Issue #4: Wipe Out
Fun fact: I learned how to surf in Costa Rica. My husband and I stayed in a (literal) treehouse on a remote beach, and a local instructor offered surfing lessons. Of course, I took him up on his offer.
(One of the treehouses in Ojo Del Mar, an EcoLodge in Costa Rica)
I thought I was so cool. Gently pushed forward by the warm waters and calm, consistent waves, I stood on the longboard with pride and panache. It was like I was born to surf: a true natural. I even let myself pretend I looked like Duke Kahanamoku, the legendary Hawaiian surfer.
But then I returned home and attempted to surf at Newport Beach. If the waves could speak, they would have said, “Gurrrl, please. LOL.”
I was NO Duke Kahanamoku. First of all, the cold water (even in the summer) shocked my body and tightened my muscles. The waves barreled at me, one after the other, and kept knocking me off the board. Then, when I managed to stand, the shorebreak thrashed me against the sand. Humbled by the unforgiving California waves, I carried my foam board back to shore on my throbbing, moppy head, feeling defeated and foolish.
I have since recovered from that episode. However, that feeling of defeat--of wiping out--has recently crept up inside me, but in a different context. When I began teaching, I quickly learned as much as I could and fell in love with the profession, hitting my stride, getting positive feedback and results, and even mentoring several amazing student teachers. I challenged myself to keep learning and level up my skills. Maybe I’m good at this, I’d let myself believe.
Then 2020 hit. And then 2021. Now, the classroom climate feels very different. Teachers are exhausted, discouraged by so much constant bad news and division, and overwhelmed by so much thrown on our plates. For many of us, teaching nowadays feels more like trying to surf on the cold, rough California waves instead of the warm, welcoming waters of Costa Rica. The once familiar landscape of our classrooms and schools often seems more like a fun-house version of itself, which is jarring.
(Teaching in 2021)
Getting pummeled by waves--whether the ones in the ocean or the ones in our psyche--sucks. It’s painful. But it reminds me that learning is never a “one and done” deal. Even when we feel like we’ve mastered a skill and start to feel comfortable, we have to constantly evolve and adapt in order to keep growing and surfing through the ups and downs of life.
With that said, my arms may be tired, but it’s time to get back on that board.
"Smooth seas make poor sailors”--Nautical Proverb
Since I’m talking a lot about the ocean, surfing, etc., I thought this was a fitting quote. It reminds me to embrace reasonable challenges as a chance to learn about myself. Sweet little Amelie, on the other hand, doesn’t seem concerned about being a poor sailor (or taking over my writing chair).
Current Read: Solutions and Other Problems by Allie Brosh
My husband read this graphic novel (which was originally a popular webcomic) and loved it, so I thought I’d check it out. Don’t let the child-like drawings fool you: Solutions and Other Problems is a GN for mature audiences. With a series of short, illustrated stories, Brosh tells readers about her childhood and struggles in witty and, often hilarious, honesty. And when I least expected it, Brosh dove into some heavy stuff revolving around mental health, gut-punching me with emotions I didn’t expect to experience. I appreciated that, actually, and felt the ups and downs gave this story so much complexity.
I worked on revisions for the middle grade story I mentioned last month. The working title is In The Middle of the Sea, and it is set mostly in Maui. However, the time setting is not in 2020/2021. Based on the hint below, can you guess approximately when this story takes place?
Now that apple season is here, our Gala apple tree has sprouted a bunch of little apples. It took years to get this tree to bear fruit, but ever since we established our beehive, our fruit trees have become much more productive. Thanks for all of your help, bees!
That's all for today, but stay tuned for next month's updates. In the meantime, feel free to reach out, share this with friends, and/or comment on this post. I love hearing from you all! :)
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Some updates, musings, and sharing of inspirations.