I haven't always wanted to be a teacher. When I was really little, I wanted to be a firefighter. Then when I was in middle school I decided I wanted to be an actress. I was fairly certain that I was going to be famous some day. I was so sure of it, in fact, I remember being out in public and feeling bad for the people passing by, because they didn't know they had just been that close to a future famous person. My mom, not having quite as much faith in my ability to take Hollywood by storm, convinced me that I should have a Plan B option when I went to college, just on the off chance that acting didn't make me millions. I decided teaching would be a good fallback option. It sounded responsible enough to reassure my mother that I wasn't going to be living out of a cardboard box, and I liked the fact that it didn't sound like a boring desk job. Plus, I had always been good at school, so obviously I would be a natural teacher, right?
Somehow, by the time I got to college, the order of careers switched in my mind, and I majored in Elementary Education with a minor in Theater. And I was thoroughly excited to be a teacher. I dreamed of what my future would look like as a teacher, and I couldn't wait for it to get started. I was as confident in my ability to be a successful teacher as I had been in my ability to act. Imagine my shock when I didn't get a teaching job immediately after graduating. It was okay, I told myself. I would get some valuable experience as a substitute teacher, which I did. But three years later, I was still subbing. Nothing further was happening. I'm sure I could have stuck it out and gotten something eventually, but that would have required patience. Patience is one thing I did not have (still don't). We had a daughter who preferred having food, clothing, and a roof over her head. This required a regular paycheck, which subbing did not provide.
It took me months to accept that my dream of being a classroom teacher wasn't going to happen the way I wanted it to. I was crushed, and a little lost. Losing a dream hurts. I had to let myself be crushed for a while. And I'm ashamed to admit I played the victim for a bit. It was everybody else's fault. I was being treated badly. I had all kinds of excuses. But excuses didn't help me get out of that place of being stuck. Fortunately I eventually realized that if I wanted my situation to change, I had to do something about it. I had to find a different dream.
But how do you find that different dream? For me, I took a lot of walks. I had a lot of quiet moments. I prayed. I journaled. I remembered that what I loved was being with kids, and teaching them in some capacity. I didn't have to have a whiteboard behind me in order to teach. We moved across the state, and within a week of moving I found a job teaching in a daycare center. And I loved it. I opened my eyes just a bit, spread my wings, and landed in a brand-new dream.
The leaves crunched under our feet and the breeze lifted my hair. I glanced at my daughter and she was capturing yet another photo of yet another brightly colored leaf. Thirty minutes ago her eyes had been trained on her laptop. I had to drag her away from it, and now I wasn't sure I would be able to drag her back into the van to go home. As we approached the creek, she got that look in her eyes. The look that says she's going to conquer something. "Can I cross that water?" she asks me. "Yeah, sure. You'll get your feet wet if you fall in, though." As soon as permission is granted, she starts to hesitate. "I'm scared," she says with a giggle. The water is very shallow, but the creek is filled with an abundance of sharp rocks. Soon, however, her adventurous spirit takes over, and she crosses the water.
Once she realized she could do it, there was no stopping her. She scampered up and down the creek bed, making discoveries (mostly about physics, and what happens when you step wrong on a loose rock) along the way. She learned to adjust her footing in a precarious situation. She delighted in the signs of nature she discovered. She gained confidence in herself and her ability to overcome challenges. I watched all the expressions dance across her face and was reminded of all the learning that can happen when you wake up to your own life.
I don't have anything against technology. There are some aspects of technology that I love, and enjoy on a daily basis. But technology is limited. Real life cannot be found within a computer. Real life is what happens when you put the tech device down and focus on the people around you. You won't see the beauty of your life, and how blessed you actually are, when you are spending your time on social media, looking at someone else's blessings. That day at the park, my daughter and I were reminded of simple pleasures, like the earthy smell of a fall breeze, the pleasure of each other's company, and the joy to be found in breathing in the day, rather than rushing through it.
What can you do today, to breathe into the beauty of your day?
I am so glad you are here! Welcome to my blog. This is your space, too. My name is Amy, and I am no stranger to the ups and downs of life. Join me as we search for beauty, authenticity, tell our truth, and hold space for each other in the messiness of life.