Thursday, May 16, 2013

Getting better all the time


            My friend, Lisa, says I'm the only person she knows who has so much abundance literally show up on my doorstep.  I have a private yoga studio upstairs and also teach knitting classes on Wednesday nights, so I am blessed with a plethora of amazing people who cross my threshold every week.  Still, abundance has many faces, some of which can only be recognized by the soul.
            I'm in the process of writing a memoir and it's been a difficult journey to piece together the fragments of my life, to see the silver lining in the painful challenges, the difficult decisions I've made in the past twenty-five years.  This morning I was writing a note to my aunt to thank her for supporting me through the very difficult reality of not having any children of my own. 
            I wrote, "I've been researching for the second chapter in my memoir and had blissfully forgotten the hell I went through for so long...I was too busy getting my own life together...it would have been terrible for any child I was trying to raise. I can see grace in every step now, which is why I started writing 'Open Road.' In every challenge, there's an opening to something new."
            Moments later I decided to check the mail as it had been arriving earlier than usual.  As I stepped out the door, there was the mail carrier putting envelopes into the box.  I smiled, "Oh, good timing!"
            He smiled back at me and something in his eyes stirred a memory.  "Were you a student at Greenwood Elementary?"
            He nodded. 
            "I think I was your first grade teacher," I replied.  "I'm Katie Ingersoll...what's your name?"
            "Antonio*," he smiled.  "But I think you were my sixth grade teacher."
            "Oh, yes!" I beamed.  "I remember you."
            "I have a kid at Whitmer High School now," he said proudly. 
            "Wow...time flies, doesn't it?" I nodded.  "I'm so glad to have seen you today."
            "Me, too," he grinned, walking toward my neighbor's home.
            Heading back to my office, I thought about the year I spent teaching sixth grade with a group of children who were unparalleled in their misbehavior.  Except for Antonio and a few others, the students repeatedly sassed and insulted me.  I was only twenty-three and endured nine long months trying teach in a hostile environment that eventually had me vomiting blood and taking anti-anxiety medication so I could sleep at night.  I was never so grateful for summer vacation and begged my principal to place me in another position for the following school year.
            "All I have is a first grade opening," he replied.
            I didn't hesitate for one moment.  "I'll take it."
            Thus began a nine year celebration of working with younger children who delighted in coming to school each day.  I was honored to have taught with two of the best educators in the business who set the bar high and welcomed me onto their team with open arms.  Twenty-five years later, Yvonne, Sandy and I are still like family and I stay in touch with dozens of my former first graders, many of whom are studying to be teachers.
            If it had not been for that very challenging year teaching sixth grade, I don't imagine I would have been so adamant about changing grade levels.  And through my experience with hundreds of six and seven-year-olds, I was blessed to be able to tap into my childlike nature while sharing my love of learning with more receptive and engaging children.  Even though I left the classroom in 1999, I still love practicing yoga with kids of all ages, for they continue to be my favorite teachers.  Within the space created by not having a child of my own, I can experience the joy in touching the lives of many.
            I'm so thankful to have seen Antonio again after two and half decades.  Now I can think back to that very tumultuous year and remember the kids who made it worth while, who unknowingly opened a door to something better.  And it did get better. 
            Through all my choices and life's never-ending surprises, I keep getting better all the time.      

*His name has been changed.