It has been a very long time since I have shared my thoughts with my readers. Simply put – I feel like I have lost my voice. It happens to everyone that writes from time to time. I have spent these past weeks, unexpectedly, taking a hiatus from writing in order to spend time and to focus on myself and my family. This unplanned break from writing has provided me with time to reflect, heal, and to simply be.
As a school teacher, I head back into the classroom in one more week. This summer has flown on by! When I run into people out and about town, they always ask, “How’s your summer?” My immediate response is good, and then I shake my head and say, “No, it’s been rough. My dad died.” I suppose that has been the biggest reason that I have lost my writing voice this summer. Grief is hard.
My dad, although he had dementia and was living in memory care, passed away unexpectedly in early June. One Sunday, after an afternoon visit with my mom and brother, my dad headed to dinner. At the dining table he slumped over and passed away. His heart had given out. My dad’s death was sudden, unexpected, and heartbreaking. My dad was a larger than life man and always there to cheer me on. I shared Life Lessons From My Dad – A Father’s Wisdom a few years back.
My mom called me to tell me about my dad while I was finishing shopping for an end-of-school staff event. I tried to comprehend the news while standing in the middle of Costco clutching my shopping cart. My parents live a number of states away from me, so rushing right on over was not an option. I still had three more days of teaching to complete, report cards to finalize, a classroom to put to summer’s rest, and student files to organize. All of this while writing my dad’s obituary and helping my mom plan the funeral service. A week later, I was surrounded by family as we laid my dad to rest with a service that would have made him proud.
It was not lost on me that the phone call came while shopping for an end-of-school event. Last August, I was shopping for beginning-of-school supplies when I received a phone call telling me that a dear friend of mine had unexpectedly (and way too young) died of an apparent heart attack. I shared the loss of my friend Penny in the post titled: Dealing with Sadness and Loss During the Pandemic. Grief is hard.
Continuing to Move Forward
The death of my friend Penny was a catalyst to dive even deeper into my own personal health. Penny was the friend that was also on the never-ending quest of living a healthy lifestyle with me. We swam laps together, shared healthy recipes, and worked to motivate each other on our health journeys. Penny’s death was the precipitant to signing up and competing an accelerated year-long course with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.
While this certified me to be a health coach, completing the course was more about understanding the many tenets of health and wellness for myself. My dad had dementia and died of a cardiac arrest. I have a family history of health concerns. Learning to take care of my brain and my heart has been an ongoing quest of mine.
Throw in Teaching During a Pandemic
I really do not think that I can adequately explain how challenging teaching has been this past school year. From hybrid teaching, Zoom leesons, teaching in-person in an outdoor classroom, rotating through smaller groups of students, to finally finishing the year with all of my second graders back on campus. It was a year of constant pivots, one that that tested all of our resilience, flexibility, and stamina. It was exhausting.
From losing my friend Penny, to teaching during a pandemic, to the loss of my father, this has been a rough year. The one thing that has been constant has been my quest for living a healthy lifestyle. In continuing to move forward, I have realized that with all of the challenges and heartache there is so much that I have no control over. But I do have control over choices regarding my lifestyle. Which is why so much of my writing has focused on living a healthier lifestyle. Focusing on a plant-based diet, exercise, mediation, time in nature, honoring the connections in my life, and attending church have been the lifestyle tools that have helped my not only survive but also thrive during these turbulent times. Allowing myself the time to grieve and feel the sadness has also been important.
I think that we all have learned over past 18 months that life can present unexpected challenges in the blink of an eye and that anyone can suffer. It is ok to not be ok – for a time. No one wants to get stuck in “not ok.”
Not to belabor the challenges of this past year. My life has also had many bright spots – lots of hiking in nature, time with friends (once we were all vaccinated) and many laugh-out-loud moments. It is the goodness of life that we hang onto while we deal with the hard.
So here I am, continuing to move forward by bringing back my writing voice, dealing with my grief, and focusing on living a healthy lifestyle. May you, too, continue to move forward in health, wellness, friendship and love as well.