Category Archives: Pagan Living

Pitching My Tent at the Precipice

Standard
camping on the precipice

Original artwork

I have come back into “manifest reality” of the day to day worklife after being in fairyland.  That fairyland was a May Day festival in the mountains.  During the festival, I truly felt like I had finally blossomed.  I had been to the festival 3 times before, and each time had been wonderful, but this time I felt truly released and grounded at the same time.  I felt truly myself and blissful.  During the maypole dance, I skipped and frolicked, because I felt freed.  The last thing I did there, before saying goodbye and leaving, was to attend a small cozy ritual that focused on bringing about positive changes in our lives.  The circle wasn’t closed; it remained open to continue the change in our lives after we left the festival.

Now I’m back, and I’ve got some decisions to make.  Here are my choices: go with what my current job is offering me, which is to work with a population that I don’t really have a passion for working with; keep on searching for a job as a teacher working with a population I am passionate about working with, or chuck teaching altogether and either become an interpreter or work towards becoming an interpreter. If I go with the first one or second one (both really, for financial security), I am pleasing one set of loved ones I have.  To them, my choice should be to remain a teacher only, because of financial security; if nothing had been offered here, they wanted me to look elsewhere for a teaching job- that is, to move far away if I had to.  I know their hearts will be broken (or they will at least feel scared and worried for me) if I go with choice number three.  Another loved one would like me to pick becoming an interpreter.  The reason is because I would be much less stressed, and therefore have more time to offer and focus on that particular loved one.

It’s dangerous to let others pull you in one way or another when it comes to life decisions. It must be your own choice.  Since my last post, I have still not resigned, though I have made some strides in preparation for change.  I completed a written and performance test to become an Educational Interpreter (have passed the written, and don’t know yet on the performance), and had two interviews, both of which did not lead to new jobs as a teacher.  I have applied to a third- which would be with a population I’m passionate about working with but is in a district that has a reputation for gangs and violence within their schools.  I haven’t heard back from that one and maybe it’s just as well.

A situation at work escalated to the point of a decision being made for me- thankfully, not to dissolve my position, but to have me switch schools with another teacher.  In the midst of all this, I went from the precipice where I nearly jumped into the jobless scary place of becoming an interpreter (but finishing out the year as a teacher, because that’s me), to creeping backwards into the safe place of job security.  And still, the disrespectful way superiors have been treating me- pointing fingers of blame rather than offering their hands in support- is urging me back towards the precipice.

I am still in the midst of decision.  Do I jump, or do I stay put, looking for a way out, or do I accept the place I’ve been given?  This is my 13th year of teaching.  Though I partly believe myself to be a natural at teaching, excellent at motivating students and getting them excited about learning, and great at developing relationships with students, another part of me is greatly disappointed in my teaching ability.

It’s very difficult and stressful to be a teacher, and it almost never feels like you are ‘good enough’ or ‘excellent enough.’  There is always something to work on, to improve on.  There are always people observing and picking you apart.  These observations are only snapshots and therefore snap judgements are made.  ‘There was no scaffolding,’ they say, but they were only in the class for 15 minutes, and didn’t know or think to ask about whether there had been scaffolding the entire month leading up to that lesson during which they peeked in.  Those aren’t the only stressors (and by the way my latest evaluation was not so bad and I appreciate that particular supervisor (I have many) appearing to be on my side.  Other stressors include legal documentation with Special Education being scrutinized, telling parents (or anyone) the truth of the way things are is looked down upon, and every little mistake is made into a huge embarrassing can of worms.  It’s like being in the movie Office Space:  the main character has too many bosses, and they’re all reminding him about one little mistake he made, and sometimes I feel like the guy with the stapler who has been relegated to the basement.  He’s been laid off but doesn’t know it; “It’ll sort itself out,” his supervisors say.

My boyfriend has seen that I am a completely different person during my summers off.  I am much more carefree, more loving, more affectionate, and more happy.  I am more confident, since there is no one but myself around to tear me down.

My gut is telling me that if I work on becoming an interpreter, that is where my bliss lies.  But is it wise?  I have been given wings to fly, they are unfurling, and I have a bit of a safety net with saved money, on which I believe I can live on for a year including paying for schooling if need be.  The scary part lies after all of that.  Do I jump, and fly, or jump and fall to the safety net and bounce a while, after which, do I take off flying or do I fall into the abyss?  Am I being over dramatic about that abyss, and am I being over dramatic about my current situation?  It’s certainly better than many people have to face.  I think for now I’ll keep adding to that safety net, and investigate things further- which may be a cop out!  But if I’m going to jump, I had better know what I’m doing.  I’m going to pitch my tent at the precipice and hug a tree.

