Thursday, June 15, 2017

Detaching or Letting Go?

Many of us talk about letting go and detachment. But, what is the difference? Or, is there one?

I believe there is.

Neither is ever easy. I’m finding it very hard to learn how to detach or let go, whichever it is, and more so in certain areas of my life.

But, one particular area has taught me the difference and one strategy that can help. 

And that is my classroom.

I often have a very difficult student who loves to push buttons, test limits, etc. and in most cases I can remain calm and not escalate the situation. Later, that student may need help and I need to be there for him or her all the while forgetting what had transpired earlier. I am detached. I am not letting the past influence the present moment. Have I forgotten what transpired? No, because I often need to write down anecdotal records for parent/teacher/student conferences.

At the end of a school year, I dismiss the class for the last time and we all head to a nice summer break. I let them go into their future like balloons into the air. Gone, but not necessarily forgotten. Well, I can't actually remember any particular balloon I've lost, but I can recall certain students I've taught.

In terms of letting go of a situation or a person, it no longer affects us. It is gone. 

Yet, detaching and letting go is often harder in other situations. Take families/friends and politics/religion. In some instances, I can sometimes detach when a friend expresses a different point of view on a political or religious matter. In other areas, it's not so easy. Yes, we are all entitled to our opinion and the right to express it. But, when it comes down to my civil rights, my safety or possibly my life, I feel I must speak up. I find it difficult to accept a point of view which subjects or subjugates others to a lesser state. Aren't we all human? Don’t we all deserve the same rights? Doesn't "We the People" mean everyone?

The current political situation is unlike any other in my lifetime.

Tensions are high and beliefs are deep. Things have been said which have stirred long-held yet, submerged feelings. Friends, colleagues and even family members have found themselves even more divided across a political chasm. How do we move on from here?

I tried expressing my points of view over various aspects of this political circus. If I felt the person listened to me, I felt successful even if they didn’t agree with me, and still chose to vote against what I believed. Yes, it was harder when it involved something like same-sex marriage or LGBTQ rights because it did affect me directly. 

But, I learned one important thing which also stems from my career as a teacher. 

I can do everything to make a lesson relevant, interesting, focused, engaging, and fun. If the student isn’t ready to “get it,” the student won’t. If I express my point of view, and the listener isn’t ready to understand my side, they won’t.

I once taught a student in fifth grade who was a good kid. He was bright, articulate and enjoyed language arts. He struggled in math, but was still determined to try. I tried my best with him, but he never managed to get better than average grades. I later ran into him at the middle school where he came running up to me with a recent math test (Algebra, no less) shouting, "Mr. Ballam, I got a 96%!" I may not have been the best teacher for him for math, but he did get it later on.

And I have to be okay with that, and with the fact I, at least, tried. 

So, maybe I’m not the right messenger for that particular recipient. Or, the time is not right for the recipient to "get it."

And sometimes it still hurts. Especially when the topic is important to me.

A colleague was very supportive of me after my divorce and openly expressed her desire for me to find a new partner, but she drew the line at the 'sacred rite of marriage.' The 1,100+ Federal Benefits that accompany those two words, "I Do," didn't seem to faze her. I knew my argument would go nowhere. You can only hammer a nail into a fence so far before the nail can go no further and any further hammering would be fruitless. I had to detach from her as we still needed to work together. 

So, I tried to focus on where I felt I could be more successful.

And that helps me detach from other difficult moments.

Like these:

I've recently had many people tell me that I should get a dog. Or how much I need a cat. Or perhaps a roommate. Or that I shouldn’t eat this or that. I simply thank them for their concern and go about my business.

Because only I know my life, my path, my situation, myself.

Yet, I know where they are coming from.

I am truly grateful that they care.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Journeys or Chapters?

Some people say life is a journey.

Others say life is a book.

I say it's a matter of perspective.

Sometimes I feel like I'm walking along a path in a forest wilderness experiencing all that happens around me.

Sometimes I feel like I'm done with this adventure and ready for a new one. And I change the scenery-maybe a nice quiet walk along the California coast.

Changing the scenery sounds refreshing, something new and different to see.

Or sometimes I feel like a chapter in my life is coming to an end and it's time turn the page and see what's in store for me.

A new chapter sounds like something exciting and different is about to happen, maybe something unexpected-a plot twist.

And that's exactly what I feel is happening in my life-a major plot twist.

