your patience will be rewarded

I’m not a very patient person (thanks mom). I wouldn’t say I’m overly impatient either (thanks dad). I am capable of rational and logic thinking when it comes to waiting for the goods, the this, the that. But that rational thought only gets me so far. Sooner or later I just want something to happen! Just a couple weeks ago I wrote about my current lack of forward progress. I wrote about how things in my life just aren’t moving quickly enough for me. And I concluded with the understanding that I needed to just be patient.

I’ve been patiently waiting for over a year. I left the classroom bruised and beaten, and with a heavy chip on my shoulder for public school. I won’t get into the dirty details, but those of you close to me know at least some parts of this story.

For a year I hemmed and hawed on education. It’s my passion, no doubt. But every time someone asked me if I was going to teach again, I’d say, “Well, not in a traditional public school.” I elaborated to say that I would teach in an “alternative” setting — like a private school or a charter school or a specialized school. Although around here, those opportunities are few and far between. But teaching in a “non-traditional” setting was always my preference. It’s how I taught (for better or worse) in my more “traditional” classroom, given some obvious limitations. For nine years my dream job was teaching at our district’s alternative program. It was like a charter school within the district. But that opportunity didn’t happen during my tenure.

After the chaos of leaving the high school mid-year, I needed to take a break from education, as much as I loved it. So this past year I’ve been working part-time in the cheese shop of a local, uh, grocery store. It’s really more than just your average grocery store. It’s a fancied-up version. And it’s been a really wonderful and meaningful experience for me. I never had the experience of working retail. Let me tell you — it’s not easy. You miss out on a lot of stuff. Your schedule isn’t consistent. And the public is not always nice. (But actually, I rarely encountered rude or ungrateful customers.)

I loved almost every single minute of that job. No, it wasn’t intellectually demanding. No, it wasn’t high stakes, high-pressure work. But it was fun and warm and friendly. I found ways of making it challenging. And I felt valued and important. No, we weren’t solving life’s problems in our little cheese shop, but we were doing meaningful work because we believed in providing a quality product (in this case, fancy cheese) to our customers.

Another side benefit of working in the cheese shop is it allowed me time and flexibility to grow in other areas of my life. Particularly my trail running. Retail hours suit trail running very nicely. I could run in the morning on my days off or before work. And even though I missed out on a lot of evenings with my kid and husband, I had a lot of unique time slots with them — both individually and together. The cheese shop gig also gave me stability while I continued the very important, hard work on my self. That job, the friendships I made there, the people I worked with, the value and importance I felt as an employee — these all were paramount to my personal growth. When I left the classroom I was fighting a lot of demons. A year and a half later and I feel like a whole different person. I’m alive and hopeful and joyful and excited about all the little adventures and challenges that come my way.

It’s been a great year in the cheese shop. And just shortly after I celebrated my one-year anniversary with the company, I had a very serendipitous conversation with a local teacher. This led to me applying for and accepting a teaching position at a local charter school. And so now I am transitioning away from this job I called home for the past year and back into the classroom, in an environment I believe will suit my education philosophy much better. I’m sad to be leaving my cheese family, but I’m so over-the-moon excited for this new chapter in my life. I can’t wait to meet my kids and get to know them, to teach and love and support them, to connect with colleagues and make new friendships, and to be a part of a community of teachers with like-minded philosophies.

I can already foresee how this new career will present some personal challenges: time for trail running, logistics of scheduling pickups and drop-offs, the strain on certain friendships. But life is not perfect, and there’s always going to be an element of stress and challenges. I’m ok with this. It will all work out. As long as there is patience and understanding and support, all those little challenges will work themselves out over time.

But, you guys…. I get to be a teacher again!

I have been patient… and forward progress is happening.

ILYKG

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[POEM] the watch maker slows time then speeds it up all while laughing maniacally

 



the watch maker slows time then speeds it up all while laughing maniacally

mashed avocado vibrant green
coffee whipped milk
that moment
stolen
a thief of time
fifteen minutes, thirty
sipping hot coffee
soft melodies filling space
silence filling space
birds, wind, highway noise filling space
dogs sigh, bark, snore, jingle collars
they want to run far and long
but they sleep because it’s hot

this moment
was stolen
like the others
I am a thief

avocado browns on the toast
coffee cools in the mug
while I type type type
try to articulate my passions
in a letter
trying to sound professional
but sincere

I’m not saying what they want to hear
(that was never my problem… or
maybe “problem” is exactly what it is)
I don’t lack for honesty
about my passions
I don’t compromise myself for others

a stolen moment
a thief wrapping time around time around time
try to stop it, will it to slow
s l o w     d o w n
but it doesn’t
instead, speeds along and laughs
you can’t steal moments
only borrow them apologetically
with gratefulness
from the time keeper, watch maker
but I will continue to try
to thieve when I can, where I can
smell summer flowers and fresh air
sit in silence and then not silence and then silence

/ / /

Gina Thompson
24 July 2017
Plesant Gap, PA

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the lack of forward progress

 

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cobblestone beach, Acadia National Park. July 11, 2017. Photo credit: me

I asked a friend how he was doing these days. He said “fine” in that way that doesn’t really mean fine at all. Then he elaborated a bit to say that he feels as though he’s in a holding pattern and not making much progress (in life).

