I've been thinking. You may have noticed a theme in the title of my posts this past week. As I begin this new week I actually am going to end the theme with the major thing that got me started...thinking. Do you ever find we do too much of it? Thinking about how to end the school year, our day to day lives, and where we go from here. Maybe it's just me. I'm an over analyzer.
But then, I'm also always reminded of one of my favorite quotes from the TV show, Grey's Anatomy, which if you have ever read my Blogger profile you have learned by now:
"We're adults. When did that happen?
And how do we make it stop?!"
The thing is, I don't think its so much that we want the process of adulthood to stop. I'm wiser now than I was last year, and I'm certainly happier now than I was 5 years ago. I don't know that I'd want to go back. Slow it down at times, maybe? And yes, only maybe. It's the realization that we have to grow-up. Perhaps even "have to" is incorrect terminology. We know we have to. Its inevitable. We age, we go to school, we leave home, some of us get married and/or have babies, things change, people move away. There I said it. I said the word that makes us all become adults and "grow." It's a word I've never liked. CHANGE.
Sometimes though, there's that little minutia that we take for granted. And I mean my.nute. See, the aforementioned changes are somewhat par for the course in the road of life. Even if it is not our life. We join in the celebrations, wrapping the presents and signing the cards, putting on the make-up and smiling for the pictures, all-the-while still being able to play "pretend." It's as though we are acting, which we as teachers have become good at. Yet, there are parts of our everyday lives that we think will always be there - the television shows with hosts, actors, and characters whom we have watched for over 25 years (and yes, we've watched them since we were 5!).
Yes, that's the minutia I'm talking about. It may seem trivial. For me, it began last year when Oprah aired her final episode. Her episode not only began the demise of my own (probably 20 year) daytime ritual, but also the beginning of my adulthood. It was almost an exact year ago (May 25, 2011 was her finale). Oprah aired on ABC. One month before Oprah's final air date, ABC announced the cancellation of two other beloved shows of mine - All My Children and One Life to Live. For years, my afternoons had gone like this: 1-2: AMC; 2-3 OLTL; 3-4 GH; 4-5 Oprah. I know. I was in school, then college, then working, then teaching, when did I find the time, right? It came down to initials - VHS, DVR, TiVO. God Bless them all. There I sat last May listening to Oprah, a day before my teaching contract ended. I listened intently:
"What I knew for sure from this experience with you is that we are all called. Everybody has a calling and your real job in life is to figure out what that is and to get about the business of doing it...
live from the heart of yourself. You have to make a living; I understand that. But you also have to know what sparks the light in you so that you, in your own way, can illuminate the world."
I grew a little. We grow each day, we really do. There's a reason we are here. There's a reason we have these life experiences and share that wisdom with those who come after us (and in some cases those who have come before us). I kept on going that summer and as we know I found myself teaching again this past fall - right in time for All My Children to end in September. Another piece of my childhood was beginning to end (I was sad, but somehow it was a tad easier with the other two continuing). I remember the day I started watching that show. My mom had it on and I can't remember if it was the summertime or just a break from school, but Janet had Natalie in the well. I was hooked. Will the good twin win? I had to watch the next day to find out what would happen. Of course the next day, if you don't get up from the TV fast enough you get hooked on the next soap. Oh, One Life. You helped me bond with my older brother because he was in the room and he decided to nickname Todd "Scarface." From then on if ever the soaps were on TV and he walked in the room he had to make a comment about Scarface. Then this past January, One Life to Live aired its final episode. Another one bit the dust. What would my afternoons become when there was no school, or when I was sick and had nothing to do but lie in front of the television?
When I was younger I had promised myself I would not get drawn into yet another soap opera. I mean, I was 10 years old. Then Kimberly McCullough (Robin) worked her magic. She was my age (okay, maybe a couple of years older). I loved watching her. Here was this girl acting her heart out on screen and I was just this kid, her same age, who didn't want to go to summer-camp because I was so homesick. What loser was I?! My dad even sent me Soap Opera Digests to camp so that I could read the recaps and write what I thought would happen. Then when I was in high school Kimberly's character was in an HIV storyline. I cried my eyes out through that Robin and Stone storyline (and it used to take a lot for me to cry during TV or movies). I grew up a lot in high school for other reasons too, although they still had to do with tolerance. I continued to educate myself throughout that storyline and others that occurred on GH, as well as my other shows. So many storylines were, and are, informative. My brother's college girlfriend watched GH. We still send messages about it. My cousin watches. It's a bonding topic of conversation whenever we are together. And for the past 6 years Kimberly continued in another storyline, perhaps one of my very favorites, with Jason Thompson (Patrick). My mom and I used to share our thoughts and opinions about "Psycho Lisa" who kept trying to come between them. Then this past November, Kimberly announced her plans to depart the show. To say I was devastated may seem extreme because I personally do not know Kimberly. However, I do think she'd be fun to know and she has certainly entertained me for a good 20 years. I will say this though, when she died onscreen and Jason Thompson played out those scenes in the days following, I have never sat in front of a television and cried so hard. In fact, the last time I cried that hard was when I lost my job interview last summer due to HR cutting the position 12 hours prior the interview. But that cry - that cry was an ugly loud cry. This cry, the tears were just quiet and flowing. I called my mom as I paused the TV and said, "Either they all need Emmy awards or I have major issues!" Either case may still be up for debate. I strongly believe Emmy awards are needed. What they did in all those years and especially these past months of scenes was not just for me to feel the loss of Kimberly and her character Robin, but for me to feel the loss of it all - the loss of what I'd grown up with, the loss of what I've struggled to let go of and say goodbye to.
It's hard to let go while you're still holding on; At the same time it's hard to still hold on but move forward. As teachers we're not just actors playing a part in our every day lives, but also in the lives of our students. We have to make a conscious decision to be present. Sometimes that decision is a courageous one. Kimberly made a conscious, courageous decision to follow her dream of becoming a director. I miss her acting dearly, but I thank her and Jason for giving me a gift, unconsciously, in more ways than one.
"Understand[ing] that one principle, that everybody wants to be heard,Try it with your children, your husband, your wife, your boss, your friends. Validate them. 'I see you. I hear you. And what you say matters to me.'"