I’m making a pretty large decision in the next week and a half.
I have a college degree in music education. I have 14 years of public school teaching experience. A multitude of years in leading or helping with church music and a few years of private lessons thrown in there as well. I’ve put on many concerts, gone to contests, professional development and music conferences over the years. I’ve taught in the country, in the inner city and half way in between. I’ve taught youngsters as young as preschool all the way up through 8th grade. I don’t think I’ve ever taught any high schoolers since student teaching. I’ve taught black, white, poor, rich and every other kind of division you can think of.
I’ve made some great music with kids over the years. I’ve given it my best. Even on days when honestly I didn’t have much to give. I’ve managed classes as large as 100 middle schoolers at a time. Sound crazy? It was. But I did it. I’ve had times when I shook my head in frustration and times when I wasn’t sure what to do to help students stay focused and on track. I’ve met with students after class. Delivered letters to homes of students (One year I drove around the week before school started and hand delivered letters to every student I had at the middle school level, about 300 kids!!)
I’ve had successes and I’ve times when it would appear that we failed. I’ve learned much along the way. Much about music, much about kids, much about myself, much about the public school system and overall life.
I’ve made some really good friends. Especially here in Alton. I love the music program in my town and the awesome teachers that keep it all going. I am proud of our music program!
But honestly, I’ve struggled for almost the entire time not really feeling like I was in my sweet spot. I remember all the way back to student teaching realizing maybe I had gone into the wrong thing. Of course I had a degree and student loans by then and what do you about that reality at that late stage in the game!
I’ve been a solidly good teacher. Really. I can do the job. I have the skills, the education, the experience, the talent to pull it off and I always tried to do my best.
And yet…I always had this feeling that if I left teaching and never returned I wouldn’t miss it. I could walk away without it causing me to feel sorrow. Not because I don’t enjoy the kids and my coworkers. Not at all. They are amazing. In fact, I still regularly run into students even after 2 years out and enjoy visiting with them. Just because of the pressure I guess. The pressure to keep everyone under control and pull off programs. To teach and have expectations of going to contests and getting first superiors everytime. And maybe even more just the feeling of being trapped by a schedule that felt grueling to me.
I realize that sounds ridiculous if you have a job that doesn’t give you weekends or summers off…so please forgive my insensitivity. I get it that the school schedule is the best one if you’re a mom. It’s a big reason why I chose the career I did. But it doesn’t make the schedule less grueling. I know of no other job that requires what teaching children does every day. That being said…when you have a teacher for your child that is loving it, coming alive by it, inspired and eager to get to school each day…you should realize what a gift that is.
I had moments…moments when I felt all of those things. Moments when I was alive and loving it, inspired and eager…and I truly cared about the people I was around each day. But far too often it felt like the daily grind to me and I was left with a pretty constant feeling of thinking there must be something more.
Sounds like I’m just discontented. I stuffed it for 14 years. But life shouldn’t really be about stuffing long term I don’t think.
I realize we have choices about our attitudes and I didn’t go to school and do a crappy job…ever.
That being said. In about 2012 I got brave, crazy, courageous, insane, whatever you want to call it…and took a year of personal leave. I had a small safety net…but honestly, not huge. I knew I could go back in a year if needed. So the school year of 2013-2014 I stayed home. I homeschooled my kids (honesty they do it pretty independently). I started teaching private voice and piano lessons and started a side business that came to me out of nowhere called Something Lovely, making cold pressed soap, body scrub, lotion bars, lip balms and perfume. My hours became flexible and out of my own home.
In the process my home became obviously not well suited for my new life and when I realized I was going to be able to take another year off of school due to some unusual circumstances I knew it was time to dream about a new place for us to live that would fit my new life. Granted, I still had questions about whether I could pull it off or not but sure hoped I could.
Along the way I had a few people…few…who encouraged me, really knew my life and encouraged me to go for it. The feeling was…you only have one life to live, if you can pull it off why not go for it. I had many others who were fearful for me. Understandably so, so I’m not judging them. I had my two biggest fans behind me all the way though…my kids. Lauren and Lydia watched me teach. They were literally in my choir classrooms all through middle school and they understood how demanding the job was on me. They knew how badly I desired to be free.
I found a different house and honestly every detail came together and I now live in downtown Alton in a house built in 1849 that perfectly fits my lessons, soap shop and my family (the girls even got to have their own bedrooms!).
And then came Dane.
I thought I knew the goodness of God…I thought I knew who He was but when Dane came into my life I saw the goodness of God in my life in ways I’ve never experienced it before.
I had been a widow for going on 8 years. I was still young but had come to the place where I didn’t expect anything to happen. I had not been approached for a ‘date’ with a guy the entire time I was single. And I didn’t go to singles places looking. The closest I came was signing up for eharmony for a year…a complete bust and waste of money. (Small disclaimor…if it worked for you…I’m happy for you :)).
