Above are two of my latest pieces of art, both worked on black card using Uni-Ball Signo metallic gel pens and Cosmic Shimmer iridescent watercolours.
The bottom one has a chain of circles/links that was inspired by looking at a La Tene or Early Celtic Art neck torc. The rest of the patterns/shapes just flowed around the circles.
I’ve enjoyed doing these. They give me a chance to just relax, go within myself, create and find some peace and pleasure during days when life seems a struggle at times. Abstract art is perfect for me in doing this. I tend to call these things ‘doodles’, but others see them as ‘effortless pieces of art, very creative and imaginative, a sure sense of colour’. Perhaps because it is easy for me to do I find it hard to see why others would find it ‘precious’. But as it flows from within, it does tend to be personal, and perhaps an outer representation of my inner emotional ‘weather’.
Feeling jaded, tired with teaching
This week the emotional weather has been very changeable, though there’s been a very tired and jaded weather system lingering.
I am tired and jaded with my job. I have found it hard to get enthused about anything this week. I find the constant disrespectful, confrontational, aggressive and/or histrionic attitudes wearying in the extreme. There seems to be an almost constant battle that I have to fight in order to do my job.
It’s not all gloom and doom, however. There are bright, sunny periods, where pupils with a willingness to learn, the grace to show kindness in their speech and in attitudes to others, and those full of joy to be around me. But they are increasingly being overshadowed, once again, by the others.
I feel so much empathy for the pupils who are stuck in classes full of their peers who dominate the groups, disrupt the lessons, and carry an atmosphere of unsettledness in so many ways with them.
I’m beginning to really understand that I am too kind, caring, gentle to work in such an environment for much longer. My kindness and gentleness make me a target for these aggressive, disrespectful, histrionic teens. They see me as weak, pathetic, perhaps even too controlling of the class, or trying to be. I want all to do well, to learn, to gain something positive from my lessons, and I know I expect way too much of myself in this, or perhaps not of myself but of them.
However, is it really too much to ask to have a polite response when asking a pupil to do something such as ‘get your pens and book out please’? Is it too much to expect that I won’t be greeted with a volley of abusive language or a strident statement that either I’m picking on them, or I have an attitude problem.
I guess I should feel lucky that it’s just words and not furniture or knives or guns that are hurled at me.
Some of you may think it’s my fault I get treated like this. I don’t think so. I have to be true to myself. When I’m not, then its so obvious that things get worse. My kind, caring, empathic nature suits me working with children with special educational needs and these children rarely give me problems and respond and appreciate my nature, generally. There’s always an odd couple who don’t respond.
My issues are with mainstream pupils who generally don’t appreciate the kind, caring, supportive, encouraging approach. Their attitudes mean I tend to distance myself from them to protect myself, though I try to help those who want my help, so long as I’m not having de-fuse situations about to explode, deal with disruption and so on. Sometimes I feel more like a peace-keeper come baby-sitter than a teacher. I’m absolutely sure it was never like this when I started teaching many years ago now.
Are my particular skills, talents and gifts being made the best use of in work? Definitely not.
Career change needed?
All of this has added to my personal problems that I am working on; and in many ways it delays me carrying out the personal work that I need to do by overshadowing that. My biggest problem is what on earth could I do other than teach? The other problem is that of financial security; I have a permanent contract, so I have as secure a job as is possible in the current financial climate. However, the biggest problem is what else could I do?
What I think are my particular strengths, such as art, writing (that maybe doesn’t come across in this blog), a quickness of mind, an innate intelligence, true empathy for others, a deeply caring and kind nature, an ability to speak well and to entrance audiences, I have no particular qualifications for, nor do I have the time nor financial resources to return to university to gain them.
It is a right pickle …
But at least I get time to lose myself in art or writing or reading or playing my flute or meditating, activities that help to bring me peace and joy, and some of which others can gain joy from too if I share them.
Memories of my father’s passing
Something else that seems to have affected my emotional weather this week was the fact that it was the anniversary of my father’s passing. Two years ago on the 10th November, around 9:20pm, I was sat with my father during the last moments of his life on Earth. I’d most probably spent more time with him during the 8 months he was in hospital than for the rest of my life. In fact, I spent more time with him during this time than I did with other human beings. It was an interesting time; he had Alzheimer’s as well as cancer and diabetes and arthritis, and just old age.
His last evening on Earth was one where he struggled to breathe, where he was in and out of consciousness, and was very agitated. I spoke to him about things I’d done, things I planned to do, and I was very tearful as I knew he was slipping away, even if the medical staff, my mother and other members of the family thought he’d be there for months longer. There was a smell in the room, and I just knew it was time.
I’d never seen a real dead body before, let alone been with a person coming to the end of their mortal days. I was scared, worried if I’d be a strong enough person to stay with my father through it. I’d always told him I’d be there with him if he wanted me to be, whether he understood me or not. As it happened, I was strong enough.
Despite his extreme confusion thanks to the Alzheimer’s, in the last few moments of his life he knew who I was and was able to say some things that meant a lot. He knew he was dying and about to pass away and he wasn’t scared. I asked him if he wanted me to stay with him, he said yes. His passing was peaceful. After speaking it was only a few minutes before he quietly slipped away, and I observed/felt things that have since helped me on my spiritual path. In fact, I experienced many things while visiting my father that gave me and still give me cause for thought.
After he passed, the room was filled with a feeling of such love, not sadness. The sadness was that he was so ill and suffered so much before he passed. I didn’t feel relief, just love and a sense of peace.
For that I thank my father deeply. I feel he granted me a great privilege to be present as his passing, so many seem to choose to pass away when their loved ones have taken leave of them, and to witness so much I can’t, as a scientist, explain yet makes sense to me as a person finding their way along a spiritual path on the Earth. I’d like to believe that my father is on the next stage of his spiritual journey, whatever form that may take.
What has surprised me is that my mind has wandered back to that time in the past few days, and it has brought up tears with the memories. I believe I did my grieving in the months my father was declining towards his passing, and though I had tears for a day or two afterwards I think it was more to do with emotional exhaustion. His passing left me with a need to adjust my spiritual beliefs, to re-examine them, and I used my bereavement leave to do this.
I have wondered if these memories are what I’ve used as an ‘excuse’ to avoid facing up to issues with work …