Whirlwind: 1) a column of air moving rapidly around and around in a cylindrical or funnel shape

2) used in similes and metaphors to describe a very energetic or tumultuous person or process

Yesterday morning I sat on the patio, journal on my lap and pen my hand, and I didn’t write a single word. No words came to me. I tried to simply *list* my thoughts; surprisingly (considering that I am a world-class list-maker), I couldn’t even jot down a simple list . . . of anything. Not my emotions, not of to-do’s I want to tackle over the next few weeks, not even of the to-do’s for the day. I felt depleted of words, of thought even.

As I sat there in the sunshine, watching the plentiful and beautiful Cardinals swooping around me to settle on one of the bird feeders or the deck railing or roof line of the house, I finally realized that the reason for my lethargy was that for the past 9 days, my life had been a whirlwind. Let me explain.

In 9 days — from Mother’s Day until this past Monday — I had experienced the following:

  • a wonderful Mother’s Day visit from my daughter and her boyfriend that included a trip to a local winery for lunch
  • a downed tree limb (from a tree in the grassy strip between the sidewalk and road which is, thankfully, the city’s responsibility) that landed on the edge of the neighbor’s car and wiped out my internet for 3 days; I needed the internet for work, so this resulted in numerous trips to Starbucks, McD’s, and other free wifi establishments
  • a 5-day visit from my son and his girlfriend *and* their 2 dogs — one, small and energetic; the other, an almost-2-year-old very energetic brindle Boxer
  • lots of time spent working in the yard, visiting the downtown area of our lovely hometown, etc.
  • a day in the city with my son and daughter and his/her  girl/boyfriend (respectively) with lunch and a brewery tour, followed by my daughter’s pre-commencement ceremony (she graduated with her Masters)
  • a graduation party here at the house for my daughter
  • a 2nd downed tree limb during the party (same tree — thank goodness, still the city’s responsibility) — this limb slightly damaged one attendee’s car and smashed the brand-new minivan of another attendee 🙁
  • no internet for 4 more days
  • final grading of a couple of batches of researched argument essays
  • administering of final exams; grading of 5 classes’ finals; figuring and posting grades for those 5 classes

No wonder I couldn’t formulate a journal entry, or even much of a thought. I was mentally exhausted.

But it wasn’t just the last 9 days that had been mentally taxing; the past 9 months have been the 2nd-most stressful of my 20+ year teaching career. Because I decided when I started this blog that I wouldn’t share work-related details here, I will only say that the turmoil came from multiple sources and was almost-continuous.

These last 9 months, the culmination of a difficult last 5 years, brought me to a place where I was — in almost every way — unhappy.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve mulled over where I am and where I want to be — sadly, the two places are pretty far apart right now. But sitting in the sunshine yesterday, despite being too wiped out to do much thinking at all, one very clear thought resounded in my head:

 I don’t like where I’ve landed, but I am making it my mission these next three months to change that — to                 determine where I want to be, make a plan to get there, and begin implementing that plan. 

No more just going through the motions. No more just putting one foot in front of the other. No more just getting through each day to do it all again the next. No more disjointed plans — bandaids, really — that don’t come to fruition.

No more just surviving the whirlwind and whatever & wherever it takes me.

My goal is not “happiness”; as Ralph Waldo Emerson said:



Instead, my goal is to be at peace, knowing that I am where I am supposed to be and doing what I am designed to do, and to be joy-filled. Lofty? Perhaps. That’s okay. I’m done with “settling”; I want to soar.