One year ago.
One year ago this week I left security.
One year ago this week I took a path over a cliff.
And so much has happened.
If I liken my journey to starting out on a hiking trail (we all know that I LOVE to hike) it’s gone something like this:
I packed my bags and I was ready for whatever came at me. I had enough food, clothes on my back, good shoes and I was standing at the trailhead. I didn’t have a map, though. I just figured I had this idea of wanting to go on a hike and I was going to take all the provisions I could to ensure a good journey.
Somewhere along the way I ran out of food. So, I learned about what plants to eat and I was still enjoying the scenery.
Farther down the path my shoes started wearing out and I patched them together with duct tape. I had to stop periodically to repair the repairs.
I had a three-season sleeping bag; I was REALLY glad I had extra layers of clothing when it snowed a bunch for a whole week straight. Or a rain jacket when it rained so hard my shoes and backpack became water buckets.
I had a canine companion with me, but along the way he crossed a special bridge. I think they call it Rainbow Bridge.
My soulmate went on this journey with me. There were moments our closeness felt incredibly intense and profound. Other times, I think I wanted to swat him with my backpack.
I got blisters on my feet, occasional headaches, and experienced heartache.
But then I heard The Wind.
Atop a ridge top.
The Wind whispered. He spoke in a language that I wasn’t sure I could understand but somehow I knew it was a message crafted only for my heart.
I knew I had to listen.
He even spoke to my soulmate, too. He spoke another language to him, so that he would be the only one to understand that message, meant for him; destined for his life.
I learned that my spirit could grow with the wind and expand to the sunset, or it could shrink to stay in my shadow.
Now, I cannot look at a mountain vista or an ancient boulder in the same way because I hear the voices of their history and the whispers of their joys and tragedies of their stories.
And in those silent words that filled my head in jumbled excerpts, they suddenly fell into place and SHOUTED, “YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE!”
This is an abstracted version of my year-long journey. A journey where I questioned what I was doing with my life, yet I knew I needed this experience.
It was a nebulous adventure. When I left my stable job last year, I knew I wanted to set out to lead a creative, autonomous life. I knew that I needed to call my own shots and develop my own schedule.
And I was hell-bent on this journey being about writing and creating art.
Mid-year, when I hit a brick wall, the bills were due and I had no income to please the corporate gods, I secured a part-time teaching position at a school that was spiritually-based.
Do you ever feel like everything happens for a reason?
That’s the way I’m feeling right now. I needed to find this school, though I didn’t know it at the time.
I was too busy being annoyed that I found myself teaching again. I thought I’d left it behind forever.
I had been so scarred from teaching: at one point I was used as bait to get three teachers fired (the school admitted to doing this); a second school used me as a glorified babysitter – I wasn’t a classroom teacher; standardized testing was more important than anything. ANYTHING. I was just the Spanish teacher. They hardly ever used my name. The Spanish Teacher.
Did they not realize that I was more than just what I did for eight hours a day? That I had a name, hopes, aspirations? That I was sensitive and wanted so much to be the best Spanish teacher to ever grace a classroom?
I don’t think they did.
My colleagues did – they nominated me Teacher of the Year.
But it wasn’t enough. I wasn’t Somebody. I still felt like a babysitter.
I had to prove that I was more than that.
I spent the year writing and creating and taking photographs.
I was happy.
Or so I thought.
I typed and created, sometimes going days without seeing another soul. Sure, I would see my Love, but sometimes I’d go a week at a time without leaving the house.
And I started thinking these thoughts. Ugly thoughts.
I’m not making a difference.
Would anyone care if I faded into oblivion?
Is this how I want to be remembered?
I was still resentful having to get a job outside the house, though. I wanted to create.
Is it possible to want something that deep-down you know is probably not that good for you?
As I settled into teaching little souls – in the middle of the school year, no less – my heart began to flutter.
I was having fun.
Suddenly, I felt loved and wanted and appreciated by my colleagues and valued in the teaching I was doing.
I began creating dynamic, visually appealing units. I sang off key crazy songs in Spanish and danced like I knew the tango. I ate like I was eating tacos for the first time.
When the end of the school year approached, I had not one, not five, but classrooms full of parents coming up to me, telling me what a difference I’d made in their child’s life. I received requests to work with them over the summer.
And so, in retrospect, I found my calling. It’s something I’ve been doing the past seven years, but hadn’t quite been in the environment that would help me flourish with the gifts I have to bring the world.
So If You’re Wanting To Create and Shape Your Own Life…
My best advice is go for it:
- Even if you don’t know exactly what it is: keep going. I didn’t know, but I plodded ahead anyways.
- Give yourself permission to experiment. To change. To try new things. I have three websites as evidence of me trying different things.
- Listen to what “everyone” tells you. They might be on to something. All my life “everyone” has been telling me that I need to teach. For awhile I ignored them while I tried different things. That’s okay – it made me come full circle to realize they were right.
- You won’t always know your path, but when you look back, it’ll tell you where you were going. And use that to move ahead.
Here’s a quote from the Daily Guru:
If you see your path laid out in front of you — Step one, Step two, Step three — you only know one thing… it is not your path. Your path is created in the moment of action. If you can see it laid out in front of you, you can be sure it is someone else’s path. That is why you see it so clearly.
— Joseph Campbell
Oh and if you’re thinking that I might be giving up blogging: fat chance. This has become part of who I am.
My outlet, my release.
I initially went into this to make a little money, realized that I’m not (it’s the niche blogs that do, and I so can’t do that), but found far-better benefits to blogging than just some sort of monetary thing.
- I’d like to think I was making a difference somehow…
- I’ve met people from all over the world
- Writing is cathartic
- The things I read on other blogs inspire me, too
- I use this as a record of my journey
- I can’t wait to see where I’ll go…teaching, blogging and otherwise…
- I still create and expand my mind
And I stepped out in search of an autonomous, creative life.
You know what? I found it.
In the form of teaching and bringing my gifts into focus with my students. I found it in this blog, interacting with beautiful, wonderful souls from all over the world.
This is not to say that my journey won’t continue changing. I give myself permission to grow, to change and to have the grace to go where I’m needed and accept my challenges with dignity and humility.
Do you give yourself permission to do the same?
I hope so.
And before I sign off, please, if you haven’t done so, enter my artwork giveaway. It ends tomorrow.