Possibly I have given the impression that my days teaching in Houston were nothing but hard work and success. This is what happens when you tell about challening experiences through the blessed buffer of years. In fact, though, this page from an old writer's notebook reminded me how teaching can equal great challenge (and great rewards), but also some pretty big heartbreaks at times, especially when best efforts are met with disregard or outright hostility.
Here's the next page from my writer's notebook, full of antidotes for dealing with a doozy of a bad day. (A transcript follows in case you can't read my scribbles.)
From Brian Andreas's Traveling Light:
No hurt survives for long without our help.
Anyone can slay a dragon, he told me, but try waking up every morning and loving the world all over again. That's what takes a real hero.
Wisdom from A.P. (aka Arnulfo):
Just do your job tomorrow, and that'll be enough.
Stop worrying about the whole world.
Know what you are going to do when things don't go how you expect them to.
Don't expect things to go a certain way.
Know who you are on the inside, and let that be enough.
Yeah, yeah, you know you wanted to see my list after that tantalizing post about the must haves and the can't stands. So here it is. BTW, Arnulfo is wonderful in about twenty gazillion more ways than I could ever put on a list. But I'm glad I had something to get me started seeing him as the gem he is.
2. Integrity and a strong work ethic
3. Curiosity (intellectual and emotional)
4. Passion about something deeper (religion, ethics, philosophy, literature …)
5. Concern for relationships and family (not just ours)
6. Sense of humor/warmth
7. Emotional honesty
8. Health (making an effort)
3. Holding grudges or shifting blame
4. Treating others badly
I can't help it. Nobody asked for advice, but I have to share the strategy that--in addition to divine intervention--helped me realize that my best friend (and husband) Arnulfo was the only man for me.
First we have to go back in a time machine to 2005...
It's the summer after my first year of teaching high school English, and I'm hashing out my relationship woes with John Trimble, illustrious author of Writing with Style.He’s a former professor of mine and a mentor; his thoughts and opinions are gold to me. So when he told me that the key to a happy relationship was making a good list, I tried to keep an open mind. “What you've got to do,” he said, setting down his beer to show me he meant business, “is to figure out what you need. Look back at where you’ve been in your relationships. Decide what worked, what didn’t.Build a list of ‘must haves’ and ‘can’t stands.’ Then stick to it.”
I wanted to believe he was joking. This “solution” seemed kitschy and two-dimensional, and he gave credit to a book dubiously entitled, Date…or Soul Mate?** But because it was John, I listened, and I gave it a try. And the thing is, it really helped. Not that I didn't know what I wanted until I made the list. But the thing about it is that it's tangible. I kept mine tucked away in my writer's notebook, and after a month of dating somebody, I'd pull it out and really think through what I was doing with that person. After all, there comes a time when you don't want to spend years figuring out you're not compatible with your boyfriend.
Notice that this isn't a guarantee that someone's "right"; it's more of a screening tool. But it's a powerful one, especially for folks who (a) have a tendency to take too long to break things off, (b) get lost in the thrill of a new romance, (c) think their partners will change, plus just about anyone else.
So there you have it... my favorite piece of unsolicited relationship advice.
**Holy smokes, don't judge a book by its title! Turns out the author of this book also founded eHarmony.com. I guess if you want a more involved framework for this approach you should check out the book.