Missing Teeth or Shade Tree Time?

22 May

The Shadow of a TreeMissing a week of posting to this blog feels like a missing tooth. During this school year I have found sporadic moments to write, but I could not seem to produce a regular run of posts. Keeping up with life and school work just becomes too much sometimes. Yet, like you, I’m my own worst critic. No other person on this big blue marble gives me one bit of grief for this gaping absence. Oh…right…these missing weeks aren’t really significant failures.

Of course, it’s more important to write meaningful posts than to meet an arbitrary once-a-week-self-imposed deadline. It’s even more important to have a life outside of work. I know this. I know this. I know this.


But, I am still going to try for that once-a-week posting. I have issues.

Thankfully, there’s only one part of my personality that is so hyper critical. There’s a big part of me that revels in having  a healthy offline life filled with friends, interests, and plenty of unplugged living.

My first college professor talked about the importance of Shade Tree Time. She told us at the onset of our college experience, we were in store for plenty of stressful moments that would press in on us. She wanted us to remember the importance of doing nothing, sitting under a shade tree and simply observing. Balancing our active moments with reflective moments would be key to our health and help us actually enjoy learning. This advice has always stayed with me.

Looking back over the past few months, the time I did not find to write for this blog has actually been spent lounging in some most excellent, shade-filled moments:

  • I visited Iceland with great friends…soaked in the Blue Lagoon, hung out with hipster vikings, and saw the Northern Lights for the first time.
  • I turned 40…and my wife and friends completely surprised me with a party (two days before my actual birthday). Authentic tacos, fresh margaritas, and good laughs…a perfect way to mark a milestone.
  • I graded piles of essays and wasn’t exhausted by the process. I consistently see my students’ progress, and I have not taken a single essay home. Of course, I pull some late nights at work, but I am creating a healthy separation between home and school.
  • I escaped into The Round House by Louise Erdrich. I read all the time, but few books actually make me gasp aloud. This one did.
  • My wife and I went to Tongeren, Belgium and explored the world famous Sunday antiques market…and drank a few Belgian beers which are meals in an of themselves.
  • I spent the month of March learning how to sketch. All grade 9 students at Frankfurt International School completed their own 30 day challenges, and as their year head, I completed my own. I’m still not a good artist…but I’m much, much better. I even created some sketches of which I’m really proud.
  • I went on many calming twilight runs in the woods with my dog.
  • My wife turned 40, and we hopped on a train to Paris to celebrate.
  • My wife and I were utterly charmed by our first visit to Vietnam…eating incredible food, visiting precious friends, meeting friendly people, and soaking in a completely new culture.

Honestly, the gaps in this blog still bug me, but I am working on seeing the beauty they reveal. I have a good life outside of work, and I should celebrate when it gets in the way. I am still going to try for more frequent postings, but when I do not meet that goal, I like to think I will simply reflect on why. If I’ve been slowing down and trying new things, then that will have been time spent in more important pursuits.

Iceland 2014Tongeren 2014Finn sketchVietnam 2014

One Response to “Missing Teeth or Shade Tree Time?”


  1. #ELMLE2015 Sketchnoting | Robin Neal - March 14, 2015

    […] I have posted something new. Know that I have been working away…but I have had plenty of shade tree time, too. It has been a busy but fulfilling winter in […]

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