Ok everyone, here we go! This is my first blog post ever! What in the world am I doing? Where did this come from? Why am I doing this? What do I know about blogging? Am I even a writer? Have I lost my mind? All of these questions are ones that I have asked myself since I first came up with this crazy idea a couple of months ago. I will try to answer them and explain my thought process on this. It may be long so bear with me. I promise all my posts won’t be this long!
I knew at a very young age that I wanted to be a teacher. I have a vague recollection of thinking at some point that maybe I would like to try graphic design, but that was very short lived. I just knew somehow that I was meant to be a teacher. I believe it was around my middle school years when I decided that I didn’t just want to be a teacher. I wanted to be a special education teacher. I know, right? I picked one of the hardest teaching fields out there. I am seeing a trend of me doing crazy things, don’t you? How I knew this was meant to be is a whole other story for another time, but ultimately I fell in love with kids with disabilities, and they somehow manage to always gravitate towards me everywhere I go. Off to college I went and graduated in four years with a degree in special education. I was even chosen by all of my college professors as the “Outstanding Future Educator” in my graduating class. I was suddenly certified to teach children with disabilities ranging from mild to severe and profound and everyone had high expectations for me (including myself). I was scared to death! LOL!
Fast forward 13 years after teaching in 4 different schools in 3 different states, I had developed a passion for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). During that 13thyear of teaching, I was named as my school’s Teacher of the Year (TOY) and after a few short months was named as the City-wide TOY. I even won a car for a year! What? At that time I was being recognized for my commitment to those kids with ASD, made a model classroom for people all over the city to view, made a trainer for other teachers of students with ASD across the city, and was the team leader for all of the other special education teachers in my building. Oh, and I still had my own class of 10 of the most challenging kids with ASD that I had ever worked with. I was at the top of my game! I loved my job…mostly. People saw someone who had it all. What they didn’t see was someone that was drowning. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE working with kids. There is nothing better than working with a child with ASD who is struggling for such a long time and finally getting to see a break-through. I believe that God gave me a gift for working with these kids. BUT…juggling everything else that goes along with being at the top of my game and all of the “other” things that teachers have to do was KILLING ME! All the stories you hear about teachers quitting from burnout are true. Teaching is HARD! It was making me feel like a failure at home. I felt like a failure as a mom, as a wife, as a friend, as a daughter, as a sister, and even as a teacher in my own classroom. I felt like I was failing at everything. I COULD NOT DO IT ALL! Juggling all of my positions at school plus everything else that came with my life had just become too much. I felt like it was all aging me at a rapid pace (insert grey hair and wrinkles galore).
In 2015 after 15 years of teaching, my family and I moved to a new home in a new state (military life). At that time, due to the nature of my husband’s job and the responsibilities that it added for me, I decided to take a year off from teaching. The plan was always to go back to work the following year. I was suddenly free from the stress of teaching and leading others and being the best at my craft (including pressure I put on myself), and I was LOST! Teaching had been my life and my calling. What in the world was I going to do for a whole year? After 4 months of not working, the perfect job fell in my lap. It was doing contracted services at my youngest daughter’s school. I got to work with students with disabilities for 2.5 hours a day and that was it. No meetings, extensive lesson plans, no committees, no test scores, and none of the stress. I even got to go with my daughter on field trips and attend school parties and field day for the first time ever. It was PERFECT! In the middle there I also took a leap of faith and started my business with Rodan + Fields (another story for another time). When that year was over and I was supposed to go back to work full time, some crazy things happened and I was suddenly homeschooling my oldest daughter. There was no way I could go back to work. Deep down I was secretly thankful because I knew I was not ready to dive back in to teaching full time. That year I did not work at a teaching job and again I was feeling lost. I only worked my R+F business, helped with my daughter’s schooling, drove her back and forth to gymnastics, and fulfilled my duties as a Navy wife. The following year I went back to the same part time position again but was working 4 days a week from 9:00-2:00 this time. Again, great job, low stress, no “extra” responsibilities, but much less pay and still not full time teaching. I was getting to do what I loved but it still wasn’t “right.” It didn’t make me happy.
Fast forward another year and another move to another state and here we are now at the present time. Guess what? I am not working! I have decided that I am not ready to go back to the crazy life of teaching. As much as I love working with kids, I feel like God wants me somewhere else right now. I will tell you that it hasn’t been an easy decision, and the loss of that income has been a major factor in the decision, but I feel like we can make it work. I have prayed about this a lot. I am a much better mom and wife than I was just 5 years ago at the top of my career. I am a much healthier person than I was as a teacher. It’s crazy what stress will do to your mind and body. Do I regret becoming a teacher? No, not at all. I wouldn’t change all of the accomplishments my students had for anything. They will all always have a special piece of my heart. Will I ever go back to teaching? I can’t answer that. I don’t know. Maybe? Maybe not? I do know that I have to do SOMETHING! I don’t like that lost feeling that is in me when I am not working. I am not the kind of person that can sit at home all day and watch TV, clean, etc. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy those days every now and then, but I have to have a purpose in my life, something that I am working towards. I have to have something that I am passionate about. Sadly, that isn’t teaching anymore. A couple of months ago, out of nowhere, the idea for this blog came into my head. I can only believe that it came from God. People always say to me that I am so strong. They say that they don’t know how I do all that I do and still be sane. I am here to tell you that I am good at disguising how I am feeling. I am not the all put together person that everyone sees. I am good at hiding. I struggle with lots of things including insecurities. I don’t feel like I have it all together. I feel like I am learning new things about myself daily and am constantly growing and changing. My idea for this blog is to not only provide therapy for myself in being able to express my fears and struggles, but that I can share it with all of you. Maybe you can find a little bit of encouragement and hope from what I share. Will every post be personal and deep? NO! Will there be some fun stuff? ABSOLUTELY! I am going to share with you my life, my struggles, my triumphs, my favorite things, a few words of wisdom here and there, my insane type-A (border-line OCD) organization tips and tricks, and a little bit of style. I am finally feeling ANCHORED in who I am and where I am supposed to be and, for now, that is right here with all of you. Each piece of me (wife, mother, sister, daughter, teacher, blogger, child of God) makes me into who you see before you. I will tell you that I am not a writer. There will be typos and grammatical errors, I am sure. Sorry! Like everything else I do, though, I will give it my all. I will meet you here on days when I am struggling and maybe you are too. Let’s encourage each other! I will meet you here when I am on a high and maybe you are too. Let’s celebrate together! Let’s do some retail therapy together! We can “laugh a little, cry a little, until the clouds roll by a little. That’s the story of, that’s the glory of love.” Ha Ha! How many of you just sang that little line from the old Bette Midler song in the movie Beaches? I did! I couldn’t resist. Have I lost my mind? Maybe! The jury is still out on that one. Seriously, though, I hope that piece by piece you will become ANCHORED in who you are. Maybe this little blog can help you find your way or bring a little light into your day. I hope you will join me on this crazy journey and see where it leads us!