I’ve been thinking of writing a post-sabbatical follow up for awhile. The six month mark since I was away came and went with the holidays. And now here we are in February. Boston is covered in several feet of snow, but in the digital age, that means work from home for me rather than a snow day with time to catch up on life. This weekend marked a year since life as we knew it changed with the loss of my mom. And thus, eight months after my last post, I’m writing to share a few reflections and updates.
On the grieving process: The passing of a year doesn’t seem possible. The family gathered for the weekend and we attended a nice memorial mass on Saturday. Recently a former student of mine wrote a lovely post that included this line:
“Loss is an essential part of the Human experience. It reminds us that we are not in control and must press on forward: continue living and thriving. If we don’t, the world will leave us behind.”
It has been a tough year and the passing of 365 days doesn’t magically make anything less hard, but with the love and support of an amazing network of family, friends, and community we are doing our best to find new ways of living. My mom is not here physically, but her memory is ever present in our hearts and minds.
On returning from a mini-sabbatical: How quickly life and work slip back into full swing. My Spanish is rusty again, though not as deeply buried in my mind as before spending five weeks in Peru and Colombia. All of the preparation to be able to be away from work for six weeks helped create some systems for better balance, but creating new patterns – and often ones that are as much about organizational change as they are about my own individual choices – takes time and persistence. One of the most tangible changes I’ve made in the past few months has been to have a digital divide: no work email after working time. This is a move in the right direction of a fulfilling professional life that does not infringe on my well being in the rest of life.
On writing: It still doesn’t come so easily, but I have written my first blog posts about my work in education. Perhaps this blog eased my way into writing for work. Having a purpose and a deadline (as a panelist at the Center for Assessment’s annual conference) helped and my posts were then published on the CompetencyWorks blog. Work-wise, the past year has been an exciting one with possibilities for shifting the drivers of assessment and accountability to students, teachers, and local communities. External standardized tests simply aren’t able to capture contextualized, deeper learning where students engage as agents in their own learning. Hopefully the trend will continue and new pathways to success in education and life will be open to all students.
On running: This summer I had the longest stretch off from running since I started running longer distances in the fall of 2009. Nearly three months tending to a case of plantar fasciitis wasn’t fun at all. With some physical therapy, I recovered enough to begin running again. It’s been a slow process, but I’m building back step by step. It’s good to have the company of my good friend Korynn, who I first met back in 2009. We’ve named the coming season the Spring of Glory (“g-Laurie”) and are both hoping to run healthy for a spring marathon. Speaking of – time to decide whether to brave the single digit temperature with a running commute or face the delays of the MBTA post-storm.