Category Archives: Career

The hardest job…

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Cameron Diaz in Columbia Pictures’ film “Bad Teacher”.

“As in any profession, there are teachers who need to receive more training, work harder, and/or move to another job, but if most teachers are doing a pretty good job, then we should probably spend a little more time praising them, a little less time decrying the fate of the teaching profession, and refer to bad teachers as the exception rather than the rule.”

Education Policy Thoughts

I never really gave much thought to the quality of public education in our country because I never really had a reason to. I mean as a 20-something, my focus was self-centered and the happenings of the children (and to a larger extent community) around me was low on my priority list. Post-30, and 4 years into motherhood, and my perspective has radically changed. The education of my child, and by extension the children around her, is one of my highest priorities. I care about what type of education she will receive, but it is not just about her. Actually my interest in education piqued several years before joining the parenthood club, when we graduated college and many friends entered education as teachers. That interest swelled in later years as our “job talks” shifted from being about them being tolerant and optimistic about helping our young people just because they were the “Talented 10th” and wanted to pay it forward, to frustrated wine downs (emphasis on the wine) about lack of parent participation and in many cases interest, administrators who were out of touch with their employees, and pulling triple duty as teacher, parent, and child psychologist. Then those friends got married and began having children, who then entered the education system and my interest grew even more as they dished about balancing home lives, babies & toddlers with work demands, lack of sleep, and the like.

I thought parenting was hard, and yes it is, but I never imagined that teaching is probably a million times worse—for the good ones that is. And trust me, there are more good ones than not. Fact, in a recent study (2011) by TNPT, a national nonprofit committed to ending the injustice of educational inequality founded by teachers, only 1 percent of teachers are rated unsatisfactory, and 94 percent of principals agree that teachers in their school who are under-performing are rated as such. In short that means that a sweeping majority of teachers actually give a damn and put forth at least average to better effort to educate our youth. So what’s my point? This, a teacher friend, an almost 10-year veteran of a public school system in a non-unionized state is catching hell and I’m offended for them.
I am offended because this teacher I know misses her own children’s events for parent-teacher conferences and mandatory staff meetings. This teacher I know spends her own meager salary buying extra paper, folder, crayons, pencils, etc. for students who don’t have them because their parents can’t or don’t send them to school with supplies. This teacher I know, spends the time at her own children’s team practices grading papers, and stays up nights and weekends doing the same. This teacher I know spends the over-lauded “summer break” in development classes, grade meetings, planning lessons and setting up their classroom. In the decade they’ve taught, I’d say they get an average of one week—ONE WEEK—where they are not planning, grading, or otherwise doing something school/work related, and that’s being generous. It’s for those teachers, the good ones who stay late after school to help students who aren’t getting it, and swallow the comments of idiot administrators, who think it’s right to suggest they consider being stay-at-home-parents if the ever-increasing workload (which is often accompanied by an ever-shrinking salary) is too much for them to bear. Forget if you have a husband or a wife, and children of your own, your job comes first and everything else be damned. For all the good, committed, dedicated, non-unionized teachers who don’t have the muscle of a centralized organization and the persuasive influence of a strike threat to help protect reasonable job benefits I just want you to know that there is at least one (I know there are more out there) who gets it and sends her massive appreciation your way for all your that you do!

Mission Impossible: Catching Zzzzz

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I am not as young as I used to be. I remember staying up all night in college and running the entire next day. I also remember being able to consume ungodly amounts of spirits and still being able to function the next day. Alas, after 30 that all changes. Now, I wouldn’t know if I could consume that amount of liquor, because I wouldn’t even try (thank God for maturity). Unfortunately, I do know that I cannot pull all-nighters anymore. I learned that lesson the hard way after 30-mins of sleep, four Cokes, and a bag a Jelly Beans later — yes you read that right. I am appalled to even write it, but it’s true. That is what my yesterday consisted of. Yet somehow I had my wits about me enough to resist the kids trying to slip McDonald’s in (I’ve effectively banned it from the house, and their bodies). The little sharks sensed blood in the water, and thought I would slip in my sleepless state (I conceded to Wendy’s since cooking was out of the question)

Still, I was going on fumes this morning as I did the school drops, and planned to take the grocery store trip that didn’t happen this weekend. Even as I look around the house I’m horrified—dishes in the sink, recycling bin overflowing, the partial grocery list still on the table where I started it Saturday morning—all the things left undone.  Even as I write this, the words are moving across the screen.

But I’ll get it done, because I always do. No matter the sheer quantity of everything that has piled up with school assignments, work assignments, and did I mention that dishes are STILL in the sink (I know, I didn’t make the store so there is no dishwasher soap, but WHY does hand washing the dishes only occur to me?). Anyway, just another task to add to the list of things to do.

Maybe I’ll get a nap in before the kids get home from school…I can always dream about sleep.

Wait for it…

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I am not a patient person. That has never been my strength. Waiting is boring. Waiting is quiet. Waiting is unnerving. Waiting doesn’t make me feel like I’m in control. Someone asked me if I was depressed. I don’t feel depressed. I feel IMPATIENT! I feel out of control—not in a dangerous, I’m-going-to-go-postal way, but in a what-the-hell-am-I-waiting-on way!

I’ve received LOTS of advice—Pray on it. Be Patient. Don’t rush. Take time to think. Be still.

