Thursday, October 9, 2008

Finding My Zen

I spent last weekend with my very best friends, one of whom kept talking about finding Zen places...sounds dirty, I know, but this is not THAT kind of blog.

I thought about my own Zen place, and wondered where it was. Or how I lost it. Or if I ever had one to begin with...all of which made me feel very bad about my new-ageness. I like the idea of being conjures images of well groomed, peaceful people, reading books and sipping on refreshing drinks in a garden and butterflies, yes...lots of butterflies. I realized that this image is in direct contrast with my daily work life which usually involves hair dragged into a ponytail because that is all that is possible when one gets up at 5, running around like said hair is on fire all day, desperately trying to have some sort of meaningful interaction with someone and maybe squeeze in one meager sip from my misplaced water bottle or shove down a sandwich in three bites. (Please note, however, that both my Zen image and my actual Real Life Image involve fabulous heels, so I'm not a total failure.)

This last week I focused on finding my Zen, assuming that it had been lost somewhere, like a misplaced pencil or something, and if I just tried hard enough, I would find it again.

I thought my mission was a lost cause when I was told we had a surprise concert (which had been planned months in advance but no one had bothered to tell the teachers, so I guess, really, the surprise was just for me). Surprise! Scrap your plans! Be flexible!

If I become any more flexible, I may run off and join Cirque du Soleil. I bet they're Zen.

So we're at the SURPRISE! concert, which is Brazilian drumming group. And not only am I lamenting how this "oversight in communication" (that's what the office calls say "oversight in communication", I say yet another F*ck up from a bunch of morons...tomato, tomato, right? ), I am also lamenting having had four glasses of wine the previous evening. Now, I never have more than a glass during the week, because I am not a huge drinker (read - I am old and can't handle it anymore). But I made an exception because a very old friend was in town and catching up is just so much better over several (read - seven) glasses of good Cabernet. Long story short, the change in schedule hurt, the drumming hurt even more and I was definitely not feeling Zen.

And then the lady on stage started dancing. She had fabulously untamed curly hair and wasn't wearing any shoes (which is usually a big old check in the minus column, but somehow seemed fitting for her). She danced to the music shaking her shaky thing (which probably had some sort of name that we were supposed to learn during the course of the concert but there was just so much banging, that I had trouble focusing....or caring) and was totally into it. At first I thought she was ridiculous and lame...I mean honestly, most people who perform in elementary schools are one small step from multi-colored turtlenecks, suspenders and that weird sing-songy this-is-how-I-think-you-are-supposed-to-talk-to-kids voice. But then I realized that she was just super into it. And super talented. And probably could give a rat's ass what I thought of her anyway, because she clearly loved what she was doing.

I want to be the dancing lady with the shaky thing. She had found her Zen.

Later we were in the classroom, totally rocking out our math centers. Kids were (finally) making smart choices and starting to internalize all my talk (read-rambling) about taking responsibility for their own learning. At one point, when my small little cologne-spritzed current favorite chose the money game articulating that he chose it because he knows counting money is hard for him and he wants to improve, I almost had to wipe away a tear. (I can be that shmultzy, and I'm proud of it!)

And I realized. I am in my Zen place. With a shaky thing. Ok, not literally a shaky thing, but doing what I want to do. I know I have complained about my new batch of friends, but they are growing on me and have been surprising me a bit with how far they've come. I just get so bogged down by all the crap (let me define crap..."oversights in communication", jacked up copy orders, bat shit crazy parents, the administrative obsession with hard numbers over actual people...need I continue?) that I forget about the kids. Which is so sad, because although I hate it when people tell me to "do it for the kids", I do love my kids. And when they act bat shit crazy, forget to tell me something or screw up an assignment, at least it's because they're CHILDREN and still learning.

I think I have found my Zen. Will keep you posted.


Barb Smith said...

So glad to hear from you. I've missed your comments lately. And I'm glad you found your Zen. Still wondering how the drumming and dancing fits into your elementary curriculum (music appreciation?), but a nice diversion from the classroom, huh? At our school this WEEK, we've had: the 4th grade musical program, the fire safety smoke trailer, the Children's Place (focusing on telling adults if abuse is going on), end of grading period and grades due, principal walk-through (to see if you're implementing the reading program!) and BBSST meetings. Thank Goodness I'm out of the classroom!!!

17 (really 15) more years said...

I wish I could find my Zen- I had it the last couple of years, then my most favorite kiddies left me- and I just can't get it back with this crew.

Two round trip tickets to Aruba might help me find it though.....

Jpm said...

Oh maybe I found my Zen thing too! THe other day after a crazy visit from the fire fighters in which one of my little 5year olds peed on a teacher's leg and another 5 year old flipped out. I started to listen to them play. Just play, one child was walking around with a clipboard writing every word she saw, another was making a layered collage " just like in the book you read to us" and another few were playing in the block area taking turns. Oh my goodness is this how a kindergarten room works. I stil miss last years kids and still look at this years pre kindergarten students with glee. That group ROCKS. Cant wait until Aug 27 2009 when they become MINE !

B Haack said...

I agree. . . The classroom is my Zen!

*M* said...

Zen...I have found my zen in performing, I think. It's not all about the shaky thing, but close to that. Thrilling is the word.

I love those kiddies stories that bring tears into your eyes. I also have my 'they're so cute' moments, but I thought I was an isolated case :o

Cassy said...

Hi! Found your blog today and I totally hear you! Great post... school is making me nuts. After 18years, you'd think they'd leave a girl alone...but it just gets harder and more, more, more!

el hongo said...

thanks for sharing. rock on. or, work with your inner Zen rock garden. do whatever it takes. and, please keep sharing.

Unknown said...

That is awesome/very inspiring. I am just beginning, about to intern in January, and hope that the kids will continue to be my Zen. I have heard so many stories about all of the negativity in education and from teachers to teachers. I already feel scared about becoming that worn out, barely hanging on to her sanity woman after 5-10 years. You have inspired me to hold onto the zen of the kids. Thanks and keep it up.

sexy said...







Anonymous said...


Kate Stark said...

I realize that this post is more than a year old, but just wanted to let you know that it helped me out this evening when I came home still mad about school. I know exactly what you mean about wanting to be the dancing lady with the shaky thing. I just lose sight of that sometimes.

Who's Peeking?