Handle with Care


I am not good at being kind to myself. For more than two decades, I have been a self-starter, a highly motivated individual with often singular focus on a certain goal. I am very good at getting things done, and have been ever since high school. Time management comes easy; I have a strong, innate sense of time and how it will flow through my fingers once I set my mind to a task. It is not foolproof, but I am good.

This is handy for many points in life. Grad school, writing a book manuscript, reading tons of books each year, managing motherhood and career, teaching high school – everything I do relies on my ability to get things done.

And I am a pro at setting goals and seeing them through. This makes resolutions a natural fit for me because I like the idea of setting a target in mind and reaching it. Resolutions have come in handy at the start of the calendar year, but also again at the start of the school year, and finding new things to challenge myself is often half the fun.

A year ago, I put myself on a course for writing the manuscript, a devoted effort to make good use of my evenings after my son goes to bed so that I could write what I wanted to. And I accomplished that goal – not perfectly, because it turns out that sometimes I really really want to sit and watch Netflix on a Friday night rather than grapple with my writing. But I did it; in 2016, as I noted last month, I became more of a writer and began to accomplish something.

I vowed last month that in 2017 I would become more, and I hold to that. But today, in this moment, I am also working on being kind to myself. This means, for now, not resolving to push myself further, but to allow myself some moments to be.

Neil Gaiman’s annual New Year’s messages always inspire me, so I’ve thrown back to his 2014 message. It’s fitting for me right now, as I had a crazy holiday season and I’m trying to get back into the swing of work in the middle of my busiest point of the school year. In the past 16 days, I’ve done 3 things related to writing:

  1. I wrote on New Year’s Day in a new journal “finish this story”-type thing I got
  2. I write each night in my 2017 diary (which has only small amounts of space, on purpose, because I can manage that)
  3. I’m writing this

I’m certainly not moving toward any awards, but here I am. Right now, letting myself step back, be kind, and not stress about what I need to do as a writer is what I need.

Right now, I need to breathe.

Somewhere inside of me, in the midst of all the pieces that are focused on grading and lesson planning and coaching and being a mom and handling my personal life, the writer in me is making notes. She’s the small voice that keeps me going, driving my curiosity and my imagination even when I think I’m too busy for much of anything.

I’ll let her keep doing what she’s doing. For the moment, I’m just going to breathe – and be kind.

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