In March of 2016, I was at my parent's house in southern Oregon dreaming. In the dream I received a job offer from Pacific University and was ecstatic--I love teaching and had taught for five years, from 2007-2012, before taking time away to care for my children and start a business.
The promise of a regular paycheck, benefits and a return to the collegiality and support of academia was, I believed, a Goddess-sent remedy for years of poverty cycles. Plus, I was enrolled in a PhD program in Philosophy and Religion at CIIS, focusing on Women's Spirituality. I loved the program and the education I was receiving aligned with my long term goals: to bring spirituality--specifically non-religious ritual and earth-based community practice--into a higher education environment. I had done this as a lay person for years, using ritual in all of my university English classes with great effect. And I had created a course called Community Stories, which used ritual to build a container for personal/social/cultural story examination and the creation/implementation of a civic engagement project. I loved my work.
But physically, I had struggled to sustain a full-time teaching schedule ever since I had a bacterial infection in 2009, two years after I started teaching. Combined with long distance parenting, blended family making and advocating for my son, who is on the autism spectrum, full-time teaching became more burdensome each year. Especially challenging was the fact that as a term employee I was used to mop up courses senior faculty were only required to carry as a small portion of their course load, mostly required, writing intensive classes like Expository Writing and First Year Seminar. While I loved--truly loved--teaching those classes, helping non-writers tell their stories in engaging ways, the amount of grading made the course hours drift long beyond the time spent teaching and prepping. There are a variety of strategies professors use to get around reading tons of papers, including peer review and bookend grading (reading just the introduction and conclusion of a work) but this was not the culture of Pacific. Nor is it a personal characteristic. I care about my students too much to not read their work.
By the time I left teaching I was burnt out and disheartened. Self-employment was hard, too, but once I found my niche (community teaching, go figure) after years of various endeavors (ceremonial celebrant, spiritual business consultant), I could craft a schedule supportive of my fatigue and mostly avoid the worst crashing. It's called coping, and it is a good strategy. But I didn't know what I was coping with just yet.
So when I took on graduate school, ok, that was a lot to bring in to an already full life, I started having unusual symptoms. By the time I was dreaming at my parent's house in March of 2016, I had uterine fibroids, a cyst on my liver, a cyst on my ovary and a sinking sense that something was pretty wrong in my physical body. In the dream I received the job offer from Pacific, and I was joyful. But then I looked at the dream's version of my schedule. It was ALL writing intensive courses. The spirits said, no way, and I said, oh well, it was worth looking at. But I knew in the dream it would be a bad idea to take on such a schedule. I knew.
When I woke up, I had an email with a job offer from Pacific and a schedule JUST like the one in my dream. Can you guess what I did?
I took the job. I became very sick. I still haven't recovered, almost a year later.
Spirit came to me in a dream this summer, on the full moon of August. A woman insisted that I teach a class in Ancestral Connection, a topic close to my heart and a big part of my own spiritual path. I told her I don't teach anymore. She would not let it go. Finally I said I would teach it, and with the pull of spirit led timing, was told it needed to begin on the first of November and proceed for four Wednesdays. When I woke up I checked the calendar. November 1 is on a Wednesday. Okay.
I could choose to not listen. I'm in another big transition right now. We are moving out of the city, where I've lived for the past decade, where my husband works, where two of my children go to school. We are moving in large part because I can't work consistently, I still haven't improved in the way we've hoped and we are having to accept that dealing with my ME/CFS might be a long process. We can't afford to live here on one income. We could barely afford it on two. The move is daunting, my energy low.
To live with spirit is to listen. I am a dreamer, I receive information in my dreams. Not just symbolic illusion, but clear communication. It is a pathway for my ancestors--one of many. The woman in my dream demanded I teach, never mind I've given it up, never mind the timing. If I follow, the wyrd weaves pattern. If I resist, it knots and twists, new paths emerge. Some take me to the same place, the hard way.
Ancestral Connection is offered by donation with a suggested contribution of $100 to help my family transition into our new living situation. Support your local wyrd sister. Lean on in, let's listen together.
By this and every effort may the balance be regained.