On Wednesday, I opened my garage to see this:
Taking a big breath in, I grabbed my trusty shovel from its resting place in the corner of the garage. This was going to take awhile. A long while. The weather report that had promised an unusually abundant snowfall had, indeed, proven quite accurate. Every school-aged child had just enjoyed another March snow day in our state, as had I. Throughout the day, my daughters and I had played board games, written “And Then” stories, watched a movie, gazed at the blustery snowfall outside, as well as a engage in a host of other indoor activities. And fortunately for us, no power outages had occurred! A good day.
But now, a price needed to be paid. Due to an unexpected bout of strep throat that swept through the family, my daughters all now needed medication. With the storm and a travel ban, we had been unable to make the trip to the pharmacy (see yesterday’s post about that).
Staring at the enormous volume of snow, I positioned that motivation squarely in the forefront of my mind. Honestly, the task looked impossible. It truly did. But we had to get out. We had to.
So I started shoveling. I knew if I allowed myself to feel angry at the snow, or if I watched the clock, or if I tried to hurry- none of that would be helpful. It was literally one shovelful at a time.
I pushed myself to focus on the larger goal only when necessary- especially when I began to sense the voice in my head that liked to repeat things like, “You’ll never finish. This is impossible.” Those were the times when I widened my view and thought about the goal I needed to reach. But most of my internal dialogue focused on much smaller goals: This section here; just finish from here to there; make sure this shovelful gets to the top of that pile. Like that.
I also remembered the fable my daughters love so much, the one about the Tortoise and the Hare. “Slow and steady wins the race.” Keep going. Keep going.
And eventually it happened. It was a long day, and there were many times when I wished our budget would have allowed for the quick, professional snow-plow solution (for those of you not from this part of Connecticut, this is what most people do).
But this experience helped me to think about our students, and how things can feel impossible for them sometimes. I wonder how many of them, when asked to write or read something, feel like they’ve just opened the garage to see a vast field of snow they must now shovel? I realized that for me today, it truly was both the larger and smaller goals working together that helped make something possible, something that had, initially, felt so enormous.