Advertisements

Emerging as a Butterfly

Standard
emergence as butterfly

Original Artwork

In some previous blogs, I talk about being inundated with butterfly imagery last year, and the feeling of being in a cocoon the last few months.  This past week I have felt like I am starting to emerge.

Part of being in a cocoon is being dormant, not passionate, wrapped up in myself and my own experiences.  I felt a bit of depression as well.  Not that I was completely shut off from other people and not that I was completely heartless (the cocoon was not completely opaque).  I was faced with some gut-wrenching choices that grew from the soil and muck of feeling overworked and the extreme opposite of being appreciated, and a lack of respect by superiors at work.  In the other arenas of my life- friends and family- I am well supported by wonderful people, and I am very grateful for that.

The ordeal at work tore open old wounds, and I was back to re-developing a love of myself and who I am.  I am still in the midst of re-developing it- I’m not completely free of that yet.

Ironically, though I experienced some added ordeals this past week, I feel refreshed as a person.  I feel like I am breaking out of the cocoon.  The skin of the cocoon has thinned and I can wrench my head and upper limbs free, and see and love the outer world.  I’m not sure what it is that did it, or if it was “just time.”  It may be that a recent meeting with superiors brought many things even closer to my inspection and I faced reality even more head-on.

Although I had decided months ago that I would resign from my current position, I hesitated to do so.  I still haven’t done it, though I drafted a resignation letter last week.  I plan to 1) figure out the correct steps to do it and 2) follow those steps in turning it in next week.  It feels a little like the Fool’s card of the tarot deck:  stepping gleefully over the brink of a cliff and into the unknown.  Though this act of resignation doesn’t feel gleeful- instead, it feels ….  resolute, freeing, a little gut-wrenching in the final goodbye of my current position, and final.

I’m not sure if it’s the decision to finally follow through with what I’ve known I need to do for months that is making me feel fantastic, or if it’s that I’m back in control of my life.  It’s ironic, because with this step, I also lose control- I won’t be employed, at least (hopefully) for a short time.  That’s the scary part.  Why, in this economy, would I do such a thing?  I will be doing it because I must.  If I don’t, I feel that I will be failing myself, letting myself stay down the well with steep sides (and jeering hands like in the movie Labyrinth) and leaving myself in a place where I feel worthless.

I want to be clear for any critical and caring thinkers out there that I am applying for jobs as well as working on getting certification as an interpreter, which will likely open up more jobs for me, once I get that certification.  It seems that it will take me a year or less of passing exams and honing my skills to get to where I want to be in that field.  I hope that my perception of that is true! I also have money saved, that I can use toward schooling if that is needed and to live on.

It isn’t always so horrible at work that I feel like I’m in the well- sometimes I’m at the top of the well looking out, and sometimes I’m deeper down;  but it often feels deeper down.  My  boyfriend, who I started dating 3 years ago, says I even felt it then, and that I would be oftentimes extremely stressed.  That’s one wondrous thing about my boyfriend:  he is a gentle reality checker for me.  A gentle person holding up a mirror, ready to hug me and support when I react to what I see.  It’s one of the reasons I love him.

The feeling of emergence is fantastic.  I say ’emergence’ instead of fully being a butterfly, because I don’t want to assume I’m completely finished ‘baking’ yet, and because I have no idea what’s to come.  Maybe the feeling really is more like I’m ready to stretch my wings; I’ve come out of the cocoon and my wings are still wet, so I can’t really fly yet.  I feel friendly, open, passionate, and happy to be alive, and at the same time quite grounded.  I hope this state of being continues.  I am looking forward to flying, and yet am happy to be at the stage I am in.

—–

Update:  On further reflection, I will 1) talk with my union rep 2) talk with powers that be in HR and 3) make a decision on next steps.  I may be ‘throwing away’ certain opportunities if I resign.  We shall see.

Chrysalis Dormancy – Letting Myself Stop

Standard
myself chrysalis

Original artwork

For a long time now, I have been going through an intense transformation.  Mostly during last summer, I realized I need to live without all the little petty fears that I have been allowing to stop me from doing what I want to do.  That was the start of it.  Since then, I’ve been reevaluating many things in my life and being myself more openly.  I’ve kept a lot of my quirkiness or strangeness inside, have come to view it as beautiful, and have started to express it on my outside, much like a chrysalis being turned inside out to show its beauty as a butterfly.  Butterfly imagery flooded my existence; I saw them everywhere, mostly man-made: stickers, posters, decorations, images shared on the web, monarch butterfly dresses, and so on.  The universe was telling me I was about to go through this change, perhaps gently encouraging me to take the steps in the change.  I didn’t know at the time what all the butterfly imagery meant, until I’m looking back at it now.

