Yes, I know, I know. It’s been terribly quiet around these parts lately. Ever since Halloween, I feel like someone put my life on the “heavy duty” wash cycle. I have brief moments of still and quiet where I can stumble out of the scramble and try to ground myself. I close my eyes and see alphabet letters, numbers, and volleyballs spinning round and round. Welcome to the life of a teacher!
For the record, I don’t recommend coaching a sport during the first year as a Bush Alaska teacher. Please keep in mind, though, that’s just me. I’m a perfectionist and tend to stress out if things in my classroom aren’t flawless. I’m the prep queen and could spend hours in my classroom assembling bulletin boards and drawing up anchor charts. I think many elementary teachers can feel my pain. Having to coach volleyball after school, change clothes, prepare for the next day, eat dinner, and take care of everything else in between has been putting me home past 9:00pm every night. It’s exhausting, but yes, rewarding as well. I’m just needing to regain my balance.
On a more positive note, my students continue to be true joys and coaching volleyball (albeit stressful at times) is proving to be very fulfilling. Coaching high school girls is a whole different ball game than teaching kindergarten. I forgot how much drama and how many hormones are involved in the lives of 16-year-olds! However, the relationships formed with older students are deeper and, in a sense, more enriching. Even though there’s a lot on my plate, I’m glad that I can experience working with both age groups.
At the end of a hectic day, I have the tendency to think pessimistically. Instead of dwelling on the negative, however, I’ll list some things I’m grateful for in honor of Thanksgiving. I have to remember, after all, that I’m living a life that many people could only dream of out here in rural Alaska.
1. Because of volleyball, I get to visit several other rural villages including Naknek, Koliganek, and Kokhanok. Taking the bush plane, meeting new people, seeing the dynamics of different villages, and spending late nights with the girls on the team is really bringing me a lot of joy.
2. I returned from my second potluck this evening in honor of Veterans Day with a full tummy and a warm feeling. Seeing an intimate community gather together, representing both the old and the young, is something I’ve never experienced before coming to Newhalen. There’s something about village life that’s truly special and irreplaceable.
3. At the end of my busy day, I have a gracious husband who takes care of me. After long, stressful days, I often come home to a clean house with dinner on the table. Having someone who loves and supports me throughout busy times makes life a lot happier.
4. The mountains and the sky during the changing seasons in this part of Alaska takes my breath away. The other morning, I was having another crazed morning running around making last-minute copies and preparing things in my classroom. By chance, I glanced out the window and literally dropped the materials I was holding in my hands. I walked to the window and let out a sigh of relief and release. Seeing a vivid pink-purple sunrise behind a frontier of resplendent, snow-capped mountains really puts things in perspective.
“In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.”