A woman I work out with said a similar thing about her running. She feels like she’s not getting better and maybe getting worse. She expressed how it was hard to motivate herself, which means running less, which means not getting better.

 

I told my friend in response to his “holding pattern” comment that I felt similar.
“… just kind of a slump. Not depressed really… at least not in the same way I used to be. But I’m getting really frustrated with my lack of forward progress in various aspects of my life.” 

Frustration. That’s what I’ve got here.

I want to write poems, but the words aren’t forming and flowing for me.
I want to run in the woods, but my legs are heavy and my breath is labored and my mind won’t stop telling me I can’t
I want to find a job that matches my passion for education, but I’m unsure of what that looks like.
I want to get my real estate license, but my online course is taking a lot of time and I think I’m doing it wrong — it’s been so long since I’ve been a student.
Speaking of being a student: I’m finishing my M.Ed. this fall but I haven’t yet signed up for my last course or done draft work on my Paper. The last time I wrote academically was in 2012.
I want to have a happy, fun-loving relationship with my spouse, but we’ve got so much going on and little time to work on us.
I want to not be so poor that it’s scary. I want to have enough money to pay my bills each month, and maybe some to save. It’s hard seeing others around me buy lovely things and to feel jealous. I hate that I drive a car that everyone else thinks is cute but that has no air conditioning, a non-functioning convertible top, and no backseat for my kid.

When I was trying to formulate the words to describe my mental state to my friend the word hopeless kept popping up. In that, the difference between what’s going on now and my life two years ago is that I no longer feel hopeless. There isn’t that same doom and gloom that weighs heavy on me. These days, I have a lot more hope and belief in my own ability to forge on, even in difficult times. If you’ve been following my journey for a while now, you know this difference. You’ve read it, you’ve seen it. I am so proud of my journey out of the darkness that consumed me years ago. I am much happier, stronger, self-loving, confident, and hopeful.

But I’m frustrated. And I’m impatient. I want things to move along more quickly than they are. I see friends making forward progress and accomplishing great things and I feel left behind. I feel like a loser. But a lot of that is on me. I could have started real estate classes last year when I was thinking about it but too scared to do it. I could have set up a training schedule for my trail runs and read articles on improving my technique and speed, but I haven’t. I could have immediately looked for other teaching jobs after my last one ended.

Let me give you some insight that I suspect is not so unique to me: I get an adrenaline rush and terribly excited about the thought of doing meaningful work. But I have an irrational fear of failing, which keeps me from starting that work. You can’t fail at something you haven’t done, right? (Side note: I call bullshit, of course. All those cheesy motivational posters are right: you miss out on every shot you don’t take, so…)

It’s been a year and a half now since I’ve been in the classroom. I miss teaching. I miss the relationships I formed with my students. The meaningfulness of it all. I still don’t miss the politics. The unsupportive environment I felt there. But I miss watching my kids (students) grow into their own identity. I miss being there for that, helping them with that, guiding, encouraging, supporting. And I miss the intellectual challenge of teaching. I joke with a friend who only knows me post-teaching and say, “I wish you would have known me when I was smart. I used to be smart, you know.”

I don’t really know what my point is of sharing this. I came here to write a poem, but this came out instead. Maybe it’s ok to be in this holding pattern, this roadblock. As long as it’s temporary. And as long as I continue to feel hopeful about my forward progress. I need to learn patience. And I need to give myself more credit for what I DO do than what I’m not doing. Day in and day out I’m doing a ton of meaningful work – as a mom, wife, friend, co-worker, etc. I am making foward progress, it’s just slow. Maybe that’s what I need right now.

That, and maybe a good kick in the ass.

Thank you to those who continue to love and support me. My life would be nothing without all the love I receive from friends and family. I can’t seem to formulate words that doesn’t make it sound so cliche. But the people in my life and the relationships I have with them is what keeps me moving. I love the fuck outta every one of yall, even if I don’t say it all the time.

~ I love you keep going ~

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[POEM] these bridges were built

these bridges were built

they stood in front of the bridge
all steel and concrete
“set it ablaze watch it burn”
hot steel melting and shape shifting
dripping into a new solid

the wooden one you burned
laughed maniacally
as you turned your back
on smoke and flames rising from the beams

maybe that’s not how the story goes
it’s the one I like to tell
some would agree
others would not

this one here (camera angle wide
two people in the middle of the frame,
backs to the photographer)
is being rebuilt
stronger maybe
more resistant
against inclement weather
inclement, expected, predicted

this time
less forgiving of bridge burners
playing experiment with materials
playing god with hearts

that one time you were this
but now you’re that
and now we’re not that but this
or not this and not that either
we’re standing on the bridge
burning, being rebuilt, for another turn
another burn

