Listening to the Holy Ghost is definitely the best advice I could give anyone. Even if what is asked of you seems completely stupid, it’s totally worth following through on. A couple of weeks ago I was really, really struggling through life. I felt that the whole world was falling down. All elements were against me and sought to destroy my very existence. Or in a less dramatic sense, my class of sixth graders hated me and I didn’t know how to handle it. Or so I thought.
As stated in my first post, I really struggle with having integrity of body, mind, and spirit. The key to increasing one’s integrity is to increase one’s intuition. Essentially it requires one to contemplate and meditate quite a bit. The great thing about being single and living alone is that I have a lot of time to do this. My mind sometimes is my greatest friend. We have great daily conversations. In one of my daily conversations that probably started along the lines of, “Why did I take on this job? I still get paid almost next to nothing. The kids all hate me. I have no idea what I am doing. I don’t have the energy for this. So and so is absolutely terrible and I am doing everything I can. If only he/she would just get their act together. I extremely dislike Mr. so and so (their previous teacher). He didn’t teach them anything and they hate me because I actually make them work. It’s his fault that this transition is so difficult. Why am I doing this?” I stopped and realized that I was thinking about this all wrong. Now it may have taken a wiser person a shorter period of time to realize the problem with my thinking, but for the ‘still learning’ like me it took about two and a half weeks. I realized that morning (which I believe was this Monday), I had been blaming my situation, the students and previous faculty for my increased anxiety, stress and binge eating. In reality it wasn’t anything or anyone causing this. It was me and my fears. I wanted so badly to be a good 6th grade teacher. There were high expectations placed on me when I agreed to step-in and take over the position until the end of the year. I wanted to impress, no, to meet the high expectations I felt were placed on me, but in addition I had even higher expectations for myself. I wanted to be seen as a competent teacher. I could manage/whip into shape a group of rowdy teenagers. I could teach them everything they needed to learn. The students would increase in their performance and I would be deemed the best first year teacher ever. So when the students were misbehaving on a daily basis, and even the smart kids were failing on their math exit tickets, I felt like I was failing in every way. But it wasn’t the kids that made me feel this way, it was me. I was the cause and the solution to my problems. The blaming of others could not help to ease the situation because they weren’t the source of the problem. I realized that in order to become successful, I needed to leave the blaming by the wayside and instead embrace my inner soul. I needed to change my approach and let go of the high unachievable expectations.
“I must stop this *whole* thing! Why, for fifty-three years I’ve put up with it now. I must stop Christmas from coming… but how? ” –The Grinch
“But how?” Well this is where the spirit of God is pretty much the greatest gift we’ve been given from God (well other than eternal life and families [though there are days when eternity sounds absolutely exhausting and more like a curse than a blessing!]). In response to my dilemmas I was first told by the spirit to clean, clean, clean. I have spent the entirety of the past two Saturdays and Sundays cleaning my apartment (it really was that messy). I went to Trader Joe’s and got myself some flowers and loaded up on produce at Aldi’s, I got some cute new dishes, and silverware, and gave my kitchen altogether a facelift. There is no way to express how I felt afterwards. It was like a HUGE boulder had been removed from my path. It had been there impending my progress, and then like that, it was gone. It felt so great that I never wanted to let the apartment get even remotely messy again. For the entirety of this week I’ve been an anal clean freak. I never knew I had it in me! I make my bed every morning right after I wake up, clean up my dishes almost immediately after I use them, and everything is put away in its place by the end of the night (as I’m writing this I have last night’s and today’s dishes sitting out on my table! ha! Still a work in progress). It still is astonishing as to how much of a difference a clean house can have on one’s psyche. Even though all of the problems were still very much a problem, I had at least one thing in control. One thing was right. My problems could begin and end at school. I now had created a sanctuary for myself, a place free of stressors.
I believe that it was my clean home that allowed me to be ready to receive the realization that I did; “I was the cause and the solution to my problems.” I had a clean house now which helped to ease the stressors from home, but nothing had changed at school. I stumbled upon one part of the solution purely on accident. As I mentioned, my sister-in-law and I have been training for a marathon that is to take place at the end of April. A little over a month ago I really hurt my achilles. I’ve been surviving my runs by taking ridiculous amounts of ibuprofen and tylenol. This last Saturday I had a running evaluation with a physical therapist. After analyzing my running I was informed that I needed to stop. I could run 2 miles every other day, and if I wanted to try for the marathon still I would have to make up the miles by cross training on a bike. Consequently I decided to go to one of the early morning cycling classes this week before school as taking a class before and after school would be the only way I could successfully make up for the lost running. The time change was absolutely killer. I wasn’t able to get up to go Monday (it also, consequently, was the worst day at school); however, Tuesday was a success. Even with a morning headache I made it out to West St. Paul’s YMCA. Not only was I filled with all those great endorphins, but I also was greatly entertained by the two old men who occupied the cycles next to me who frequently made jokes or complemented me. Got to love old men! The cycling really helped me to break up my morning so I wasn’t waking up and going directly to work, and it just did absolute wonders to my overall demeanor and my interactions with the students. I was much more patient, I gave less obtrusive verbal corrections and opted for more effective silent corrections/proximity. I smiled more, and the students, the students were angelic! Yes, I still had to kick out a few students, I am sure. But, it wasn’t as negative in the classroom. Now, this also may have been due to the fact that parent-teacher conferences were also that night, but I like to think that it was me. ha!
So what did I learn about integrity? To have greater integrity you need to be in tune with your intuition and the Holy Ghost. A clean home (for me) helps me greatly to set my mind and body into a state that I can be more intuitive. Intuition helps me to strengthen the connection between me and my body, and as that strengthens the greater integrity I will be able to maintain.
I could go on, and on, and on about the lessons of integrity I learned this week–pride and how it keeps one from being true to their original intent–fear and how it increases my need to be judgmental and potentially destroy healthy relationships–etc.
All in all I am just so grateful for the journey I am on and for the people and experiences that are being thrown my way that are challenging me, but also are the helping hands that bolster me up continually.
God is good.
P.S. Had a thought last week that would not leave me alone, “ONLINE DATE!” Ummm gross. Against all morales (which is funny since I’m working on Integrity and this was definitely against my personal beliefs on relationships), I signed up on an LDS singles website. Sunday afternoon Michelle enjoyed online dating for me as I graded papers. She happened to stumble on this guy that we couldn’t tell was cute or not. You know–when they post pictures that are just kind of hard to see because they’re not clear or their from far away (or they’re not even them which we ran into once haha). Even though his looks were questionable he mentioned liking a lot of books I love and some of the sports I love as well. What the heck! What did I have to lose? Friends would be great! Or if not that, then at least I’d have someone to talk to for a night who could geek out on Brandon Sanderson books with me. Yeah, well was I surprised when this boy turned out to be some super star. We talk everyday now and play games online, watch movies together, etc. all while he lives in Nevada and I live here. It’s one of the strangest things I’ve ever done, and honestly there is no telling what will happen, but I just think it’s crazy how so much change that is good can happen so immediately. I’m really learning a lot about how God works. The closer we get to him the greater the blessings we receive because we are open for them, we notice them, and we express gratitude for them. This all adds up to increased amounts of joy which opens our mind even more, and increases our gratitude, and joy. It’s like this great upward cycling chain. I look back to where I was just over a year ago, and even to where I was just a month ago or even a few weeks ago. It is almost like all of that has gone away. I’ve been blessed greatly.