Slice of Life Tuesday: Another Little Word

When writing my “One Little Word” post for the new year, I knew the word I chose, gather, would not last me through the year. In fact, it was my hope that this one little word would soon slough its skin to reveal the word underneath.

The other day, I was at school. It was late. Way too late for me to reasonably still be at school. Especially on a mentally-challenging day like that day. I texted a colleague who I knew was still at school, asking for five minutes just to blow off some steam.

We wound up talking for an hour.

Turns out, there is a LOT that I’m dissatisfied with:
The gulf between what I want for my students and what I’m giving them.
The gulf between what I want for my colleagues and what I can provide.
I want to do everything for everybody and I have to figure out where the boundaries belong.
I want everyone to feel supported in what they do and I have to figure out where to place my energy.
While I’m at it, I kinda want to take care of my physical, emotional and spiritual self.

All of these desires place conflicting demands on my attention.

And then my colleague, whom I admire more that she will ever give herself credit for, reminded me about DISSONANCE.

That strong feeling when holding conflicting ideas.
It’s also when two sounds are inharmonious, when they strike the ear harshly.

Dissonance sounds terrible when it’s performed accidentally or tentatively. Dissonance works because musicians lean INTO it, striking those discordant notes with full intention. It’s that leaning into conflicting sounds that allows us to appreciate the resolution to come – or not. After all, there are musical pieces that never quite resolve, just as there are conflicts in life that never quite resolve.

My friend also suggested that the times when we feel most dissonant in our lives, when we feel the deepest chasm between the reality of our lives and our moral center, THOSE are the times when our selves are preparing for a leap forward.

I know she’s right.
I know this is an uncomfortable phase I’m going through.
I know that pieces of myself are in conflict.
I know I don’t have to like it.
And I know that there is growth and change happening. I just have to see it through.

So…my next One Little Word?

I shall lean in.
I shall tune in to the discord.
I will bring out of it what I can, whether or not I gain resolution.

That is, until the next One Little Word scoops me up, sets me in a new direction, and gives me another nudge.

This post is part of the weekly Slice of Life challenge. Give them a visit!

Published by Lainie Levin

Mom of two, full-time teacher, wife, daughter, sister, friend, and holder of a very full plate

11 thoughts on “Slice of Life Tuesday: Another Little Word

  1. I think that as teachers we are wired to want to be there for everyone and be supportive. Throw taking care of ourselves and our family adds another weight on our shoulders. It is no wonder we get dissatisfied. Thus the dissonance. We just need to accept that we can’t always be everything to everybody. We need to take a step back, breathe, and let things happen. Change and growth will follow.

    1. Yes, absolutely! There’s so much pressure, and it IS important to strike a balance. And I also think – and this is what I sense even more keenly this year – is that teachers feel the pressure to teach in ways that differ from their core philosophy. Guess it’s all around me.

  2. Lainie,

    What a lovely and imaginative analogy – I will lean in to the dissonance! While I appreciate many things about this post, I believe most outstanding is that the word that you’ve embraced holds with it a certain tension. I’ve heard of many that others have chosen, all very “positive” on the surface. You have mined from a word conveying difficulty a most covetable gem.

    I love that you face the potential fall out with courage and bravery. I am encouraged by your willingness to be ok with resolution – or not (I struggle with that). I applaud your recognition that your dissonance leaves you feeling torn, while recognizing your need to find wholeness for your own well being.

    I must admit, I read it with conviction. I share your plight of wanting to be all things to all people, though lacking the physical and emotional capacity to do so. I join you in your journey of learning the art of balance. Quite honestly, I’m not so successful just yet, but I am trying.

    I am excited about your quest. Tickled even, by your drive to plow forward in discovering how to do what’s best for you while working diligently to help the ones you love. I am cheering for you in the concert of life in which you will undoubtedly perform. I believe your music will be beautiful – dissonant chords and all.

    ~Carla Michelle

    1. Carla, thank you for your thoughtful response. It’s always validating to know that others read and think about what I’m putting out into this world. And yes, I guess you’re right. Lots of folks have chosen more positive, upbeat words for their One Little Word. For me, life over the last several months (years!) has tested me in ways I cannot even imagine. It is those difficult moments that have shaped the strongest, most resilient parts of me. As for that art of balance? Sigh. I guess that’s something we are ALL trying to learn. I’ll make you a deal. When one of us figures it out, we’ll ship it off to the other one!


      1. Lainie,

        It is truly my pleasure. It takes a lot of courage to share your writing, especially when you feel it may not be perfect (which is all the time for me, lol)! I admire your willingness to share truth that goes against the grain of the status quo. It resonates with confidence loud(ly) and clear(ly). It is a great inspiration…

        And if I figure that out first, I’ll be happy to send it your way. Keep writing!

        With Warmest Regards,

        ~Carla Michelle

  3. Powerful reflection, and powerful new word that’s risen to the surface. Dissonance can be a gift (as you illustrate) – I, too, have felt it and it has not surfaced in pleasant ways of late, alas. The energy-well runs nearly dry. BUT — dissonance does signify a change for refocus, a shift toward something better even as one holds those (grapples with those?) conflicting ideas. Your word “spirit” really jumps out at me. This work can be so spirit-crushing sometimes… when the dissonance builds, we must seek a healthy outlet. Ask ourselves – what’s the spirit of the work to be?? This line says so much: “I will bring out of it what I can, whether or not I gain resolution.” And how you communicate the power of a word; your reflection is a meditation, so needed right now.

    1. Fran, you’re absolutely right. This work CAN be spirit-crushing sometimes. I feel fortunate to have many outlets for it, but even then it’s still quite the load to carry. I will also take to heart your words – what’s the SPIRIT of the work to be? What am I searching for, at the very heart of things? Holding on to THAT, I think, will help keep me afloat.

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