The Struggle is Real

Updated: Aug 14



The Struggle is Real.


I always know the end of summer is coming when I hear the cicadas’ song. This insect always have both terrified and fascinated me. They look primeval, and their significant size and the loud, crazy sound they make are intimidating. They must be more bark than bite because I’ve never heard of anyone being hurt by this big bug. My brave protector, Jack Poodle, will snatch them out of the air and make a snack of them, so I know they aren’t toxic.


I can imagine right now how the cicadas must feel before they shed their shell. I’m starting to feel a cooped-up itchiness in my spirit. I’ve got to be honest with you - I’m struggling.  I’m ready to burst out of my shell. I miss my people, going out together, celebrating, physical touch, travel, and life. I know I’m not alone.


I think we’re all struggling right now. This has to be the reason society feels like it’s about ready to detonate. We’re all operating in a state of chronic stress. No matter how hard we try to adapt and keep a positive outlook, the underlying tension is simply too much.  

We’re mourning the events we make part of our yearly routine. I try not to think about it too much because I’ve convinced myself it doesn’t help to be sad about what’s not going to happen. I’ve forgotten that acknowledging and mourning these lost rites of passage can be therapeutic.


The anxiety I’m feeling from all the anger and unrest is really getting to me too. Watching the unnecessary violent clashes between peaceful protesters and government militia makes my stomach hurt. The rage and misinformation around the Coronavirus and the wearing of masks are disheartening. When we should all be coming together to slow the spread of the illness and get through this crisis, we’re moving further apart. For me, the worst part of this is watching factions purposely trying to divide us.


We need more loving kindness in the world right now. Unfortunately, this is human nature. When people are stressed, the ugliest part of their personalities tend to surface, and they act out. I’m having a hard time not judging people for the arrogant ignorance and disregard some are showing for our fellow humans. 


I read something recently that helped me. One of my favorite business authors, Mark W. Schafer says, “Just care for people. Love people. Stop judging others. When you judge people, you don’t have time to love them.” 


Having to learn new ways of doing things is taxing too. School is getting ready to start, stirring up even more controversy. How do we try to achieve all the activities at the same levels we used to when the world is chaotic? To expect students to sit all day in school was bad enough. Now they have to sit in front of the computer at Zoom meetings all day. We’re all getting tired of that.


The exhaustion of all the tragedy and loss is mounting up too. I heard the term “Pandemic Burnout” recently, and while I didn’t know it was a thing, I know it all too well. I feel like my life is busier and more stressful over the past few months, and something has got to give. Now that I know why my energy is drained, it is time to acknowledge this condition and act on it.


I’ll be heading back to school soon myself. I teach Entrepreneurship in the Arts at Wichita State University in the fall and have 22 students enrolled to take it already. I’m going to have to decide how to make this work for my students. Fortunately, classes online through the Finishing School for Modern Women have helped me prepare and learn what I’ll need to make hybrid classes work.


As if all the extra stress from what’s going on the world wasn’t enough, life continues to happen. In April, I found out that my baby brother, Michael, was diagnosed with advanced-stage metastatic cancer. He began chemotherapy but reacted to the medication, and they’re trying to figure out what to do next. What do you do with that, amid everything else?


What happens for me is that it gets pushed down, the heaviness of it always under the surface. I’ve practiced denial for so many years. I’m pretty good at it. Worrying about things I can’t control is a distraction, so I try not to think about it. I also know from practice that denial causes depression, and I’m teetering right on the edge. Surrendering these feelings isn’t easy, and I’m trying.


My family is close, and when something happens, we all want to come together. We can’t do that right now. I had to threaten my Mom to keep her from making a nearly 1,000-mile road trip to her son. I worry the most about my parents and how they’re coping. I’ll take all the love and prayers you can send our way.


With all that’s going on, I’ve decided to take a break from Finishing School classes for most of August. The Better Boundaries class is still scheduled for Saturday, August 29. I’m rewriting the class and am excited to share it with you. Setting and upholding boundaries are one of the keys to happiness, and maybe extra sanity right now.


It seems like a good time with it feeling dangerous to meet in person and how burned out everyone is with video meetings. Just because we won’t have class doesn’t mean you won’t hear from me. I have some fun things I want to try during our break, so I’ll be in touch.


In the meantime, we’ll be listening to the cicadas. This year I'm rethinking the what this bellowing bugs' song symbolizes to me. In thinking about this, I've realized the story of cicadas is one of rebirth. Cicadas spend most of their lives underground, lying dormant until it’s time to make an appearance. They crawl up from the earth to find somewhere safe to attach themselves to shed the shell of their past - and fly into the future. This brings me hope that we’ll be doing the same thing ourselves soon.


What brings you hope?


Much love,

Headmistress Jill

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Because We’re Never Finished


The Finishing School for Modern Women, located in Wichita, Kansas, offers classes to help women find their authentic selves; not because we need finishing, but because we’re never finished. We bring together women of all ages, to learn from experts and each other, how to claim our power in business, finance, communication, and life.


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