Delicious ambiguity


You cannot have a happy ending to a miserable journey.


Many of you who have followed my blog over the last few months (have I said thank you recently for that?) have watched me torture myself with the decision of whether to stay at my job as a special education teacher or to dive into a new business in a full-time capacity. The business has already been started and the nonprofit component is waiting in the wings for some attention from me. I can work part time at the business until I’m ready to leave my job or I can just run head long into a new life. Part of the dilemma is that I love the kids that I teach. Until you are a part of teaching a child no one thought would read, to read, or giving a student the confidence to raise his or her hand in class and believe they can add value to a conversation, you can’t imagine how rewarding this path can be. Unfortunately, because of the legal requirements of the special education system I spend about 85% of my time in meetings, writing IEPs, and answering emails from parents who have no faith in the educational system or dare I say have no boundaries’. I pass my lessons on to a tutor who has the joy of teaching it, often not in a way I’d do it myself. This all adds up to an enormous amount of stress and it’s taken a toll on my health and my personal life. I keep asking “is it worth it?” Of course any sensible person would say “no.” Then I get a card in the mail from a student thanking me for my dedication, or telling me they will visit me every day next year. Then there are the students that do come to visit and I get the chance to watch them turn into adults, and know that I was a part of making them understand that their disability is both a blessing and a curse. The fact that they struggle is difficult but as with any difficulty they have the opportunity to let that hardship turn them into people that know how to press on, to work through what would stop a weaker person. They also see the world a little differently and all of the most influential people in history have seen the world in a different way. That’s where we get the innovative thinking that changes the world. Oh, you can see I could go on and on about these wonderful people I’ve had the chance to know. I have been blessed, but it may be time to move on.

Then there’s the stress, which is incredible, and I have to be honest; it’s over-shadowing the good parts. Turning 50 this year, and watching so many people around me stricken down by illness, or worse yet die far too early, causes me to worry about how the stress is impacting my health.  I found the information below in a Huffington Post article but you could find the same in a thousand articles. It has become common knowledge that stress kills.

Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University found that feeling stressed is linked with a decreased inflammatory response regulation. Their research was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

 “The immune system’s ability to regulate inflammation predicts who will develop a cold, but more importantly it provides an explanation of how stress can promote disease,” study researcher Sheldon Cohen, of Carnegie Mellon, said in a statement. “When under stress, cells of the immune system are unable to respond to hormonal control, and consequently, produce levels of inflammation that promote disease. Because inflammation plays a role in many diseases such as cardiovascular, asthma and autoimmune disorders, this model suggests why stress impacts them as well.”

So, I have given myself this weekend to decide what I will do. I think I already know what I’m going to do and having flipped a coin as another blogger suggested confirmed it, but I keep waiting for that moment when I’ll be 100%. Maybe we’re never 100% on anything. Maybe it’s just about following your gut and watching what unfolds.

Thanks for reading. I truly appreciate the support and the friendship I have found here.

Some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious ambiguity.

Gilda Radner

16 responses »

  1. Thanks for the stress info. I will be sharing. I had to learn how to do an IEP in school and remember thinking what a huge amount of time and effort each one was to complete.

  2. As a parent of a special needs child, I do IEP’s in my sleep too…. though probably not the way you do…… I do think that the work that you do is incredibly important but….. burn out does not help anyone…. Just to add a different perspective on this…..One of the major problems parents face is learning how to deal with new situations, such as IEP’s, when everyone else in the room seems so over them… That’s not to criticize those of you who work with special needs children but to indicate that how you approach IEP’s and what you feel as a person, greatly impacts on those you reach…. After a few years of enduring IEP’s parents also grow extremely tired and disillusioned with the whole process….. So you are not the only one….. I agree with you that the system is far too bogged down in paper work…..Perhaps making a fresh start for your self would be a good idea.

    • You make excellent points and I can empathsize. I was a parent of a child with special needs long before I was a teacher. Living and working in a town where teachers make 50% of the median income and where parents see nothing wrong with calling me at home or pulling up a chair and sitting down at a cafe table on a Saturday while I’m having lunch with a friend asking IEP questions…well, that is what I mean when I refer to boundary issues. The entire system is broken and the shame of it is that many teachers who love their students leave, not because of the teaching, which is hard enough, but because of the many other stresses associated with it. Not sure what the answer is but thanks for reading.

  3. Sometimes it is the indecision which causes the stress. Once a decision is made – right or wrong – the stress is lifted; as you can then focus on making the best way from the decision that you made.

  4. Another thing that can add to stress is cutting yourself into too many pieces. There is already time factors and stresses for you from the family and other obligations, having two jobs would become an additional load. Money factors aside (if you need to keep at your education job for financial reasons that is different, but you do not mention that); my thoughts are that if you have this plan for this new business with a non-profit component, then it deserves for you to give it 100%. The energy that has been taken up with your education job and the energy from its stresses and the energy being put into your decision could then be channelled into your new venture. “We cannot discover new oceans until we have the courage to lose sight of the shore” Andre Gide

  5. I love the point Elizabeth made about indecision causing stress. I had never thought of that before, but that makes a lot of sense.

    I enjoyed reading the Abraham-Hicks quote at the beginning of the post. And your situation reminded me of the following Abraham-Hicks video that is posted on YouTube which it titled Abraham Tells a Trucker: YOU CAN HAVE IT ALL:

    Basically, the person had enjoyed being a trucker, but he got really frustrated with his job. It was too demanding. He also enjoyed playing golf. Abraham explained how he could have both. The video is a little over 10 minutes and I highly recommend checking it out.

    Along those lines, here is a possible solution:

    Assuming the new business can meet your financial needs, dedicate most of your time to the business.

    And then since you enjoy the teaching aspect, become a part-time (enough that it is enjoyable/fulfilling, but not too many hours that it causes stress) special education tutor. Therefore, instead of dealing with the things you don’t prefer as a teacher, you can still be involved in what you love to do as a tutor.

    Couldn’t this work to remove most of the stress? It sounds like there is the potential for things to get much, much better with a few changes.

  6. I love that you are sharing this journey here. It sounds like you have given so much to those students. It is hard to leave something you love, but if it is time, it is time. And that stress stuff is serious. I struggle with that quite a bit myself. Thanks for the Gilda Radner quote. She always makes me smile.

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