9/3/19 - This, too.
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Sometimes I feel like an adult who is years past my school days, and sometimes I feel like I’m entering 28th grade and enrolling in remedial Bullshit Tolerance...for the 16th time.
Hi! This is Coach Sarah, and this is the Morning Mantra!
*cue intro music*
Hi, my name is Sarah Axelrod. I'm a run coach and a lover of poetry, and a person who cares about your well-being. You don't have to be an athlete to be #coachedandloved, and if you need an anchor to hold onto as you move through a tough situation, you've come to the right place.
Today’s mantra is: this, too.
Somewhere, on a campus where I used to work and study, this is the day. The students are in a frenzy to “shop” all the classes and the instructors are rushing to staff all the sections of all the languages and switch classrooms at the last minute because enrollment predictions are way off, and everyone is just waiting, WAITING, for things to settle down so they can get on with the work. The work of teaching, the work of learning, the work of checking boxes on the long road to midterms and then finals and then break.
As someone who only took one year off between college and grad school (one year in which I taught high school on more or less this same schedule) I have been raised practically on the academic year. My dad was a professor for most of my childhood, starting the year I was born, and that meant our whole family lived according to its whims. Going to grad school was a choice I enthusiastically made, especially since it was 2009 and recent college grads weren’t doing so hot on the job market. There was always part of me that wondered what it would be like to just...live a life where September was another month, Labor Day just another paid holiday.
This Labor Day is a work day, in fact, my first work day back from vacation. We are at the onset of a season of the year in our business - the fall racing season - but there are no midterms and there is DEFINITELY no winter break - in fact, there are really cool Coach Sarah plans for January the first. This is the first year of my life as I remember it where no one in my family is on a school year schedule. Next September when my daughter starts public school, it will all change yet again, and probably revert to a life at least somewhat influenced by the academic calendar. But right now I am in an odd lull where something feels missing.
Change is disorienting, and this is a time of year when lots of people are settling into new environments. In some cases, new homes, new jobs, new schools. In other cases, there is a new void where something used to be. Children going off to college for the first time. A step away from an old job where a new one will not be taking its place (or has yet to do so). I think it’s disorienting for me precisely because it’s a season that has always brought both newness and at the same time a return to order, in the form of a fall semester schedule. In the absence of that order, something else is here, and I am still making sense of it.
In these moments, I try to remember how shocking and disorienting EVERY new semester felt, every new schedule, every new set of people and expectations and habits. It was always exhausting! Every new syllabus was like WHOA, how are we EVER going to do all the things that get us to that final exam? But at some point, everyone sank into a rhythm, the anxiety died down, and the promised routine felt restored.
So, the mantra. If you are in a newness that feels tenuous and unfamiliar, remember that soon, this, too, will feel like the same old thing. Soon, this, too will have stretched to fit you, and you will have made space where more is needed. This, too, is a life that you will see yourself living. It’s okay not to be okay, and to grieve the loss of something that defined your life for years, maybe even decades. Let it come. Sit with it. You need not forget what was or set aside the feelings you may have in its absence. When you are ready, you will make space for this, too.