Growing up on the farm, we spent quite a bit of time driving to fields to pick up my dad, move equipment, or just generally ride along with him to check crops.
Of fascination to us was the most exciting and portable pieces of technology available at the time…the CB radio.
Mounted under the dash of our ¾ ton farm truck, we had multiple unsupervised occasions to play with it, using our best trucker and farm lingo.
Okay, not trucker language per se lol.
But “That's a 10-4 buddy!” was definitely part of it.
We would press the button and talk, and spin the dial to different channels. I have no idea if dad had to put it back every time, but it was always a shock to hear someone else’s voice on the airwaves too. I’m sure we likely panicked and stopped playing immediately!
I don’t think anyone at the time could have fathomed self-driving combines and smartphones. The amount of change, even in a rural farm setting, has been staggering. And yet, so many other aspects of farm life are virtually frozen in time.
Not being able to go to the farm for a family Christmas (or Easter or Thanksgiving) has made me nostalgic and wistful for a visit.
To our sledding hill.
The old barn.
The empty hangar where Dad’s plane used to be.
The noisy cacophony of kid and adult voices mixed together, although I prefer to recall it sans talk of politics. If I never hear Donald Trump’s name again, it will be too soon.
There’s a line in the song “July” by Noah Cyrus that says:
You know I,
I'm afraid of change
Guess that's why
we stay the same.
It’s a sentiment that’s probably found in innumerable song lyrics and is probably a survival technique deeply rooted in the human psyche.
It’s also true.
I try new things all the time. I’m not afraid of change, but it’s also much easier when you are the instigator of the changes.
2020 thrust so much change upon us.
And being in the passenger seat for changes happening around you, is a much different feeling, not unlike the helpless fear of sitting with your own child as they learn to drive. It’s not impossible to manage it, but it’s definitely more challenging.
So as I write this on the cusp of a new year, I’m really proud of the people I am surrounded with at work. Our division leadership. Admin. Colleagues. For persevering in what were unfamiliar and unchartered areas for most people. For working hard and long hours. For keeping the kids in our building as engaged as possible, despite so many restrictions.
For keeping them safe.
I know that 2021 will not suddenly be a panacea for all the ails the world. In fact, even when COVID is more contained, the societal disparities it has exposed (and exasperated) will remain. We will need each other more than ever.
I think that’s the quintessential post-midnight new-years-eve feeling, regardless of the year: realism mixed with hope. After surviving 2020, the hope aspect may well feel in short supply. So that’s when I go back to Dr. Sharon Roset’s dissertations for guidance.
“Authentic relationships with significant people are a means of acquiring hope; creative dreams that come from within a person and focus on a better world have been cited as a source of inspiring hope.”
“Hope undergirds action, it is not the action itself.”
“There is no such thing as idle hope.”
“Hope is stronger than despair for it enables one to persevere and not give up. It is mightier than cynicism and apathy, for it activates enthusiasm and passion for a specific purpose. And it is tougher than selfishness for it instills compassion, empathy, love, and a sense of justice that in turn build vibrant, strong families, schools, and communities.”
“Hope cannot sustain itself on its own.”
You there buddy?
That’s a big 10-4.
Thanks for checking.
I think the kids have moved on from playing the “Among Us” game on their phones, just when I had started to understand how to play it! The gist of it is one or two people are designated imposters, trying to kill off the other characters on the spaceship as everyone else is trying to find the “sus." It’s like Clue but more interactive.
I was thinking about the imposter idea over the past two weeks. And part of that is why I never got a blog post written last week.
I’m not sure how many people have heard of “imposter syndrome” but I’m going to hazard a guess that a lot have felt it at some point or another: the feeling that despite being completely competent at (x) you feel that you’ve got no idea what you are doing and people just haven’t figured that out yet!
It’s not that I feel incompetent at things. In fact, I have adequate skills in a few areas. Years of lessons and education and practice do have their payoffs! Where I do lack confidence is in sharing those things with others, especially when the audience includes people far more qualified than I am.
These weeks leading up to Christmas have really exposed that for me.
Playing some Christmas music on the piano? No problem.
Playing some Christmas music to share on FaceBook Live?
Sure, except that I have numerous career musicians and at least two professional pianists on my friends list. Yikes.
Making sets of painted Christmas characters to decorate our yard? Love it. It’s a yearly tradition, plus I haven’t stopped making things since I was a kid.
Taking those sets to the Pike Lake festival of lights for other people to see?
Not prepared for the compliments and congratulations, considering it’s just tracing, cutting, and painting.
Writing this blog? Cathartic. There are words that build up inside me that don’t have any other outlet. Once I week, this sets them free.
Writing this blog for the internet? Much more difficult. The audience might be no one. Or a student. Or a colleague. Or a stranger. Or someone infinitely smarter than I am that wonders who the hell do I think I am to put ideas out to the world?
