Use It Up


Little fingers wobble across the keys. Like baby fawn legs, unsure, getting more sure each week. This school year will mark fifteen years of professional teaching. And I love it – not all of it – it’s a lot of hard work – but I am finding my groove.

I’m also finding that it’s easy for a groove to turn into a rut. And to set my brain on autopilot and be annoyed at anything and anyone that causes turbulence. And to look down.

Charity challenged us at writer’s group to think about people in our everyday lives – that we forget to look at.

The people I see everyday, all day, are children. It’s easy to look down – at fingers, at hand positions, at assignment books – and forget to look up at them, long and hard – and smile. To say, “I love to hear you play,” to each child, every time, especially the last ones of the day, when I’m super tired. To say, “Make your mistakes big,” because confident playing leads to better playing.

I’ve realized this because I’ve recently been interacting with other colleagues a decade younger than I am – with way more energy and wildness. I’m remembering my first years of teaching – relationally, I did a lot wrong – but professionally, I threw caution to the wind and didn’t “save back” energy for the next day. Tomorrow would bring its own trouble, but its own inspiration as well.

So this year, my fifteenth year, I’m keeping the skills and the peace and the grace that I need to survive in business. But I’m also returning to the first year and thinking – If my life were marked only for today, how would I live it?

I’m reminding myself to look at the kids “eye to eye”, and what it was like to be young and unsteady and unsure in a new challenge. Remembering to put in the necessary energy to motivate both of us to better music.

And the more energy I put into it, the more I get back from my students. And the more I’m left with for the next day, not less.

Use it up.

Use it all up.


This story is a part of the “Eye to Eye” series.

Visit- Charity, Kelli, Darcy, Ashly, and Jen to read their “Eye to Eye” stories. 

7 thoughts on “Use It Up

  1. Amber – What a beautiful message to take into your work each day. To see the children in a fresh way, but also to see yourself and your circumstances differently. Not only are you looking the children in the eye, but you are looking life right in the eye. A posture of courage and boldness that I need so much more of. This was wonderfully challenging.

    I’m very excited about all of the wonderful essays our little project produced. Maybe we should do it again someday!

  2. Amber, this is so inspiring to me as a parent. You are reminding me that I do feel more energized when I am intentionally focused on interacting with my kids rather than feeling like the kids are begging attention from me. When I “save energy” for the next thing, I start to feel miserly. Your insights are a good challenge to my status quo today. I’m going to be thinking about this post.

  3. Amber, your words hold such beauty and meaning. I don’t interact with children daily, but the way you start this piece comparing their fingers and insecurities to fawns, reminds me to look at them for the gift they are. In essence, you influenced me to do what you have done, which is slow down and see value where I often overlook it. It’s great writing!

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