What do you write about when you lose inspiration?
The last two months have been very difficult for me and my family.
After reaching our 50th state (Vermont), my wife and I ventured out west to conquer 7 different National Parks in 8 days. Or as my wife likes to say, 12 National Parks in 13 days. Both are true. We also celebrated our 27th Anniversary by exploring the Gulf Shores of Alabama, a beach area we’ve actually never visited.
It was an incredible summer and I was refreshed. I was ready to change the world again as a high school counselor at a large inner-city high school. We were exiting a pandemic and students were returning to in-person learning. Many struggled mightily over the last couple of years, but we were poised to bring them back to normalcy.
That was, until the next mask mandate came. Just a few weeks into the school year. I was befuddled. I had done everything right. Vaccinated at the first opportunity. Wearing a mask, following recommendations and washing my hands diligently.
My renewed energy from the summer was boosted by the return to school without masks, able to see the smiles and sadness and excitement and frustrations on students’ faces as they shared their journeys with me from the past year and a half. Things were challenging, for sure, but things were moving forward and the prospect of positive change impassioned our efforts.
Then came an abrupt halt in that spirit—a new, updated mandate came down for our district that we would be returning to masks.
My motivation dropped immediately. My spirit waned. My effort, saddened.
Back to masks?!? Nooooo!!!!!
Whether it was the right thing to do or not did not matter to me at the time. I’m not one for political conversations. I had no agenda. I was simply tired of having to wear a mask and I was under the impression we were going to be free of them.
Within a week, I was exhausted and it appeared everyone else was too. That was about two months ago. Not much has changed for us. Except that we are more exhausted than ever.
The year has brought more challenges than ever. Students are not only behind academically due to missing school, but also two years of social and emotional development. TikTok challenges encouraging students to tear apart school bathrooms and facilities. Students releasing their aggression and pent up frustrations on each other. Parents, distraught and at a loss for how to help their children. Mental Health support is overloaded.
Yes, students and parents are dealing with the after effects of going through (and still going through) a pandemic, but so are the leaders. The administrators. The teachers. The support staff. Everyone of them have had to experience the pandemic for themselves and have made their best effort to guide others through as well.
I recently attended a conference for high school counselors. My hope this year was to find some motivation, some inspiration to keep on keeping on. Out of nine sessions, I attended four or five on burnout or self-care or the like. Unfortunately, the answers were all pretty much the same. Keep doing what you are doing.
I was already doing everything I knew to do. Except for physical activity.
My energy had waned. I had been intending to work out for quite some time. In my head. I just couldn’t get my heart to go along with it.
Now, thanks to those sessions, I have jogged three out of the last five days and did another workout at school led by our great JROTC instructors. I believe it will help.
The vaccine was recently approved for children ages five to eleven. I’m hearing about a lot of hesitancy. I totally understand even though it has been approved by the FDA and the CDC. But, that also makes me feel less hope that this pandemic will end any time soon.
Thus, my feelings of despair continue.
What does one write about when they lose inspiration? What should I share?
My reality. This is where I’ve been and why I have lost much motivation.
Not to mention that others have it much worse than I do.
My wife, for instance, has been dealing with the aging of her parents. The last six months have been a challenge as the family has had to make difficult decisions together on how to best care for them. It has been overwhelming for her and the family.
Many people working in different fields have had to endure much more than education. I can’t even imagine working in healthcare right now. Yet, my 16 year old daughter has been doing that as an STNA at a nursing home while taking college classes as a high school junior, preparing to graduate a year early.
She had her own challenges coming through this pandemic and she has been incredibly resilient while also helping to care for her aging grandparents as much as possible. She has held it together and continued much success. She is an incredible young lady.
I suppose that is where I look for my encouragement. And maybe where we should all look.
The bright side. The things for which we have to be thankful.
No matter how challenging, there are always bright spots and reasons to be thankful.
I am thankful for a supportive wife who always tries to make me feel better. I am thankful for my middle daughter who is working full-time as a PTA at twenty years of age and attending full-time at OSU to earn a bachelor’s in Criminology online. She is paying for school out of pocket, with no loans.
My oldest daughter recently transitioned back to Ohio, completed a new EFDA certification in the Dental Assisting field, became a lead dental assistant with her dentist, and moved into her own place (twice) during the pandemic.
They have all been incredibly resilient during a very difficult time, all working in the healthcare industry.
I am thankful that I haven’t lost a job. I am thankful that I’ve been able to maintain present employment and continue to serve our community. I am thankful that my relationship with my wife is as strong as ever. I am thankful that I was able to still release my personal memoir (two years in the writing, 48 years in the making) during the pandemic.
I am thankful that my God has never left me. I am thankful to be his chosen son. I am thankful for eternal salvation that I get to experience every day. I am thankful for God’s provision to help us get out of debt during the pandemic and I am thankful for a future that I knew He holds for me.
While times may be tough, we don’t lose hope if we remember how thankful we are for the good things in our lives.
What do you have to be thankful for? What actually went well for you during the pandemic? What have you overcome to be where you are today?