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Entry date: 11-5-2022 - Revelations - Letters to My Friends

Dear Friends,

This week was full of revelations. It started off pretty stressful as I knew I was going to resign my current position. I wasn’t sure how my current principal would react, but he was a prince about it. Super understanding and kind. I almost regret leaving the school, but not really.

It’s been a while since I had the privilege of quitting a job. The last time I got to quit a job was back in 2017, and before that, it was Televerde in 2012. I had a good handful in the meantime, which I will dive into at some point soon. I know I left off the job stories when I got to prison.

The revelations, though, came throughout the week.

The first was that my current principal shared with me that it is okay to do what is best for yourself. He is definitely a self-less kind of guy and he said that he has to remind himself a lot that it is okay to take care of yourself from time to time. Apparently, a former boss of his shared this with him and he was happy to share it with me.

The revelation here is not in what he said, but in how much I needed to hear it in this way. I’m quite good at putting myself first in a lot of ways and have indulged my creative desires for the past 30 years or so, for the most part. Professionally, though, and even as a bandmate, I tend to put my own needs second to that of the team. This feeds my soul in a lot of ways, but it has also held me back, too.

In this case, I felt so badly about resigning even though I should be very excited about this new opportunity and the perks that comes with it. The fact of the matter is that I have been a babysitter for the past four years. Yes, I do get to teach from time to time, but the charter network I have worked for has proven time and again that they do not care about the professional growth of their teachers, nor do they really care about the education, maturation, and development of their students.

Dollar signs. It’s all dollar signs, sadly, and the kids are suffering, and a large group of very underappreciated adults are adding to this, too. It’s just a perpetual cycle of frustration and I get why the kids and my fellow teachers have checked out.

To be honest, I have checked out, too. I mentioned earlier in the week that I have a talent for finding cushy jobs. I learned a long time ago the art of creating my own slack. This has served me well and has served me poorly. At 53 years old, I do not want to enter this new phase of life looking for the loopholes. I want to be the teacher I know I can be.

This relates to revelation number two. On Tuesday night, I went to see Gogol Bordello with Mike and Tracey. They were quite good, but it was the positive vibe in the crowd that really got me thinking. Internally, I’ve been beating myself up for a while now about the slack I have created for myself at work. This includes talking a lot of shit to myself which has impacted my happiness and confidence.

I don’t let on about this very often (or ever, really), but I do a lot of negative self-talk and while I was enjoying the band, I was also thinking about letting that shit go. I must forgive myself if I am going to move forward and beyond the crud from the last few years. While I have loved aspects of my job, especially teaching music online, I have not liked much else about it and that negativity has been turned towards myself an awful lot.

So, I was standing there by myself behind the soundboard at the Marquee telling myself it is all okay and to let the negativity go. My soon-to-be new students do not need it or deserve it and I get to be the guy that kids used to love again in the classroom. It’s okay to put on a new shirt every once in a while, and be the person you want to be, right?

I’ve been looking at my music students through this lens since Tuesday night and it has been invigorating and a little sad, too. The kiddos in my classes need a guy like me. They need someone to sit and listen to them and share things with them from a place of caring. I’m racking up the guilt over here every time a student comes up to me and wants to give me a hug or tells me I’m their new favorite teacher. Next week I get to burst all those bubbles by saying, “It’s been fun, but I’m not coming back next week.”

On the drive home from the show, which included a stop to pick up Teresa from the concert she was going to, I thought about the concept of forgiving myself and I realized that I still carry around so much anger and sadness about a lot of things from the past. Much of this is directed at myself for the things I did or didn’t do that I would do differently now. It occurred to me that I need to exercise the same kind of self-love and forgiveness that I was thinking about my professional life across the board.

This is easier said than done, of course, but in the past few days, I’ve shed a bunch of emotional weight I have been carrying around. I’m also reminding myself to be free of that weight when it tries to hop back on my back. It’s painful, for sure, and I’ve done a lot of soul searching and been honest with myself about these feelings rather than pushing them aside and focusing on music or writing or some other distraction.

I’m great at creating my own slack but I’m terrible at realizing that the slack I create stops me from truly living. This is what I am working on for today.

See you tomorrow.

I didn't have shoes on so Rhondi took this picture on my phone of the sunrise earlier this week. It kind of reminds me of how I feel today. Anything is possible.

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Nov 05, 2022

Unbelievable post Mr. Reardon. So many of your words are socking me in the belly and are reaching out to me to let sink in. The new pup, Filbert is a handful and my students are so rough around the edges that I’ve been on edge lately myself, trying to balance the weight and keep my comfortable slack.

It pleases me greatly to hear that I am not alone in my self-loathing while all I am trying to do is the best that I can. I will also try to start packing up all of my emotional baggage and finding a place where I can leave it, so it can dissipate, and release a lot of this years tension.

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