I Know What I Want

There’s a balcony overlooking a spread of red hills and sagebrush where we’re staying in St. George, and I often find my whispering feet tip-toeing out there to drink in the tranquility and heat. I’ve been to this condo here in Southern Utah many times now, but each time is a new revelation: about myself, about my life, and about my dreams.

For so long, I’d only been able to focus on one thing: making it to the end of the school year. While overall rewarding, my first year of teaching was often tumultuous, filled with days of simultaneously biting my tongue while repeating myself over and over again. Once I finally made it to summer vacation, it’s almost like I’ve looked around and said to myself, “What now?”

I’ve even caught myself actually missing my students and the daily grind of teaching a few times *gasp!*

But five days of sitting in that chair up there and looking out at the view has offered me some clarity. While I DO miss some of my students, I think what I’m really missing is the feeling of being necessary, of being productive, of being filled with things outside of myself. While this trip has been a time of self-renewal, it has also reminded me that I would be grossly unhappy if I spent my whole summer like I’ve spent most of my vacation (watching t.v., surfing the Internet, looking at magazines…). Sure, these things aren’t bad—but they’re also not really enjoyable unless I feel I’ve “earned” them by doing some form of true work.

Is that weird?

Anyway, while here, I’m finally starting to pinpoint what I really want out of this summer (and no, you won’t find me making some sort of generic list of how this will be the summer of picnics, tanning, and swimming–even though I’ll probably do all of those things). Instead, I want to make plans for stretching myself in ways I normally wouldn’t. I guess I figure that the fun, summery things tend to come anyway, so what’s the use in making a list of those?

Instead, this summer I want to:
*bribe Matt to teach me some French
*discover a new genealogical line while doing family history
*do all the temple work for said line
*look into taking a dance class for adults (maybe ballet or modern)
*spend an hour each day improving my musical talents (split evenly among piano, violin, and guitar)
*continue reading at least two chapters a day from some book
*drop the end-of-school-year stress weight I put on (plus five pounds)
*de-clutter our spare bedroom *shudder*
*check out (or buy) a book on photography & buy a DSLR
*learn how to can salsa and tomato sauce come harvest time
*paint the bathroom
*read 3 classics (one each month)

Maybe I’m weird for getting excited for what just seems like more work (during the months that are supposedly “work-free” for teachers).

But I’ve discovered an absolute truth:

I am only truly happy when the majority of my time is spent in productivity, supplemented with a dose here and there of leisure.

Maybe I need to get over the fact that much of my self-esteem is founded in accomplishment and work, but for now, I’m happy with the direction I’ve given myself for the summer.

What things would you like to accomplish over the next few months?


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