For over a month I’ve been on a long term gig teaching sixth graders English at a low income school not far from me. I’m not gonna lie – I’ve been having a blast doing it. The school has this total 1950’s vibe with the checkered tile linoleum, old school phones, honeycombed bathroom tile and walk-up bungalow classrooms. Each day, while collecting the breakfast carts, I collect some amazing stories.
The kids are old enough to understand some of my life lessons (“you’re not in charge of adults’ emotions – ever – find someone safe to talk to!”) but young enough to be freaked out about the six foot sub in the checkered pants who says she’ll add ten points to every missed assignment so they’d better hop to it and finish their essays. (Um, I don’t have a Masters in teaching. I know how to lesson plan and grade about as efficiently as my spoiled pit bull staying off my bed, but they don’t know that, so shhhh.)
Lest I come off too cavalier, my non-English speaking kids are not as easy to manage. Just last week four kids ran out of my classroom. I only knew it because as I was going over individual student’s essays at my desk, I happened to glance out my window to find mops of black hair bobbing just over the security screens.
I suppose I could have been furious, but I found myself laughing. It’s sort of my new thing these days – to not take things so seriously. My spirituality is less “go to church so you don’t die in the fiery pits of hell” and more “If God resides within all of us, then the divine in me connects with the divine in you, which means… I’m really a part of everyone so who am I to judge?”
This philosophy might sound woo woo, but it helps a lot. I see God very simply now: where there is peace, so is God. (And apparently there’s no peace throwing tantrums over what isn’t. It’s much easier to accept what is and make adjustments.) Ex: When a student who doesn’t speak English is talking back at me, why get annoyed? Aren’t they my mirror? And if so, then how can I not see myself in their eyes? Have I not often found myself talking back at someone in anger?
When one of them grabs extra honey buns at the “share table” and doesn’t say thank you, can I not relate to swiping extra food or attention from a place of greed or fear?
And when someone leaves my class to frolic with a friend in the ivy outside my window, can I not relate to the very need to escape some of the less than exciting circumstances of my life – especially the past two years? (Covid, a kid transitioning/moving out of my house, age related changes, etc.)
I used to feel bad about not getting a real teaching credential – instead remaining for the fifth year in a row bobbing on the water of subbing – but in truth, my days slogging it out for a public school system have been the greatest credential I could ever have graduated with. I have discovered that going wherever that robotic sub system sends me and beaming love at everyone I meet (yup, I beam… it’s another one of my spiritual decisions… plus being so tall, I’m practically a light house anyway… a big boobed ocean building) I am learning more about how to drop my ego and lean into God’s will for me than anything I ever knew possible.
Tonight, over tacos, I was telling Rex and Phia that I ended up getting an extended gig at my current school. It was kind of cool, because at first I was going to miss the extended combat pay by 2 days (that would have sucked.) But then they said maybe they’d keep me through Day 20. And now they want me well into October.
While the extra pay is great, more important in my book is that I absolutely surrendered the outcome. It was going to be what it was going to be. It was going to land where it was going to land. Instead of manipulating the endless possibilities of extra pay vs. not, I stopped playing chess in my mind and instead focused on the duties at hand: how can I be of service every single day? How can I love what is instead of what isn’t? It’s such a simpler, not to mention more fun, way of living. (Plus I heard from a producer about my Christmas movie. It’s been sent to four people – fingers crossed this sucker sells!)
Bottom line: life can be so wonderfully surprising if we let it. In a world where we can’t always predict the future, I offer you the more exciting and fulfilling path: beam love, see yourself in everyone you meet so you can have compassion for them and yourself and always eat tacos. Like tacos, life falls apart sometimes. It can still taste delicious.
And for my Tourettes mamas, remember: If you can’t fix the tics, fix yourselves!
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