Saturday, August 9, 2014

12 Hours Sleep

This morning I awoke after sleeping almost 12 hours. Yes, twelve. For about a year I have been working on a weekend retreat called Women’s Body Wisdom. Finally, on the weekend of July 18-21, I gathered with a courageous group of women at the tranquil and healing Bend of Ivy Lodge. It was in the beautiful mountains of Asheville, NC. Following the weekend, the women gathered for a follow-up conference call since we were from different parts of the country. The whole experience of that weekend continues to be a healing and transformative experience. The courage and willingness of these women to be vulnerable, to be truly seen, has been an inspiration to me. My heart is full at the joy of having found my kindred, and I look forward to creating more.

The week following the retreat was my last one before returning to the teaching world. Public Education. Ugh. Need I say more? Most teachers, especially here in the south, let that Good Girl archetype keep them silent in public, but behind closed doors there is much discontent, anger, and frustration. The broken system of public education eats passion, motivation, and inspiration like a war eats its soldiers.

During my week of pre-planning, I left the school in tears on at least two occasions. I felt angry, frustrated, and powerless. During the countywide meeting, I heard the superintendent say that teachers are “those who serve” and that he and the board are “those who serve those who serve.” Hmph. Really? Show me action. Show me evidence. Immediately I think of the adage, “The best indicator of future behavior is past behavior.” Yes, I am jaded, and I haven’t even been teaching that long! 15 years. What about those who have been teaching 20 years plus? They have seen more than I have. I am, as my husband says, “screaming impotently at the world”.  

So, I did what I could at pre-planning. Most teachers put in sooooo much more time than they are paid for. They buy supplies with their own money. It’s ridiculous beyond ridiculous. My sister, who teaches in Muskogee County, told me teachers had their daily hours cut to address budget deficit issues and then were required by their principal to arrive early and stay late for new “duties as assigned” per their contract. Yeah. That shit happens ALL the time.

Kids arrived for their first week this past Monday, August 4th. On Tuesday, I walked my dog in the evening around the neighborhood. We were almost home when we passed a house where a woman stood in her yard with her two dogs. Large dogs. UNLEASHED dogs. Three houses away they charged us. Her two large dogs charged me and my lab. In the fight that ensued, I got bit or cut on the knee and tore my hamstring. Blood running down my left leg, struggling with the lead and my balance, adrenalin coursing through my veins, I am screaming at the dogs and cussing up a storm. The woman finally got her dogs, and in an alarmed voice said to me, “Oh I’m so sorry! Are you alright?” I am limping and blood is running down my leg. I (thanks to the courageous and inspiring women of the WBW weekend) put my good little southern “nice” far away and yelled in my strongest voice, “NO! I’m not okay!! Put your goddammed dogs on a lead!!”

The next day after working a full day with a limp, I went to see the orthopedic. Yep. Torn hammie. She gave me crutches and anti-inflammatory. Told me to come back in 10 days. If it isn’t healing properly, they will do an MRI. That was Wednesday.  Guess what Thursday was? My BIRTHDAY! The doc had asked me if I had ever used crutches. I said, “Yeah. When they were wood!” HA! Man, that is WORK! So I got to school and surveyed the situation. My teacher chair has rollers on it. Suddenly I had this vision of the movie Wall-E. I told my elementary school students I was like the fat people in the floaty chairs from Wall-E. In my classroom, I rolled myself around backwards, pushing with my feet. When I needed to go to the office, I had a student push me. It worked SO much better than crutches, and they loved the “ Wall-E fat people in floaty chairs” reference.

That night, after being honest with my husband about what I wanted for my birthday, he went well beyond and poured his love and support out to me. He cared for me in a loving, tender, and generous way. It was a good and happy birthday.

To all those women who struggle with the “be nice, be sweet, don’t make a fuss” voice, I am proud to celebrate that I contacted the dog owners and spoke of responsibility and integrity. They did the right thing and have paid for my out of pocket expenses so far. It is getting easier and easier to be who I am rather than who I think I *should* be. Joseph Campbell said, “The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.” Damn straight, Joe!

Tonight I am celebrating my birthday with friends. Two of my friends, David Stepps and Cord Woodruff, are hosting a party for me. They are generous and kind and supportive people. I am honored to call them friends. There will be local family and friends there to celebrate with me. I am looking forward to sharing that time with them. My life is full.

Twelve hours sleep?

Yeah. My body needed that.


AnnaMeow said...

Way to go Warrior Woman...I bet that lady sh*t her pants just a little. LOL I hope she is dreaming about the "pain and suffering" you could sue her for. You are my shero!

Catherine Meyers said...

Wow Julia that's a damn mess of a situation. So dangerous for people to foolishly not have their dogs leashed. Glad you are on the mend and glad you advocated for yourself. Public school totally sucks the big one for sure. I wouldn't do it I know.

So glad you had a great Birthday!

Love, Catherine

Artifice said...

Julia, Wow! What a powerful blog post. What a horrible thing to happen to you. I am so glad you used your voice to be heard and recognized! I AM PROUD OF YOU GIRLFRIEND! And then you went to school and blew your kids away with your ingenuity. Love it! Especially LOVE YOU! Linda