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Taking the time to breathe

Taking the time to breathe

Written by Robert Rivera-Amezola
November 16, 2017

It is that time of year in a teacher’s life when grades are due, the first round of testing is underway, holidays are around the corner, and deadlines never seem to be met.

It is the morning of the first full day of the annual meeting . . . a time to re-center, learn new things, meet new people and get reacquainted with others. It can be a time to breathe again.

I find myself anxious, though. Hardly in the space I wish I was. There is an unspoken guilt that I feel just being able to do this when my colleagues are back in the school building, holding down the fort, even covering for my absence.

I wish it was different. I wish I had the “blessing” of the school, my colleagues, the administration. . . to be here, to go forth, and learn, be productive . . . to breathe. Better yet, I wish they were here, breathing alongside with me.

But that is not the case.

I can still create that space for myself. The space to breathe and feel revitalized. But how? Where do I find those pockets of air? Where are those bubbles . . . little spaces of sanctuary that might carry me up for (dare I believe it) more spaces to breathe?

I find just writing these words to this blog post is a beginning. A new space to release what I am feeling and bring it out into the world (or for those willing to read it).

It is a silent room save for the occasional tap tap tap of keyboard strokes as roughly 15 other teachers from across the country write, think, post in an otherwise standard hotel conference room. If I take my mind and think about the silence, I find that I can breathe.

I wonder what the others are writing about.

This is the silence and breathing space I crave in my normal routine. It is a space I wish for all of my colleagues back home. They deserve it, too.

Where else?

Where are those breathing spaces?

It is the spontaneous conversation with a woman I never met before as we boarded the elevator looking for the same conference room.

“Oh,” I said as I looked over the place in the program she was pointing to. “We are headed to the same place. Follow me. I know where the room is.”

“Great,” she responded. “I need my flow.” She was referring to Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, the book by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.

“Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi,” she said, flawlessly.

“By who?” I was beginning to remember the publication.

“Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi,” she repeated, again, flawlessly.

“I’ve read the book,” I said.

“I’ve read it over and over,” she said.

“I have always wondered about the pronunciation of his name. I may need to re-read it.”

Before we knew it, we were in the correct room.

We sat together for the full hour and a half, finding our own flow. She wrote with pen and paper. I tapped on my laptop.

It was a time to write, a time to meet new people . . . a time to breathe.