I recently heard a saying, "Every night has its day, but even the night has the moon and stars to light the way."
Life does have its difficulties. But even in the darkness of those difficulties, there are little signposts of light to help us along our way through the darkness. We are never in total darkness, though it may seem that way, and sometimes we have to search for the light.
While the Universe is testing me in ways that have me questioning whether I will ever see light again, it is also affirming me along the way; sometimes subtly, sometimes with a two-by-four across the face! This last month at work has been hell. It's the end of the year and my students are acting out in almost every way possible. Even some of my best students are testing the limits. Part of this is the age, part is related to home behavior that they feel extends to my classroom. My Union and the District are negotiating, not whether, but how many furlough days we will have next school year. Also, at the end of each school year in my district in the month before the current school year ends, we negotiate our next year's assignment with our principal according to our seniority. I had to decide whether to teach the same or a different grade level next school year. There were pros and cons to staying in the same grade as well as changing. Since I am the most senior teacher at my school, I go first. If I decide to change, I can then trigger a domino effect and displace teachers from their beloved grade levels and as no one likes change, their changes would be because of me. And in the end, I decided I would make my decision based on what would be best for me at this time in my life. On top of all this, because of politics, the state and district budget mess, and other anti-teacher sentiment, I am even questioning whether I want to remain in teaching, though I am not eligible for retirement. Yet.
I am also being tested in personal financial matters. Beginning in July 2011, my mortgage will increase a little bit and my paycheck may decrease by triple the amount of the increase in my mortgage! And my budget is already stretched to the penny! I am very concerned.
Memories of past relationships, mostly friendships gone away, have been creeping into my thoughts. I have also been reflecting on my past dating habits, maybe preparing myself for a future scenario when I feel comfortable enough again to wade into the dating pool. And these memories have left me slightly unsettled, questioning myself again.
Through all of this darkness, the Universe has sent me some little stars to light my path.
My principal issued us a "preference form" where we were to indicate our grade preferences for the next school year. Without hesitation, I filled it out and submitted it. I wanted to change grades. I knew she would want to talk to me about it. During a moment conferencing over a troubled student, she did. She expressed her concerns, and I voiced mine. She listened as an administrator and as a confidant. She understood why this had been such a difficult year for me, both professionally and personally. I left the meeting telling her I would consider her request that I stay in my current grade and I would let her know by the end of the week. It was an agonizing week.
I took her request as an affirmation; I am a good teacher in my current grade level and she recognizes that in me.
As for the finances, there is nothing I can do, except trust that it will work out in the end. I have eliminated every expense I cannot afford. I'm not in a place to sell my house; I've tried to modify my loan to no avail. I've advertised for a roommate but no one seems interested. My novel is coming out in October, and while I am not expecting to be the next J. K. Rowling and become wealthier than the Queen of England, I am hoping to make enough to help out the budget. But, it is all in the hands of the Universe right now.
And yet, I have this impression of me in a different house in one of my favorite parts of Los Angeles. I don't know where this impression, maybe it's even a vision, came from. Why do I believe its a sign things will work out? The living room is painted a color I don't usually like in living rooms, a pastel yellow, so I haven't put my mark on the house as yet. And yet, the house feels like it's mine.
I take this impression as affirmation that all will work out in the end. I just don't know when the end will be.
As for dating, I received a very nice compliment from a cute younger man that I have amazing eyes and am a great friend.
I took this as an affirmation that I am attractive to men, a good person and can be a great friend. And as I believe friendship is the best way to begin a relationship, I also took this as an affirmation that I am on the right path for me.
But, the most touching and surprising affirmation of all came from someone I never expected. It came from a woman I highly admire and respect. This woman has a great amount of class. She can be down to earth, and very refined. She can be brutally honest without being hurtful. She sees your strengths hidden under your faults even when you may not. She was my principal for a short four years before retiring. She met my ex when he substituted at my school a few times.
Once, at a Winter Holiday party that she attended after her retirement, she asked about him and I told her we had gotten married. She was ecstatic for us! She then told me she had worked the phones to encourage people to vote AGAINST Proposition 8, which would ban same-sex marriage and write discrimination into the California Constitution. I was very surprised, not necessarily by her position but by her decision to work on the campaign against it. I never got to tell her we were divorced, and I wanted to avoid that awkward situation when we met again, as I knew we would, and she would ask about him.
We did meet again very recently, actually, at a fellow teacher's retirement. I did tell her I was divorced before she could ask and she replied she had heard through the grapevine. She inquired if I had a new partner. I replied no, I didn't feel the time was right. She told me to hang in there, "because, Jeff, you are quite a catch!"
While I was used to her complimenting me on a lesson gone well, hearing something this personal and overall affirming at this point in my life from someone I highly admire means more to me than I can say. And I took it as an affirmation that when the time is right, I will be the right catch for the right man who will also be the right catch for me.