Are we really that indispensable?

Dear Friends,

Greetings on a lovely Sunday. Get out early today before the winds arrive and make going out less pleasant. Enjoy doing something different today, maybe calling a friend or relative you’ve lost touch with.

I was always very involved with my children’s educational institutions. I participated in as many activities as I was able to, became class representative and once even president of the Parent-Teacher Association. In 1998 when I knew for certain that our family was going to make a permanent move to Costa Rica the following year, I put together a very detailed guide for the next class representative to follow. It was my impression that in order for the transition to be smooth, my successor should execute tasks the same way I did since my way met with the approval of the class teacher, Mrs. Eaton. I felt this was important because in the educational method that we chose (Waldorf), the children would be entrusted to Mrs. Eaton as their main teacher until the 8th grade.

Mrs. Eaton and I became very good friends during the time I helped with class activities. She really knew each one of her students. She worked with their strengths and weaknesses and produced magic each and every day. I became concerned, however, when I realized that the school year would soon be over and she had not given any thought (at least to my knowledge) to my replacement for the coming year. When I mentioned it to her one afternoon, she told me she was hoping we would change our minds and not move after all. She felt that no one could really replace me! I was touched but our decision had been made after careful consideration of all that lay before us at the time and there would be no turning back.

We left New York in June 1999, shortly after the school year ended. Our lives were hectic here for the first few months until we became accustomed to the ‘new normal’ which included a gorgeous setting for the Waldorf-inspired school that our children attended in Heredia . Five years went by before we made our first trip back to New York for a visit. I went to see Mrs. Eaton and was surprised and disappointed to learn that she had stayed with the class for only four years. I scolded myself silently for not having stayed in touch. I met the new teacher (Mrs. Dale) and I realized that the students, now older and still thriving, had adjusted to Mrs. Dale’s style and the new class representatives without any difficulty. Mrs. Eaton and I had been successfully replaced!

Last week, I spoke with a cousin who broke her arm a few months ago. She is a very active person who carried a great deal of responsibility in her workplace. Her family’s suggestions that she take time off and devote some to herself were always met with the response that no one could take over her projects. Her accident forced her to immediately suspend all her activities to dedicate herself to healing. We are planning an outing soon, something she would not have been able to do with me when she felt herself indispensable at work! We found ourselves agreeing that living a good life is all about balance. It is liberating to acknowledge that and wise to plan leisure into our days. I am working hard to accomplish that little goal. How about you?

Have a wonderful day and a terrific week, Marietta

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