Lately I've been paying attention to many signs around me, signs pointing to the importance someone is playing in my life. I've come to realize that I've also been ignoring other types of signs in a different area of my life and suddenly I'm beginning to accept that I need to do something about that.

So, I am.

There's one relationship where I haven't felt as fulfilled lately. (That's one indication something is wrong.)

So, I tried making changes to be a better me. (They haven't worked as well as I would have liked or hoped.)

I feel I have overstayed my welcome. (Indication number two.)

I haven't known what to do, or felt comfortable letting go. (Number three.)

But, I also felt financially and emotionally insecure to be on my own.

In the end, I realized I had to do what is right for me, so I have decided to take that step.


I am announcing my retirement from teaching.

It has been 34.5 years since I stood in front of a class. I have taught grades 1-6, all in the same school in the northeast corner of Los Angeles, about 15 miles out of downtown LA. I have seen many changes over the years, some good, some not so good. And many were downright questionable.

In those many years I have also seen children change, either in my classroom, or during their years at my school. Some changed for the better, some did not. I saw some in need of encouragement and I offered it. I saw some who changed later on, and came back to thank me. I have taught gifted students and some who have yet to discover their gifts.

And, unfortunately, there are those whose lives ended all too soon.

The children of today are not the same as when I first began. While there are indeed good students, the disrespect shown to us by students as young as six is appalling. A colleague once told me she has first grade students who roll their eyes at her-boys as well as girls. And they see nothing wrong with it. Respect for teachers and the school has dropped tremendously.

Parents, too, have changed. It seems this latest generation expects more from the school than my generation did. Schools are now expected to be social service providers, in addition to educators. Many parents ask for help when needed, but some demand it. Others feel entitled to it.

Teaching is not a profession you leave at the office. Teachers are mentally planning all day long. Even at home. Papers often come home to grade when the school closes for the day. (Besides, its more comfy to grade in pajamas, with your feet up, shoes off, and enjoying a glass of something you might get in trouble for at school.)

The last few years have been hard as we were asked to do more with less. Things began to change, and the situation improved. But, the winds are shifting. And they seem ominous.

All of this has taken its toll on me.

That, and getting older.

As well as the other developments in my life.

It's been a difficult decision to make, yet I feel confident I've made the right choice.

And I know the Universe will support me, as it's all for my greater good.

That's what the signs tell me.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Synchronicities 6

As I share my experiences with the synchronicities (the repeated sets of numbers, 1111, 444, etc.) I’ve been seeing on clocks, on billboards, in phone numbers, on license plates, or as addresses, a few of my friends have asked, “Haven’t those numbers always existed?”

Well, yes and no.

The time appears on clocks only twice a day, once in the a.m. and again in the p.m. Billboards do get changed from time to time. And it depends on where I encounter the phone number, which may appear on a billboard, a receipt, in my caller ID, or when written down by someone. 

So, yes, they have always been in existence, just not in my line of sight.  

“So, if they’ve always existed, why are you seeing them now?”

I don’t know. I think it’s like reading a book, or seeing a favorite movie-for a second, third or fourth time. You pick up on things you may have missed before, a detail you weren't ready to see.

And they just seem to happen to me. I can’t control when they appear. For example, I recently made a purchase totaling $22.25. Within twenty minutes, a car with 222 on the license plate passed me on the freeway, which in turn, was followed by a big rig truck with 2222 contained in its Department of Transportation number on the cab door.

I can't control that I wake up in the middle of the night, glance at my clock and see 2:22, or 3:33. Or that I check my phone during the day at 11:11.

I couldn't control the time that the last three numbers on my odometer matched the last three numbers of the license plate in front of me, and five miles later matched the last three on the plate next to me. (Twice in five miles?)

I couldn’t control the time when a car pulled up alongside the car in front of me, to see the last three numbers on both their license plates matched, only to have the second car speed off and another speed up to ride parallel to the car in front of me, only to have their license plates also share matching numbers. (Three matching license plates in the space of about five minutes?)

For me, just seeing the numbers isn’t the biggest question I have, it’s the timing, and the quantity. And then there are the other coincidences. 

I couldn't control that I dreamt of meeting a certain celebrity I strongly admire, only to have her name appear in my daily crossword puzzle the very next day when others have appeared at least twice in the five months I’ve been doing this daily puzzle. (Oh, and I rarely remember my dreams.) 

