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Relaxed

Last Friday, I did a rare thing and met my friend, Cinda, for coffee.

It all started when I posted something on Facebook, and she commented and said that we needed to get together.

Cinda is absolutely precious to me.  I’ve mentioned her many, many times over the last eight years.  She started out as my teaching mentor, and a friendship grew.  She’s simply amazing.  Anyone who knows her loves her.

She also happens to be super busy, both with work and family, so the opportunity to sit with her for a spell greatly appealed to me.

I suggested Starbucks, but she had another idea – a local coffee shop in the heart of Podunk, USA.  The actual town that I live in is rather small, although it does have several traffic lights, which is more than what I had growing up.

I’d never heard of the place, so I looked it up beforehand to see what they offered besides coffee because, y’all, I’ve never grown up.  I just cannot stomach the smell or taste of it.

They had teas on their menu and something called a shrub.  A bit of research told me that a shrub is a fruit concoction that’s made by letting fruit sit in vinegar overnight.  It’s often served with club soda and, perhaps, a simple syrup.

Well, I was down for that.

I was a bit surprised by how adorable this little place was.

There were large picture windows when you walked in and a lovely area of seating.  The guy who helped us (I think it was the owner) was extremely kind and patiently explained what he used to make the shrub.  I’m very particular about sweeteners and such – nothing artificial for me!

He only had one shrub available that day – strawberry – so I ordered that.  Cinda treated me (thanks, Friend!).  She got the Almond Joy coffee, if I remember correctly.

Man, but I was really wishing I liked coffee!

Now, I’m used to places serving up drinks in disposable cups.  Not here, though.  We got real mugs for our drinks.

This redneck girl was feeling a little high class, even if I was wearing flowered shorts and a pink shirt that said “Life is good.”

Ahem.

We sat down to catch up, and y’all, I was in heaven.

That strawberry shrub was exactly what you’d picture having at the end of a summer day.  It was fresh, sweet, and light.  Oh my word – so divine!

I loved hearing what my friend had been up to and her plans for the fall.  She’s so inspiring – the way she gives of herself without reservation.  She’s a people magnet, genuine to the core.  She once spent six weeks in my classroom teaching a unit that she videoed for her national CRISS certification.  Watching her bond with my students and creating lesson plans with her taught me how to be a better educator.  I want to be a better person when I’m around her.

She asked about my family, and I brought her up to speed.

We changed topics about as many times as I change shoes on any given work morning – a lot.  We couldn’t help ourselves.

Squirrel.

Ha!

At one point in our conversation, she said, “You look the most relaxed I’ve ever seen you.” (or something to this effect)

We had just been talking about teaching and the stress involved with it.  You might remember the ungodly hours I put in my first three or four years in this profession.  It was ridiculous how hard I worked.

I don’t remember wearing a face that reflected any type of relaxation in those early years.

I laughingly told her that what she was seeing was the face of a teacher in the middle of summer break.

It always takes me a week or two to come down off of the high of the school year – to sleep off the fatigue that envelopes me ten months of the year.  Say what you will about teachers having Christmas and Spring breaks off.  That time off does little to replenish a tired teacher.

With the summer break, I am able to indulge in a bit of self care.  For me, that’s involves a lot of naps, daily workouts when I want, not when my schedule dictates, and page-turning afternoons while sitting poolside (or rather in the pool).

Hello, bicep.  Thanks for finally making an appearance.

We have less than a month until we report back for duty.  It’s always hard to go back because the workload is incredibly heavy and the stress factor is intense.

The secret, as I told Cinda last Friday, is balance.  It took me years and years to find balance in my life.  Now, I prioritize better and leave as much as I can at work.

So, with just a few weeks left of summer, I’m doing my best to not think ahead . . . too much, that is.

I’m taking all of the naps without any apologies (don’t call or text between 4 and 5pm unless you are in my brood).

I’m also going to visit that coffee shop to taste more of their shrubs.

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