Thursday, February 5, 2015

Old English Prayer

Well, today’s just a day like any other day. Nothing special happening over here. Just kidding, because I love my birthday, and you can go ahead and call me self-centered until you’re blue in the face. But who doesn’t love waking up to happy birthday messages, opening sentimental cards, and not knowing what to do when people are singing you happy birthday? I love the promise of another year, and though a birthday is really just another day, it’s one that I can’t help but be excited about.

And I can't help but be thankful that I've moved past this stage (this was 10 years ago, W H A T!)
Though the day isn't quite over yet, I have had an absolutely wonderful birthday. My students behaved (mostly), my volleyball girls treated me like a queen, and I felt very loved and celebrated all day. And you know I love a good note, so this was right up my alley (along with too many cookies and too much cake).


And what would a Kelli Tomlinson birthday be without a workout? An incomplete one, that’s what. So, even though the sun never came out, and the temperature only dropped as the day went on, I laced up my running shoes and headed outside for a 5.6 mile run around my neighborhood. And though it wasn't quite dark enough to whip out my new headlamp, I am excited to put this guy to good use on any early morning or late night runs that I may take. Safety first!

Old English Prayer

As much as they say to make a conscious effort to separate your work life from your personal life, it’s only natural that aspects of your work life will pervade your personal life. That’s one of the things that I love about English – that so many of the texts that we read have messages that go beyond the classroom. That are applicable to everyday life. That help you to make a realization that you otherwise wouldn’t have made. To help you to understand that you are not alone. To wake you up to a truth that you’ve been missing. And that’s exactly what happened when I read “Old English Prayer” with my reading classes.

I don’t normally like poetry, aside from Shel Silverstein, but this one struck a chord with me. In a good way. So, for those of you who are unfamiliar with this poem, I wrote it below:

To me, this is an absolutely beautiful poem, and it made me stop and think. Maybe a little bit more than it made my kids stop and think. But how can I blame them for that? They’re 15 and 16, and I’m 23, and it’s just now stopping me in my tracks.

I am the queen of to-do lists. I take probably too much joy out of making a weekly to-do list, and then crossing everything off of that to-do list. I mean, I write down my workouts and the lunches I need to prepare and the papers I need to print and the letters I need to write. For Christmas my parents got me a 365 Lovely Thoughts Pad, which is a combination calendar and inspirational notepad. Not only does it inspire me daily with the quote at the bottom, but it gives me a place to write down all that I hope to accomplish that day. And now that I have babbled on and on and on, let me get to my point.

I love this poem for the repetition of “Take time to …” because so much of my life is a constant check off one item and move onto the next. And while I certainly take time to do all of these things, sometimes I forget why I’m doing them. Working isn’t merely a way to earn a living, rather a way to find personal success. A reminder that you are being challenged and failing and learning and succeeding. Thoughts drive our actions, so make sure they’re meaningful thoughts. Playing, well, that one speaks for itself. I may have grown another literal year older, but I think I’ll stay a kid forever.

I could harp on the importance of reading forever. How else can you enter into another world, gain other perspectives, and hopefully learn something new along the way? And when you offer a friendly smile, you’ll often be surprised what you get in return. The days that I focus my time and energy on others are the days I take walks around my neighborhood grinning like an idiot. And Henry David Thoreau claims one of my favorite quotes, “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.” I say, why not dream a little bigger, darling? Don’t settle for less than what you want to be. And what is our purpose aside from loving other people? Yes, even on the days that we don't want to. And we can all do a better job accepting love. And on those really tough days, stop and appreciate the fact that you are alive to see another day. Stop and appreciate the people around you, and tell them that, for you never know what battle they might be fighting. And in the words of e.e. cummings, “a day without laughter is a day wasted.”

And my goal for the year of 23? Though nobody likes you (thanks, Blink182 for always being relevant), I’m going to do my best to be present in the moment I’m in, not constantly thinking about the next item I can cross off my list. That an evening spent with friends is more fulfilling than an evening spent grading (though getting that done is important, too). That I will spend my time doing things that matter, but not feel bad when I take some time to do absolutely nothing. To keep my face toward the sunshine and spend more of my day smiling than I do frowning. Here’s to another year, and to making it the best one at that!

And thank you all for the sweet birthday wishes, whether they were via text, phone call, card, Facebook post, embarrassing Instagram photo, or email –  I loved and took each and every single one of them to heart. I am so unbelievably undeserving, but you guys sure know how to wrap a girl up in love!

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