IMO: Life Cycles

I was surrounded. It was creepy.
Graduating students “bombed” my room.

Very few jobs offer a conclusive beginning, middle, and end to the year. The rhythm of the academic calendar is psychologically beneficial, and if I hadn’t made a career within it, I would have jumped off the plank a long time ago. Let me explain by showing you an excerpt by me right before a holiday break (Here’s the whole post if you missed it) :

“. . . I never wanted to be a high school teacher. I wanted to be a college teacher. I’m tired that I have to work in the trenches, dealing with obnoxious teenagers, to be politically correct, inspirational, and compassionate to all students every day no matter what inappropriate thing they say or do. I am that sergeant in war movies who answers to officers, some idiotic, some great, always a revolving door, the principals, and superintendents who come and go and meanwhile, my responsibilities compound, the acronyms multiply like rabbits. I can’t believe after 19 years, I have to do this for eight more years before I retire. What’s worse, the classes I created, devoted my heart and soul to were taken away and given to younger teachers. I’m supposed to be a good sport, but I am resentful. I already paid my dues. I feel unappreciated. I am steaming, and the bitterness takes root. Why didn’t my dream come true? My trajectory was the moon. What strange star is this?  And the dark irony in it all? I’m really good at what I do.” 

Today, I reread the words revealing my dour attitude and I’m embarrassed. When you are a teacher, it is like jumping off a high cliff into the riptide. To endure, the veteran teacher learns how to breathe underwater and ride the current. Obviously, in the quote above, the stress was getting to me. Just in the nick of time, a holiday break occurred. Whew!  I could regroup and adjust my attitude.

Most schools in America, especially on the East coast, resume in September after a healthy summer break. Out here in Arizona, we just went back to school. This past week was full of professional meetings, inspirational pre-service gatherings, getting organized, meeting the students, and beginning instruction. For me, a new year has begun. I’m happy to report I’m very excited to begin again. I have hope and ready to inspire and rock and roll. By winter, I’ll start to drag. After the winter break, I’m recharged. Pretty soon it’s spring break, and then after a month, I’m looking ahead at the calendar wishing for summer break at the end of May. In this profession, the pendulum swings back and forth and the force conditions my mood and my worth ethic. Students and teachers wonder if they can make it to the end of the school year. Of course, we can. Faster than we thought. Now the best part comes. Time. To reflect and consider and indulge in the hobbies of my life. The year is over. What’s done is done. Students graduate and move on. When the new year begins, you start with a clean slate. This is the cycle that runs my life.

One of the complaints I had last year was the indignancy I felt for key classes I had worked so hard creating the curriculum and then they were “taken away” and given to others to teach. That’s a problem when you give a lot of emotional sweat and brain cells to a project; you feel a sense of ownership. During times of reflection, I’ve learned I had to get over myself, let go of the ego, or the roots of resentment grow and I risk becoming a bitchy co-worker. My patience and tolerance falter.

Wir werden backen.

Anyway, I changed my situation and it changed my attitude. After securing my endorsement, I’m now the new German teacher. I’m having the best time setting up the best class ever. We have started to speak it and see it and say it and write it. We’re going to make homemade pretzels and have a proper Oktoberfest with kraut and wurst and (root)beer. We’re going to Bavaria in 2020. It’s going to be the best class my students ever had.  Ha!

The cycles of a year. Is yours measured by the seasons? By your job? By your family? By imposing your own cycle?

I opened my classroom and found this note. Lucky, aren’t I?

56 thoughts on “IMO: Life Cycles

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  1. Beautiful post Cindy. I have no doubt that you are good a what you do. You are dedicated and you care. You are one of those teachers that we never forget. I’m glad you got your second wind–and that you can breathe under water.

      1. Well, I’m a Christian so my faith pulls me through the difficult times. That’s number one and then, I’m a hopeful person. I almost always believe that tomorrow will be a better day.

        1. I was an active Catholic and taught at a Benedictine Abbey and raised my children as Catholics. The religious calendar was part of my life for a long time. The Church holidays, Wednesdays, Saturday or Sunday masses, the holy days of obligation, etc. That’s a variation of your personal leader/follow relationship with the Almighty and his Son. Something pulls and tugs us all, I believe. That’s the rhythm of our life that shapes and defines us.

          1. I hope your students realize what a special teacher they have in you. If not now, they will in the years to come. A good teacher ‘is a joy forever’. In my 80 years so many of my fondest memories are that of my ‘special’ teachers. Thank you for your ‘service’.

