T here were a few things I expected to encounter when I set out to catch up on Project Life scrapbooking – which has fallen to the wayside for a full YEAR.

I expected to get burnt out (but was determined to push through).
I expected to feel accomplished each time I finished another month.
I expected to have tired wrists from that much journaling.

Here’s what I did not anticipate: getting all weepy and sad.

I was doing just FINE until I got to June. February, March, April, May – bam, bam, bam, bam. I powered them out and was feeling great. I got into a rhythm and when the day came to tackle June, I was actually excited to wake up and get right to it.

*I haven’t done the journaling portion for these spreads yet – so that’s why you’ll see some blank journal cards.

There was a lot that happened last June. It was a monster month for us. Bobby was already up in Vermont by that point, but I was still in New Orleans wrapping up the school year. This was far from a lackadaisical event because we still had structured summer school, meetings, and professional development. On top of this, I was packing up 5 years of teaching – figuring out what I would take with me and what I would leave for the next interventionist, sorting through all my files, scrubbing down my classroom. It was a lot.

Not to mention the emotional work of saying goodbye to my incredible colleagues and knowing that I wouldn’t see these sweet faces everyday…

In addition to ending the chapter of teaching, I was trying to soak up time with friends whom I had come to love so dearly. There were goodbye parties and goodbye one-on-one dinners and “this is the last time I may ever go to xyz” weekends.

There was the stress of packing up the remainder of the house. Bobby had done a lot of the big stuff before he left for Vermont but I/we had severely underestimated what it would take for the final push.

Even taking down everything that had artfully accumulated on the fridge was surprisingly difficult and sad.

There was the emotional work of saying goodbye to that house – that gorgeous, historic, Garden District house with a pool and a palm tree. We had lived in a dream for 2 years – with best friends LITERALLY 30 feet away in the front house. Saying goodbye to that was gut wrenching.

In short, my last month in New Orleans was one of the most emotional I’ve been through in awhile. But I thought I had DONE all that – I had made it through alive. And then this Project Life catch-up came along…and I was a mess.

All I was doing was sorting photos and slipping them into pockets – but I really felt like I was doing the move all over. I re-lived the goodbyes. I read the heartfelt notes from friends and co-workers and cried over everyone that we left behind, all those precious relationships. I re-lived the stressful whirlwind of boxing up my classroom, waving goodbye to the kids on the bus, knowing it would be my last time doing that. I re-lived the panic of trying to stuff everything into our storage unit by myself in the scorching New Orleans sun and then pulling an all-nighter before my flight out to Vermont…scrubbing walls furiously, washing floors, making sure everything was spotless so we could get our security deposit back.

It felt as if I had to hold my breath through most of that month. There were certainly moments where I let everything sink in and feel raw – but then I would quickly gasp for some air and try my best to keep on plowing through.

This week, I started to exhale again. Everything came flooding back.

I reached out for a lifeline and texted three of my dearest friends from my time in New Orleans. We’re all separated by 100s and 1000s of miles, but MAN does group messaging make a difference. They all said empathic, encouraging, lovely things and Anne reminded me of this:

I finally realized that it was okay to be feeling these things. I can still be grateful for where I’m at today in this moment while honoring the ache for what was left behind. It’s okay that my heart hasn’t quite caught up to 21st century living where we leave our communities and trek back and forth across the country as if human beings have always done this. We haven’t always done this. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not yearning to go back to the time of hunters and gatherers, but it was nice to gain some perspective.

So if your heart is in a similar space – if you’ve left something behind and you feel yourself get the achiness in your chest – let me be Anne to you. Let me tell you that it’s okay, normal, necessary to mourn what you’ve left behind. Goodbyes are important, even if they pop up multiple times. Even if you thought the goodbye part was over. Even if it’s been months or years. It’s okay.

“It’s important in life to conclude things properly. Only then can you let go. Otherwise, you are left with words you should have said but never did, and your heart is heavy with remorse.”

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

There are days when we’ll relish our new situations. But if today is not that day – know that there is a girl in Miami who understands.