And it all sounds great in theory, until you really actually have to do it. For someone not skilled in patience, such as myself, all the above is like torture for me. And frankly, I feel a bit out to sea without a sail, paddle, whatever! A good friend, who actually has some credentials or letters or something after their name, gave me the best advice—advice that had waded in my spirit, but it felt good to hear a licensed professional say it, and that is it’s O.K. to let the crazy out.

They said, “I’d think you were insane to feeling nothing, so it’s O.K. that you are stressed, you have reason to be. The key is channeling that stress. You’ve had some major life events in the past two years. On a stress test, you’ve had at least three major events that land on the top of the stress scale. You have to give those stresses a positive outlet, a spiritual channel that will balance what you’re experiencing. That may be church, or sitting in a park staring at a tree, but whatever that outlet is, you have to find it, prioritize it, let it out.” Read the rest of this entry

When He Moves, I Move—Just Like That

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Ludacris is a genius and I don’t know if he even knows it! I’ve co-opted his song “Stand Up” to make my point, but the spirit the same. Well, not totally since I’m sure he was referring to some ample-gluted chick moving in a suggestive manner on a dance floor, but stay with me here. The song actually says when “I move, you move,” but I’m on some next levelness with it right now.

My life is changing, and that IS a good thing. Whenever change hits, whether expected, or unexpected, it is usually a good thing. The problem is that most of us don’t really know what is good for us. Before we get too deep into this thing. Let me preface this with the fact that I am emoting. This is not an idealistic rant, but a genuine spirit-born observation as it relates to my life. If you can glean something from it, Hallelujah! If not, Hallelujah anyhow!

Now, back to our previously scheduled program…

My life is changing and that is a good thing. I recently parted ways with my employer. I worded it like that, because that is exactly what it was—we parted ways. Details aren’t important for the point I’m trying to make. What is important is the hoopla surrounding it, and the things that begin to reveal themselves when God-ordained/initiated change is happening.

Often, when such changes occur, we are to busy either looking back, or skipping forward, to be in the right now. We miss the lesson and the point of the thing, and so we have to repeat it all over again. CHANGE IS GOOD. You cannot grow, without changing. Growth may manifests itself in different ways for each of us, but that it requires, is the harbinger of, or the result of change is constant. If you aren’t growing you are dying, and that is a heck of a way to go through life.

For those that I’ve lost, the growth I’m referring to is spiritual. The precursor to true emotional and mental growth, and everything else follows suit. From religious ideology, to psychology, to weight management, they all preach change starts on the inside. It is a spiritual move—one many of us miss because it can be subtle, or, as in my case, acute, but it’s there.

So here I am in the midst of change and I will not miss the process. While still in spiritual transition however, it is difficult to manage the outside world. And with a change such as this, the stream of questions (“What happened?!” or “What’s next?!”) have been endless. I’ve been asked one of the above no less than a million times in three days (a gross exaggeration, but you feel me). And you want to know the truth? I have no clue what’s next.

That doesn’t mean I haven’t thought about it, or tried to make plans, or that I don’t have ideas, or even options. It means that for me, I really don’t know which move is the best one—yet. There are immediate opportunities. Take the job offered in this state. Move across the country and do this thing. But the idea that has called to my spirit is just be still. And that, my dears, is the hardest thing to do.

It’s not about just being still, sitting on the couch, and popping Bon Bons all day (I don’t even think I’ve ever HAD a Bon Bon! What the hell is that anyway?!). No, it’s about being still and knowing that God is still God whether I have a seemingly glamorous title, or position, or not. It’s about doing all of those things I’ve put off that I never had the time to do because of work, and it’s about NOT wasting this time watching Nancy Grace take over the throne Jerry Springer abdicated so long ago, or watching bedazzled vampires glitter in the sun for the one hundredth time.

Here’s the real: In the two months leading up to making this official, I have seen hundreds of jobs I might like, even love. I’ve seen hundreds of ones I could take if circumstances dictated that I just had to have something or we were going to starve or be homeless. But the truth is, I haven’t been released to do any of the above. What I am free to do is BE STILL and KNOW. That’s it.

Some people think I’m crazy; some are rolling with me on this, while *shooting me the side eye,* and others are giving me what I need—opportunity, the means, and most importantly the prayers to just be still. For anyone who knows me, being still is not my forte. I’m always into something, have something working, or looking forward to the next thing. But God has not revealed that yet. I can feel the energy behind the door. I’ve caught a glimpse through the window. But it’s not time. Right now, I’m baby-stepping it toward living in the here, and now. That doesn’t mean I’m not doing anything! There are my educational pursuits, and this oft-neglected-but-now-that-I-have-time-will-be-regularly-updated blog, and some other projects that are in queue (the future glimpse through that window is looking mighty bright!). But the latter have to get the God-stamp. Because I cannot—will not—move until He says move.

That does present a bit of a practical dilemma, seeing as I have grown up responsibilities to tend to. However, for every excuse I can think of for, moving NOW!, doing something NOW!,  all that good home (church) training pops up, and I hear, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” Or when I feel like I really am being crazy, I hear, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts higher than your thoughts.”

And then the “buts” start: But what about the rent, food, and the baby?! But what about the light bill, and the water bill, and the car note and the… And I hear, “Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls?” or “And my God will meet all your needs* according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”

And what of the career path I’ve worked so hard to establish? What of all my contacts and connections? “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” And just as I get ready to start another round of “buts” and “ands” I hear, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?”

That’s a hell of a question. Why do we ask/expect of God abundance, and provision, and blessings, and we don’t even do what he tells us? So, this is me doing what I’m told. This is me being still and just knowing. And when God moves I’ll move, just like that.