Mutual Benefit Plus

I mentioned earlier this week, that I was hiring someone to help me with some clearing.  Well today she started working on my son’s room.  Ironically, the person that was helping me was someone I had met a few years ago and only today did I remember it.  When I became reacquainted with this woman a few weeks ago, I kept saying that I knew her from somewhere but couldn’t place where.  She was a teacher, but I knew we had never taught together, so I kept searching my memory banks but to no avail.

Today, I realized that I had been to her home for a Buddhist gathering with a mutual friend.  It was such a relief to have finally solved the mystery and then I was able to enjoy getting to know her better.  She shared her knowledge of Buddhism.  I told her about my seeking.  We talked about teaching and tutoring.  And we cleared my son’s space.

It was fun to have someone nearly twenty years my senior, singing Elvis tunes, enthusiastically cleaning out a closet.  She helped not only get a room in order, but she lifted my spirits as well.  I love the way it feels when a transaction produces mutual benefit, like paying someone to do a job I cannot do.  But I love it even more when I connect with another person and both of our lives are enriched in a variety of ways.

Baby Steps

Today, one week after my granddaughter’s first birthday, she took her first steps on her own.  She has been standing on her own and cruising around furniture, but anytime someone tried to coax her to let go and walk, she would simply refuse.  Today, her mother “caught” her walking across the dining room.  I joked that maybe she had been a “closet walker.”

It reminded me of when my own children were little and I was teaching them to swim.  I remember other parents at the pool begging, scolding, or trying to reason with their own children to let go of the side, go under water, or jump into the pool.  My style was to simply stay within arm’s reach and let them explore whatever felt comfortable.  None of them were afraid of water.  All of them learned to swim at a young age.  And I didn’t push.  I simply let them do what came naturally.

They all love water.  I think it is partly because I loved water and I just let them be around it in whatever capacity they felt comfortable.  Now I believe getting out of our comfort zone is good for us, but sometimes it just takes baby steps.      

Snow Day

Being a teacher, I always looked forward to snow days because it was an unexpected day to catch up, get some things done around the house, or just wake up when my body was rested instead of when the alarm clock gave the command.  (I especially loved those snow days when the meteorologists’ predictions were wrong, or when the weather was cleared up by lunch time.)  As a mother, the best thing about a snow day is having an unexpected day with my kids.

Happy Ending

Today’s  Daily Prompt, “Happy Endings”, from The Daily Post asked that we reflect on a time when we tried to quit something.  It brought to mind the struggle I faced a couple of years ago with trying to quit a job.  I was extremely unhappy, as were many of the people with which I worked.  In retrospect, I was responsible for the position in which I found myself.  Back then, I was convinced that I was a victim.

In my twelve years of teaching, there had been ups and downs.  But during that last year, I dreaded going to work in the morning.  By the end of the school year, entering the building brought on panic attacks.  During the last week of school I sent my husband a text message telling him that I thought I was having a nervous breakdown.  He immediately called me and asked what was wrong.  I told him that I could not stop crying and I could not go back into that building.

His response helped me find the courage to start the “quitting” process.  He told me that although he would not tell me what to do, he did not want me going back to that school in the fall… even if it meant not returning to work at all.  I had talked about leaving, but only after my husband’s comment did I actually see it as a real possibility.

It wasn’t until then that I realized what was holding me in this miserable position wasn’t lack of jobs in the marketplace, or my lack of marketability, but the six inches between my ears.  I had been in the same position for so long, I didn’t believe I could find another job.  Looking back, I realize how ludicrous this was.  What I also noticed was that lots of people I knew  felt stuck too.  I don’t know if this is a phenomenon found in other fields or if it is disproportionately represented in education.  I do know that many unhappy teachers stay where they are out of fear.

So my happy ending began with quitting a job that held more cons than pros for me.  I loved the kids, I liked what I taught, and hated almost everything else about my job.  I had some colleagues I would miss, but I realized I could maintain these friendships regardless of where I worked.  (In fact, I now prefer getting together for lunch with friends rather than commiserating with them at school.)

I made up my mind that I would not return to the school where I had spent the vast majority of my career, even if I couldn’t find a teaching job.  Then I began my job search.  I applied in three different counties, and ended up taking a position very different from the one I had held for so long.  I also took a ten-thousand dollar pay cut.

In return, I cut my actual work day by forty-five minutes.  I also gained (at least) another forty minutes in personal time since I cut my commute by half.   This resulted in less wear-and-tear on my car and less fuel expense.  I was also pleasantly surprised to gain a pleasurable, predictable ride to and from work.

By taking a leap of faith, I not only gained a job I enjoy.  I also found friends in my new colleagues.  I remembered what it felt like to be excited about Monday mornings again.  Most importantly, I learned that there are always new opportunities just within my reach.  All I have to do is choose.

Not a Typical Post for Me

*This is not a typical post for me.  In my quest to write every day this year, I am completing an assignment that is a bit off topic for me. 

For today’s assignment in the Zero to Hero: 30 Days to a Better Blog challenge, I am referring back to a post I commented on yesterday.  Ben Orlin’s January 9th post entitled American teachers work the hardest. (After Chileans, of course.) caught my eye.  His blog name, Fifty-Five Million, refers to the number of students enrolled in American schools.  The subject matter is American education statistics. 

Although my comment was directly related to the content of the above mentioned post, I was interested in the no-nonsense approach to statistics used by the math teacher/blogger.  As a fellow math teacher, I felt validated by the data showing how hard we work, compared to teachers in other countries.  As a fellow writer, I enjoyed Orlin’s sense of humor, reminding us that “numbers, like hips, don’t lie.”  

Notice I did not include data and humor in the same sentence.  Orlin does just this. If you have a nerdtastic sense of humor, like me, check out his Math with Bad Drawings.  I found it quite entertaining, although the drawings ARE bad.