A Little Bit Heartbroken, But Mostly Delighted

Let me start by confessing that I have spent the last 1.5 hours avoiding writing this post. It's silly, really, because I'm not even sure who's going to read it other than my sisters and a few friends who have already heard the news. I might as well just put it out there, right? I quit my job. That's right, I turned in a letter of resignation a month ago and I will not be returning to my school as a teacher in the fall. In fact, I won't be returning to any school as a teacher in the fall. (Which is kind of hilarious, given that I would have done anything to get any teaching job two years ago, after I was laid off. This year, I had no less than five potential teaching jobs come my way for next fall and I turned them all down.)

You see, Dann and the band offered me a position as their publicist/tour assistant and I accepted.

I told Dann over my spring break that if there were any way for me to work with him, travel with him, and have more time to write, I would turn down every teaching job that looked like a possibility, including the one I already had.

It has happened to me a handful of times in my life that I find the courage to speak something like this aloud, and then it actually happens faster than I ever imagined. I think it's God letting me know He doesn't eff around. I believe that when we say boldly and clearly what we want more than anything, He hears it and He honors it.

I've struggled a little bit with leaving teaching (again). At one point in my life, I felt totally convinced that God had made me to be a teacher in the city; that He wanted me to serve Him by finding a place to work as a classroom teacher in an inner city school, where I would have the honor of working with kids every day. Where I would be able to teach them the value of reading and writing. Where I would be a positive influence and give kids hope for their futures. This is still a deep desire of my heart, but I'm learning that everything inevitably changes, and that I'm intelligent and creative enough to find a way to do all of these things without being a full-time classroom teacher. (And that maybe, stretching my thinking and my actions just a bit further is what God is challenging me to do.)

So much has changed for teachers even since I started in 2005. In 2010, Colorado passed a LAW requiring teacher evaluations to be based on student test scores. In DPS, students rate their teachers on district-mandated surveys twice a year. I actually had students tell me that I should allow them to use their iPods during class because it would probably help improve my survey results. It's hard not to feel you're being judged by factors that are completely outside of the realm of your control, even if you're working your ass off. The culture of distrust is heartbreaking, because all I ever really wanted was to be able to help kids.

Ironically, my AP English teacher foretold this situation back in 2001. I find it more than coincidental that he was the first person to truly encourage me as a writer. I can still remember writing furiously one day in his class as he encouraged us all to write, revise, and write some more, without regard for neatness or mechanics. I wrote my best analysis of an Annie Dillard essay that day because my teacher kept coming back to read what I had written, then told me to dig a little deeper - to stretch my thinking and my words just a bit further. My high school newspaper teacher once told me that he and my English teacher had talked behind my back about how good a writer I was. I will never forget the pride and delight I felt at hearing such a compliment.

The psalmist says: "Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He will give you the desires and secret petitions of your heart." I'm beginning to realize that the secret petition of my heart is to be a writer. Nothing brings me greater satisfaction than to sit with either a keyboard or a pencil (never a pen!) and paper and allow the words swimming around in my head to find a place to rest. Even more satisfying is the ability to look at something finished - revised, edited, done - and know that I created it from nothing. I've never been in a position to consider doing this for a living, and it's scary. I have no idea where to start and I know I will face rejection and failure more than ever before. I think I'm ready, though. I even entered this contest yesterday by commenting that I'm afraid to tell people I quit my job as a teacher so I could work and travel with my husband plus have more time to write. It feels selfish and a little crazy.

At the same time, though, it feels like the bravest thing I can do right now.

We had to re-work our budget, which will likely mean more "Don't Fail. Plan." posts. It will mean I really have to stick to only what we need when I go to Target. It will mean cutting back on my regular mani/pedis.

But it will also mean that, for the first time EVER, Dann and I will be together on my birthday.


It will mean that I get to travel the country with him and two of our dearest friends.

I will mean that I get to have far more freedom with my time: far more freedom to write.

I showed this tweet to Dann when I read it a week ago and he looked me dead in the eye and said: "That's for YOU." I believed it and took it personally. Like Anne Lamott was going to hunt me down and break my arm if I didn't start writing more.

"If you have a deep creative spirit & it's tugging on yr sleeve wanting u to help it be expressed & you keep blowing it off, the bad guys win." -Anne Lamott

I've never wanted the bad guys to win. I'm willing to do whatever it takes to make sure that doesn't happen, in fact. I'm a little bit heartbroken about walking away from teaching, but I'm mostly delighted. I'm delighted with the opportunities I've been given, delighted with the possibilities the future holds, and most of all delighted with the God who knows me well enough to carry me to this place.

Giddyup, ya'll! It's about to get interesting around here!