I spent the better half of yesterday sorting through dusty plastic storage bins, the contents of which were relics of the many different “lives” I’ve experienced over the past thirty years. There were the piles of journals recording both the mundane and the life-changing, and I could see scattered across those pages my journey to today.
And yet words scratched in my messy prose spoke of different paths, different lives that, while mostly forgotten today, were so real and so raw in their time. Do you ever feel like you are at once the same person and yet not? Reading my aspirations and fears at ages seven, fifteen, and twenty made me feel slightly nostalgic, but also like an archaeologist, mining away at another person’s life.
Do we ever really know who we are until years later when we reflect through a dusty and romanticized lens?
And although some may think I destroyed something sacrosanct, I felt peace as I tore those pages out of journals, ripping them and letting go of the ghosts lingering in the background. Let go of the cornfields and Camaros of my youth, the exploits and the romance, and the pain and the heartbreak because, frankly, it doesn’t matter anymore.
Life is best lived in the present moment, relishing the now and letting go of the past.
In what ways have you released your past and how did it make you feel?
Remember that BIG DECISION I needed to make? Well I agonized. I made pro/con lists. Lost lots of sleep. Made one decision for a few days, then changed my mind. Then AGAIN. How do you choose between two radically, fundamentally different lifestyles?
And then I realized that the two “choices” don’t need to be separate, but rather can all be part of a greater plan for my thirties.
So which path did I choose?
Fall 2015 I will be one of the first deans at a new middle and high school opening here in Oklahoma City! This ultimately was the best choice for me AND my family because:
- We love living in this city, we love the revitalization taking places, and we want to be part of a greater plan to renew and re-imagine OKC. This school will be city-centered and focused on helping students to be agents of change in their own community. We’ll rewrite the unspoken social code that says bigger, better, and more should come above other people.
- Every career move I’ve made that, while at the time perhaps didn’t make sense, has culminated in this job. I’ll have a chance to combine all of my interests: teaching, management, curriculum development, finances, and mentoring, and heck, even minimalism is part of this greater vision.
- This job move gives me the chance to change education in my own community. Rather than complaining or worrying about it, I can actually (and hopefully) make a change that will not only impact my own children, but those in my local community. Scary? Yes. But totally worth it? Without a doubt.
- The best part of this all? This is truly a family endeavor and my husband and girls will all have a role. My girls will be welcome to spend time with me at “work,” while the hubs will help with vision and planning. I’ve put in some serious negotiation to make sure that I won’t be gone from my family too much and some of my work will be completed at home. Starting a school is no small undertaking, but with the support of my family and friends, I am fairly confident I can balance it all. And if not? See below…
So what’s the long term plan?
It’s hard to completely say right now, but I envision spending a few years starting and working at the school. We’ll re-evaluate our priorities each year to make sure it is still a good fit for our family. And when the time is right, we will take off a year or two to travel the US in an Airstream. That is still one of our larger, long-term goals. But taking this job opportunity will mean leaving no path untried before fully committing to a more nomadic lifestyle.
So now that the decision is made, guess who is finally sleeping again?
This is a round-up of my favorite reads on the internet this past week. Take a few minutes to rest, enjoy a cup of coffee and read the latest.
Feeling overwhelmed? This NPR interview with Brigid Schulte, in which she discusses her new book Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One has the Time really resonated with me.
The blog post that started my Airstream obsession….would you ever consider selling everything to write a new version of your life?
Several travel bloggers share their tips for how to stop putting it off and travel (with your kids) already!
This article makes a compelling argument against taking a digital sabbath.
Last week during a text conversation with my older brother he mentioned feeling trapped by his job. “If I could travel the country and not worry about my job, I would have left years ago.” His lamentation was thick with desire for something different. “But,” he continued,”if we can pay off our debt and make some changes, maybe someday we will.”
So many of us feel trapped by our current situation, whether it is a job, a relationship, financial debt, or monotony that I know my brother is not alone. And you wonder if someday will ever actually come. And yet, it seems so impossible to give up the good, the acceptable and socially normal for something even greater. I may desire and dream about selling my home, buying an Airstream and seeking adventure with my family, but conventionality and the invisible social norms are likely to curb it.
Fear is the underlying current driving many of the decisions I and others make. Fear has the ability to limit potential, resulting in a comfortable, but boring life. But how does one overcome it? I’m no life coach, but my guess is that allowing discomfort into my life and readily accepting new challenges will better prepare me for a showdown with my greatest fears. Routine and predictable living removes all possibility of challenging oneself.
Frankly, I know that I’m lucky to have a safe and comfortable life. But I desire adventure, new challenges, and more for my family than material stuff and the status quo. So in the meantime while I’m still mulling over what to do with my life, I’m going to challenge myself, face a few fears and create some new habits. Top of my list? Learning to say no and getting up consistently at 5am (or earlier.)
What fears are you facing and how do you plan to overcome them?
Full-time Airstream living or become a dean for a new, innovative school in my city?
But first some background:
When I found out I was pregnant with my first daughter, nearly 4 years ago, I wasn’t prepared for the life change. My teaching career was full-time and fulfilling. But pregnancy and the subsequent birth completely rocked my world and perception of my purpose in life. It just didn’t seem possible to hold down a full-time job AND full-time parenting. So I didn’t try and found happiness in this new direction for myself and my sweet, growing family. Several years and a second baby later I’ve found a harmonious balance between full-time parenting and part-time university teaching.
Lately, however, we’ve been inspired by families who travel full-time around the country in an Airstream or other travel trailer. Our general direction for the past several years has been to simplify, embrace minimalism, and define our values as a family. And we both have jobs that can travel with us; my husband can find a traveling Speech Pathologist position and lately my university has been having me only teach online (due to having my baby this spring.) Neither possessions nor jobs need to tie us down at this point in our lives. And simplifying further so that we can focus on our passions and family is SO APPEALING.
But an unfathomable and unexpected job offer fell in my lap last week, leaving me bewildered and uncertain of which direction to take. A former colleague of mine is starting a new school, and he asked me to be one of the founding deans. His offer over a simple cup of coffee at a local bookshop completely sidelined me. My head started to ache between my eyes, and I lost my ability to respond. Flattered? Yes. Shocked? Undeniably. It would be an opportunity to enact change in my community, to respond and work toward a new vision of K-12 education, and to lead in an area in which I am passionate.
My response to and subsequent emotions have ran the gamut since the offer last week. Do I accept a job (even one with a “flexible” full-time schedule) that would require me finding childcare for my children? Do I have the energy and the innate personality to excel at a new, challenging position, manage my home, and provide loving support to my family? Would this new job meet my creative and mental needs more than teaching a few classes online per semester? What is my true calling in this life?
Although I’m wrestling with the potential implications of such a life altering decision, I hope to reach a decision soon.
Have you ever faced a decision between two vastly different life paths? How did you resolve your personal and career goals?