/ / /

Gina Thompson
30 June 2017
Bellefonte PA

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[POEM] today’s run


today’s run

two checks or one check
one check now two checks
I know you have to but it still hurts
I know you want to and that hurts more
she likes feathers so I brought one
a bird leaf from the forest
but it never made it to her hands

these ferns are so thick now
just a month before they were fiddleheads
curled and timid
unsure of their own unfurling
I missed the exact moment of burst
now it’s all eruption of green
thick, not too thick
(just the perfect amount of thick)
speckled fungi of vibrant oranges
against green sprouting from earth
Everywhere these colors
have burst into being

I worry sometimes about my co-dependency on
green moss against rock
blanket of ferns
views of never ending ridges and valley
sounds of mountains springs making
their journey to larger water
hungry bodies eager for their arrival

but if I must be co-dependent then I’d rather it be
on this forest and its burst of colors and sounds
than anything (scratch that)
than anyone
not deserving of what I have to give
in exchange what is given to me

there were millions of stream crossings that day
dozens of holes in a hollowed out tree
a snake rattling under leaves
a toad I couldn’t quite catch
a quiet forest settling into summer

but today there was just a wrong turn
and when I realized I was on
the wrong path I took it anyway
knowing exactly where it would end

/ / /

Gina Thompson
25 June 2017
Bellefonte PA

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[POEM] this too shall pass

impermanence3


this too shall pass

so much so that he tattooed it on his arm
a permanent reminder of the impermanence of life
to remind him that these feelings never last
the intensity of that first kiss
stolen time that is not given
getting caught in a deluge of rain
the skip of the heart from a smile
the numbness of tragedy

it all fades eventually
into quiet whispers of our past
so we get permanent reminders
on our skin
perhaps a quote on the foot
or maybe personally designed art
on the forearm or leg

so we can hold on to these feelings
for when impermanence
washes them away

/ / /

Gina Thompson
19 June 2017
State College PA

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[POEM] there we all were

there we all were
for the original Websters poetry open mic crew

Today I found us in a little pocket folder

Not just you and I 

But the collective “us” we created 

Maybe you created, but I like to think I had a hand in it 

Two years gone and nothing remains but shadows

If you listen close you can hear the whispers of words  

being spoken rhythmically and melodically 

and a collective laughter can be heard among the smell of musty books 

We were brought together by our love 

of words crafted carefully and tenderly together 

In that basement cafe we made something beautiful together 

Now there’s only the memory of a not so easily forgotten past

No matter how hard some of us try 

I found us while cleaning my office 

All together tucked inside a card stock pocket of poems 

/ / / 

Gina Thompson
13 June 2017
Bellefonte PA

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[POEM] At the intersection of Sand Spring and Bald Knob Ridge


At the intersection of Sand Spring and Bald Knob Ridge
for Stacy

It had been a hard year for us
In recovery mode, we set out for the forest 
Parked at a gate, hiked along a windy trail
It was hot under the late summer sun
But the breeze spoke only of Autumn 

We stopped for water and a snack 
I looked for forest creatures
Watched planes fly overhead 
While you made a table of the rocks 
Cut up cheese and meat with your pocket knife 
I read you poetry by a wandering Japanese monk 

You asked if we should keep going
I said no, because I didn’t understand then 
The significance of distance 
I didn’t know that trail the way I do now 
How it curves and climbs, up over the ridge line and down to the stream

This forest is so familiar now
I can hardly remember a time before I knew it so intimately 
But I remember that day
Early autumn breeze, late summer sun, Ryokan, and a trail beneath our feet 

/ / /

Gina Thompson 
14 May 2017
Bald Knob Ridge Trail, Rothrock State Forest 

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[POEM] shared solitude

shared solitude
for JoJo

bare feet cold against
the earth, the brick steps, the wood porch
but these birds need food
and this heart needs calming
last night it didn’t frost
so life continues for the plants
the ones we’ve planted and the ones
that return from the ground year after year

mornings from this hilltop bungalow
haven’t changed all that much this past decade
a pair of doves on the dormer
the black squirrel stealing bird seed
sun casting light across the mountains
but now my solitude is sometimes
shared with a little human
smaller than me but wiser maybe

she sits beside me in quiet contemplation
points to a bird on a wire
“I wish I could go up there and say hi to that birdie”
she wants to fly
glide along air currents
and who can blame her?
“being up high is fun”
that’s why I run to the tops of mountains, I tell her
we both look out across the valley
the small mountains beyond
and I know she’s thinking the same thing:
how grand it would be to soar above the tree tops

/ / /

Gina Thompson
9 May 2017
Bellefonte PA

 

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[POEM] the birds know

the birds know

sitting on the porch steps together
she said the birds should
fly south for the winter
I reminded her it was spring
but it’s so cold this morning
the birds don’t mind, I told her
they know it’s only temporary

/ / /

Gina Thompson
9 May 2017
Bellefonte PA

free write based on the WordPress Daily Prompt: Temporary

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