Holiday Anticipation


One of my high school students came into class today talking about how he just couldn't wait for break, and how the next few days were going to feel so hard. Dude, I hear you.

In fact, as I scroll through social media these days, all of my teacher friends are posting memes and photos reflecting this deep desire to just be done with it. To get to through this week and to those days of sweet freedom. To end this particularly challenging week of giddy children vibrating with the excitement and/or terror of spending so much time away from school and with their families. 

So I abandoned our theme of kindness for the day, and we broke down anticipation. Some students shared how they dreaded the upcoming holidays and what it means to spend that much time with their families. Some reflected on being eager for the break from school.

Either way, I reflected back, our minds get caught up in the wanting or not wanting, and lose track of what is right in front of us. Either way, we suffer. We suffer from wanting it to be break, or not wanting it to be break. In the meantime, we lose the entire week before break to our thoughts. We lose what is actually real. As my teachers Chris McKenna and Megan Cowan say, "It's two sides of the same coin."

So what can we do to experience this week rather than see it as a time that must be endured?

A few tips and tricks that I have found helpful:

1. Observe where you are.

The first thing I find most helpful is just to notice my mind is going there. As Dan Siegel says, "Name it to tame it," so I observe, "I am really wanting to be done. I am really wanting to be drinking egg nog at my mom's house in front of the tree." Just saying it out loud helps take some of the intensity our of my feelings and gives them some space to breathe.

2. Break it down.

When I think about a whole week before break, I go bananas. But when I focus on the school day in front of me, the class in front of me, the specific moment I am in with a class, it suddenly seems much less daunting. In my classes where things are going well, I get to fully enjoy engaging with them. In my classes where they are tough, I can concentrate on the toughness without the added stress of needing it to end. Because it won't until it does. My needing it to be different doesn't help. So when I catch my mind going there, I visualize the week ahead, breaking down into my day, breaking down into the moment I'm in, as a way of reconnecting and reorienting.

23 Find the joy.

I started my day this morning by prompting, "How can I enjoy today?"  I had challenging moments today, to be sure, and did not enjoy every moment.  But just dropping that question in meant that I was looking for ways to enjoy the day rather than steeping in my own angst. Conveniently, I was leading lessons on gratitude with my elementary school students this afternoon, so I had a chance to remind myself of all the good I get to experience in the moment. Actively looking for and reflecting on the good I have right now helps me stay connected and not get caught up in anticipation.

So happy week before break, all!

May you all find ways of enjoying the right now, even as the pull (or push) of the break ahead is strong.

In gratitude,