I couldn't control the time a colleague and I were trying to figure out what a certain insect was when the Los Angeles Times ran an article the next day explaining what they actually were. We were both wrong, by the way.  But that doesn't matter, the timing of the article caught my eye, along with the timing of these other "coincidences."

I usually stop for coffee to keep me awake, and therefore alive, during my long commute home. It’s a two mile drive from my work to my favorite Starbucks. One day, I counted six sets of triple numbers in that short drive. And then another six on my longer drive home. Curiously, the only digit I didn’t see that afternoon was a 5. But, it later turned up in my solitaire game when my total points were 15,550! 

I had an epiphany the other day. Not about these numbers, but about something else.

I may have mentioned, once or twice, that I have met someone I believe is my Twin Flame. We are in separation now, meaning we aren't together or in communication. I've come to the decision I will not settle for a relationship that doesn't offer the depth of connection he and I once shared. I admit that every relationship is different and I can't expect to find someone exactly like him. But to settle for a relationship where the connection isn't as strong, yet the relationship itself may be more stable does not appeal to me. I need that depth. Right after I had this epiphany, and realized that it was actually coming from a form of self-love which all seemed to make perfect sense to me, immediately a car pulled up next to me with its license plate ending in 555! I took it as an affirmation of my self-acceptance. 

The latest in the line up of synchronicities has been birthdates. And three in particular seem to jump out at me-mine, my mother’s and, not surprisingly, that of the man I believe to be my Twin Flame.

I have given up trying to figure out what it all means, or I would drive myself crazy. Trust me, I’ve been very close. The sheer volume and timing of these coincidences suggest, to me anyways, that something greater than anything currently on this planet is trying to get my attention. Believe me, they have it.

I’ve come to believe it is all an affirmation that I am moving towards my greater good.

I’ve come to believe I must trust that this is a hand being held out to me by the Universe as it leads me through this change in my life. 

I’ve come to believe I’m entering, or have entered, the Dark Night of the Soul.

I’ve come to believe there will be a New Dawn.

So, maybe that’s why I'm seeing them now.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

A Fable

Once there was a young kayaker. He eagerly anticipated each and every journey along the various riverways he traveled. He savored the rushing sounds of the rapids, the tranquil moments of the smooth waters. He strengthened his skills when encountering stronger, difficult currents, regaining his breath in the calmer stretches.  Every river was a different adventure, a challenging experience.

He continued to kayak for many years. He approached each new river, or each river he had previously traveled, as a new and different learning experience though he used the same skills to navigate different rapids, different curves. Some trips had higher water levels due to a denser snowpack. Other times were not so plentiful. He learned to appreciate the different scenery along each riverbank; towering forests, majestic canyons, open deserts, grassy plains, all beautiful terrains. 

In time, the rivers seemed to grow stronger. He felt he battled longer and didn't get any further, though that wasn't really true. Sometimes, he felt as if he were paddling upstream, when indeed he wasn't. The rivers seemed to be fighting him, pushing against him-even in the calm stretches.  Each journey seemed to exhaust him more than before. He sadly realized he no longer enjoyed kayaking as much as he used to.

On his last trip home, as he unpacked his gear, storing it neatly in his garage, he knew. He had made the right decision. 

While he knew he would miss it, he accepted his decision to give up kayaking. Yet, he eagerly looked forward to finding a new interest, a new hobby, a new adventure.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Dark Night

They say you should be kind to everyone because you do not know what they are going through.

If you only knew what is going on in my head and heart right now.

My emotions have been on a roller coaster lately. There are days it takes everything not to scream out of frustration. Yet, I can't pinpoint what is frustrating me so much. There are moments I want to collapse in a sobbing heap. Yet, I can't figure out what is making me want to cry.

I experience bouts of extreme fatigue which I think only adds to the frustration and sadness.

There are times I just want to stay home and avoid people altogether, but I remember I have a job and also need to run errands; grocery shopping and teaching definitely involve other people.

Then there are times where I am feeling better and ready to get on with life.

And I can't pinpoint what is causing all this. Perhaps it's simply the current Venus Retrograde while the Sun is in moody, emotional Pisces. But, that just began. My roller coaster has been going on a bit before Venus turned on us.

Or, perhaps it's something bigger.

