The Teacher in Me

My friend Linda over at Litebeing Chronicles posted a Divine Mission-Possible challenge this month. Here are her instructions:

1 – Write about your spiritual mission here on Gaia. Are you a lightworker, Starseed, forerunner, Indigo, or none of the above? What have you incarnated to do or to be? Describe your mission and your journey to achieve it. Are you delighted to be here? There is no correct answer, by the way. Make it your own.

It is my hope that this blog will inspire each of my readers to consider their own life purpose. Surely it is no accident that we have all come together in this time and space, right here, right now. Rachel, I am inviting you to rise to the Challenge. Your life is such an inspiration to me and I believe an explanation of what you see as your role in this life would spur many others on as well. ❤ 

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

As a child, I remember having a toy classroom: several little desks glued to the top of a sturdy piece of wood with a larger desk at one end facing the others. The teacher and students were bears, with the teacher being the largest. I am not sure if there ever was a little bear for every seat, but I recall spending hours with a friend of mine, taking turns at teacher and student. I definitely enjoyed playing teacher best.

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It was not long before I actually started teaching. One summer in high school, my job was to visit the various parks around town to offer free tennis instruction to the kids. In college I led the first of many Bible studies with Inter Varsity Christian Fellowship. Unsure of my ability to ‘make it big’ as a soloist, I earned my BS in Music Education, and although six months of student teaching would be the only time I set foot in an actual classroom, I spent the rest of my life teaching others in some capacity. As a church choir director/band leader, I found many opportunities to teach music theory or vocal skills. I spent 15 years home schooling my three children. Now I blog, answer questions on Quora and write books.

In the late 90’s I ran into an interesting set of education material called “Lifetime of Learning.” The author intended to convince any reader of the evils of public school and the benefits of something she called ‘delight directed learning.’ Her theory was that the modern idea of classroom-bound education (imparting endless facts that have little to do with a student’s real life experience) was sure to drive the inborn desire to learn from anyone. I do not completely agree with her premise, but I do believe she was spot on when it came to what ought to be the impetus for any means of education: the desire for knowledge. To be a good teacher, one must first be an excellent student, and nothing delights me more than discovering new information in an area of interest to me (thus my current YouTube addiction).

The truth is, I can’t not teach. In fact, I’ve lost some potential friends over it. Perhaps another trick to teaching is knowing your audience. I have come to understand the phrase “words don’t teach, life experience teaches,” yet here I am, using a bunch of too many words specifically for the purpose of teaching! Maybe words don’t teach, but when a person has been through enough life experience, certain words will resonate. They will begin to make sense and carry the power of influence. Isn’t that the true mission of a teacher – to influence others in some way?

Today I would call myself a recovering Evangelical. I spent over 30 years tied to a religion whose beliefs I now consider silly at best, harmful at worst. During that time, like any dutiful disciple, I taught others that this religion was THE Truth and contained the answer to every question. I believed in it (or most of it) with my whole heart, only to later reject almost everything about it. Looking back, I could feel bad about how many people I potentially offended or even harmed in my dogmatic approach to the subject matter, except that I know a few things now about life that I did not understand then.

Like that evolution is a thing.

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Photo source: https://edu.glogster.com/glog/evolution-of-dolphins/1jpbvjm0fan

No, not Evolution like fish turning into people (which might be a thing – don’t know and don’t care), but the evolution of thought through the course of life experience. I understand now that this life is a journey, and that along that journey people change – everything from how much money is in their bank account to what they believe. I also get now that we can only give out of the well-spring we are dipping from. Christianity was all that I knew – until I blew the walls down and looked around. In that process I learned what I consider the most important lesson for any teacher: it is okay – no, imperative to be okay with – not knowing. Not knowing everything, that is. I can still feel the freedom of finally being able to say, “I don’t know.” Take it from me, having to know the answer to everything is exhausting.

There is a piece of wood paneling running between the ceiling and the top of the closet in my new bedroom. My first inclination when I saw it was to paint the phrase “Temet Nosce” (Know Thyself) across the panel. I know myself to be a lightworker – one who has come to shine in the dark places, be it a person’s soul or the world at large. One of my favorite cards in the Tarot is the Hermit. This figure portrays a solitary researcher seeking knowledge (often from within), as indicated by the lantern he carries. But the light is not only there to illuminate his own path, it is for others as well. Anywhere that his light travels, the darkness of ignorance is dispelled. That is my goal, to bring the light of knowledge to everyone I come into contact with, be they a student of pickleball or metaphysics. Will my endeavors always be successful? It depends on the audience. But as long as I keep learning, my mission will always be possible.