I’m a Teacher of the Deaf.  Not only that, I’ve taken on the roles of Special Education teacher, and have regular teacher duties as well.  This school year has been extremely stressful for me (and not only due to all the roles- it’s been much more than that).  I’ve been left wondering if it’s always been this stressful and I’m more sensitive to it now, or if it’s truly more stressful than ever before.  I think it’s a little of both.  I poured my guts out to my boyfriend about it recently and in the outpouring came 13 years of suffering, of not feeling up to snuff as a teacher.  I can make mistakes in other areas of my life without any emotional scarring: crafting, interpreting, dancing, are all things I’m not perfect at; but the mistakes don’t get me down, they’re steps to a learning process or part of a creative process.  In teaching, mistakes get me *DOWN.*  I have a major chip on my shoulder when it comes to teaching, and though I’m sure it comes with the territory, I think it’s unusually large.  It’s a toomah, as Arnold Schwarzenneger said in some movie or other.

Many incidents this school year have been ‘nails in the coffin’ of my teaching career, and it depresses me.  Though, I know this is thinking like I’m the victim.  It feels like outside forces are making me want to give up teaching and I’ve gone through grieving steps:  anger at these forces, grief that I will miss what I love about teaching, numbness.  I believe I’m in the numbness stage right now actually.  But truly, it’s always what we do in the face of these incidents and it’s not a victim thing at all.  It just feels that way.  I believe it’s part of my transformation.  The outcome, I hope, will be a person who lives as she wants to live, and does what she wants to do.

During the past 13 years of teaching, I’ve often felt like I wanted to go into a different profession, but I stuck through it.  This year is different;  many things I used to just take, my guts are refusing to take any more.  I could get into what those things are another time- they aren’t the focus of this post.  The focus of this post is my transformation.  It’s doing a number on me.

The past few months, sometimes, when I’m over-stressed, I feel comfort in not feeling or moving, and I imagine I might know how a catatonic schizophrenic might feel.  I can’t say I do though, thankfully.

It might not help that I’m also going through what’s referred to in doomsday tones: The Change.  I may be more sensitive, and it may be contributing to my present emotional affliction- that of having a hard time feeling.  I’m sure that doesn’t make sense that it’s both, but I think I’m responding to the emotions being over the top with trying not to feel anything, if that makes any sense.  Black Cohosh was working wonders on my hot flashes, and I’ve stopped taking it for a few months.  I started again this morning with just a dropper-ful.  That plus trying to be more zen in my life are what I’m going to try to combat this sense of numbness.

When I was about 7 or 8 years old, sometimes after playing in the snow, I’d wind down and just lie in it, feeling warm in my snowsuit, and letting the snowflakes fall dreamily down towards my eyes.  I’d see the snow falling all around me, and be mesmerized by their dancing movements.  I’d lie still and peacefully, and let myself not even be there.  It was comforting.  I think it’s because the world seems to stop; it seems to hang and not move forward.  The busy pace of life which is sometimes fun, sometimes needs to stop. And we need to stop and be zen.

However, it’s become chronic the past few months for me and I need to be human again.  I’ve realized that though my inside seems to have stopped- stopped feeling, or get lost while feeling stressed about the future, I haven’t really let myself stop.  I’ve kept on doing something, almost all the time up until I sleep.  I work, I come home and plan for work, or I watch Netflix or do Facebook, and then as I go to bed I read until I sleep.

I used to meditate, and about 3 years ago, I tried to meditate at least once a day even if it was for just 5 minutes at a time.  I haven’t meditated for a long time.  Maybe a year or more.  Today, as I came home, it was getting darker, and the lights were off in my home.  I was about to turn on the lights, but decided not to, for a moment.  I looked toward the balcony and the small layer of snow out there, and, thinking I’d meditate, finally, again, I went and sat close to the balcony doors.  I looked out the glass and wrapped myself in a soft blanket.  Cars drove by behind a stand of trees in the distance, and it was like I was looking up at the sky at falling snow again.  After several deep breaths, I was able to sit peacefully and not mind the ticking clocks (which tick louder when it’s quiet- it’s a twist of physics we all know).  My mind turned off, to a peaceful zen, for a moment.

I wasn’t able to meditate, however.  But, baby steps.  I’ll try to at least stop for a moment each day and be at peace.  That will be a start. And in the tumult of transformation, I’ll let myself be dormant a bit, so I don’t go freakin’ nuts.  So I can become a feeling human being again.