Blinking Lights

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“Ain’t no rainbow in the sky in the middle of the night But the signal’s coming through. One day I will be alright again” – Eels

If there is one thing I should know about myself it is that I do not give up. There are times that I may feel on the edge… pushed to the verge of just throwing my hands up in the air, however something deep within my spirit lets loose a Billy Idolesque Rebel Yell and I always regroup. I always find myself when pushed to the verge of giving up, redoubling my efforts. There are times that this happens on its own, but often it is because of a very few close friends who remind me of who I am in times of tribulation. I am deeply honored to have them with me and they all know who they are.

I write about this because I’m reflecting on the last Christmas season and my adventures in hanging holiday lights on my house. It was the first time I had ever had a house and the first time I had ever put up holiday lights. One caveat… my house is 112 years old (not an exaggeration) and anything involving standing on the roof or leaning a ladder against it is a frightening prospect. Anyway, I vowed last year that I would never again hang holiday lights… I came away bruised and battered but the house looked great. I managed to hold out this year until Mid December but I felt the call. I felt that little voice that said, “you can’t give up.” So I went to the garage, pulled out the yards upon yards of lights and in one morning, with determination, put up the lights in a new way that brought joy to my heart. Seeing the lights made me remember the sense of accomplishment, the joy in looking upon them, and the joy I hope it brings to others who pass by the house. It is a dim reflection of the Joy that we celebrate as we remember the anticipation of the birth of Christ. I was so filled with Joy that I went out and purchased more lights yesterday… Not only did I hang lights once more, but I redoubled my efforts and came away stronger for it, while hopefully bringing some cheer and goodwill to those who pass by my house.

So, why write about hanging my Christmas lights? Because it is a small example of how I do everything in life. It is a small example of what I think most of us in education face every day. We try, with determination, to help all children learn. We attempt to please the parents, our principals, our other various supervisors and … sometimes with that determination … we feel like we are falling short. There becomes a wave of doubt that attempts to overshadow all that we wish to accomplish. Don Miguel Ruiz (in his book the Mastery of Love) calls this wave of self-doubt “The Parasite” which steals vital energy and robs us of joy. However, it is important to remember that we are the masters of our own reality. It is our perception that drives us forward or sends us into a self-destructive wave of actions. At times, It is possible to pull yourself out of these moments, at others you may need the help of friends.

Every small victory I have over this “parasite” rejuvenates me and gives me the energy necessary to move forward fortified and strengthened. It gives me the ability to redouble my efforts. In the world of teaching, we face failure many times a day. Yet, it is the soul of the true teacher that is able to regroup and charge forward once more unto the breech. If you find yourself feeling pushed to the edge, remember that you are someone special. Remember that you make a difference in the lives of students every day. You cannot be in the classroom a single day and not have an affect upon the lives of each child that is within those four walls with you. Stand strong, my friends and know that you are not alone and that your colleagues around the world are here to help you through those dark times of self-doubt. I believe some of the best teachers can be the most critical of themselves or have the most doubt because they are always looking for ways to improve. They are never satisfied with the status quo.

This Christmas, I have a whole new set of bruises, cuts, rashes (from strange plants that grow around my house) etc. But I also have been able to produce a beautiful scene for others to enjoy.

Take time this Christmas season to recoup, redouble your efforts, and charge forward knowing that you are an instrument for good in this world.

What are the Christmas lights in you life? The difficulties that produce beautiful outcomes? I’d love to hear your thoughts and questions.

If no one has said it to you, I personally thank you for your dedication in helping children become knowledgeable, happy, and productive adults.

God bless you this holiday season.


2 thoughts on “Blinking Lights

  1. Putting up my Christmas tree this year left me with a new scar on my leg, so your lights are my tree, literally.

    Metaphorically speaking, my lights are the legal and procedural tasks I take on for my teachers. Bureaucracy is hard to navigate for a reason, but so far so good.

    • Well we are comrades in arms. Sorry for the leg scar but I’m sure your tree is beautiful!

      The bureaucracy that surrounds education is a crazy labyrinth that continually changes. I applaud you and ProEdTN for the work that you do to help make this world a beautiful place for the educators who give of themselves daily. I also have faith that you are among the strong who can redouble efforts and stand the fiery crucible to be forged into a stronger person.

      Keep up the good work. I am proud of all that you do.

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