Tuesday, January 20, 2009

When things don't work

I'll warn you that this is a personal post, not herbal or mystical or wisdom offering. 

I run a wilderness school, well a part of a wilderness school that provides nature based programs for about 50 homeschoolers, two of which are my own kids.
It was in August that I began the role of coordinator, after teaching there for a year and a half as the herbal/botany teacher just a couple hours a week.
The former coordinator warned me how hard it was. I was convinced I could turn things around,
And for the fall, I did. We had record enrollement and everything exceeded our expectations. The staff, the days, the kids, everything was wildly successful.

Now I sit here in January, and the programs are as desolate as the weather. They were slated to begin last week, and we've not been able to hold one of them yet. Only one out of four main programs got enough participation to run. 

What is going on. I keep asking this question. I've set everything up with consideration to what I thought parents had asked for, within the boundaries of what the school can offer. Flexible time, not too much time in the freezing cold, familiar and well qualified instructors, interesting topics yet with experiential content.

And no none is coming. 

I don't understand it. And while listening to the parents gives me plenty of insight into their particular need or preferences - they are all so different - that I cannot detect any additional common denominators. 

My freind tells me I need to try something different. The parents tell me I did try something different, and they don't want that - they want the same programs as usual. My guts are telling me I am failing and that there isn't any solution except to just cancel the programs and work on other stuff, like goods to sell and the summer schedule. Like grants and program development. Like recruiting enough staff for the spring. But see - I am the middle man now, and if programs are not running, my paycheck isn't supported. 

It just absolutely sucks. When this whole thing started I felt open and creative and inspired. Now I just feel weighed down and angry. I spend so much time on this job and not enough with my kids. 

But I have to work.

I wish I could get back to that centered place where it just flowed. Where I was driven by my joy and excitement and people responded. I never have worked well under deadlines and pressure and it usually drives me to quitting my jobs. It's half the reason I left dance, all of the reason I left marketing my herbal products for sale, and why I quit gymnastics when I realized it was actually a competitive sport. I don't like the pressure - it freaks me out.

I want to crawl in a hole and hide. I want to quit my job. I hate feeling like all my energy is pouring into all this PR stuff ( did I mention I am a plant lady - not a marketing major?). The fact that it is not working so much, really makes me wonder if this is what I am supposed to be doing at all. Is this really what I want to do? Or am I merely doing it for my kids, or for a little money. 

Ultimately I beleive in this school. I love the land, I love the experiential learning, I love the staff I have worked with, and I love that I am creating a place where children learn about and connect with nature, and that carries on into the future. But I do not love the feeling that I don't know what I am doing, and what I am doing sucks. That I am speding so much energy on plans that no one wants. 

If only I could figure out what I really want.

It would save me so much grief. 

I used to know....back in my adolescence. I knew with irrevocable certainty that I was born to dance. I was on this earth to be a dancer and nothing else mattered because I knew my purpose. 

Who am I without that title? Lost is what I am. With daily tasks filled up with emptiness and dispair. I feel like I do not have a gift to give. 

I need my purpose because it gives me meaning. A reason to do the mundane things that are otherwise miserable. A current of gratitude and a way of living that is valuable to me. And although I would give my life twice over for my children and I love them more than anyone or anything..... they are not my purpose. And I hate those responses like "you are here to be a spiritual being in a human body" or whatever. The fact of the matter is that humans don't stand still all day.... they function. The DO... they create, cycle, and live a life, which means we require tangible means to express our soul. Not some abstract comment. I know I am a spiritual being........ and so I will take that liberty right here.

I am putting a plea out to the great Goddess:

Give me strength for I am weak.
Give me eyes for I cannot see
Give me heart for I am hurting
Give me purpose so I may come home
I ask thee great Goddess, my Self, the center of my life force
Please illuminate this life for me so I may believe in myself again, 
and offer my gifts without doubt.

So mote it be.


Michele said...

You are not lost but merely being redirected. Redirection is hard and when we are not in control we feel lost.

You are being sent a message that your energies are best used elsewhere and you need to concentrate on that to figure out what the other medium your energies are for.

Close your eyes, center yourself, meditate and make some note about what you love most and how best to bring that to a reality of serving up your best whether it be teaching dance or just dancing or just being.

Best to you, it will come around.

Are you doing any studies with Wolf/Kiva? That might help?

comfrey cottages said...

sometimes just being able to write out what is frustrating us unblocks the creative energies for even further growth. it can show us doors to unlock we didn't even know were there when we open up like you have done. i have a feeling you will soon find your way and i am here sending you supportive thoughts! hugs from leslie at comfrey cottages

Anonymous said...

It seems I come back to this place over and over again myself--what do I want? What is my purpose?

And the only answer I can share is, maybe you can find what you love more than anything else, and make that be your purpose? And if it doesn't work, it's all right--choose a new purpose?

I'm afraid that's not very helpful, but I wanted to reach out to you and let you know that someone is reading and listening and wishing you well. I will send healing energy your way.

Shamana Flora said...

Sweetie, I dont have any advice but know that I' m holding space for you and know the feeling well! You are NOT alone.

Sarah said...

One of the things you learn when you deliver or organise training is that you, personally, are not a failure because courses don't run or a particular group who've been forced to attend didn't like what you offered. It's just one of those things. You turn to new courses, new opportunities and move on. One of the things I'm wondering is if your school has been hit by something we've all been feeling - the need to snuggle down and sleep during this part of the year. If you're home schooling children it must be incredibly hard to be motivated at this time to get out of the house and do something different when you don't have the external forces of alarm clocks and school buses/runs to contend with. My understanding of home schooling is that it gives you choice, when you're in main stream schooling, you don't get any choice. That choice may be to not do anything or do something differently.

So if you need to find funding for your wilderness school, why limit yourself to children? Surely there are other sectors of the community who need space to do things they'd like to do. What about working with your local residential homes for elders or people with learning difficulties to offer them the same courses you offer the kids? Several of our care homes locally are developing farms in the inner cities and I've recently delivered talks on hedgerow herbs to elders which were hugely successful.

Don't give up, don't talk about failure, think outside the box - you're good at that!

tansy said...

do you think the cold winter weather is putting a damper on everyone's enthusiasm to participate? i know that i personally want to just hide away this time of year and wait until spring peaks in at me. i know how you feel though, putting so much time and energy into something, expecting a great response and then nothing. it is heart breaking and hard not to take personally.

may you find a balance.

LisaZ said...

I wish I could come to your school! Getting homeschoolers together is like herding cats, ya know! Best wishes on this...

Brigitte said...

Yes, winter has it's seasoned challenges. Wish I could send you some summer breeze from my place.

Maybe you work too hard, trying too hard to find this special thing... your purpose.

Isn't being a mother, plant-whisperer, teacher... enough purpose?

Is our purpose not being a good person, give a voice for fauna and flora, to save the land, make the earth a better place... I think these things are challenging enough.

Since we all travel around the big medicine wheel, our situations and places change as well as people around us. Come spring and summer, your enrollments will be sky-rocking again ;-)
Give the parents some time and they also will be happy to meet your new ideas.

Ever made a vision board? This things have real power.

Love from the other side of the planet.