- Despite the challenges that life presents you, change your perspective to be thankful.
- Change your perspective and life will follow.
- Value what life has given you. Realize how precious it is.
I am quick to write off the past 15 months as just ridiculous.
The pandemic alone has made life challenging and teaching near impossible. So many people I know lost someone to this pandemic, yet like everything else, the pandemic was politicized.
Each side criticizing the other. Name-calling, insults, and protesting all followed because many people only listen to their side of the argument, unfollow or shut out anyone who has a different perspective. Meanwhile, people died. Funerals couldn’t even happen. Businesses closed. Layoffs happened by the hundreds of thousands.
The fight continues for others just to have basic human rights based on the color of their skin, their dress, their orientation, their religious beliefs. Still in 2021. Hate can still be found in places where people are fighting wars that started hundreds of years ago. They are still fighting the same fight.
Personally, I watch as my mom continues to deteriorate with dementia/Alzheimer’s to the point where she basically sits all day with her head down. Her speech is gibberish. Her body is failing. She has no recollection of who she was, her husband of over 50 years, her children, grandchildren, friends, and experiences. It is all gone.
My dad suffered a heart attack at the end of last spring and had to be airlifted to a hospital for emergency surgery followed by open-heart surgery to perform a triple bypass. He was intubated and his chest sawed open and they stopped his heart. They managed to keep him alive on a machine for 6 hours. Doctors would later tell us that dad only had a 2% of surviving what happened to him and he was in that 2% on that day. Incredible.
The recovery has been painful and slow.
My afternoons are spent in the car driving the 30 minutes to see my mom or dad as they are both in difficult situations. Most nights leaving them are filled with sadness, guilt, frustration, and regret.
Two months ago our oldest, Austin, was nearly killed in an accident that almost ripped his car in half. That shook my wife, Heather, and me to the core. We haven’t been the same since.
On top of that Heather, and I are trying to keep our five kids engaged in school, activities, and keep their spirits high during a pandemic. Austin had knee surgery in March. Our oldest daughter, Kylie, broke her wrist in December. Louis, 15, fractured his elbow last summer. Caitlin, 12, is about to start regular treatment on a back injury she had last week. Heather likely needs shoulder surgery and has delayed it for nearly a year because she is too busy carrying our family.
I don’t write this because I am seeking sympathy. Quite the opposite. I am writing this because you live it too.
Each of you has your own battles. Taking care of yourself, your families, even your elderly parents. Some of you have lost so much. Some are going through a divorce. Others are getting engaged. Some welcomed children. Others dream of the opportunity. I see you and your celebrations and your pain. I understand the feelings of sadness, joy, regret, celebration, loss, and gain. I, too, have walked the long road.I don’t write this because I am seeking sympathy. Quite the opposite. I am writing this because you live it too. Click To Tweet
Times are tough for so many.
Unfortunately, they always are and always will be, depending on how you look at it.
There is a cure to this: change your perspective.
While it is easy to say “poor me, nobody has it as tough as me,” that is simply ridiculous. Instead, I have to say I am so thankful.
While I wish my mom didn’t have to suffer this horrific disease, I am thankful for the moments I get a smile from her. Or how, even now, she will rub my hand in the same way she did when I was a boy, pushing back my cuticles on my fingers as she does. Or how she will still take my hand when I walk with her. In other moments she seems to recognize me and just embraces me. It is almost like she is in there for a moment. I am so thankful for that.
My dad’s heart attack has served as another reminder to get my health in order and enjoy this bonus time I get with my dad. Each day I get to hear his stories is a gift. I am thankful for that.
I get to be there for my kids as they face challenges.
I get to wipe away tears and be there for them. How lucky am I that I get to do that? Incredible. Especially, when so many wish they could face those challenges. I am so thankful for that.
I also GET to go to work.
What an incredible blessing to have this job and work with incredible people. I learn so much from each of my colleagues every day. They inspire me in more ways than they could ever know. I also GET to spend time with these incredible children at my school. I am so excited about our future because of these kids. What an incredible time to work in education!
And while teaching with masks on, socially distanced, or over Zoom is completely insane, we did it. You did it. You had to quarantine, you were tested, classes were shut down, reopened, or even taught from home while your students were at school. You managed to get significant growth from our students. You challenged them. Built relationships, created in new ways, and did it during a pandemic. Amazing.[scroll down to keep reading]
As horrific as the pandemic is, the silver lining is the message it has given us.
Value what life has given you. Realize how precious it is. And when “normal” returns, live the life you dream of living. Take the trip. Call the person you miss. Write the letter.
I hope this time has given you perspective.
Life is amazing.
Don’t waste time with regret, fear, or anger.
Listen to people without judgment. They might be walking their own long road.
Don’t wait for someday. Make it today.
Change your perspective on the events of life that get you down or upset you and focus on what it is teaching you. Use that lesson to better yourself and those around you. Make yourself into the person you needed when you were young. More than anything else. Use your time wisely because the clock is ticking. Call those you love and tell them. Embrace life with both hands because you don’t want to be 80 and telling people about your regrets. You want to tell them the time you didn’t let fear or judgment have control.
Change your perspective and life will follow.
I wish you each a wonderful time filled with laughter, new memories, sunshine, driving with the windows down, BBQ, ice cream, a swimming spot or two, lazy mornings, a good book, and reunions with old friends.
Congratulations on a job well done.
About Aaron Else
Aaron Else is an enthusiastic optimist entering his 22nd year in education. During his time in education, he has taught 1st, 2nd, and 5th grades. He has worked in administration for the past 14 years with the last 8 as principal at Hosp Elementary in Frisco ISD.
Aaron is married to Heather, and they have five kids combined and two dogs. He loves to read, work out, and watch sports.