In answer to Linda’s final question, “Are you delighted to be here?” Yes! There is nothing I love more than learning and then spreading the word to others. And since there is SO much that I don’t yet know, I will give you some advice I once heard: “Eat the meat and spit out the bones.” In other words, take what resonates and discard the rest. Maybe ‘the rest’ was wrong or maybe it was given to you outside of the context of your experience so it just won’t resonate. Remember, no one has the answer to everything, and in the end, life is the best teacher. So live it, and learn from it.

What about you? There are still a couple of weeks left in Linda’s blog challenge. Would you be game to write something about your Divine Mission? Reach out to Linda using the link above. You can post a comment there indicating your willingness to participate.

As always, thanks so much for reading!

Namaste,

~C

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Focusing for a Change

It’s moving week. Today I am supposed to be painting my bedroom, but am distracted by the beauty I captured on my phone yesterday. Before I pick up any brushes, I feel the need to paint with some words.

As most of you know, I left behind a long-standing marriage in the summer of 2015. For the next couple of years I worked in a contract position as I went through the process of a divorce. When my 2-year contract ended, I had to make a decision. I could either find another office job (the prospect literally sent me to bed ill for a day or so) or take some real time off to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up. I found out about the contract end date in August – right in the midst of purchasing a home in which to run an AirBnB. Several circumstances besides the job loss turned me away from that plan, and on September 16 I moved in with my daughter and son-in-law, homeless, jobless, and wondering where all of this was going.

Some of you probably remember the backyard neighbor I had when I lived in TN. The funny blog I wrote several years back can catch you up to speed if you are unfamiliar with the saga, but in case you don’t have the time, let’s just say that he and I didn’t have the same standards in the areas of neighborhood beautification or peace & quiet. Two years after leaving TN behind, I looked out of my bedroom window and saw this:

Talk about contrast launching a million rockets of desire!

In fact, this yard is so much worse than anything I ever saw at Tony’s that I almost feel bad comparing the two. Almost… By the way, my bedroom is the only room in my daughter’s rental home with this view. Go figure.

A couple of months after moving in, I was on the phone gazing out at the madness next door, when I received an inspiration. I wrote about it here, so I won’t rehash it, I’ll just show you the photo of my solution.

One of my friends calls it my stained glass window.

When my son-in-law saw it, he walked up to my daughter and said, “I can see Ireland from your mom’s bedroom!” 🙂 With the view blocked, I forgot about the neighbor’s yard … mostly. Occasionally, I would raise the window up just to see if anything had changed. Nope. But my life has changed drastically in the past year.

In January of 2018, this was my view for about 10 days:

Sunset over Labelle, FL

Sometime in early spring, I revamped my website, and with my son’s help, developed this logo.

In May I self-published my first novel.

In September my dream of visiting Ireland came true.

And yesterday I took these from the kitchen doorway (also the view from my bedroom) in the new home that my son-in-law purchased this week:

Some would say that I have successfully manifested my dreams into reality, but it feels more like I relaxed, found a way to focus on the things that bring me joy, and beautiful stuff just started happening. There’s a little quote on my vision board/window that I grabbed off of the Internet when I was going through my divorce. I believe it truly encapsulates what our first goal should be anytime we are looking to improve something within ourselves or our lives. It certainly has sustained me through many a tough day year:

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Image Source: https://weheartit.com/entry/48256589

When you are ready to see a completely new life unfold before your eyes, this is step one – forget the past. Step two – accept what is, without judgement or complaint. Yes, you may be unhappy with something or someone, like I was with my neighbor(s), but when things are out of your control, finding a way to focus on something else is the real key to freedom.

Finally, move on. We have to be willing to step into that new future even through uncertainty or fear. I had a moment when I purchased my ticket to Ireland. A moment of pure terror! For about an hour afterwards, I kept asking myself, “What have I done?” After all, I had been out of work for nine months with no job in sight (I wasn’t even applying for jobs!). Yet I had just purchased a ticket to another country where I would rent a car that had to be driven on the opposite side of the road, to spend eleven days exploring an unfamiliar place – completely alone. The fear subsided as I turned my focus on the amazing adventure about to come. Now that my trip is over, I am looking for the next incredible journey coming around the bend!

Today I feel sad that I have to remove my vision board from the window. Those photos have sustained me in so many ways. They reminded me of the life I want to live, the adventures I want to have, and the power that I can exercise over any obstacle. But once again I am moving on. Seasons come and go; flowing with them is crucial to growth, and growth is a vital part of life.

