Why Am I Here …. It’s a Big Question!

Mary E. Latela  October 22, 2015

School was my sanctuary – my safe place – and I loved it. I learned how to be sure that my teacher noticed me – no, not by mischief, but by raising my hand and answering questions. It was clear that the chatterboxes were annoying to the teacher; many of them have yet to take a breath. And the boys who made armpit noises and started to make spitballs were always caught in the act – a little embarrassment would go a long way.

I liked the rhythm of the school day, from the bell starting school in the morning, the predictable periods for beginning the day, for going outsider for recess, the walk home and back for lunch, and afternoon math and reading afternoon classes ending with the “good  teachers” reading to the class from Moby Dick or Tom Sawyer.

In junior high, my friends and I, standing at the bus stop for home, started talk about careers, and going to college. Peg, Sue, and I agreed that teaching would be just right for us – after all, being students was satisfying; surely, teaching would be as well. My problem was terrible panic standing in front of a class, trying to teach. How I envied those to whom the work came easily, who were not overly shy, nor overly loud, bossy, or demanding.

A book entitled Shyness (Phillip Zimbardo) was the first in a series which “pathologize” personality challenges. However, being an introvert does not mean I have a mental illness; being an extravert is just another way some people act. We don’t take medicine to cure these.

FYI: Dr. Zimbardo shifted gears more recently, writing about what he called “The Lucifer Effect,” whose purpose was to determine what would cause ordinary, average, even good people to become perpetrators of evil?  Writings about prison camps, tied to current warfare, and to self-imposed exile, The term he coined is splashy, and a bit scary. No one minds being shy or extraverted, but a relative of Lucifer (the bad angel) is ghastly.

Being a teacher is hard, challenging, exhausting work. Many begin on the road and change course, as they confront ill-mannered, disrespectful others. Or violence enters the classroom, security officers patrol the halls, and safety is not certain. After my first year in the classroom, I thought I’d never go back. However, what I was missing was training in pedagogy, how to teach, how to engage and control a class, how to show confidence.

I’ve  written about the unfolding of my personal and professional life – the writing habit which I still celebrate, advance degree (M.Div.), working as a church pastor, returning to college teaching. There were unhappy periods – a marriage that did not work, period of confusion after divorce, a loss which separated me from two loved ones, chronic pain condition.

TODAY, I am where I am supposed to be.   Today I am where I am supposed to be. The two older grandsons had an overnight here, and it was great! We read, cooked, played, took a nature walk, worked on our space travel notebook, and laughed!  Last Tuesday, I joined like-minded friends at a knitting-crocheting. A friend stopped in to discuss some career plans. I worked in the garden. I worked every day on my writing projects. I did laundry, washed dished, walked (aiming for 10,000 steps a day). My sisters and I had rich conversations on the phone. My brother and I laughed about our role as grandparents. Put them all together and they spell – ME… NOW

I believe I am here to manifest kindness, to support people who need help, to learn and model a calm, non-violent personality, to listen empathically, to respond briefly, and to take time for reflection each day. I want to feel safe, healthy, contented, and calm.

About @LatelaMary

Author of 14 self-help books, five still available: Prepare Him Room, Ten Steps to Peace, Healing the Abusive Family, Moments for Mothers. Breaking the Boxes: critique of institutions vs. individuals. Work-in-progress: Memoir (Sorting out Secrets)
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