You probably won’t want to hear about the internal debate I had on sending out our annual Christmas letter! I never kept baby books for my kids. My recollection isn’t always the best. And so it’s the one thing I do each year that preserves memories for my kids’ sakes, but mine too. It also feels like a completely self-absorbed exercise that probably comes off as entitled and narcissistic.
Yet, I did every single one of those things.
For two reasons, mostly. First, because I know that it brings people joy. It makes them happy.
“Such a beautiful selection of the oldies and goodies, putting me well into the Christmas spirit. Thank you!”
“Thanks so much for the Christmas memories! Only made me cry a little.”
“Great job on your display! We drove down to put us in the Christmas Spirit (maybe more so to alleviate some covid stress) and thoroughly enjoyed it. Even drove through it twice!”
“We saw this tonight! It was wonderful! So thankful for people who make these things happen!”
Oh, and two phones calls from aunties to remind me how much they appreciate a card and a letter.
At this point, I start to think that I won’t post this. Because sharing things, whether it’s a picture of the display at Pike Lake or the dialogue going on in my head, means that you open yourself up for feedback.
For someone who relates to imposter syndrome, critical feedback isn’t just welcome, it’s expected. You are anticipating that someone will tell you what you needed to do better…which is fine, because you already have your own list of a dozen things you should have done differently.
It’s the positive feedback that is hard to take.
Weird, right? And so, there is a fear of sharing in case it is interpreted as fishing for compliments…which is the exact opposite of what someone with imposter syndrome is actually looking for.
But there’s a second reason.
And it's one that is strong enough to override those fears. Actually, it’s a quote that says, “Use the talents you possess: the woods would be silent if no birds sang except the best.”
It’s okay to do the best that you can, and be mediocre.
It’s okay to do something that you like, without striving to be the best at it.
It’s okay to try something and suck at it.
It’s okay to not be okay.
And it’s okay to just be okay.
If I only ever played music, created something, or wrote when I was sure that it was going to be amazing….I’d never do any of those things.
If we waited for only the very best musicians, artists, or writers to fill the world with their skills…there wouldn’t be much music, art, or literature in our world at all. Of course, this isn't just about those things. It's about all the things.
Our kids used to do the Kids of Steel Triathlon when they were very little. Before they would start we would tell them, “It's not about being first. It’s about finishing.”
And doesn’t that apply to us all? And in so many aspects of our lives?
Which is why, even with great trepidation, I’m pressing publish on this post!
And why I’ll see you again next week too.
I don’t like rollercoasters. Actually, I don’t like amusement park rides in general, although the ones that spin you in circles are particularly nausea-inducing for me. I knew that from my time on merry-go-rounds in elementary school!
That doesn’t mean I don’t go on rollercoasters. In fact, I’ve been on enough to say that I much prefer a modern coaster, even with its corkscrews and inversions, to a classic wooden coaster. The latter clatters and hurks and jerks you to the point of minor concussion symptoms. Not a big fan, although the rides that take you to the end and run the whole thing again in reverse?? Sadistic.
Then there’s also your physical response to it: do you stay loose and try to go with it, or tense up and brace yourself for the inevitable physical impacts?
To say that this past year has been a rollercoaster would be an understatement. A rollercoaster on fire with the last part of the track gone? That’s getting closer to the truth!
And just like my coaster strategy, I seem to alternate between trying to go with it, and bracing myself for impact.
There are days that I need that Dr. Jody kick-in-the-butt you’ve-got-this message, and then days that I don’t want to see another positivity meme because it feels so inauthentic with everything that is happening around us.
There are days that I am grateful for the nudge a global pandemic gave us towards innovating our thinking, and days that I know I’m not doing everything that I can for the students in front of me.
There are days that I tell myself that I'm staying as safe as possible and know I don't need to panic, and days that I watch the news and see COVID-denialists gather en masse (and maskless) putting us collectively in jeopardy.
There are days, and there are days.
And today is one of those days.
I have no ideas in my brain to write about, and I have too many. I also have a lot of planning for the week ahead and two projects that need to be finished, so tonight, this is all I can muster.
But I will leave you with this:
“You say that you trust no one, but I don't believe you. You trust constantly - even when you don't realize it. At the intersection, you trust that the other drivers will stop when their traffic lights are red; you trust the architects and builders when you walk into a building, the engineers when hopping onto a roller coaster, the cook when you're eating the meal prepared for you. To some extent you trust countless strangers on a daily basis. Just as you would have an extremely tough time surviving in this world with a full trust in all people, you would have an extremely tough time surviving in this world without any trust for any people.” Criss Jami
First, I trust science. (Wear your mask.)
And second, I trust (and am grateful for) so many amazing people, especially here in PSSD. This rollercoaster will eventually end and we will have survived it with each other’s help and support. Just hang in there.
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