Because of you #SOL23 31/31

When I woke up this morning, my left eye was swollen shut. A stye, I think, though no amount of hot compresses have brought it to a point, so who knows, really. At least it’s settled down enough that I can see. I had already taken today off sick; I wasn’t quite sick yesterday, but I was far from my best, and I knew my run-down body needed a break. Turns out, I have slept much of the day because I am, in fact, sick.

When I haven’t been napping, I’ve mostly been deep in a giant bean bag accompanied by a book, the puzzle section of The New York Times, and cats. We haven’t done much, and I’m ok with that.

While I’ve rested, I’ve wondered what I should write for the final day of this Slice of Life Challenge. I’ve wondered this every year that I’ve participated. After a month, I’m used to the practice of noticing and holding on to moments, of seeing how what is happening today brings up memories of what happened years ago. I love the way that writing daily makes me pay attention to the world around me (special thank you to Stacey for dreaming this up years ago to help get through March and to the Two Writing Teachers team for supporting this). I’ll miss this, even though doing it every day is hard.

I teach narrative writing at some point every semester, and I often tell my students that the universal lives in the specific. We connect best with friends and strangers when we share our very specific feelings or experiences – everyone has lived moments of joy or fatigue, grief or giddiness. This challenge is about sharing those moments, creating a community through that connection, through those stories.

I started this month with some trepidation: school systems are in a state of flux right now, and teaching is harder than I’ve ever known it to be. We need to have some hard conversations about things that don’t really fit into the “Slice of Life” model. I wasn’t sure I could write honestly for a month without talking about those hard things, but I did it. Mostly.

When I look back over my posts, I can see some of my concerns lurking behind and beneath my words, but that’s ok, I think, because reading and writing for a month with teachers from around the world means that I can also see the ways in which we hold each other up and, more importantly, how we share the dreams we have for schools and the world we’re striving to create. I can see how many teachers (and coaches and retired teachers and people in the world of education) are dedicated to our children and how, even though many of us are really, really tired, we don’t just cling to hope, we create it.

And so I leave March better than I entered it, better able to find the kernels of joy, better able to rest when I need to and fight for what is precious, better able to teach and, truly, to be taught. If you’re reading this, that’s probably because of you.

See you on Tuesdays.

11 thoughts on “Because of you #SOL23 31/31

  1. we hold each other up

    This is the truth. You know so much about writing. I never heard that bit about the specific details. You also know a lot about seeing and caring for others. That shines in everything you share. I’m so glad you keep showing up.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ananda, I’m so sorry you’re sick. I hope you’re well tomorrow so you can enjoy the weekend. I love what you tell your students: “the universal lives in the specific.” I hope those full-time classroom teachers feel more connected and supported for having participated in this challenge. You’re familiar enough w/ my writing to know Ivdo write about political, dare I say controversial? I think I managed to circumvent such topics, except for one post, this month. That said, I think those hard conversations reside at the heart of what makes teaching so hard right now. They are themes in moments of teaching. I long ago began exploring narrative as thematic and as argument. Narrative makes a point. It answers “so what?” and, I think, the reason Barbara Kingsolver once said, “All writing is political.” Take care. See you Tuesday or perhaps for poetry.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I am glad that Friday is followed with to more days for recovery. You need it. I think the weekend will be a good time for everyone who participated in this challenge to simply be and breathe. Of course there are some who join the poetry challenge in April. See you on Tuesday!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Every March I spend the first day or two looking for the people I think of as my personal writing group. I would have understood if you had not participated. As you say, the world of teaching is not an easy place right now. But I’m so glad you did. Your writing is so beautiful and it’s the hidden undercurrents, the things you don’t say, that make me want to read your posts every day.

    Good luck with the sickness and the eye. My children have been home for 3 days with a bad case of general school angst and a bit of coughing. I hope the weekend will rest it out of them and you.


  5. I’m so sorry you’re ending the month sick. But yes to all you say here. All of the hard and the ugly is right there for all of us, yet here we are, lifting and holding each other up. We are all going through it right now. But like you, I do find myself in a better place leaving March than I entered it, and that’s all because of this challenge and this community.


  6. Here’s hoping that now, the day after the challenge’s conclusion, you’re feeling at least somewhat rested, recovered, and readier for whatever needs fighting — or writing — next.


  7. I hope you’re better by now. Your teaching life sounds hard working around the structure. I have the freedom of not even having to teach free writing to my students, I just choose to do so, to try and make them better writers in another language and I think it definitely helps most of them. Sometimes it seems as though people want to keep reinventing the wheel and forgetting that teachers are real people, as well as their students.


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