Tomorrow marks one month that I’ve been in my first non-teaching job. There’s so much I want to describe about this journey and believe me, I will, but for tonight… I want to take a moment to reflect on living again after teaching.
I was part of a mass exodus of teachers my age. I mentioned that a number of my college friends also made the choice to exit the profession for the 2016 school year. As we all talked about our various reasons for leaving, one common idea arose: we just stopped feeling like ourselves.
Thats huge. Think about what it means to believe you don’t have an identity anymore. I don’t know if any readers have experienced this before but it’s isolating. It’s depressing. It’s damaging. With this problem, we all agreed that we needed to take some time and find ourselves again. One friend got into the rave and EDM scene (don’t knock it, it’s an incredibly positive group!) and another chose military life and yet another opened their own business with their wife. Me? I jumped in to serving my community.
A long time ago, I blogged about all the things I wanted to do with my life but felt like teaching stole all of my time. When summer started, I revisited that list and dove in.
I spent a lot of time volunteering with a local pet rescue. I met such an incredibly passionate woman who cannot turn an animal away. She is fiercely protective of her rescue animals and the volunteers who serve the community. I spent many mornings washing dishes and doing laundry, as well as shuttling dogs to groomers, going on walks, and of course, giving vast amounts of love to the animals. I felt my heart burst at the thought of what terrors some of the dogs and cats went through yet how willing they were to love me after showing them basic kindness. My time with these animals led me to love God’s creatures so much that I decided to live a vegetarian lifestyle. I hope to eventually move to veganism, but one step at a time.
I spent time with the American Red Cross in a few different capacities. After the June Pulse nightclub shooting, my husband and I spent time delivering hot meals to the Emergency Resource Center folks who were conducting the investigation. We spent time participating in the Smoke Detector Install program installing new, high grade smoke detectors in at-risk neighborhoods. Awesome program, by the way…. I highly recommend everyone check it out!
I worked at an Outreach Mission by helping with the food pantry. I cannot even express the sadness in my heart when I noticed several of my students standing in line to receive weekly groceries. Each week, I saw people who were doing the best they could and still struggling. They were profusely thankful for the kindness showered upon them with the groceries they received. I worked under a leader who has literally dedicated his life to the homeless and poverty stricken and was passionate about raising them up. I met some incredible people who were living in the shelter and were dedicating their time to helping others.
I spent the weekend before school started handing out school supplies. You would not believe the joy these kids felt being able to pick out different colored pencils and notebooks when a week before they feared walking into school with nothing.
I traveled. I took pictures. I spent time with family. I took trips with friends. I read a lot of reall damn good books. I learned a lot of new songs on the piano. I brainstormed other outreach programs I wanted to get involved in. I found who I was.
When I walked in the doors of my new career on September 12, I felt confident, capable, and purposeful. Let me tell you, I haven’t felt that way in years.
life is good, friends.