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Friday, August 28, 2015

Routines

There are a lot of landmarks looming for me right now. Next June I turn 40. I'm just about to start teaching for my 11th year at the same school which means I've lived here for 10 years, taught here for 10 years and now gone camping for the 10th year in a row.

I remember how I felt at the end of my annual camping trip after the very first year. Pure terror filled me as I'd had a rough beginning at the new job and have always tended to be anxious. I felt nauseous and doomed. Teaching has always been anxiety-producing. At other times in my career it has manifested as keeping candles oriented in a particular way during yoga to help me see how close to Shabbat I was. At other times I remember being afraid to get out of bed until I could just remember the face of a child from my class instead of feeling I was drowning in the sea of things I needed to do and could not seem to do well enough.

It has been a habit for me to cling desperately to things that make me feel safe... visits home to Portland, hoarding of special items I'd buy there, weekends, precious moments in nature.

I've been through the cycle so many times now, it's no longer a big deal. When I went on my souvenir hunts this summer, I still loaded up, but not as much, and wondered what things at home I could get rid of at the same time.

How is this possible?

For one, I've become a better teacher.

For another, I have an easier position now than I used to.

Refuge seems to always be accessible now even if it takes a deliberate breath or step away from a difficult situation, but I've so many times gone through days that just weren't as bad as I thought, that I feel fine more often now.

As I began to reflect on this I wondered if age has brought a dulling of my feelings. I'm feeling less anxious. Does that mean less happy too? Now... it just means feeling a little lighter. Happiness is less desperate, but it's certainly there.

Don't get me wrong. I wouldn't mind if I were still camping right now. However, when I show up on Tuesday next week, it will feel familiar and I don't have to think a lot about it right now.

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