“We should not feel embarrassed by our difficulties, only by our failure to grow anything beautiful from them.” ~Alain De Botton
I was hoping to post all of the pieces from my successful, but windy Life Purpose Path before I came up against another crisis.
This one is a doozy. It had me on my knees in the middle of the night–a trick I learned from a warm-hearted woman named Dolly who sat beside me at the Sunday Al-Anon meeting at the local hospital two decades ago.
Dolly drove the tram car on the Wildwood Boardwalk. “Sometimes, you just have to get on your knees and ask your Higher Power for help, Kel,” she’d say in a husky smoker’s voice.
Dolly assured me that this worked whether or not I believed in God, “But you have to be on your knees.”
I liked Dolly, and I was desperate, so I tried it.
I lost the baby anyway, but I learned a lot about myself along the way.
My current crisis overtook me while I was working on our budget. Despite prioritizing my passion for writing, I’ve been able to gradually increase my contribution to the household through my work as a YogaDance Instructor and Life Coach.
That said, it is a small contribution compared to my husband’s–and after a year of it, it seems wrong. Suddenly, this new life that I created isn’t enough.
To be fair, I left my work in the hospitality industry to better prioritize my relationship with my partner twenty-five years. A decade later, I abandoned my career as a teacher to stay home with my boys. In the process, I lost professional ground –not to mention earning potential and drive. My teaching license has lapsed and I can no longer can imagine myself inside a classroom.
Which is why, after getting both my kids into elementary school, I was able to “give myself” those original “three months off” from striving after a new career. And which is why, after jumping back into the fray the following spring, I was able to jump back out again a year later–to reassess what it is that I wanted.
It was last winter when I found myself making as much money self-employed as I did when I worked outside the home that I realized that I still wasn’t happy. I had discovered what I loved and was making money at it–but I was doing it in the same way I had always done everything–DRIVEN. And it didn’t feel good.
So I dropped out of life again. Stopped taking coaching clients. Canceled YogaDance sessions–and waited to see what would come. I realized that for so many years, I stayed home for the kids, and now–I was staying home–for me.
That was a year ago–and last month when my husband mentioned that there was a Title One position at the elementary school in the next town, I was offended–and intrigued. Sure, working as a support teacher rather than a classroom teacher was a better fit, but I had discovered again and again that life inside a school wasn’t enough for me.
Still, I considered it, briefly–for the ease of money and definition, and then just as easily rejected it, without another thought.
But after looking at the numbers on the budget, a sense of inadequacy overtook me. I realized that the financial windfall that we were seeking was within my grasp. Like the beggar sitting atop a treasure, I had my own source of riches all along: a teaching degree.
I could re-license myself and raise our income through the roof. I might even enjoy being a teacher again. Maybe my resistance is similar to that which I felt before I took my first position–after which I was deliriously happy.
I am a great teacher. A natural. I love kids and I “get” them. I’m especially good with the challenging ones. I’m just not so good with the workload–and the emotional drain–and the psychological boundaries.
And at mid-life, I’m no longer good with the red tape. I like my simple, self-directed life, though it feels a bit aim-less. It lacks a container of direction.
Not that education has that. In fact, that’s one of the reasons I’m glad that I’m not in it anymore. I don’t really believe in what we prioritize in schools.
At 46, shouldn’t I be giving my time to that which I find essential?
Or could I possibly find–and re-define”the essential”–in my relationship to it?
I could, and I have. Rather than striving after more coaching clients or yogadancers this year, I’ve been subbing in kindergarten. I’ve let that old experience of self in school be an “experiment” rather than a test of endurance. When I begin to get swept away by the current of energy in the classroom, I practice coming back into myself.
It’s been good. I’ve made lots of progress over the year. And, I’ve enjoyed myself more and more. Last week’s math lesson was SO much fun. And the play we did with the story about the alligator who had gotten too old to catch his food–THAT was a hoot.
But what happens to my writing if I go back to teaching?
What do I want to happen with my writing?
It occurs to me that this question about teaching is another fulcrum for self-awareness and action–just as substituting has been.
Can I allow this “consideration” process to be softer? Can I move forward with it–without attachment? Can I stay present to myself all the while?
It is within these thoughts, that I came across an article The Dharma of Life Change, Bringing Mindfulness to New Beginnings, and this powerful prompt:
“Therefore, the question in contemplating change is always:
Are you moving more fully into your essence, your most authentic self?”
Though I am not clear about what change I want to make, I am clear that the time has come to make it–and I intend to let this question be a catalyst for deep awareness and possibility–for new beginnings–as I embrace this sacred act of change.
Kelly Salasin, early spring 2010
How about you? How do you make changes sacred?
For other stories on the Path of Life Purpose, click here.