A Week Of Revelations
Published on October 14, 2008
Perfect for making a pot of vegetarian chili!!! Yummmm!
The truth is that there has been so much going on in the past week…so much in my mind…so much that I have been thinking and feeling…that every night I’d want to write in Dirty Footprints…but would be at a complete loss at where to start–how to start–what exactly to say. So I turned to a trusty friend…my ol’ fashioned journal. You know, the kind that you actually use a writing utensil in; not a tap-tap-tappin away on a keyboard!! The kind of journal that snuggles into your lap and feels all warm and toasty in your hands afterwards. The kind of journal that sleeps on your nightstand patiently, travels like a real trooper stuffed in your purse, and holds all those deep thoughts and wishes so that you can move forward in your life. My ol’ fashioned journal is an expensive moleskin. The pages are cream colored and the lines are tight together. I have a Manduka Yoga sticker on the front cover, and I always keep it locked with the little elastic band. I love my journal. Everyone should have one.
Enough about my love affair with journals….
This week I performed a little experiment. Lately I have hated my job. Basically, I work in a huge bubble of negativity. Lucky for me, I have one dear friend there. Unfortunately, she too has been having a miserable time. Both her and I started working at this school last year. We became great friends, sharing the same ideals and values about teaching. She’s a music teacher. I’m art. How perfect is that!! Last year the same bubble of negativity existed. Art and Music are in their own building together along with Physical Education. The other building, across the campus is the home to all the teachers and is a complete world of its own. Music and I try our hardest to stay away. Its sad that in the little contact we have with the other building…this huge bubble of negativity still has sucked us in. This is where my little experiment came in this week.
My first intention on the 100 Day Reality Challenge is to be impeccable with my word and not participate both mentally and verbally in negative conversation and energy. This was the basis of my experiment. All week…any time a teacher (and I hate to say this, but there are many–if not all–except Music!) would start a conversation or make a comment that was negative…I let the words flow in one ear and straight out the other. I tried my hardest not to participate in the negativity. Teachers love to tell me stuff. And this week, with my little experiment, after they finished what they were saying I would either say “huh” or “oh” or not say anything at all. Yes, this many times created a very awkward moment. You see, negativity really feeds off itself. In that awkward moment the person who shared their negativity is looking for you to either be compassionate to their circumstances or join in. But the thing I realized is that the negativity is theirs. Theirs alone. If I participate by being compassionate…and saying things like “Oh I can’t believe they are making you do this…or…I can’t believe that person said that….or…I can’t believe you had this happen…or…that’s so unfair….” I’m only perpetuating the negativity. I’m in a sense tolerating it even. Now, please don’t get me wrong. There are things that happen that are unfortunate circumstances and situation like illness and unemployment…those, yes, deserve our compassion…I am speaking of that kind of negativity where people are just plain ol’ bitching!!! Those are the negative comments one should not follow up on …even with a polite response. So that is how my experiment was conducted. I told Music about this too…and, well, this year, much of our misery we realized is because one of our colleagues has decided to squeeze himself into our little world. Last year we never saw him…but this year, his girlfriend who used to be a second grade teacher at our school, moved to a new school. So now, all the time he would spend with her, he has imposed himself on us. He meets us before and after school, sits by us in all meetings, and joins us for lunch. We would never have a problem with this…other than he is one big, raging, ball of negativity…every word out of his mouth is negative, he is lazy at his job, he doesn’t care about kids, and all he does is bitch and make fun of people. Not good energy at all. And Music and I came to the conclusion that this HUGE factor of a person has played a HUGE impact on how miserable we have been lately. This week…both of us conducted my experiment on him. It was interesting because he sure does talk alot…but…its easier to conduct this experiment when you have another social scientist at hand..like Music. Instead of the awkward moments after one of his negative purges we would change the subject to something else. Interestingly he would not partake in our conversations…and by the end of the week…he stopped coming to lunch with us!!!! We both feel a hundred and one times better…simply by not participating in other peoples negativity. The experiment was a success…now to keep it in practice. That is the juice inside my first intention on the 100 Day Reality Challenge.
Second, something big happened this past week too that really kicked me in the behind!!! I’ve been blessed most of my teaching career with an awesome mentor that lives in Cleveland. When I was working on my teaching license she was my supervising teacher during student teaching. We really hit it off and have been friends ever since. But more then that, she has been a strong mentor through the years. I talked to her last week. I began complaining and sharing all the wrongs with administration and district policy and all the things they are making me do and blah blah blah…when she started to yell at me. Really yell at me. I think she even threw in some profanity even!! But my mentor said to me “Where is the Connie I met years ago…the one who went into teaching fully for the kids…the one that would say fuck the administration-fuck policy–fuck the bullshit (yeah, I guess there was profanity)…and would remember she was there first and foremost for the kids…because she believed with her whole soul that the Arts is an important part of life.”
Do you see why she is my mentor?
She was right. She was absolutely right. And I just needed to hear that..to be reminded. I have gotten so swept up in negativity…other people’s negativity that I have adopted it as my own…that I forgot why I’m there in the first place. I forgot what my job is really about. I forgot that I am really fulfilling my purpose by being there. She’s right….all that other stuff–administration, policy, the stupid things they make you do that have nothing to do with teaching—they are all tools for manipulation that a group of folks have created out of fear. I am there for something deeper. I am there to change lives. To offer a small moment in these peoples lives where they can become acquainted with there own creativity. That is big. No admin or policy can take that a way from me…that’s a great purpose I was put here to serve. A great purpose. And after listening to my mentor and thinking about it deeply…I realized how blessed I am to have the job that I have. What a huge responsibility and honor I have been given by the universe. Yes, it is full of obstacles and uncomfortable situations and things that I just don’t like—but that’s all debris on the surface…underneath, the waters are full of life. It is shifting through the debris that deposits money into my bank account every two weeks…but it is swimming underneath that fulfills my purpose on this planet.
These two realizations…plus the little voice that whispered to me at the beginning of the week that I spoke about on my post HERE…..this was a life changing week. At one point, I was trying to scoot out of school right after the last bell…but was faced with tons of clean up (it was one of those days) and I was standing at the sink washing brushes when Jack Johnson on the radio sang “this is where I’m suppose to be”. I took it as an oracle.
Now, believe me, I don’t plan to do this job forever. I have other dreams. Hansel and I are planning to move to Costa Rica in a few years….but until then, I realized this week…that this IS where I am SUPPOSE to be. This part of the journey is just as important and special and wonderful as how my later dreams will be….I realized that I need to stop fighting and start breathing into spaces that give me discomfort. Stop participating in negativity and instead fill my heart full of gratitude. I teach Art. I teach Art to kids…what more could a humble soul ask for in this universe!
(You can also read a wonderful post about fighting negativity written last week by Christine at BlissChick HERE and she also interviewed the totally awesome Artist Dee of DeezDen, you can read that interview HERE.)