The Teacher Is The Student….

On My Knees

Ten years working in the trenches of the Department of Human Services, is too long to be immersed in societal ills. I became jaded, if not chronically cynical. In addition to being privy to every vile imaginings of human conditions, my job duties also placed me in a position to supervise Graduate School interns. It wasn’t until one of those interns, Margaret, brought to my attention my own warped perspective, that I was compelled to consider the consequences of too many years of working in such a supposedly diverse arena.

Margaret was a traditional mother and housewife, who having raised her children, decided to return to graduate school. She was devout in her religious affiliation, and although sheltered personally from the street mire, she was unusually bright and well-versed in the ways of the world. First blush had her pigeonholed as a Stepford-type robotic wife: The little woman who lived by the outlandishly sexist tenets of Fascinating Womanhood. However, that initial biased observation would prove to be the antithesis of the Margaret I came to know and respect.

As time passed, and her internship went on, I watched Margaret’s true colors seep forth in full-spectrum. She was a woman of conviction, but her convictions did not blind her to the subjective plight of the clientele. Her unhesitant full-plunge into the social sludge was as impressive as a Mormon Pioneer, elbow deep in a garden fertilized with ox manure. Margaret made home visits into the bowels of so-called civilization, bravely treading where the fringe and even roaches barely survive. She raised funding for infant and toddler caskets when mortality won. She corralled prissy senators and legislators and sought out media personnel in hopes of shining the light on the darkest of social issues. She co-conducted self-awareness groups, and fiercely rallied the wagons to protect from budget cuts those programs which were constantly in the crosshairs of conservative knife-wielding politicians.

Margaret was the best of the best interns; she did a great job. And I like to believe she learned much as a result of her immersive internship. But in the end, as it often is, it was this teacher who learned the most.

On her last day, Margaret’s words, more than the elfin-sized poetry book she handed me, were her parting gift to me. Purposefully, patiently she waited until I looked squarely at her intense face. I sensed something just shy of dire was about to be bared.

“The rest of the world is not all like this,” she said looking deeply into my eyes. “The rest of the world is not all like this,” she enunciated as my nonchalant nod was not well-enough connected to her sentiment. Clearly, Margaret wanted to be certain I had grasped the magnitude of her carefully crafted words.

It was then that I understood. Margaret was not about to leave the internship program until I had learned my lesson:

The rest of the world is not all like this.

What Margaret was telling me was that I had begun to see the entire world as broken, dysfunctional, drama-infused, addicted, heartless, hopeless, and nefarious. And she was right. She was calling me out on my jaundiced perspective. All of the teachings I communicated about our biases affecting our view of our world experience, of how all conversation is tainted with projections, all of my instructions to Margaret, to my clients, and to the past interns were in my face in one brutally profound sentence. “The rest of the world is not all like this.”

Her parting words resonated deep within me, and with a resounding truth that circled for months before finally settling into my grey matter. The job was killing me, or at very least, I was tainted and world-worn. Even as Margaret’s words swirled, I began to look for the light…the one that wasn’t a train coming at me. In earnest, I looked for my cartoon escape hatch. The gig was up. The joke was on me. I’d overstayed my welcome. All the clichés lined up. I’d look and then I’d leap. Out with the old….

Margaret was my last intern. I opened a small gift shop, Ruby Luna’s Angel Emporium, and made my escape from social work. In my estimation, the first half of my life had been hard, and I consciously vowed that the next half would be fun and rewarding….

A funny thing happened on the way to change: Customers of Ruby Luna’s were seeking something. They may have been looking for an angel lapel pin to protect them from whatever perceived evil lurks, or they may have fallen in love with the cherub shower curtain. They may have giggled at whimsy, or perhaps they were inspired to purchase a celestial statue, a gossamer dress, a beautiful otherworldly CD, an angelic journal, or a greeting card for someone in mourning. Along with the subjective searches for wares came a story…always there was a story of loss, or love, of healing, or of miracles and synchronicities. And there I was again, immersed in societies’ heroic and/or horrific stories, and still being that listening consultant, often advising, albeit in a much more pleasant venue.

Margaret was right. “The rest of the world is not all like this.” The whole is not as fractured as was the sampling of either my Human Services caseload or my angel store customers, as both microcosms are tainted by intensity of settings and content and even demographics.

And although at the time when I opened the Angel Emporium, I didn’t realize it, in both circumstances I was providing a service designed to help and hopefully enlighten and empower. Twenty-twenty retrospection completely blurs the fact that I opened the angel store because I adore Victorian design, and angels and cherubs are a big part of that interior design theme. I had believed I was opening an angel store because I could make a living selling the interior tabletop kitsch that I so love to surround myself with. What better way to get the wares at wholesale than to open a store! It seemed the furthest distance from the fox holes I had survived…. Silly me; I was only recreating a place where others would gather to mend. And in the end, it was a wonderful thing.

Following the death of my son, I had no more to give to grieving customers, and so once again, I planned my escape, and this time, moved to Southern California to heal and write through my own losses. Eventually, I exited the study of my stories, and I came out from within with a roar.

So much brilliant light lit my way, and suddenly, I knew exactly why I was born. All those stories, all those experiences were the necessary rungs on my ladder that led to my authentic calling. Actually, I was always living my calling; I just hadn’t recognized it as such.

Now that I’ve moved my consulting business from the walls of brick and mortar and into the ethers, I see so many similarities in the whole of the planet’s inhabitants. Humans are awakening, and this was evidenced in both the social work position and the celestial proprietress position. The awakening is greater now, and even though I am no longer seeking the means to buy tiny caskets, and I no longer visit drug havens searching for a signature of parental consent so that my teenaged-mother-client might receive medical help, and I am no longer surrounded by shelves full of angels, moons, suns, and stars, I am still, perhaps more than ever, surrounded by the light.

It is this light that I share on my website, through my books and articles and classes and products and services. It is the light that I hope you’ll share here too. Together, we create magnificent timeless and endless ripples at a time in history when the Universe is calling us to awaken.

Thank you for being.

~Ahimsa.

Jan

www.JanDeelstra.com

 

Transformational Author of:

Blessings in the Mire: A True Story of Miracles & Recollections

Escaping the Chrysalis: Introduction to Gestalt Techniques for Self-Esteem Transformation

The Flying Game

Shadows Attached: Mad Woman Poetry Volume One (Kindle Version)

 

Tags: Gestalt, Self-Esteem, Self-Worth, Self-Confidence, Manifest, Transformation, Self-Awareness, Calling, Purpose, Angels, Miracles, Synchronicities, Affirmations, Intention, Communication, Spirituality, Mind-Body-Spirit-connection, wellness, balance, homeostasis, Escaping-the-Chrysalis, Blessings-in-the-Mire, Awakening, Relationships, Self-Development, Visualization, Life-Mapping, Passion, Authenticity, Social-Work-Burnout, Empowerment, Women’s-Issues, Social-Issues, Projections, Whole, Jan-Deelstra

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