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Teacher Newsmagazine Volume 18, Number 6, April 2006

On being well: Spring ramblings

by Julia Johnson

Spring is struggling to arrive in the Cariboo. The nights still suffer from temperatures well below zero, and crystal frosting covers all things in the early light that the warming sun licks away by late morning. Many in this region eagerly wish for the snow to take its leave, for temperatures to rise, for the lakes to be ice-free, and for drier ground.

Spring has always been my least favourite season—until this year. For the first time I am eagerly awaiting its arrival. I have chosen the 31st day of March to be my last working day and I find myself living and experiencing the many clichés of this season as I think of what the retirement stage of my life will be like.

The cliché most associated with spring is rebirth. There is a glorious feeling of liberation that comes with knowing I can freely choose to become involved in uncertain pursuits conceived in my dreams. And with this, a sense of awe overcomes me when I realize that following an unaccustomed path has the potential of creating a "me" that is new and different. The anticipation of this rebirth comes with many questions. What passions do I have that are not yet satisfied? Where will these passions take me? Will I want to go there? Am I willing to let go of the habits of convenience that define what I know, who I know, and what I do? What will I have to give up to become this new identity? Knowing that these questions come with the opportunity for new experiences, new relationships, new sights, sounds, and tastes, comforts and stimulates me.

As blankets of snow are absorbed into the ground by the warm spring sun, there is the associated cliché that the earth is filled with renewed energy. At spring’s onset, all plant and animal life, asleep during the long, dark, winter, suddenly awakens and those of us who imitated the hibernation of Nature are awakened as well. For me, spring has always been an in-between time, a time of inactivity, resulting from the exhausting pace of seven months of teaching demands and the longing for an unfettered summer. However, this year I have become one of spring’s worshippers. As the earth is warmed, so too are my heart and soul, for creating garden spaces that will provide solace for the human spirit—a place to sit amongst colours and smells of plants that attract birds, butterflies, and dragon flies, where all who come will find respite in observing nature’s rhythmic movements.

Spring brings increasing temperatures and diverse atmospheric systems, known as the "winds of change." In the world of work this cliché is historically ominous, for it represents uncertainty, loss of consistency, lack of control, the need for compliance, and the expectation to learn something new. Today’s research suggests that employees are more accepting of change when they are included in the change process. In my 36 years of teaching I have been a victim of change and a change agent. These situations have contributed to my professional, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual growth. My workplace journey provided me with an abundance of daily challenges from which I have gained much wisdom. This spring I can look at the diverse options the winds of change are blowing my way through a different lens—a lens of opportunity to become involved in something unknown that, over time, will change who I was into who I have yet to become. For all of this I am forever grateful.

Julia Johnson, a retired learning resource teacher living in Quesnel, is a BCTF PD wellness associate and a member of the Teacher Newsmagazine Advisory board, livingjewels@shaw.ca.

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