I quit teaching high school English and Drama when I was 25 years old. It was a killer combo of topics to teach, requiring much of my time and energy. I was also not receiving sufficient support from my Principal who was more focused on athletics and not the arts. There was a huge amount of guilt that I was feeling as I worried about the students that I was leaving behind. I had bonded with my theater kids and I had many artsy kids that would sometimes hang out and chat with me after school while I would grade papers and they would be waiting for a ride or whatever. But I knew that I needed to step back as my energy was drained and I was nowhere near my best self.
I took up Real Estate after teaching and enjoyed the freedoms that the entrepreneurial life afforded me in regards to setting my own schedule. I worked for a small company in Hyde Park but was not knocking it out of the park as the more established folks earned most of the clients. But my timing was great as it was when the market was booming and I got a little piece of the pie (before the bust).
About my second year at it, I got a call that summer from a former student. Her name was Meghan and she was one who would hang out after school sometimes. She was reaching out to me on behalf of her friend, Chris, who was also one of the students that took to me as a teacher and mentor. Chris was staying at Children’s Hospital in their psychiatric ward under suicide watch and undergoing severe depression treatment – I learned from her. Meghan asked if it would be ok if Chris’s mother contacted me about spending time with him. It was arranged that Meghan and I would pick up Chris from the hospital for an outing to Burnet Woods to just hang out.
It was hard to shake off the weight of the circumstances, but the whole outing: me picking up Meghan from her home in Northside and just swinging by to pick up Chris, just felt normal. We didn’t talk about what he’d been through. I didn’t offer advice. I was just present. Maybe it was because I didn’t know what to say or didn’t think I was owed any details. But we just walked around the park, talking, laughing. Then we sat a picnic table shelter and they each had little sketch books that they were doodling in.
Chris only said one thing about his struggles. He told us that there was one thing that he did that helped him. He said “it’s kinda silly, like The Sound of Music, but what I do is make a list of things that make me happy. Music, foods, certain people, my dog, skateboarding: I just start writing them down and thinking about them one at a time and it just kinda gets me by.” He shook off the heaviness of the topic and started talking about something else and shortly after, we left the park and took him back to Children’s. Meghan thanked me and said she’d be keeping in touch with him and said that today was a good day.
I share this story with you as it brings me to the focus that I want to direct my Heritage Church Presidency time on: Restoring and renewing our individual and collective energies. I know that many of us are feeling an energy drain due the circumstances of the big world and of our smaller worlds. The 2020 elections are going to require us to be strong and to do that effectively, we need to practice better self-care and community care! And this is not meaning the kind of care that our truly amazing Care Committee does. They lovingly support members‘ specific needs in a very real and organized way and will continue to do that.
My idea is to have events throughout this church year focusing on this aim: A Cleansing of the Energies Ritual, hikes, picnics, etc. I’m wanting to spread positivity and to help “fill up our energy gas tank” with various forms of TLC.
Dean Ornish, M.D., says in the book Healing and the Mind, “When you focus your energy, you gain more power, for better and for worse.” He goes on to point out that “Unfortunately in our culture we tend to have our minds most focused when we are angry, upset, afraid, or worried.” He points out that this kind of mental and emotional focus can have harmful effects on the body. The root of the word “heal” is “to make whole.” I think we all could use a little healing right now to help us get back to being our better selves. Let’s do some of this together!
Reach out to me if you have ideas or would like to help. Or reach out if you have needs that Heritage can help you with or if you want to let me know that you are just feeling that drain too. My email is: email@example.com (make sure to spell Jaime correctly).
And lastly, I want you to know that the people that make up Heritage Church are definitely on “My Favorite Things List!”