Slice of Life Tuesday: A New Little Word

This post is part of the Weekly Slice of Life challenge from Two Writing Teachers. Check them out!

I’ve been waiting for this.

It’s the realization that my One Little Word, first set at gather and then at dissonance, has finally shifted.

Dissonance is fine and healthy for a while. It helps me grow and push myself in new directions. It’s good to be dissatisfied, to want better.

But living in dissonance is all-consuming. It leaves me fatigued, wondering how long I can manage the push-pull I feel morally, physically, philisophically, wondering what sort of mom I am, what sort of teacher I am, what sort of human I am.

It’s why I’m glad and grateful to feel that tension begin to ease. Those reins, coiled around my wrists and held in a white-knuckled grip, are finally beginning to slacken. As they do, I can slowly unwind, unbind, feel the circulation and color coming back to my hands, shake out my fingers, roll my shoulders, exhale, feel myself stretch, lengthen…


Yes. My new One Little Word. Unfurl.

The act of spreading out from a rolled-up or cramped-up position or state. The act of stretching out to occupy new spaces, or opening up to the wind or the elements. Figuratively. Literally.

For a few months, I’ve harbored the hope that summer would bring unfurl as my next One Little Word.

I’ve needed this.

Even without COVID, it was a tough year – the kind that cracks my foundation, that drives me to check out just how many years there are until retirement (don’t worry, friends, it’s still a long while). The kind of year that teachers can handle once in a career. Once. Maybe twice, but never in a row.

So the possibility that I wouldn’t experience this release, the prospect of going back to school as pulled as I was, well…that was scary.

What’s turned it around for me? The moments in sunshine? The long walks with friends? The dozens of library books checked out, read, checked out, read? A vision of the next hours, days, weeks, of relative freedom?

I can’t really say. What I can say is that I feel the turning of a corner. I feel a greater distance between myself and this past year. Soon, I’ll start to miss my sticky notes, my Flair pens, my colleagues, my students, my work. It gives me hope that I can re-emerge next year content, energized, aligned with purpose. Stretched. Grown. Unfurled.

Published by Lainie Levin

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

10 thoughts on “Slice of Life Tuesday: A New Little Word

  1. Thank you for this expression of hope! I could envision “unfurl” as quiet and soft as a fern in the forest. I hope you find respite and restoration of body, mind, and spirit. You deserve that and more!

    1. Funny you should mention – I did have the image of a plant like a fern unfurling its leaves, but I wasn’t sure how to work that imagery in once the post started writing itself. As for the respite and restoration, yes please – for all of us!

  2. We are constantly changing so it only makes sense to me that our OLW changes as we and our needs change. I like the idea of unfurling. Stretching out and reaching into spaces we couldn’t reach before because of binding circumstances. Hope this word serves you well until the next one comes along.

  3. The song states “what a difference a day makes”, that difference expands and retracts significantly as we work our way through the days, weeks, months, years etc. of life. The hope and joy in your words is lovely to read. Unfurl is such a perfect OWL for you right now – a butterfly emerging from the oppressive cocoon that held you in. Enjoy the lightness of simply being; you’ve earned it

  4. I’m glad I read your slice, Lainie. It means so much to me as a reader because I can step right in there. This line meant a lot, as I also wrote in my notebook about that feeling of release; “A vision of the next hours, days, weeks, of relative freedom?” Thank you, I’ll have to read it again.

  5. First, I admire your strength in having chosen dissonance as your OLW, for a measure of dissonance is indeed how we grow (as we discussed a while back re: getting out of the comfort zone). But how right you are about not being able to live indefinitely in that state! Exhausting, indeed. The disequilibrium is not especially encouraging or sustainable for very long. Good in the willingness to be vulnerable, though. One has to recoup at some point… and the choosing of the word “unfurl” is fascinating to me. Of course I see a flag in my mind, as in something of great value, carefully folded, being majestically released…yes, time to move on from the year that was, physically, mentally, spiritually, and to savor (hmmmm, savor may be a word for me to consider after “awe”!). I can’t help seeing you there, picking up your Flair pens anyway along with an open notebook, somewhere in the sunlight with a bit of breeze riffling your hair and the blank pages just waiting to capture the story of your unfurling…write on, my friend!

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