I met Dane…we dated for 3 weeks before he asked me to marry him and within 3 months we were married. We’ve now been together for 6 months.
This school year has been far less about soap and lessons, although I’ve tried to keep those businesses up and running. It’s been far more about houses, moving, getting rid of stuff, settling stuff, going through more stuff, fixing up houses to sell and finally at this date, just yesterday, both or our houses are on the market to sell. We are done and able to focus purely on the one house we live in! Hallelujah!
By March 1st. I have to write a letter to my school board and let them know what my decision is. If I’m coming back next fall or not. It’s a major decision. In some ways…crystal clear. Especially if I consult my heart. In others…risky. I’m pretty sure which direction I’m going. Still praying for clarity though.
What’s been amazing to me during this time, is how much I look forward to each day. As in it’s become habit for me to enjoy every single blessed day that comes. Monday is no different than Friday. Morning no different than evening. Every day is a gift.
It’s been amazing to me to see how much I’ve gotten into a ‘sweet spot’ in living my life. I realize as a Christian we’re told to live out of our comfort zones and I’ve heard tons of sermons on the subject. I’m not saying I’m not stretching myself. I am. But it’s different than before.
I am a woman who is at peace. At the deepest levels. I am a woman who is full of hope…almost so thick you could cut it. I am a woman who is full of love…I always knew I had a ton of love in me to give but wow…I am even amazed at the depth of love I feel inside of me. I am a woman aware of God in me. I am a woman who has experienced blessed grace and is experiencing it daily…causing me to be a far more gracious person to others.
My life is not perfect.
I still have moments of insecurity, and other yuck stuff that comes with that burden I seem to carry…but the moments are less and don’t seem to rule me the way they used to.
I have the love of an amazing man. The support and love of not only my 2 amazing daughters…but 3 more as well and even grand kids.
Life is absolutely beautiful.
I am literally grateful every day.
Sometimes I hesitate to write these days because life is beautiful and I’m so deeply grateful and I know that life is probably hard for many right now and I don’t want to offend or be unkind.
All I can say is…the pain of losing Mark, the struggle of being in a job for years that was really hard for me to pull off, the frustration and weight of single parenting, and all of the other losses along the way (and there have been many!) have brought me to the other side…to a life of beauty.
He has turned my mourning into dancing…He will do the same for you.
I truly believe that the saddest thing we can do is to be miserable and know that there is something else out there for us to do or experience and to not risk or change anything to see if we can get to a better place.
One could spend their whole life and never get to a place where they experience the deepest joy, hope and love that are waiting for them.
I couldn’t foresee any of the things that have happened in the last decade of my life. I didn’t see the losses coming. I didn’t see how small decisions and large risks would turn out. I had no idea what would work and what wouldn’t. Somehow I just walked forward in the knowledge and faith I had day by day to get where I am today. And where I am today is outstanding.
And this journey is not done. I strongly believe that the best is always yet to come.
There will still be days when things fall apart in my future…I realize this. It’s life.
I just know for me in what is probably the mid point of my life…my life has taken an amazing complete turn. It’s not because of who I am or what I worked out or planned ahead of time. It’s simply the way that God has led me along.
No two journey’s will look the same. That’s one thing I’ve discovered in a big way in the last two years. Absolutely no two lives are the same. Granted…people will say things and look at you funny if you don’t conform to what everybody else seems to be doing…but I honestly believe that no two lives are the same in God’s plan.
We walk by faith….not sight.
We take risks and consider there are many ways to live this journey out. Not just one.
We open our lives to receive love and grace like never before and experience the radical healing presence of God.
And then…we find ourselves loving others and extending grace, living and moving and breathing with the very presence of God in us.
And this is Destiny.
This is where I am. Sometimes I’m afraid to write about it as I said earlier. I don’t want to hurt anyone, offend anyone, rub salt into any wounds. Just the opposite. I want to encourage. Extend hope. Give grace. I want to let you know that there is more than you might think to life. And it’s just waiting for you.
In a week and a half I will make a major decision…I’m going to trust that God will make it absolutely clear. He has led me all the way. In this middle section of my life I have been able to turn around and see how every thing has made me the woman I am today and brought me to this place and I am deeply grateful. Not because it’s been perfect or all lovely. But because it doesn’t even really matter any more whether I succeeded or failed, whether I got what I want or experienced loss. It doesn’t matter what my circumstances have been. Not a single detail of my life has fallen through the cracks.
God is faithful. I can trust Him. I am trusting Him. It is enough. He will lead me. His presence is constant, never leaving or forsaking.
Whatever comes…praise be to God.