They say everyone experiencing spiritual awakening goes through a Dark Night of the Soul-a shedding of old beliefs, thoughts and behaviors to prepare for a higher level of consciousness; a separation of the Ego from the Soul. That may be where I am now. I thought I had gained some understanding or some comprehension of all of the synchronicities I'd been experiencing which led me to a positive revelation. I thought it signified that a reunion with my Twin Flame was in the works, but then I went into a panic-what if he really did come back? After realizing I was not ready for or even wanting a relationship (for now), the thought of him possibly coming back made me begin to question what I really wanted. What was I ready for? What did I really, truly want? I don't know. True, he's let me down, and I accept that he wanted and needed to find out about himself as he told me he wasn't ready. He was too young. Now I realize that if he does come back, the possibility exists that he will let me down again and that triggered an avalanche of negative feelings toward many people and areas in my life; dating post divorce and after this particular break-up has been extremely disheartening, friends have recently let me down, blood family also has let me down time after time after time. I can only keep opening the door to these people so many times before grabbing a hammer, some nails and several sturdy 2x4s and nailing that fucking door shut!
I find that constantly putting my faith, trust and happiness in other peoples' hands has only lead to distrusting, to being guarded, to being closed to anything because they keep dropping it. So, why should I bother? The only person I can fully rely on is myself. Aha! Maybe that's the lesson, or at least one of them, that I'm to learn in this long Dark Night.

I realize all of this confusion and unlearning of past behaviors is an important part of the Dark Night of My Soul. And it seems to have been triggered about the time I met this young man I believe to be my Twin Flame.

The Journey of the Twin Flames is characterized by tremendous growth-both emotional and spiritual, leading to the healing of deep core wounds-abandonment issues, self-esteem issues, self-love issues, among others, because the Twin Flame is the mirror you see yourself in, all the bits and pieces, both good and bad. Therefore, the Twin Flame Journey is more about oneself, than the joining of the two. It is possible, and sometimes happens, that Twin Flames do not end up together because one, or both, of the parties is not yet ready to handle the intensity of their own healing in order for the relationship to flourish, therefore leaving one of the Twins in a kind of limbo.

This Dark Night of My Soul seems to be lasting a long time, like an Arctic Winter night. But, shedding such beliefs, thoughts and behaviors can't be rushed. And, as they say, it's harder to teach older dogs new tricks.

But, they also say, every night has a dawn.

Even an Arctic Winter one.

And, I'd like to add, "take no shit."

Monday, February 6, 2017


Franklin Canyon
I faced a small dilemma this week; une petite crise. There is an LGBTQ hiking group I follow on social media. I've been wanting to join them but have not up til now. They meet at various locations around the LA area usually around 9:00 a.m., which I think is ungodly early. Being that I am out of the house by 6:30 a.m. every work morning, I really, really, really enjoy my lazy weekend mornings and rarely begin my chores before 11:00. (Excuses, I know.) I'm not sleeping in, just enjoying the morning tranquility. This group only hikes on Saturdays, which cuts into my weekend time since teaching takes so much additional time and energy, I need that weekend time to catch up on household chores and to regenerate. And yes, I know, hiking in nature could help in my regeneration.
Franklin Canyon

I also hate driving, because I can spend up to two hours a day in my car. To attend some of these hikes, I would need to give myself an additional hour of travel time to meet at the appointed place. But, I promised myself I would go on the next hike this group had in one of my favorite and local hiking areas; Franklin Canyon. Well, they scheduled one for this week. However, this particular hike was billed as a "singles" hike. When I see "singles" hike or other "singles" events other than tennis, I know people attending those events are hoping to maybe find someone to potentially date to possibly look towards hopefully finding a partner or a relationship and that's not where I am. Plus, if I attend, I'm also giving off that impression, which would be misleading. Hence, the dilemma. So, I decided to avoid this particular hike breaking my promise to myself and wait for the next one that might not be so "singles" focused.

I know I'm not relationship oriented, at least not right now, because when I see other people posting about their date nights, I cringe. A friend posted about her date night with her husband and I was (and am) happy that she's happy, but I quickly scrolled past her posts. I felt uneasy. Another friend filled me in on his date with a guy he had just met, and how they made out, and the idea of making out with someone just felt so wrong. At least for me. At least for now.

Franklin Canyon
Maybe all the phony men I've recently met have something to do with it.

Maybe other recent events have had some part in my current state.

