In my end of the year faculty review, my principal asked me how I felt my year had been. I explained the successes and frustrations of teaching a new grade level and a new subject. Then, I explained that personally I had lost a 3-year relationship, my family had lost its business and I had lost both my grandfathers in the course of the school year. He looked at me and said, “Wow, I hadn’t put that all together.” I smiled and said, “All things considered, I think I did pretty well making it through each day.”
Sometimes you have those years in life. For me those losses meant learning where I was from and how to stand up for myself professionally and personally. It meant defending my right to be me. Do I wish at times that I didn’t have to continually fight and battle this year? Of course. Do I wish at times that the mouring period was over? Of course. Do I wish at times that I had never had to go through this year? Absolutely not. Honestly, I am surprised that I noticed this smiling bench at Connemar, but I am glad I did. The thing I like most about this chance encounter is that it’s a natural smile. Not forced or painted on: pure and simple. There’s also a hint of Mona Lisa mystique and mischief in that smile. A perfect picture of where I am right now. I have recovered from the whiplash of the emotional roller coaster I have been riding this year. I know these losses have molded me and shaped me. I know that I am stronger and more of who I am than I have ever been before. No facades. No fake, cheesy smiles to ensure a picture, perfect product, just natural me: a little bit of mischief and solid as rock.