Escaping Facebook

Daydream

Yesterday, for the first time in a week, I opened the Facebook app on my phone and began scrolling.

I checked my notifications.

Caught up on my friends’ lives.

Aimlessly scrolled.

And then deleted the app for a second time.

I was as surprised as anyone. I told myself I’d take a week away from the draw of Facebook in an effort to limit my obsessive timeline scrolling. But after feeling the freedom that comes from not worrying about status updates or notifications, returning to Facebook was a great deal less enjoyable than I expected. I imagined feeling comfort at being “reconnected.” But all I felt was the pressure to catch up and “participate” by liking and commenting on posts.

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Please don’t think that I’m disinterested in my friends’ lives. I genuinely care for their well-being, and I’m curious about their experiences. But the cost has become too great as of late. I’ve let the pressure to be connected and up-to-date build to the point that I feel forced to keep up with Facebook “news.”

Until this week, I didn’t realize how much I’ve let Facebook distract me. I used to spend every spare moment on it, always afraid I’d miss something.

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But this week I accepted that I don’t need to know what everyone is doing all the time. In fact, I feel saner if I don’t. Consequently, I had more time to focus on things I do need to keep up on, like grading papers, planning lessons, connecting with family, and cleaning my home. Instead of clicking on Facebook while my computer loaded or the oven heated, I looked up new recipes, caught up on world news, or drank in a few moments of unscheduled peace.

It was lovely.

For the first time in ages, I enjoyed the freedom of leaving my phone in one room as I made my way to another.

Honestly, I feel more centered, more capable of focusing. As an active proponent of living consciously, I believe this is a step in the right direction for me.

I still see the value in Facebook as a tool to connect friends and family, and I have not deleted my account completely. But I have accepted that I am happier without Facebook as a part of my daily routine.

With this realization, came the desire to keep Facebook off my phone. So, unlike the first time, I felt no apprehension when I confirmed my desire to delete the app that has eaten up so much of my time.

Oh, I’m sure I’ll check in at some point.

But it feels wonderful to say I’m not sure when that will be.

Daydream

 

photo credit: Scott Beale via photopin cc
photo credit: Viktor Hertz via photopin cc
photo credit: Mark J P via photopin cc

You Are Welcome Here

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I’d like to begin by apologizing for the lack of a blog last week. The past two weeks have been a complete whirlwind of gluing, stapling, and syllabus-making. All leading up to today…the first day of the new school year.

It’s funny how much preparation goes into a classroom. What seems like it should take two days to decorate and equip, really takes six because every detail matters. This year the details seemed even more important because it was my first school year with a new philosophy.

In years prior, I focused on efficiency. How could I streamline everything so that I could get the most done in the shortest amount of time? In my defense, I feel every year’s added responsibilities and expectations of teachers are partly to blame for making this a common educational philosophy. In response to this pressure, I spent the minimum amount of time necessary throwing up mis-matching, educational posters and random classroom adornments. The result was less than visually pleasing, but it passed as a decorated classroom, and I quickly moved on to more demanding tasks like analyzing my students’ past test scores and trying to develop lessons to meet the county’s ever-changing standards.

This year, however, I was on a mission to change my approach. After my transformative experience last school year, I vowed to make my classroom a space where students felt safe and comfortable. I wanted it to be a clean, bright, inviting space.

So I began with my physical environment.

I left my tattered posters in the closet.

I framed things.

I installed more group workspaces.

I brought in nature with plants and wide open windows.

I focused on creating an environment that would send a positive message:
You are welcome here.

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It took over a week to decorate. But the effect was exactly what I wanted. I can feel it every time I walk into my classroom. The words greet me at the door:
You are welcome here.

It’s my hope that these words will reinforce the barrier that I’ve tried to create between the political bureaucracy that’s taken over education and how we approach learning in my classroom.

It was in this spirit that I found myself repeating my convictions to every class today:
What we do in here matters.

I want them to believe that. I want them to embrace it.

Not because an end of course exam says so. But because right now they are determining how they will communicate with the rest of the world. And more than anything, I want to give them the tools to speak confidently, convincingly, and in a grammatically correct manner (still an English teacher). I want them to know that I take them seriously, and they should, too.

I want them to know they are welcome to be themselves.

My walls are the first step.

Hopefully, I can do the rest.

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Accepting When It’s Time to Let Go

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An errant feather.

A stray bit of seed.

The ding of a toy bell.

The chirp of another bird…not mine.

It takes only the smallest reminder to bring forth a wave of emptiness…each time.

And yet, the words for tonight’s blog have been with me all week:

It was his time to let go. Now, it is my time to let him go.

But after sixteen years of his proud, exuberant personality, I’m having a great deal of trouble letting him go.

Because I’m reconciling with the fact that I’ll never again see all four ounces of him march down the hallway as if on a mission. Or watch him walk right up to a thirty-five pound dog and nip him on the nose. Or perch on my book and lean over as if carefully reading upside down. (He was an unspoken fan of Jane Austen’s work.)

He was the embodiment of a big bird in a little lovebird’s body, and I adored him for it.

Now, it is too quiet in the house. No one chirps or rings bells in greeting. And every time I go to talk to him, I encounter only the emptiness that accompanies loss.

It was his time, and I must let him go.

I remember being afraid of these words nearly a decade ago as I stood in my parents’ back yard, listening to him chirp delightedly from a neighbor’s tree, several houses away. While I was cleaning the summer room, he had flown out and decided to visit with some of the local birds. Given the size and distance of the tree, I knew then that there was a possibility I’d never see him again, that he’d abscond with his new friends and spend the rest of his life in the trees.

But he didn’t. Instead, he flew back to me, unceremoniously landing on my head and remaining there as I proceeded to his cage.

I distinctly remember reveling in the fact that he could have left me that day, and I would have had to let him go.

But he chose to stay with me.

And now I can’t completely let him go.

I realized this the other day as I selected a new fabric for my classroom bulletin board, and I was reminded of it yesterday as I carefully anchored the fabric to the panel.IMG_0390

Stepping back, I couldn’t help but smile at the array of birds gracing my classroom wall. Suddenly, I felt less alone.

IMG_0391It was then that I knew he had once again flown back to me.

Somehow, I’d managed to both let go and hold on.

And while this doesn’t erase the emptiness created by his physical absence, it does ease the hurt of losing a life-long friend.

Released, but never forgotten.

Goodbye, Fawkes.