          2. That’s an interesting insight, Don. I can relate. When I was ill earlier in the year, I was a slave to appointments and surgeries and emergency rooms. My body took over my life.

  2. I’ve only taught at the BA and MA level. In BA level the kids are still at the stage where they want to make the teacher look like an idiot but I used to load them with the semesters work right up front and tell them which proportion of their work load from daily classes they would be tested up to the project at the end of each semester. I gave them a list of books in the library which would be the core of their learning apart from class and made sure I’d read the books myself as those BA kids would try their best to wriggle around a grade. MA level was quite different. Here you have mature people who want to learn so its a matter of guiding them in their knowledge discovery rather than beating it into their head. LOL. My children still remember me creating curriculum during my annual vocation. It’s quite a slog to get content and meaning into those isn’t it? It somehow didn’t bother me when I was moved on to the next assignment somewhere else. There were new challenges. However I have had nasty things done to me in my work life that left anger for years after until I woke up to the fact that anger was hurting myself and no else seemed to care. So I had to shrug and move on. Sounds like your situation was more cruel as you couldn’t move on. I hope you find fulfillment in your work. Years later students who you thought were losers and were happy to see out of sight can occasionally send a letter of appreciation for your effort and thank for the work you put into developing them. That certainly feels good! May you have many such recognitions of the work you’ve put into your students over time. 🙂

    1. Ian, thanks for sharing! Do you find now that you are not on the academic calendar your life’s rhythm follows a different master? Retired bloggers mentioned the seasons seem to guide their clockwork. How about you?

      1. Cindy my work has taken be from academic to corporate world and back and forth sometimes doing both simultaneously. I eventually retired from my last job which was reengineering a hospital to bring that 100 year old institution into this century and get them planning for an aggressive future. 🙂 So I’ve not developed a long term entrenchment in the academic calendar. My wife Georgine feared I wouldn’t be able to settle into retirement but I had that planned too. I immediately enrolled in a College of Journalism and did a course in creative writing as that was to become my interest and hobby in retirement. I discarded my old life on retirement though did do a couple of retirement projects one being four months in Thailand while they searched replacement for a financial VP in a university there and a series of trips to Hong Kong at the request of former students who were researching health care potential projects in China. I’ve given that all away now. LOL

  3. Great post 🙂 I think you are a great teacher and based on what I have read from your posts, you sound like somebody who is hard working. While every person does need to earn encouragement, each person should also be given a little encouragement from the start to get them motivated. I love that pie picture and also that Nicholas Cage picture as well. Please tell me: does the quote “cage my heart” refer to David Lynch’s Wild at Heart? The reason I ask is because he was in that and knowing how zany he looks in that photo, he is every bit as in that film. Anyway, keep up the great work as always 🙂

    1. I think you are on to something, John! I’d be surprised if they were Lynch fans, but you never know. I was amused they punned the man with the verb. Really sweet of them. What about you? Do you have a life cycle that defines you? People, work, seasons, or your self that sets the pattern of your days?

      1. You know that is a great question on your part 🙂 I should keep a diary and write down certain patterns I live by to see what it could be 🙂 Anyway, keep up the great work as always 🙂

    1. For you, I’d say so! Your garden “runs” your life. I bet you (especially Jackie) can site the flowers and shrubbery that will be blooming from February through winter. Your days are all about attending to your beauties. My mother’s life was regimented by her many gardens. I loved that about her.

  4. I spent most of my working life embroiled in the messy ‘dark side’ of human existence.
    Illness, Accidents, Murder, Death, Drug Addiction, Alcoholism, Crime, Homelessness, and Mental Illness. I never had a chance to think about any cycles of my career(s) and I certainly never had the opportunity to inspire, be loved, or to cage anyone’s heart.
    I am so happy that you are re-embracing your career, after that post I remember all too well. I would have wanted a teacher like you. Someone thoughtful, caring, and intelligent. Someone who taught for a reason, not a salary.
    Embrace it, and count your lucky stars. 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete. x

    1. Nothing would make me happier than to greet you daily and have a nice chat. Your job was a constant flow of terror. I can’t imagine how you endured it. Now that you are living the opposite life, far from the madding crowd, your blogging seasons (your previous post inspired this one) define you, hmm?

