Meander through meadows,
patching puzzle pieces together
into a mosaic tapestry.
Wind– unwind– but don’t
unravel; follow the brook’s bedrocks
as they hum lazily with current
through distant soothing channels
toward our hazy destination.
This summer, I have taken a giant leap– into a new job! I’ll still be teaching, but at the college level and more face-to-face with my students than I have been for quite a while. It’s made me realize a lot of things as I make this change. First, that I have to put myself first once in a while. I think many other parents probably feel the same way: we almost forget about our own passions in our hopes to make the world perfect for our kids. I am very grateful for the flexibility of my old job– I had amazing colleagues and many wonderful students, and I was able to take a lot of extra time with my kids– but I realized my heart was not fully in it this past school year. I feel that I need to be excited about what I’m doing, or my students will sense that and lose their own motivation. Switching gears has been surprisingly refreshing– if a bit overwhelming–but I’m making progress and checking boxes, and feeling so incredibly enthusiastic about the upcoming start of this school year.
The first issue that I thought about last summer, when I first briefly considered switching directions in my career, was cancer. It’s my constant shadow. The flexibility of my job made chemotherapy, radiation, and everything else more manageable. I feared recurrence, and I think that set me back from making a change. This summer, I was so shocked and pleased when I realized cancer didn’t even cross my mind when making this career change. I had thought about the people I’d be leaving, the new opportunities I’d be gaining, and childcare, childcare, childcare…but I hadn’t let cancer’s corrosive shadow hold me back. I consider that quite the accomplishment. And I’m slowly realizing that whatever will be will be, so I might as well make the most of my time in the meantime.
Today marks two years since my surgery to remove any remaining cancer from my body. It’s the day my doctors discovered that the chemo had killed my cancer and put me into remission. Maybe it’s an understatement to say that it’s a pretty special day. I’m grateful to be here and to get to choose to do what I want to do. And a special part of being a teacher is knowing my role as an influence on someone else’s learning; despite all of the difficulties, I’m able to apply those “all too real” life lessons in ways that can help my students to grow. We’re all just floating along in the current, but hopefully growing wiser, stronger, and more empathetic along the way.