You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile…

By: Shannon Shull

smileI’m writing this current blog entry with a head and chest full of congestion. Severe bronchitis has rocked my world. My body is heavy with exhaustion. My mind is so overwhelmed I literally have a hard time seeing straight at times. Yes, I’m nearing the end of the school year. I have my big end-of-year show with my 70 honors drama students in just two weeks and I’m in the midst of surviving administering, for the first time ever, the monster within our public school system that is standardized tests. It’s a big awakening for this teaching artist…when one is hired to teach a specific subject within the public school system, one is expected to do much more… And yes, I stop there because I will refrain from diving into the misconceptions of the job I have taken on and committed to. It is not just a can of worms, it’s a pit of dragons and snakes.

Instead, I will focus on surviving the utter exhaustion, the overwhelming workload, and the sleepless nights during which it’s not the cough that keeps me up, but the fact that I cannot turn my brain off. I am committed to doing my best at my job and providing awesome learning experiences for my students, thus why I tend to struggle not to drown in the workload. I truly do envy those that go to work and then can just leave – their work does not follow them home and plague a majority of their thoughts. But as I sit here and think on how or why I’m tolerating these circumstances, all I have to do is think of the fruits of my labor. Those moments when I get to witness a student of mine experience an awakening, to see their minds light up with newfound knowledge and confidence, to watch their enthusiasm ignite others, to see them soak in the pure joy of creating and performing. Knowing that on the night of my big show, there will be an audience full of people who will laugh, applaud and have hearts full of pride for their young ones giving their all on that stage. Knowing that there will be a stage full of young artists who have worked hard to come together to entertain. Knowing that those brilliant young ones had fun while learning valuable lessons and applying tools they can carry on into other areas of their lives. Ah… for a teaching artist like me, it’s a dream come true to accomplish such a thing.

So it’s those huge, priceless moments that aid in helping me to survive. Plain and simple, it’s the only thing holding me together. Those big moments of achievement and those smaller moments, like a simple smile, help me get through the day.

A smile; something so simple, yet so powerful. The smiles from my students and precious colleagues as we all struggle to survive the end of the school year together. The smiles from my own precious children, my love, my mother, my precious family members, and my friends who give me support and love.

My latest pick-me-up song has been Sia’s “You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile.” Check out these lyrics…

Ready or not
Give all we got
Yeah, you can’t deny
That baby, you’re never fully dressed without a smile
Don’t sink the boat
When you lose hope
I’ll keep you alive
But baby, you’re never fully dressed without a smile
Now look at us
We pick it up
We set it on fire
‘Cause you know you’re never fully dressed without a smile
We show it out
We’re playing now
We’re living the life
But baby, you’re never fully dressed without a smile

Good stuff, right? As I battle my way through the stress, sickness and busyness that is currently my life, I think about these things that fill my heart and I fully recognize that I am never fully dressed without a smile.

And now, as I take my second dose of antibiotics for the day and tackle my to-do list, I’ll do it fully dressed, because there is a smile on my face and a smile in my heart!

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