Sometimes I think I am not the best GED teacher, in fact, I know I am not. When it comes to who I am, I will always lean more towards the excitement of discovery rather than mastery. I am more like the flashlight you keep in your glove compartment, in that I'm hopeful and encouraging and I leave sweetly guilt trippy messages on people's answering machines when they up and stop coming to class. There is such a wide range of subjects they have to know, and sometimes I struggle right alongside them. (Exponents, anyone? They are doing crazy weird things with exponents in these books. How did I get through college with just a rudimentary knowledge of things squared and cubed? And then I take the books home and I forget to go over anything because I am too busy having fun and then it's Monday morning and ACK!) But anyway, one thing I am doing right is I am giving them the opportunity to know the joy of writing their stories, all under the guise of "they have to write an essay, so they need to get comfortable writing." I use a variety of writing books I've collected, but mostly the prompts come from Natalie Goldberg's Writing Down the Bones and Julia Cameron's The Right to Write. And - my morning students, especially, like writing in their journals so much that sometimes I have to gently say, "It's time to bring out your study sheets, what are you supposed to be working on today?" And then I watch them head off the diving board into geometry, praying for the light of knowledge to guide them.
One of the prompts I chose last week was to make a list of all the things that make us happy. I know, I know, it sounds DEEPLY CHEESY but the great point is to realize that how much of our happiness is a choice. That's a very powerful lesson to learn, that there is always some action we can take to marginally shift the inner metronome of our hearts. I modified the lesson and asked them to list twenty five things that make them happy, just whatever pops in their head. I had one student ask me, "What about cold beer? Can I write that?" And I, being the bad teacher that I am, said, "Oh yes, definitely." Heck, if it gives them joy, I'm not going to regulate it! (Within reason, of course.) When I offered to do the exercise too, the same student said, "It will be easy for you. You're always happy."
I am generally very happy, yes, I conceded. Even annoyingly so, these days, but I welcome each burst of fresh joy with an open heart. I've tried to capture how I'm feeling these days in a poem here. I know there will be days when the sky is dark, and sometimes I look at my current condition with trepidation, thinking, when is the shoe gonna drop? But you can't do that, can't rob the joy of now and what's present with worry about what's ahead. So here's my challenge to you today - leave me a list of twenty five things that make you happy/joyous either here in the comments, or post them on your own blog, and let me know.
Here's my current list:
1. My new velvety knickerbockers. Also, the word knickerbockers.
2. Good strong coffee (currently Community Coffee's Cafe Blend)
3. The Green Bean Kid - her laugh, her pigtails, everything about her. Even when she's naughty.
4. Lots of email in my inbox.
5. Long chatty phone calls with friends.
6. My bed, oh my bed!
7. Carving pumpkins, even though I really suck at it
8. A clean house.
9. Driving down the lane to Mom and Dad's, the glimpse of the house between the pecan trees.
10. Writing - poetry, a blog post, a long email, scribbling in my red journal.
11. Reading books that feed my soul (currently: Out of The Question, Into the Mystery by Len Sweet).
12. Husband's hugs, especially the ones where he holds me close and I feel like precious treasure, all golden and sapphire.
13. Dancing with children, and watching them dance with pure abandon, like Sufis around a mighty fire.
14. This album - oh my stars, and how!
15. Isabella playing hide and seek under the covers.
16. Baby showers that include margaritas. And Mexican food - with no dumb baby shower games.
17. Experiencing worship with people you love so deeply and truly, a little taste of heaven on earth. 18. Meetings that are full of excitement and creative ideas and also full of soulful connection.
19. Velcro being snuggly and funny, instead of annoyingly touching me with his cold snout.
20. Singing - in the car, in the house, in church, everywhere
21. Days where everything you do seems touched by synchronicity and magic.
22. A really good pen.
23. New Vogue magazines.
24. The Office - especially Jim and Pam.
25. Chasing the sunset.