Maybe it's a bit of all of the above.

Maybe it's something else altogether.

Or maybe I'm learning to embrace more of a solitary path as I begin this next chapter in my life.

Whatever it may be.

Monday, January 30, 2017


They say that seeing numbers in multiples is a message from the other side-maybe from guardian angels or spirit guides; a sign of the trinity (especially if it's three of the same number), or simply a blessing or affirmation.

I've been seeing them in batches.

One day a few weeks ago, on my way to a meeting I must have seen about five license plates with triples. Maybe there were more but I wasn't counting then, yet the very quantity of plates stood out to me, which caused me to start making more of a note of when and where I saw them. 

I try not to read every license plate because then I would be looking for signs and they'd lose their meaning or significance. (Plus, if I'm driving, I wouldn't be focused on the cars around me. Think safety.)  But, I do enjoy trying to figure out personalized plates, so I do glance around and simply acknowledge it should I see a triple. Many times, the cars will be directly in front of me so I can't miss it. Recently, a truck pulled out in front of me bearing the plate 89888xx. (I couldn't remember the letters on the plate.)

Last week, I announced my intention to retire from teaching. I am a bit apprehensive as this is a new chapter in my life, with some financial uncertainty. I was also thinking of the young man so recently in my life and how I miss him. I was driving home and approaching an intersection, signaled my impending left turn while a car coming from the opposite direction signaled a right. Turning into the lane behind the other driver, I read the license plate, 888.

Last week I also had a very deep spiritual conversation with a random woman. She noticed my Aquarius pendant, and commented on how spiritual Aquarians tend to be. I acknowledged I was going through some kind of spiritual awakening. During our conversation I also revealed I might be experiencing a Twin Flame relationship. She replied, "How beautiful, and I think I am too." The fact she seemed to understand this phenomenon suggested our meeting was not as random as I initially thought. I needed to stop at a particular store, but was directed to a different one in the chain than I had originally wanted. I was able to take advantage of this mis-suggestion and take care of business at another location in the same shopping center-two for the price of one, shall we say. It was in this second business where I met this woman. Immediately after finishing our conversation, I spotted a license plate, 666.

While many numerologists ascribe certain meanings to numbers, and some religions assign a meaning to the numbers above, I do not. As I see so many triples, with the occasional quadruple or quintuple thrown in, I simply have come to accept that they all are a blessing of some kind, an affirmation that I'm doing the best I can and all will turn out okay. 

It's all good.

Last Friday after work, I went out to my car to find a different car parked in front of me than the one I had parked behind in the morning; it's license plate contained the numbers 444. 

On the way home, I glanced plates with 222, then 333. 

The next morning, even though I hadn't planned on it I went shopping. As I walked through the parking lot, I glanced a license plate with 222. The purchase totaled $44.44, my debit card entitled me to a discount which brought my total down to $42.22; a discount of $2.22. Exiting the store, I saw plates with triple 8s and next to it, triple 0s. Driving across the street to pick up a bite of lunch, I parked facing the store I had just visited, part of its address was blocked by a palm tree revealing only the three 9s of the address. All this took place within 1.5 hours.
Once back at home, I played solitaire on my iPad. With no moves, I turned over three cards from the stock, all 4s. Shortly after, I walked into my guest room to close the window, glancing at the clock, I noticed it was 4:44.

Later that same evening, I left a bit early for an appointment, as I needed to stop on the way for a quick purchase. I glanced at the store address, 18555. Placing the purchase in my car, I glanced at the plate of an adjacent car, 555, as in the address. I later pulled forward to the stop sign at the end of the aisle where I had parked, directly in front of me was a license plate, 888.

Arriving at my appointment, I glimpsed a plate with 666. One hour later, after leaving my appointment I noticed the car that was now parked next to me had 444 on its plate. Before leaving the parking lot, I saw 777 and another 666. On the way home, I saw a 111, another 444 and even a plate with JJJ! Not sure what to make of triple letters, yet.

All of these latest sightings took place within two hours. That's a total of seventeen triples and one quadruple for the whole day and in a total of about four hours.

I'd say someone is trying to tell me something.

On an interesting side note, these all occurred on the Lunar New Year which heralded in the Year of the Rooster. I was born in a Rooster Year. Okay, maybe that is just a coincidence; but then again, with the sheer number of triples, who am I to say?