Thursday, November 29, 2007

Giving Thanks

I have just returned from a 10 day visit back home to Chicago. It had been 3 months since I left for IslandWood and and it was nice to go back home and see my friends and family and my cats. I felt loved and appreciated. I realized who and what really matter to me.

It was both a wonderful and trying time. I enjoyed the moments and feel like there was more time needed to fit it all in. Most nights were quiet except for Sunday's shin dig: fabulous homemade Thanksgiving style dinner with friends, playing a set at the Bucktown Pub for open mic, visiting both old and new haunts and staying out til 5am. I visited North Park Village Nature center-where I have volunteered in native plant restoration work and taught kids Environmental education in the summer. It was wonderful catching up and talking about life in general and Queen Bees. I was amazed how much the landscape changes in 3 months time. I am used to the conifers and Big Leaf Maple everywhere back at IslandWood. I missed the green and the solitude. The pace, the noise, the pollution and chaos wore me down. Life in Chicago seemed chaotic and old hat. I had a chance to escape to the NW suburbs and run in the woods with one of my best friends and her family. We made snowflakes and gingerbread cookies with icing. We talked for hours.

I must admit, I was on the fence about the IslandWood program. It was a combination of stress due to deadlines of upcoming projects as the semester winds down to an end and to family obligations that made me feel like I should be in Chicago and not thousands of miles away. It is also the uncertainty of where I will land after the program is over, after Grad school at the UW, if I follow through in my Masters in Science education. I wondered whether I had made the right decision. Self doubt is a part of the evaluation process of life I suppose.

As all moments pass, so did the doubts and fears. I looked forward to my return to Bainbridge Island. I missed my community, the woods, creatures, sounds, smells and fresh air. I returned to friendly smiles and solitude. I heard a coyote howl, my footsteps on damp grass and gravel and nothing else while I walked home tonight. I want to be present in this moment and make every memory count. I look forward to teaching and being outside the next two weeks, campfires, laughter and learning. My path unfolds exactly as it should before me. I appreciate my mentors, my colleagues, professors, staff, position and surroundings. I am glad I pursued my Internet dream of attending IslandWood.


Monday, November 12, 2007

Much More

I realized this past weekend what IslandWood is meant to be. It's more than a master's degree. It's more than teaching. It's about pure exploration. There's a need for all of us to explore this life we're leading and I've found a great avenue to do just that. For the past 3 months, I've been exploring this path that I'm on. I'm becoming the educator I hoped for, but I'm also becoming something much more. In truth, I'm not sure if becoming is the word I'd use. It's more about discovery. I've overturned stones and found parts of me I didn't know were there. A bit dramatic? Perhaps. It's been a great few months.

I got the chance to visit Portland this weekend with 3 other grads. Needless to say, we had ourselves a grand old time. We checked out a busy market on a beautiful day, dined with friends in the evening and played trivia on the streets. Despite the lack of an advertised hot tub, the hotel treated us nicely with their comfortable beds and high octane showers. They sent us on our way the next morning with a fresh cookie and a wave. The day would be filled with more waves then we guessed.

Off we went on an adventure to the Oregon coast. We snaked our way through the low coastal mountains and into Ecola State Park. It was everything I would have imagined. Rocky outcrops, choppy waves and intense winds. It was beautiful. People spend too much time indoors. That's one of the things I've really enjoyed about my time here so far. We are out and about all day. We live and teach in the outdoors. I wish we had more of our grad classes outside, but that's what happens when you start assigning credits and grades to everything. As we say around here, we've spent time dissecting the wall of green that is the forest and figuring out the pieces to the puzzle.

The day is done and I'm ready for tomorrow.