Consider when you have been at your best. What was happening? What were you doing? Who were you with? How did it feel to be your best self?
I feel at my “best” when I’m in a classroom teaching. I don’t know that there’s been any particular moment I’m recalling, just a ton of small fragments of all the classes I’ve taught, all the teachers I’ve worked with, and most importantly, all the children I’ve had the opportunity to teach.
When I’m in the flow of these times, I feel like I’m having a positive influence on the lives of other people.
And while there are the lessons to be taught in the various subject areas, whether it be science, math, or any other courses of study, I feel the real reason I’m in my chosen profession twelve years after my “retirement” is because I have that positive influence on their lives and they on mine.
When I’m teaching, I feel wanted and needed and am important to others, which I consider a basic desire of all human beings, regardless of what part of their lives we’re considering.
I don’t feel like this way of feeling is always easily accessible, which in part is what I’m still at it after all these years.
Author’s note – With an assignment already in place for the first eight weeks of the 2022-2023 school year, I will be starting my forty-second year as a classroom teacher.
What activities did you love as a kid but have since dropped?
When I was a child the thing I remember most is loving to ride my bicycle. My grandfather repaired bicycles and I usually had a good bike to pick and choose from. The one I remember riding most often, the one I “rode the wheels off” was a white ten-speed.
I would take off early to ride on a Saturday morning. Many times I would end up at a small restaurant uptown, which was run by the husband of my first-grade teacher from years before. It seemed I was treated as royalty each time I would visit. I remember one time in particular that it was pouring rain outside and when I came in, totally drenched from head to toe, the two waitresses got towels to help dry me off.
I loved riding downtown in our small town. It seemed there was always something interesting going on. One time in particular, I remember when a police car and firetruck that were answering the same call collided at an intersection. I never did find out which one had run the red light or if either was at fault.
Most every time I took out on those Saturdays, I would end up at my grandparents’ house, where I would stay for the rest of the day. This was in those days that your parents didn’t really wonder where you were going or what you were up to. I do suppose that my grandmother probably called my parents to let them know I had arrived safely. As best I can remember, I usually spent the night with them since they lived right next to the church we attended.
I don’t ride a bicycle anymore, even though I do have a practically new one in storage. I’m sure it would help my physical health to get back into the habit, but I really don’t see that happening.
I am in the Barnes and Noble Cafe on a drizzly Monday afternoon. The tables are abuzz with all sorts of activity and conversation.
Two young lads are reading their manga books intently, as they turn the pages from back to front.
Another man pours over blueprints of some sort, seemingly figuring an estimate for a potential customer. He takes out his calculator and writes down the resulting figures on sheets of a legal pad.
And then there’s another man, whose name I know but will not reveal, whose appearance reminds me of Frankstein each time I see him. He’s wearing rust-colored pants and a gray-striped shirt as he drinks from his fresh cup of coffee and reads his magazine. From time to time, he lets out a loud cough or laughs, and then again will gently talk to himself. He is a cafe regular and drives a caramel brown Mercury with a Smith and Wesson tag on the front bumper.
Just a few random observations on this drizzly Monday afternoon.
The glass tube,,, filled with various components designed to allow one to hear from others around the world. There’s no telling what news has made its way through this electronic feed. News of both victories and defeats, beautiful music and somber tones. Now it sits idly by, never to be heard from again, as silent as the darkened night. So many stories that will go unheard of again.
Consider your proudest moment. What was it and how did you feel?
I had been nominated quite a few times for school system teaching awards, but never had gone on to win. In 2002, I had once again been nominated for our middle school and was attending the banquet for the system-wide awards.
They introduced the award winners with a description of what they had done in their classrooms and within the first few lines, I realized they were talking about me.
I was very proud and was awarded a cash prize and a plaque, which I still proudly display on my wall. It would be the only system-wide award I would win, which made it even more special.
Think about your life so far. What’s been a pivot point in your story? Describe the before and after.
My pivot point definitely came on August 10, 2002. I at that point realized that I am an alcoholic. My wife of twenty-two years had left and caused me to examine what about my life I needed to change.
I at this point was totally lost, not knowing where to turn. Reoccurring feelings of fear had led me to seek a chemical solution before this time and that was no longer an option. My erroneous thinking had led me to a point where the most important things in my life were no longer there. Something had to change.
Soon after that day, I reached out for help for a problem I knew I couldn’t solve on my own. I started seeing a therapist and started my outpatient rehab journey. My wife was never to return, but I saw that I needed to love myself enough to continue to get the help I needed.
It was through this admission of my addiction and my continued work with a twelve-step program that I had a deep spiritual awakening that continues to this day. I realized that there is a God that loves me and watches over me, in both good times and bad. God had done for me what I could not do for myself.
Even though my life today is far from perfect, I am still able to march forward despite the fears and misgivings I might have. A lot has happened over these past several months that have put my faith to the test, but I stand firm in my resolve to stay focused on the positive parts of my life, which are many.
I’ve adopted a mantra that’s helped me through the most difficult of days:
“Keep the faith and trust the journey.”
*Note – I, by the grace of God, will be able to celebrate twenty years of sobriety on August 10th of this year.
