Living into My Life

It’s really hard to believe I have not generated a post since April 30th, 2013.  Well, maybe I’ve been a little busy, just a little.  Doing what…..

1)finishing last school year, if you are an educator, know an educator or can imagine living in a public high school these days, you have an understanding of what finishing a school year looks and feels like for those who live it. It’s not for sissies.

2) Traveling to the Dominican Republic with 7 teenagers for one week.  It was a great trip.  We worked with local artists and schools.  My colleague, students and I all had home stays in two different villages.  I was embarrassed when I pulled back in my drive way after that trip.  We have so much here.

3) Started graduate school at Naropa University for Contemplative Education.  Which meant a three week intensive in Boulder, Colorado in July right on the heels of the DR trip.  If you ever have the opportunity to live in an intentional community, do it. The work I did there was all things; up, down, inside, out, joy, and pain.  Of course, I’ve signed up for a graduate program in which you dig into your core.  I think it was day three of the summer intensive when I was sitting on a meditation cushion wondering what in the hell I was doing there and who were these people I was sitting in this room with and just about to run out of the room screaming.  I am too stubborn though.  I came back home to immediately get the

4) 2013-14 school year started, which meant teaching four classes instead of two, in three different classrooms, stepping down from being the School Improvement Team Chairperson (smartest move of the year), continuing to help coordinate our school’s International Baccalaureate program, manage the school’s open house, put on an International Festival, raise $25,000 for a school-wide Stop Hunger Now event, I did mention teaching too didn’t I?  None of which I did alone.  Please do not misinterpret, I am in no way claiming credit for any of it.  None of it would have happened without the community of amazing young people and colleagues I am humbled to work with, but I think you get the picture?

5) 2 graduate classes in the fall and 2 in the spring however, I can really only count 1 in the spring right now because the school year was so out of hand I couldn’t keep up so I am receiving an incomplete until I can finish the work for one of the courses.

6) We hosted 21 friends and family for Thanksgiving…Which was wonderful and how did Mama and Aunt Ruth do it all those years?  I even made centerpieces for the tables, got out Mama’s silver and china and resisted my urge to do place cards.  Actually, I think I just ran out of time there, but whew that was a lot of work.

7) I started 2014 with one of my most wonderful friends and favorite teacher Sharon for a weekend yoga retreat at Shaker Village in Kentucky. I’ve seen images from this annual retreat that Sharon does for a couple of years now and I was so excited to get to share New Year intention setting with a group of beautiful souls.  I was also so grateful to be with Sharon, Andy, EverlyJo, and Zoe at the big blue house.  I returned from that retreat so energized and ready to get my yoga on for the year and not 48 hours after my return…

EIGHT) we lost Ollie.  For those of you that know us well, know Ollie was and his memory continues to be our joy.    Greg called on his way home from work and said “he’s bad baby” and I didn’t believe him.  When they got home it was painfully clear that Ollie could not breathe.  We had signed up for Lap of Love, where a vet will come to your house when it is time, but of course it didn’t work out that way.  We had to take him to the emergency room and we left without him.  Isn’t it funny that we think we can plan for death and loss.  I knew this was coming and I thought we had another 6 or more months with the little guy.  That was not to be.  Loss stirs the vibration of every previous loss…so this made for a long, quiet and challenging winter.  My heart will continue to long for his physical presence and he is with me still in so many other ways.

By the time March had rolled around I was exhausted.  The busyness that I had engaged myself in for the past year or five or ten finally caught up with me.  That’s a bit misleading, my exhaustion and disconnection had been there all along, I think my work through Naropa is what led me to the realization that I can not live the way I have been living any longer.  My work here also kept me from giving the Masters work the time and attention it deserves.  So, I listened to what I called a whisper and a dear friend called a roar and…

9) I decided to take a year off.  Even with all the snow days we had this year, I was still so weary.  It was on one of those snow days, that I think there actually wasn’t any snow that the clarity came to take a year off from work.  It was March 4th.  If not now, then when?  I had struggled for days with the decision.  It’s something I have been wanting to do for a long time really.  When I look back though over the past 7 years; Mama’s diagnosis and illness, losing her, getting married, moving twice, selling my childhood home, losing 3 of Mama’s siblings and another Aunt, and navigating cancer with another, teaching and being a coordinator, trying to heal, being in school, losing Ollie…yeah, I need a year off.  The work I am doing at Naropa is not for the faint of heart.  It’s really a master’s degree in digging into your soul, into the parts of you, you may have avoided your whole life or just didn’t give them the attention they needed…I am committed to giving this one soul I have what it is asking for.  So the week before Spring Break I told my principal I would not be back next year.

In all this thinking, stewing, and contemplating a year off from teaching, a whole year, was I really going to sit in Raleigh the whole time?  That didn’t feel right.  I was running through possibilities, Mexico, Japan, Germany, hmmmm, what could I do?  I was in my office with a few colleagues on Friday, Aprill 11th and we were having an innocuous conversation and somehow photography came up, and I said out loud “I could do Miksang for my thesis project and go to Bhutan to do it, wouldn’t that be cool?”  I wrote the word down on a piece of paper and didn’t think too much about it again that day.  On Monday, April 14th, I went to central office to turn in my paper work to take an educational leave of absence.  On Tuesday, April 15th there, on Facebook of all places, was a link for Naropa Study Abroad in Bhutan.  I suppose you can guess where this is going…..and yes

10) I’m going to Bhutan.  I immediately emailed my professor to inquire if there were any Masters candidate options for this study abroad opportunity.  He wrote me back the next day to inform me that in fact yes, they want to offer a second year, second semester option and the thesis project would in some way reflect the experience, “would you like to be our guinea pig?” was the last line of the email.  So by Thursday evening of that week, my husband and I were celebrating at our favorite sushi restaurant.  I’m going to Bhutan.  It feels so right.  I feel like myself.  I feel like I am living into my life and I most certainly am.  I am not 100% on Miksang as my thesis project but the opportunity will certainly be there.

So…..I am going to try my hand at blogging about this experience and this coming year.  In many ways the year off has already started just because of the space I feel in my body and my mind.  I want to document and share this experience with anyone that is interested.  If you are still with me here on this page, thank you, this was not a short one, and there was a lot to cover.  It’s interesting that we have evolved to the tendency to minimize an entire year or ten into a short list that could never convey the gravity, joy, pain, or love that we experienced.  There has been A LOT more to this year than you have read here.  Thank you though for reading and I hope you will enjoy reading about my journey.

Originally posted: 18 May 2014