Monthly Archives: April 2020

Gone Walkabout

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Original artwork by author

Since December of 2018, my husband and I had a housemate living downstairs. My husband had several housemates before I moved in and we’ve had several after. We like helping others, and we have extra rooms, so why not?

This particular housemate was a friend of my husband’s, and all was great for many months. She was generally happy, creative, quirky, like a fairy embodied in a human being, who also liked death metal.

Last month, this housemate passed away. My husband found her in her room. We had exchanged pleasantries two days before, and we had heard signs of life one day before. Then … silence, so my husband checked on her. This disappearing thing wasn’t uncommon; sometimes she’d sink into a depression, or her body hurt, and often she would sleep in her room off and on for days, surfacing for a bit of food.

She had started being unstable around us during the holidays last year- maybe even before that. She was in her own world, and in her own struggle. We tried to help her in many ways. She was often sad, and it wouldn’t have been surprising if she wanted to leave this life.*

That said, our hearts ache for the positive aspects we came to know: her odd sense of humor, and her devil-may-care attitude, sporting her bright pink or glittery pants and colorful clothes as she went for a walk, literally dancing to her own tune. She often hummed to herself and jiggled her hips, an echo of former belly dancing days, as she stood by her sewing area. She nerded out on computer programming with my husband, talking in a language that I barely understand but respect. She vibrated life from her being in a unique way.

What I probably admire the most about her is that she strived to be the best person she could. She posted Buddhist sayings, helping her to remember that we are all in our own struggle, not to judge others, and to let go of expectations. She turned my husband on to Harville Hendrix, a relationship guru whose advice he and I now follow. And though we had our differences, she had wanted to make amends.

It pains my heart to think of the sadness she must have felt, and that no human could give her the healing or support she needed. In the end, I’m guessing the struggle was too much.* I also miss her, which has been hard for me to admit.

Sometime last week, I dreamed that she popped by from a walkabout to get a pair of jeans. My husband and I looked up from whatever we were working on and said casual hellos. Then she went on her way. Everything seemed as normal, like she was before her struggles had surfaced: happy, radiating sunshine, ponytail swinging. A day or two later, my husband had a dream about her, taking a casual walk in the neighborhood with her.

I like to think that’s what she’s doing: a walkabout, and that she’s on her next spiritual journey, encountering wisdom and adventures on the way.

*Update three months after this was written: we just found out from a family member that the coroner told her that our housemate died from a stroke. This is a relief in a way, that she hadn’t necessarily intended to pass on, but it is still sad.

A Strange, Crazy Trip of a School Year

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What an amazing, crazy, ride this school year has been! It’s my 19th year of teaching, and it feels like my 1st year in some ways. I have learned SO MUCH, not only about teaching, but about being a human being and working with others.

I have already written about the first part of the school year. I worked with two little boys who screamed, threw things, ran around the school and even away from the school, and were mean to other kids. I also got to know other sweet students at the same time. My heart broke for those students, who were victims of one of the other students, and got less teaching than they should have.

I could emotionally deal with all of it, almost, except the meanness. I have a very hard time understanding and accepting those who are randomly mean to others. And, if I would have had no end in sight, I would probably be burned out and in the funny farm by now.

Through dealing with that, I learned just how wonderful the staff I work with are. I always knew that most of the staff around me have my back, and most of them worked really well together to help those kiddos. This is hands down, the most positive workplace I have been in. Other situations have come close, but this school is the most positive and supportive I have ever been a part of.

Now, I’m facing another challenge: remote teaching these same little ones (they’re Deaf/Hard of hearing second graders) during this COVID 19 lock-down. One of them has a TBI and is struggling the most with learning from home. The rest are adjusting, I think, and some are learning more than I ever expected. And some, I’m just happy they are joining my Zoom meetings and can see their faces, even if they’re not putting in much effort in the work I set for them. What a strange time this is. And we are told to prepare ourselves to do it again in the Fall.

On another note, PTSD from past teaching jobs haunts me. While I love my principal, vice principal, and DHH admin, I still have no idea if they want me back. I have learned to not trust what I see on the surface, and that any small infraction can look horrible in their eyes, or skewed to make me look horrible when I know I’m a wonderful teacher.

Not to toot my own horn or anything… well, if I do have my own horn, don’t I get to toot it? That’s assuming I have a horn to toot. Not that I think I’m a perfect teacher and I certainly see my faults very clearly, every single day, but overall, I think I do a bang-up job!

I’m just used to others not seeing that, and seeing things through poop-colored glasses. And I’m paranoid that others are judging me. I bet this is common among teachers. Let’s hope that my bosses see me in clear-no-colored glasses at the very least. I do put in 150 to 200% effort!

I do hope I can keep on doing this. By this, I mean teaching Deaf/Hard of Hearing kids. I do love it for the most part, even if some days I feel miserable about it. I love my students, and I love teaching.

I do have other dreams… most of them made of the smoke from pipes. One, is being an interpreter again… not much pay, and the fact that I didn’t pass the NIC depresses me- though I do need to try again at some point. (And it’s another field where people tend to judge each other, not a good feeling.) Another is becoming a published author for fiction, be it adult, young adult, teen, or author/illustrator of children’s books. And, in crazy moments, a fairy or other creature at Ren Faires like Twig The Fairy sounds really darned good. All of these things don’t pay as well as teaching (and may pay nothing at all), and I do love teaching kids.

We’ll see what the next school year brings! For now, we’ve all just got to survive the next few weeks until summer break. And don’t get me wrong: I am very happy to have a job during this time, and a purpose in that job. It is just a lot of hours of work.

May we all come out of this sane, and in good relationships with those we live and work with. May those on the front lines be safe and healthy. As people pass from this life, may we hold on to the light and joy of living. May we all see each other again soon, and be all the closer for this experience. So mote it be.

                                                                                                                Original artwork by author