“Life has many ways of testing a person’s will, either by having nothing happen at all or by having everything happen all at once.”
― Paulo Coelho
This quote ran through my mind countless times over the last couple of weeks. Life does indeed have a way of becoming cumbersome and sometimes boring and then throws life-changing events at you, all seemingly at one time.
My beloved mother’s life on Earth came to a close this past week. She had battled dementia and it had taken its toll on her ability to function normally. A short stay at the hospital, followed by the family trying to take care of her at home, and then the realization that we were no longer able to care for her ourselves and placing her in hospice care. She stayed at hospice house for exactly one week before she was called to her heavenly home.
During this time, I also had to make the difficult decision to euthanize my beloved dog, Abby. She had been diagnosed with terminal cancer and had gotten to the point that she was suffering each day. The phrase “dogs are man’s best friend” certainly rang true for me as I laid beside her as she took her last breaths. Abby had been a part of my life for the past twelve years and she was a constant companion and friend and I miss her greatly.
In between these two events, one of the happiest times in my life, marrying the love of my life, Lisa. She and I were joined on a warm Sunday afternoon and celebrated the beginning of our lives together. It was so very nice to have members of both of our families join us to celebrate the joy of starting our lives together as a married couple. Although my mom wasn’t able to attend the ceremony, she had been adamant that she would be at the wedding and we realize she was there with us in spirit.
This two week period of time also included the end of yet another school year. Even though I was only able to work two of the last five days, I was pleased to be able to attend the graduation ceremonies and say good-bye to the students I had worked with over the past five months. They’ll continue their journeys in middle school next year and who knows, maybe I’ll be seeing them again.
So many life changes in such a short period of time. And all the while, the realization that God was watching over all during these times of transition. While I don’t completely understand all the changes that have occurred, I do know that with God’s help, I will be able to keep the faith and trust the journey.
Today is the first day of 2022. And for certain, this past year was filled with many ups and downs. There is the realization as well that the upcoming year will hold much the same. Those times when we feel on top of the world and then again, times when we feel that perhaps all is lost. Here’s to handing them as if they were one and the same and hoping for a prosperous new beginning.
There is something about the beginning of a new year that is indeed quite refreshing. But then there’s also the realization that the calendar divisions are filled with many beginnings and endings. But for this one day of the year, we can look ahead and take lessons learned from the past and use them to help to create a better future.
One of the things I want to continue working on in the new year is learning more about myself and in particular, new ways of thinking about the world. My twelve-step work will most definitely continue, with continued working through circumstances in my life. I know there’s much I don’t have any control over and that they can make my life unmanageable. I know that there exists a God of my understanding that watches over it all and that my best option is to turn my will and my life over to His care. And finally, there are parts of myself that need to be examined and improved upon so that my life will continue to be one of service to others.
I started seeing a therapist during this past year to help chart my course for the development of self. With each visit, I have brought to the table a new set of questions and left with a new set of understandings. My most recent work has been with Dialtectal Behavior Therapy and its implications. I have been soaking up as much information as I can and have been attempting to apply it to the situations in my life. I have had a lot of things revealed to me and am joyfully assuming more will be revealed as my work progresses.
I’m starting a new interim position to start the second half of the school year. It’s with a group of students that I was working with two years ago when the pandemic hit. I’m looking forward to teaching young minds and hopefully helping them learn more about the world they live in. I have been blessed with many such opportunities in my post-retirement years and this one should be quite interesting.
Just a few random thoughts running through my mind this day as the new year begins. May we all live in joy and peace during the coming year.
Just before Christmas, I did a lovely interview with Luisa Carel of Passion Harvest where we talked about how to decipher the meaning of coincidences and the ways they can guide us in the big decisions of our lives. Specifically, we talked about how coincidences can help us (have helped me!) tune into our intuition and not ignore the cry of our own hearts.
It’s definitely one of those “You’re not going to believe this” stories. I returned from a family function tonight expecting to see a package on the front porch. The tracking info said it was on or near my front porch and further investigation revealed it supposedly had been left there at 8:25 a.m. I searched and searched, but it was nowhere to be found. I suspected someone had stolen it.
About that time, I received a call on my cell phone from a “Private Number” and answered it. A police officer from the Hickory Police Department asked me to identify myself and my address. A thousand and one thoughts ran through my mind. He informed me that my package had been delivered to someone with the same house number and street, but a different section of town. She for some unknown reason had called the police department and reported what had happened.
Five short minutes later, Officer Sutton from the Hickory Police Department shows up, package in hand. He explained that the woman who had the package delivered to her home was legally blind and had accidentally opened it, only to discover it had been delivered to the wrong address. The officer said they don’t usually do this sort of thing, but given it was Christmas Eve, they wanted to make sure it got delivered on time.
So in a time where we sometimes can call into question our faith in humankind, tonight was a unique example of the fact there really are good and honest people left in this world. I thank the woman who I’ll likely never meet and Officer Sutton for going above and beyond on this cold winter’s night. Santa did indeed come a bit early.#youcantmakethisstuffup#ThereAreNoCoincidences