Friday, June 04, 2010

Waiting to Exhale

During the summer months when I was growing up I used to love to challenge myself in the swimming pool - how long could I hold my breath under water? Over the course of the long summer I would try to swim the length of the community pool underwater without surfacing. Every foot further I could swim without breaking the water's surface gasping for air was a triumph to me.

Until the day that summer I turned 12 when a boy, who often made fun of me, held my head underwater until I became disoriented and almost drowned. I've never forgotten the feeling of panic and helplessness.

I don't swim anymore - I don't go in the water - I don't even own a bathing suit at this point. Extreme? Maybe. But since my greatest fear is drowning, can you blame me?

The school year is about to end and for me it can't be too soon. The last 250 days have been some of the most challenging of my life. Teaching in a middle school AND going to the University at least 3 nights a week in pursuit of my doctorate has severely limited my breath-taking experiences. For me I'm about to emerge from under the water of my own accord. I will not be returning to the classroom next Fall.  I choose to rise and take a breath!

But a dear friend who has been teaching for much longer than I has spent the past year being held against her will under the water. The poolside bully has made her hate the water she once loved. She's hanging up her suit, refusing to ever dip even a toe in the water again.

As this school year ends, you may also feel like you've been holding your breath for nine months too. Maybe your child had a difficult year. Maybe you had a difficult year. It's time to take a breath! And when you hang out at the pool, watch for who the poolside bullies are and avoid them. In your life always make sure that you are the lifeguard!