our problems is really helpful – and sometimes taking a nap and watching an inane movie and crunching some Beanitos is also helpful – at some point we find ourselves getting back to work.

It’s so great – and I think everyone here on the Creative side of the building feels this way – that we LIKE what we do! How lucky are we, that we get this chance to learn, and to be creative, and to take chances – and wake up the next day to do it all over again? Work you like can be a tremendously great place to lay aside your personal burdens and problems for awhile.

Although I don’t know why exactly, I’ve noticed that when I take a break from things to focus on something besides myself – both things – the issues and myself – get better. I’ve noticed this in students too – it’s easy to become overwhelmed with life, especially when you’re young – things can seem so permanent, so irreparable, so pointless…

In the tradition of that greatest graduation speech of all time: graduation advice: wear sunscreen (and if you haven’t listened to it, do yourself a favor and enjoy!) let me also give my penny’s worth of advice – everything changes.

I wish I’d known that when I was graduating. I can’t tell you how many things I quit, or worse – didn’t even try! I was always going to do them when life settled down, when I sorted myself out, when things got better. Do them anyway. Everyone gets frustrated and hopeless, but one thing I’ve learned – everything changes. Your family situation seems awful and you drop out of school . Your boss makes you mad on the day you and your boyfriend have a fight, and you quit your job.

It’s awful and heartless to instead expect you to go on, day after day, when nothing seems to be changing, but it does and it will. There are things you can do to make life easier as you’re getting through it – compartmentalize a little. Give yourself a break. Show up and do the right things. Stretch. Wear sunscreen.

The wonderful thing is, you’re not only getting through this thing, whatever it is, you’re building resilience for the future. It’s true, as it says in the speech, that most worrying is pointless – the worst shipwrecks of your life will happen to you on an idle Tuesday afternoon. But I’m in a unique position to learn from a lot of awesome students and faculty, and what I wish I’d learned at a young age is that, no matter what happens, and as a friend of mine says, “life kicks all of us around sometime” – I truly admire those who know that.

The longer I teach, I find out the race is not to the swift, but to the plodder – geez, I wish I could think of something more attractive to say than that! The best plodders make it into an art form – resilience – that ability to shake it off, get a decent night’s sleep, and see what’s going on the next day – maybe things have changed, if not today, then tomorrow for sure.But I believe it’s true – plod on until the sun shines again, because it will – and have some Beanitos. Have you ever tried them? They’re really very good!

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Sherri —

Good advice! Keep on keeping on and things WILL change!

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