Looking For Joy, Look To Your Heart

I have been home for less than a week and I can’t stop thinking about my trip. I spent a glorious three weeks in Israel with my daughter, son in law, grandchildren and my son. A trip that included a Bat Mitzvah celebration and Passover. A very different event from my older granddaughters’s Bat Mitzvah (in Dallas) and Passover in Crete, Greece, (a program unlike other Passover experiences). Neither of which were ever on my radar. And both were wonderful and joyous. And both gave me many moments to pause and reflect. And both included religious and secular Jews and in both I was good “in my skin.” And that is not something I say lightly. It comes from years of living and discovery; many twists and turns, to be most transparent, to get here.

And so I lay the groundwork for this post. I spent three weeks with my grandkids. I was with them in October and was so grateful to be back with them in April. In October it was “let’s run around and see as much of Israel as I can (I hadn’t been back in many years) and visit other family as well.” This time it was just my immediate family, spending wonderful time with my 14 1/2 year old and 12 year old granddaughters and my 10 1/2 year old grandson. I learned so much watching them interact with each other, with adults (relatives, acquaintances and strangers) and with friends. My big take-away and one that came as no surprise that navigating life presents many challenges and no matter how much we want to pave the road, those bumps appear. As I reflect on family dynamics, personality, needs and wants I quickly think about adding stamina, resilience, autonomy, compromise, choice, voice and I’m back in my classroom. Not a far cry I would say. Here I was with three strong, determined kids having really good easy going times and then the bumps on the road. Although compromising and negotiating is part of their dialogue, at times they need a referee. In a family there is the go to parent(s) and in the classroom, the teacher. In our role as teacher we often become the referee, the peace maker, the reasonable one, the let’s figure this out, let’s see how we can negotiate and problem solve. And we try slowly with words and as role models to steer them to more independence in taking care of issues, in taking turns, in compromise and leaving “it’s not fair” cry behind. Many times “it’s not fair” is really where it’s at and one of our jobs as teachers is to help our students, our kids, let go of that cry.

 

As the year comes to an end, I will be subbing most of May, supporting kids with their reading success and working in the classrooms, helping teachers as needed. I am so excited to be back at work on a daily schedule. One of the teacher’s mentioned how this place was my second home, and she’s right! And as I work with the kinders through 3rd grade students, I think of the different “bumpy” roads they all navigate. For now my job is to help them use the tools they have acquired; to help them pave the road as best they can.

My headquarters for the next few weeks.

I had a heartfelt conversation with my oldest granddaughter right before I left for home. I wanted to remind her that when we look for happiness and joy, it’s within us. I told her to look to her heart, that’s where joy lies. We are the joy makers of our destiny. .

A path along the coast in Crete. An old abandoned tower. An unpaved road. And seeing the beauty as I walked this road…

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