On Refilling Empty Cups

Dan taking a moment to enjoy the view…

It doesn’t seem possible, but we have finally reached Thanksgiving break after one of the strangest semesters in my thirty-four year teaching career. It’s strange to realize that I’m more exhausted that I typically am during a normal semester when I’m constantly on the go performing and teaching instead of teaching partially online in the peace of home. Remote teaching takes an astonishing amount of focus and energy…my brain is just mush by the end of the day trying to see and hear everything the way I need to to give the best feedback for my clarinet students.

Teaching buddy.

Of course the overarching umbrella of stress caused by endless months of pandemic fears and protocols has cast its pall over us all. These are such surreal times; I try to pretend as if things are normal as much as possible as a coping mechanism, but that doesn’t last long. The world is just plain crazy right now on so many levels and it’s difficult to face the onslaught on our senses every day and try to keep yourself, your family, and your students safe from the surging virus, without feeling overwhelmed. After months of this, my cup is empty. I know that so many others are feeling the same.

Taking a short break at Railroad Park.

I’ve tried my best to keep my head above water with it all, exercising daily, talking with my therapist, writing out my feelings…but it hasn’t been enough, and sometimes I have sunken into the darkest places I’ve ever experienced as I’ve attempted to come to grips with the cognitive dissonance of it all. There is only one path forward, though, and that’s through. We have to keep going to get to the other side of madness. There is a light at the end of this bizarre tunnel, I know there is.

Let’s GO!

Now that the break is here, it is an opportunity to recharge a little bit in preparation for one last week of online teaching followed by exams and juries before the winter break. It won’t be a week sitting on the shore watching the waves crash or spent at our beloved waterfall, but it will be a week filled with things that I love and that calm my mind and spirit. We kicked it all off with a great bike ride downtown yesterday on what was an absolutely gorgeous day. We followed that with lots of yard work, bonding with our home that we love so much. I keep reminding myself that though the world is chaotic, I am truly fortunate to have the sanctuary of a loving home.

Clouds over Birmingham.

As I fill my empty cup with bike rides, long walks with Marley, yard work, house chores, reading, and quality time with Dan, I’m going to do my best to remember that I can hold this peace inside of me no matter what is swirling around us. I forget that in the heat of battle. Our superpower is finding calm in the storm, and it’s our choice to find and be that calm instead of succumbing to the chaos. I know I’ll forget again (at least that’s my track record over the past fifty-seven years), but this week I’ll soak up the peace and gratefully remember.

A rare nap with my girl.

2 thoughts on “On Refilling Empty Cups

  1. I love that you are filling your cup with smiles and making happy memories with your beloved. The stress is real and the fatigue is pressing down (and sometimes steam rolling us) but all the things you are doing to fight back are an inspiration for me. Thanks for being honest about all of it! I love the photo of you and Dan smiling!!

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