Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The flip of a coin

     Keep on going and the chances are you will stumble on something, perhaps when you are least expecting it. I have never heard of anyone stumbling on something sitting down.
Charles F. Kettering 
      I have been sitting at home this weekend, thinking about the past week, or even the past few months and morale at my day job. We have had a very tumultuous year, not in the 2012 sense, but from last January through this past week. It seems as if a piece of joy, of excitement, has vanished. It all began with a very untimely -well, I wont say lay off, because, technically it wasn't.
     I should interject here by telling you that I am a teacher. That does not quite cover it, I am a middle school teacher. That fact alone, the mere mention of the words  middle school tend to send adults in to tremors of fear when they consider the ages that I work with. I fully believe that even the elite Special Forces men and women would turn their backs on my sixth, seventh, and eighth graders, thinking they are no match for the hormones and the drama. Not everyone is suited for this group, but I have believed for the past six years that I am. I connect with them. I am "Other Mom" five days a week. I tell them I love them, and mean it. I let them know when I tolerated them that day, and mean it, but always letting them hear from someone that they are loved. And appreciated. And treasured, just for being themselves.
     But I am finding myself at a crossroad now, uncertain of the choice that I need to make. Do I throw up roadblocks on the road in front of me? It's the road i have been on for the past six years. My first class of middle schoolers are graduating high school this year. It is what I have known to do for a while now. Am I trying to hold on too tightly, choking and hurting myself by staying in this place? Right now, in this moment, it feels like "There's no joy in Mudville, tonight."
   Do I take a sharp turn? Do I close the cover on this and open a new book? Do I abandon these kids who have come to mean so much to me as I watch them grow, their kid brothers and sisters? All because that flame that I once carried is being snuffed out, deprived of oxygen needed to burn brightly? The fears and doubts sneak up on me now. What if I can't? What if I fail my family with this choice? What if I fail me? What then?
     My last option is not in closing the book, putting it away. It is merely in turning the page, the end of the chapter, and an opportunity to write my own story now. I would stay where I once found so much pleasure, where I would start every morning singing to my co-workers, my friends, my family, "Good Morning" from the Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds movie, Singin' In The Rain. With this, I can still hold onto the place where I found my niche, but I can take it to a new stage, literally. A new theater arts class that would be mine to make, to design. Do I have faith that there is enough of a spark left to rekindle the love I once had for this job? Do I loosen my grasp? Do I pick up the pen, okay, do I hit the keyboard, and start writing my next chapter?
   A hard choice to make. A job I used to love. A place I know, people who matter to me, at what cost to me and my kids? Or a completely new route. A new story? Or only a blank page, but my story to tell. The flip of a coin...
     I know this may sound trivial to you, but words, as any middle schooler can tell you, are powerful. Maybe I just needed to write it all out? I do not know. But I do know this, You will be among the first to know how the coin lands.
     At any moment, you have the ability to dramatically change any area of your life, or follow your heart's deepest desires. It's yours to create, any way you want it.
Craig Townsend
      Please, let me know what you think, sometimes the best advice comes from the outside. Share any thoughts, or tough choices that you have made, or are facing. Odds are, you are not alone. Maybe, together, whether it be heads or tails, we end up winning.


  1. Lela, I too love to work with kids, of all ages. It sounds to me like you have hit a road block, or are tired of driving on the same road. Dont allow FEAR to stop you, somehow things have a way of working out.

    What would you LOVE to do if there was NO FEAR of failure ? The first step is always the hardest, but I trust you will find your way.

    Making change is hard, but you will not let your students down by making changes. If they mean that much to you, you will find a way to keep in touch with them.

    Try and take the fear out of the equation, and you will find your answers.

    I wish you the best on deciding !!


  2. My friend. The passion that you have is something that people never experience or are afraid to. Your words about your students and your crossroads touched my heart and I want you to know that change is something we want in our lives...always. It is what keeps us fresh and LIVING. Change is hard and is difficult but anything worth having is like that. The idea of holding onto to something (regardless of how wonderful it WAS) begins to taint the memory of it. Fear takes root and with that, we begin to settle -- telling ourselves that we can't just think of ourselves. But - I ask you - if you don't, who will? Really? No one. We are the drivers of our lives and we can take the nice, meandering backroads or jet on the expressway. Either way, make your road one you like to travel....or rather LOVE to travel. Doing what makes you happy, inevitably touches others and becomes infectious. Your smile makes another smile emerge...I KNOW THIS!!
    If one of your students came to you today and asked you about holding on or moving forward, I bet a million bucks you would tell them to go for it. You can't blame that advice on it being for the "young" because we are forging the roads that they will follow and what better inspiration could you be if you followed your heart and kicked some ass???
    ---Shannon -- love ya, sista --- ROCK IT

  3. Wow, Lela! What huge decisions to be faced with. And the fact that there are chillens that you love involved (and I know you really love them) makes it even harder. You're such an exceptionally caring teacher that I hate to say anything but "stay where you are", but I know full well the price paid if we stay where we are not called to stay: everyone involved loses. The only way I would make this decision is through prayer & patience. And when I'm in a sticky situation where I have little time, I try to make the choice that involves the most faith, because I believe God honors that thinking. My main goal here is to encourage you not to base your decision on fear.

    Another possibility that just came to mind is to learn to balance both/all of the things in life that bring fulfillment. Because I need much variety in my work life to stay interested, balance is something I'm constantly maintaining.

    You'll be in my prayers, Lela. I have much respect for you and I appreciate your place in my daughter's life, and in my life. I'm excited to see how this turns out for you. Love....