When my kids were little, we read The Okay Book. I still have it. The book’s comforting refrain included things like “it’s okay to have short hair,” “it’s okay to be big or small,” “it’s okay to laugh out loud,” “it’s okay to put fish in your hair.” You get the idea: it’s okay to be you.
As I shared in a message to faculty and staff earlier this month, that book came to mind recently because it reminds me of the mash up of various emotions we’re experiencing this fall. It’s okay to be happy and elated that we have reclaimed the usual Wheeler buzz on our campuses. It’s okay to be proud of and excited about the work we are doing. It’s also okay to feel tired and a little cloudy. It’s okay to still be worried about what is to come. It’s okay to not feel like we felt before, or like it’s “over” or “all better.” And again, it’s okay to feel pretty good all around. It’s all okay.
Many have said to me that this year feels a whole lot better, and yet, staying mindful and vigilant – of our circumstances and ourselves – matters.
We not only strive to walk the right line between COVID safety, mental health, and vibrant teaching and learning, but we can also recognize that we might be navigating our own various moods and those of our friends, children, and families. In the summer, I spoke with faculty and staff about joy, relationships, and inspiring curiosity, and that is precisely what I see on our campuses right now, in so many corners. It’s also what I see at the so-glad-to-have events like Fall Fest, Alumni Reunion weekend, and the many athletic games at the Farm. While things have a bit of a “normal” feeling, we have added a good dose of gratitude as well as the sense that it can all be fleeting. Life certainly is precious, and that knowledge keeps us a bit on our toes.
So, I hope you’ll relish the good times, look forward to the next big announcement about the COVID vaccine eligibility of our 5 to 11-year-olds, and take heart. As the saying goes, the only way out is through. We’re getting there! And in the meantime, Wheeler buzzes with life every day.