      1. They probably do, Cindy. I often feel that my life is now defined by dealing with the weather. There are also times I seek solitude, and do not need any stimulation other than thoughts and memories. So perhaps I am mainly defined by my past. 🙂 x

  5. I’m freeform. I plan and follow no rhythm. Never have. I never know what’s coming or where I’m going. But I sure get around. I am on the wind. Which way is it blowing? I have to confess that my life seems to have been pre-Destined though – Fated. It was mostly set up before I came down here. Pre-arranged. There was certain things I had to do. Had to experience. Much of it Karmic. And everybody I’ve been with was not accidental or random. We were connected from the past. There was sound Spiritual reasons behind most everything I’ve done. I will tell that if I’d seen some of this stuff ahead of time I would have tried to avoid it. Some was very tough. Yet I have been so Blessed. It’s been incredible. A Wonder. I wouldn’t trade myself or my journey for anybody else’s. And it ain’t over yet.
    I hope you have a great year Cindy!

  6. When you least expect it, recognition comes through – and you deserve it! I’m happy for you and I know your new students will love you just as much!! Life for me caused too many twists and turns to see cycles in my career(s). I probably did at the time, but being retired over 8 years, old age memory has softened the rough spots about the work years.

  7. Love this post, Cindy! If I were your student, I would be head over heels for you – you’re an excellent teacher and mentor. Hope this school year is one for the books!

  8. Well said, Cindy. Being a teacher has more of a cycle than most jobs do. I start back in a few weeks and do not feel ready at all! But, the joy returns with the children and fellow teachers.

    1. At the botton of the post, the Cage picture is signed, “You caged my heart”. I got a kick out of the pun. Then they bombed my room with hundreds of pictures of him. A strange way to show affection….

  9. Lovely, relatable post … I went to college to become a history teacher. I also told myself, “I must be a college professor, I’m not working in public school!” LOL! After I got the degree, I joined the military. Life took me in different direction and I never taught. I used to wonder, “did I do the right thing?” As I get older, I ask myself less and less questions. I’ve learned to stop worrying and enjoy life …

  10. In my previous job we had some pretty clear cycles. I worked for a job website so we followed very much the cycles of people looking for jobs. January is a mad frenzy. Then it calms over summer as everyone goes on holiday. Then crazy again around September as all the new graduates enter the job market and then from mid November till the end of the year it is dead.

    In my new role working for a mobile network provider it seems everything hangs on major device launches but I am only 3 months in so we’ll see…

    1. Thank you for your personal contribution, Abbi. It’s an interesting angle to the job. When you know the busy season is fast approaching, I bet it was a dreadful anticipating it.

    1. A Jesuit priest! Somehow I never would have guessed that. Your music and theater careers have served you well, shaping you into a very interesting person. I used to work at a Benedictine Abbey and loved working with the monks. It was a good chapter of my life.

      1. i turned to the arts because they offered a religious vocation without dogma. in my youth, i preached to the drunkards on skid row from midnight to six am , and worked i n a lutheran drop in center in the afternoons.

        1. What powerful lyrics, Bill.
          When I was in Rome in June, I was again struck by how the Pope and Michelangelo rule instead of Christ. I’m considering switching to Lutheran, but I’ve been a Catholic since I was 30. Love the religion, dislike the dogma.

          1. i had no religious upbringing. didnt think about it at all untill attending a bunuel film series at the university. then i got involved with some of the cross and the switchblade evangelists. all my interest is within the judeo christian perameters, but i have never found a belief system in which i believed. for me, religion is all about wonder, myth, poetry, imgination, conjecture, inspiration, philosophy,. ,,all the things that humanity ponders yet knows nothing. here is one for you to think about. right before jesus expores on the cross, he says lord , why have you forsaken me. this is the only time he address gof as lord and not as father. also, in what way has he been forsaken? didt he ow what he was getting into? what was it he saw right before death that left him feeling forsaken? i thnk of the witch eing vurned in bergmans the seventh seal. the knight asks her what she sees. his servant tells him, she sees nothing. what a chilling moment, one of the most frightning in cinema

          2. jung had a convincing argument in favor of the catholic church. he felt that a true religious ecperience was too dangerous for the average person. by experiencing by proxy the experience pantomimed by the priest, the person could have a fascimile of a religious experience that would satisfy the religious urge. i have a friend who used to work the midnight shift at the emergency psyche wing of the hspital, and she said that 90% of thepeople who came for help were there as the result of a religious experience.

    1. Thank you for the kind words. I don’t feel very noble or heroic. I enjoy my job and try to stay positive. Seems like a normal thing to do. Many people around me do the same thing. 🙂

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