I have been in academia a long time, some may say too long. While I have really enjoyed most of my coursework through the years, once in a while I hit a class that isn't all I hoped it would be. I think this time around I might have set my hopes too high for the class to deliver. The group was small, which should have been a benefit to the discussions about spirituality. Unfortunately, it was also a younger group of students, with many still in the "I must impress the teacher with my ability to recall the reading" view, not ones ready to tackle a potentially challenging topic of spirituality.
Another aspect of the class that was well-meaning, but distracting was all of the "hands on" opportunities the professor kept coming up with. Here you see folks in a labyrinth. This can be a truly relaxing approach to zoning out of the distractions of everyday life and becoming present. However, with 14 people in the small spaces, moving at different paces is just distracting. I'm sure I will go back to this space (it's not far from my office) when I am alone or perhaps with one other person and walk it again. For those interested in the history of the labyrinth, find the wiki link here.
Other adventures included yoga (see the photo below), an Asian tea ceremony, an astronomy presentation and a drum circle. With a little more formal discussion prior to or incorporated with any of these events, would have made the class really good.
On the up side, and in joining with the Soli Deo Gloria Party, I would like to share what I did get from this class. Some of the assignments were reflection papers related to the readings of different spiritual writers in religion and education. I have reached an age where I have no problem sharing things about my life, challenges, and feelings, even with assignments such as these. As the weeks progressed I wrote about the sudden death of my friend last fall, the dissatisfaction I have with the direction my job is going, the mental exhaustion of trying to keep too many balls in the air, and my desire to return to a simpler life. It probably took me 6 of the 10 weeks to realize that my heart was speaking to ME through these assignments.
So, I stopped wondering "what if" I could change things and started changing them. I decided that there was never going to be a better time to do the work involved with re-setting my life. I learned that while I value the work I do now and find it very important to the community I serve, I am no longer the person that needs to do it. I need to go back to helping students succeed in becoming the positive citizens we hope will move forward. I missed seeing that moment when the light goes on in their head. (And let me tell you, some days it takes a long time before that happens!)
Some of the practical parts of this change include actively seeking out a new position, whereever that may take me. Which then leads to selling my current place, which of course meant I finally had to tackle the storage of years worth of memories and stuff. I have done a good deal of it so far and will continue as I job search. I f I haven't found anything by spring, I will attempt to sell the place anyway. It's a gorgeous place, but I can live in half the space comfortably and could use the difference in cost of living to do more traveling - which is really where my heart lies.
It's clear to me now, that the purpose of me choosing this class was to open my own heart and mind to what needed to change and to find the strength to do the work. It will continue to be a challenging path, but one I truly believe I should be taking at this point. Thanks for sharing in my journey.