I’m on my way back to Ruah tomorrow at the Villa de Matel, and am very much looking forward to another week of solitude and reflection. My visits there are hit or miss, as some of my previous blog posts can attest, but usually when I go during the work week and at the start of summer the retreat center is pretty empty, and I can have the place more or less to myself. I’ll share a few new portraits here as I ramble – haven’t had any new ones to upload in a while.
I’m sure that a lot of my time at Ruah this year will be spent reflecting on where I was last year at this time, when I went for my summer visit a mere few weeks after I quit my job. At the time I was so sad, and broken, and frightened about the future that it dominated all the reading, writing, and reflecting when I was there (both times – last year I went in both June and July). I plan to take the old notebooks I was writing in then to look them over and see how far I’ve come, as well as make some plans for the coming year (as a teacher, I still measure my ‘years’ in relation to the school year, so June 1st is more of a “new year” to me than January 1st is). I know I am ready to grow my business a bit more, as well as try to utilize all my free time better in various ways I’ll get into in a moment.
But first, my business. Along with English tutoring, I decided last summer to offer my services as an Academic Coach to middle and high school students. I figured I could use my school counseling background to help kids with low motivation or organizational skills much in the manner I did when I worked as a mentor at the private school. At first, I started offering this service on my own, but I found it wasn’t going so well, so I decided to take a course to get some structure I could follow. I signed up for an Academic Coaching training class, and since I did it in haste as I was already coaching a kiddo and feeling lost, I didn’t pay too much attention to the details (bad, I know) and was shocked to find out, during the first session, that the course was six months long. Yikes. I figured it would be six weeks at the most, but nope. Six solid months of a two-hour class, online, once a week. During these sessions, we’d discuss the week’s concept for about an hour, then spend the next hour ‘practice coaching’ each other. I admit to finding most of this boring and tedious, and at most times not very useful – but then again, I never really gave it my full attention. For the most part, I would keep the camera on my webcam turned off so I could edit photos or scan Twitter for the first hour when the discussion was going on, then wing my way through the practice coaching the best I could.
I’ve never found practice coaching other students all that useful (in grad school, we had to practice our counseling techniques on each other also) because you’re working with someone who is obviously going to totally cooperate with you every step of the way, and make things easy. This does not translate to real life very well, and sure enough, I’ve already had problems outside of class that never came up much in the training. Then, when I try to ask someone who was either in my class as a student or who is affiliated with the program as an instructor, they all act totally surprised that I’m having issues, which leads me to believe that they either a) are not actually coaching and therefore can’t help me, or b) they are totally having the same problems and just don’t want to admit it. In the case of the other students, I think most of them actually haven’t gone on to coach at all, or are working with adults or college students who have a lot more investment in following through. In the case of the instructors, I’m becoming more and more convinced that they don’t actually coach much at all, and make their money by training other coaches instead. Whatever. In short, I’m not sure how well this whole coaching aspect of my business is even going to work; it’s not going as well as I want it to right now, and I am kinda feeling like the course I took was a ripoff that I should have investigated more closely before even pursuing. Oh well, what’s done is done, and I always have the English tutoring to fall back on, which is going quite well.
One of my other goals for the year is something I make a goal every year and have yet to actually do – I really, really need to be a healthier person. As it is, I get back pains and body aches and stiff joints regularly, sometimes to the point of needing medication or bed rest, and it’s really for no apparent reason at all, other than being stiff and out of shape and therefore pulling muscles by sneezing or walking up some stairs. I’ve always had bad knees – runs in the family – and my right one is getting worse, so much so that I have a hard time getting up off the floor when I need to and it sometimes just gives out on me out of nowhere. I have sciatica that acts up, and the ever-present right arm/wrist/shoulder pain from too much time at the computer, and on and on – you get the idea. Oh, and my diet is utter crap. So, with all the free time I now have, I really have no excuse not to take a yoga class to improve my flexibility, and perhaps some of sort strength training class to get myself back into decent shape. And I must learn how to cook some decent, healthy meals, and stop with all the processed junk I currently consume. So I am going to spend some time at Ruah reflecting on all of this also, and coming up with a plan for how to do it. As I watch my parents grow old – especially my mom, who is not healthy and (like me) never has been – it reminds me how quickly so many years of not exercising and eating right can sneak up on you and steal you of your health, and with so many people in this life who suffer from real, serious health issues, it would be a real shame for me to squander my relatively illness-free existence in my later years by refusing to get it together. The rubber has hit the road, so to speak, and it’s time for me to move forward.
So that’s where my thoughts will be this week, then it’s back to it when I get home next Saturday to fill out my summer tutoring schedule and start planning for June and July. This will be the first summer since the year 2000 that I’ve actually continued to work, but I’m not too bothered by that, because as long as I can stay up late and sleep in I still feel like I’m on vacation, so I’ve basically been on vacation all year. But I do love my trips to Ruah, where I really and truly feel like I don’t have to do ANYTHING at all. It’s what the place is made for. I do plan to bring along a camera, although at this point there’s nothing new for me to photograph there, and I’m going to try to remember to bring my video camera too; I’ve always wanted to film a little walking tour of the grounds, but have never been able to pull it off for various reasons. We’ll see if it works this time.
Have a great week!