So much good has come from my willingness to refocus – not just my eyes but my heart and mind. Focus is about more than seeing clearly. It’s really about what we choose to look at in the first place. What are you focused upon today? Hopefully your gaze is fixed on your dreams, your goals, your vision for your best life. The Avett Brothers said it well – “If I live the life I’m given, I won’t be scared to die.” We have been given one life. I think we would all be amazed at what can happen when we really choose to live it.

Namaste,

~C

 

Irish Food Finds and Other Adventures

Besides the scenery, history, and its hospitality to tourists, Ireland is known for high quality food. I was not surprised to find a diversity of eating establishments in the larger cities of Cork, Galway, and Dublin. Everything from McDonalds to Thai to swanky English restaurants abound. What did surprise me was the lack of options in the smaller towns. One Sunday, for example, I had hoped to procure a picnic lunch for my tour of Scattery Island but was unable to find an open café. In fact, not much of anything opens on Sundays in the more rural areas. The only pub in Kilrush offered breakfast meat with eggs when I would have happily settled for porridge. A premade deli salad from a nearby grocery store had to do, but that was one of only two disappointments in 11 days of culinary delights.

My first full day in Ireland almost ended with nothing to eat, since the majority of the restaurants in New Ross were closed by late afternoon. Thankfully, The Captain’s Table managed to rustle me up one last bowl of vegetable soup and a couple of slices of dark brown bread. Mmm! I enjoyed hot tea and homemade raspberry cheesecake at a corner table overlooking the Dunbrody Famine Ship until my waitress asked me to leave. She had to unlock the front door to let me out. It was barely six o’clock!

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On day 2 I tried my luck at a pub. In the cramped parking lot of The Strand Tavern in Duncannon, I met with a trio visiting from England. Once they found out that I was traveling alone, the man, his wife, and their friend insisted that I join them inside for dinner. The three did their best to convince me to order a Guinness, but instead I chose a flight of local IPA’s (the first beer I’d had in almost four years). I was not disappointed. The Strand’s fish tacos were delicious! One of the perks of living on an island – you can bet that the seafood is always fresh.

Day 3 found me at The Old Thatch Pub & Restaurant in Killeagh, County Cork. I had my one and only Guinness over a lunch of carrot soup, a lamb sandwich, and homestyle chips. After that, it was ginger beer and Jameson for me. Following my historic tour of Kinsale, I stopped in at the Lemon Leaf Café where I enjoyed a late breakfast of oatmeal with fruit and hot tea.

Foley’s Guesthouse & Gastropub served up an enormous and unforgettable pot of mussels – straight from Kenmare bay – in a superb white wine sauce.

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I could not help wondering if I’ll ever be able to eat mussels again after this!

My second night in Kenmare, I opted for an Irish favorite, potato and leek soup. The Wander Inn was crowded, but somehow I managed to meet four people from the U.S. Two of them were from Philly, visiting Ireland on their honeymoon. The other pair had just finished a two or three week hike along the west coast and were enjoying a final night of live music over drinks.

In Oranmore I had my first seafood chowder before splurging on a dessert of homemade pie and ice cream. I enjoyed a take-out meal of shepherd’s pie and muffins from a little café called Food for Thought in Galway the next day. The spot is well-known for its coffee, and the food was great too.

Malachy Quinn treated me to my only steak dinner in Ireland. He had come up to Trim to trade rental cars. We spent the evening talking about how our diverse spiritual paths had somehow led us both to appreciate the work of Anthony De Mello. Life really can be strange at times.

Somewhere between County Meath and Dublin, I enjoyed a breakfast of sauteed greens, tomatoes, and feta cheese, while watching Hurricane Ali blow away my plans for the day.

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Later on after my tour of the Teeling Whiskey Distillery, I took the only open seat inside The Hairy Lemon – at the bar – and ordered a bowl of Irish Lamb stew. I spent the rest of the evening talking with a brand copyright lawyer on holiday from San Francisco.

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This traditional Irish meal was truly outstanding!
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The seafood chowder from Arthur’s Pub looked delicious, but it really was not.

I was sadly disappointed by the food my last night in Ireland. Arthur’s chowder tasted old, and even the brown bread was stale! 😦 Not the best way to end my journey. Surprisingly, breakfast in the Dublin airport was phenomenal, right down to the specialty coffee, so I certainly did not leave Ireland with a bad taste in my mouth!

No two pubs in Ireland are alike, except that the food is almost always handcrafted (read: scrumptious) and accompanied by live music and a friendly atmosphere. I fear I may miss the pubs of Ireland nearly as much as the breathtaking scenery and painted sheep.