Curriculum 2020: Whose Idea of Lessons Was That?
Happy 2021, dear friend! I don’t know which year was ever easier to say good-bye to than 2020. I have had a couple of personal years of turmoil but last year was on a much grander universal scale. I’m glad to see the back side of it.
There is a saying that life is a hard teacher. She gives the tests first and the lessons later. Last year was a finals week version of Groundhog’s Day. Still, even though I didn’t study for them, I managed to mostly pass. I’m sure you did, too. I’m ready for the post-finals party but that has to do with Patience 300 since apparently, I got an incomplete in that course.
The hardest part was that the tests were for courses we didn’t even know we had enrolled in. It reminded me of the reoccurring dream I have of being assigned my new class only to discover that I’m teaching a combined second and sixth grade. My new classroom is the auditorium or gym where there are no desks only bunk beds. Wait! I just realized I set that classroom up last August in my son’s house where Finn is in second and Mark is in 6th. My dream didn’t include Hugo in Kindergarten or I would have woken up screaming. Holey Moses!
All this being said, I had the good fortune to make it through without the loss of income, a home I enjoy living in, and only gaining 3 pounds.
Here are the 2020 Courses that I apparently enrolled in on a spiritual level.
1. Patience 300 – You would think by the age of 63 I would have already passed this class. Certainly, I have parts of it down pat, but this special 2020 course rubbed all the ways I’m impatient in my face. Everything from silly mistakes made by Instacart (cucumbers for zucchini or white rice for white vinegar) to learning to tutor on Zoom, flooded my days. There was also the review of not letting your mother get under your skin, ordering every single thing online, and awaiting election outcomes. The reason I got an incomplete in this course is that I still have to work on patience for the end of the pandemic. I bet you got an incomplete due to that, too.
2. Defining Community for Extroverts 202 – This class was challenging. I already struggle with aspects of this. (I will tell you more about it in the next course description.) Since extroverts get their energy from personal interaction, shelter-in-place and quarantine is brutal. I learned to rethink how to stay in contact with my friends. I still hate texting, but it has become easier. Some people love Zoom but I find a phone call works best for me. The problem I have with Zoom or Facetime or whatever is twofold- first, I work on Zoom, so it isn’t relaxing and energizing. Also, I get lost in the keeping track of the picture rather than the intention of the conversation. I learned that a phone call, or sitting in the yard or taking a walk with a friend works best. I have several strong and loving communities from my witty and loving siblings through an astonishing array of friends. I’m blessed that way. Yay! B+
3. Facing Your Deepest Fears 400 – Yuck! Yuck! Yuck! Even writing about this is hard. I have those same bog-standard fears of being ridiculed or not being good enough that most people have. My biggest fear – and just typing this make my eyes fill with tears- is loneliness. 20 years ago, I never imagined that I would spend most of the next 20 years alone. It is amazing how much of a failure it makes me feel. I don’t really understand why. There is enough material inside of me on this topic for another book. While Mark’s death shaped so much of who I am now, I was clueless that solitude would be such a component of it.
I especially hate when I read about how unhealthy loneliness is. 2020 taught me that I’m okay by myself and I can survive alone. I like my own company. I bought a mini-trampoline and I go downstairs and dance on it. I make funny faces in the mirror. I laugh at myself a lot. Gratitude helps. It is the Riddikulus strategy and it helps destroy the loneliness boggart. Still, I’m open to welcoming a partner into my life and just getting rid of this feeling. I got a B in this class.
4. Heart-guidance 400- While I’m definitely at the master level for this class, it felt like I began to work on the graduate level. I really believe that by listening to my heart I get better guidance.
Case in point- Last January, after several confusing communications with Social Security, I sat down and meditated on how to stabilize my income. My heart practically
shouted at me, “Retire and collect your pension, girl! Now!” So, I made the call. I quit substituting on January 31st and became an officially retired teacher. I got my first pension check on March 1st. You know what happened next. I was able to get through the year without a loss of income. Thank you, heart!
When my daughter-in-law learned she was expecting twins, I was staggered. Six kids! But my heart whispered in my ear, that if I believe we pick our parents, then these babies picked Alec and Betsy. Yes, it is crazy, exhausting, and chaotic, but it is also full of love and laughter. I look at my kids and grandkids with a heart full of wonder and a fair amount of head shaking.
These are just two examples of why Heart-guidance was my favorite course. It grounded me. It gave me joy and helped me get through my other courses. In The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho sums it up nicely “Listen to your heart. It knows all things, because it came from the Soul of the World and it will one day return there.”
Here’s to an easier year. A year of fun and creative electives and live in-person classes filled with friends.
I’m going to Ace that damn Patience course. I’m sure you will, too. I can't wait to see you on the other side of it.
All my love.