Today marks 5 weeks from when we took off from Shanghai, China and flew over 7,000 miles to get to our new home in Chattanooga, TN. We've had company visit every weekend, which has been a much needed distraction and kept our hearts full as it happened to be visitors from many different seasons of life, including friends from China.
People keep asking us, how are you doing? The truth is, I don't know. Do any of us really know how we're doing? I've kept my head so busy so my heart can't really feel. I want to be excited and embrace this new adventure, however I know if I allow myself that joy it comes with the pain of closing a chapter. The closing of the chapter is not just on life in China, but for life overseas and my identity of being an expat.
In the last five weeks, we have painted four rooms, purchased a car, unpacked 90% of our boxes, halfway set up a classroom, hosted visitors three weekends and traveled to the lake twice, not to mention are constantly comparing life here to life in China. My head keeps making mental to-dos so I can keep crossing them off. I am NOT juggling the daily chores of laundry and dishes and keeping picked up yet. I believe we will have to build up our stamina in that area again. I am NOT feeling ready to dive into teaching during a pandemic on a new platform at at new school with a new community of parents and students.
My heart is still closed up tight and for now I think that is okay. We are all entering and have been dealing with a season that makes no sense that seems to continue to worsen as we stare in disbelief at the new inputs almost daily.
I'd like to blame my weight gain poundage on COVID, however that's not entirely fair nor helpful for me in getting back on track. I'm sure it is the lack of routine and being completely overwhelmed at the grocery store that the ease of the American drive thru has packed it's punch more times than I'd like to admit.
I've been trying to slowly get back into exercising because I know that helps my head and I've been funky to say the least. All that to say that today marked my first long run to a place that I have envisioned running at since we decided we would be moving back home. Today I did a run/walk to the walking bridge... oldest walking bridge in America. It seems every place we go I cling to one landmark that is symbolic of being connected to that place... Pearl Tower in Shanghai, Twin towers in KL. For me the walking bridge is that symbol that I can't help but stop to notice and admire every time I see it.
This morning I had a lot of epiphanies that I hope encourage you where ever you may be. Side note, this is a judgement free, no condemnation place of encouragement. If you don't like what you read it's okay to press the x and move along.
My runs are my alone time in which I've often have what I call Pavement Provocations (Provoking Thought). Here is what I was thinking today and I hope encourages whoever needs to hear it.
Looking at the hill before us, we think "How will I ever get to the top?" or even say, "There is no way I can make it." I felt that today. I thought, why did I think I could run this and started on a negative feedback loop. Then came the positive self talk. Break that loop. Focus on TRUTH... I began to think, who cares if I don't run it? Walk it. I will still make it to the top. I still got out here and did something hard.
Cue Epiphany. Many of us [teachers] are about to walk into unknown territory. It looks much like a giant hill and we can't imagine how we will ever make it to the top; we may not even be able to see the top. The truth is we've all made it to the tops of many, many hills before this one and somehow we forgot how strong and resilient we truly are. We will make it to the top. Maybe we will climb at different speeds, some of us walking, some of us sprinting, but we will make it in our own time and together. We are not alone because we are all climbing the same hill. What I see when I look at the hill may look different than what you see, but at the end of the day we are all on the same hill and we know once we reach the top, the rest will be a piece of cake.
Moving into a season of unknown and a season of "How (the blank) are we going to do this?" I know this feels different. I know this feels scary. I know you feel inadequate. I do. Teachers, I want to remind you that you will and can do whatever is being asked of you. I know this feels completely overwhelming. My encouragement to you is to remember all the hills you conquered before. All the times you thought, no way, not ever and you DID! We truly are in this together. We will do things we've never done before. We will show up for each other and for the kids because that is what we do. We will figure this out. We will make it work. We will be so much stronger on the other end. I don't know when we will reach the apex of the hill, but I know we will. It may be in a month, next semester or next year, but we can't let that impede the work we need to do today; the work we need to do to get up that hill even if we have to drag each other. This is what we are doing. Remember the WE. One step at at time, one new thing at a time, one more inch forward. We will be better, stronger and more resilient on the other side. I just know it.
I hope when the day comes that we can look back down at the hill we climbed, we all celebrate a job well done, never forgetting what we've done so we're ready for the next one!
Love and Blessings to you wherever you may be,