What matters and what does not?

By Natalie Irons
Associate Director of Instructional Coaching, UCLA Center X

We can be filled with longing for something we cannot have, and simultaneously we can be grateful for what we’ve got — aware of what really matters and what doesn’t. – Lennon Flowers, CEO of The Dinner Party, “pioneering tools and community through which young people who’ve experienced significant loss can use their shared experience as a springboard toward living better, bolder, and more connected lives.”

The first week of January can feel like a huge let down of sorts with a desire to crawl under the covers after the rush of the holidays. It can also be a time to clear out space from holiday decorations, a need to dump leftovers in the fridge or start a new calendar to fill with renewed goals.

Sifting through my own boxes of stuff in the garage, I was stuck deciding what I really need and don’t. Do I really need these decades old teaching lessons from 11th grade American Lit or middle school poetry? These are memories that truly shaped my career as an educator, and I learned from every student a little something along the way. While I hold those experiences like layers of paint in an old house, I am also coming to terms with the inevitable need to let go of some of the past. The new year seems to help shed just a bit. I long for a clean space to think about the current work I do and people I support without getting lost in the past of the “rearview mirror” or charging forward into the future without a clear direction or compass. That seems to leave the present moment for what matters most. So, for today, I will do a few things, like write, prepare for another group of learners, and unload a box of some old stuff, making space for something new.

As another year brings opportunities for growth, what are your longings? Who do you hope to be while staying mindful of the person that brought you to this place? What most matters to you at this present moment?