Luck

Throughout most of my life I’ve felt lucky. Lucky to be alive and healthy, lucky for my family and friends, and lucky for my job opportunities. I’d often experience events and wonder why fate, God, or the universe decided to bless me with such good fortune. It was especially notable when I witnessed the opposite  occurring for my older brother. He, it appeared, seemed to walk under a black cloud while I seemed to catch every ray of sunshine. Growing up, it seemed effortless, like serendipity…

  
Lately however, the events in my life have shifted. No longer do those rays of golden sun shine as brightly for me. Job opportunities have dwindled, friends and family are far away, and minor health issues have plagued me. So the question that’s been weighing on my mind is this:

Does a person’s luck run out? 

Some may say that luck has nothing to do with the events in our lives- that we create the life we seek. If we think positively, stay true to our passions, and do good in this world, we shall reap the rewards. And when troubles arise, we need only look for the positive. So the saying goes, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Simple. 

I’m a firm believer that things in life happen for a reason. Up until now I’ve always found it easy to follow this mantra because every turn in my life’s journey seemed to lead me to a better place. But what happens when you take a turn on the road and no sunshine guides your feet on that path? You stumble along in darkness wondering where you’re headed, trying to find your way, thinking you should turn back. You tell yourself over and over to keep going, that there has to be a reason that you’re on this particular journey. Where you once walked with confidence and joy, you now tread with fear and doubt. Walking alone in the dark is not familiar to me. I don’t like it. I question my decisions. I long for a hand to reach out to me in the darkness. Some days I want to give up. 

But I don’t.

I’m working harder today than I ever have to find the light again. And believe me I’m searching every single day, because I can no longer leave my fate up to chance. I will fight to find my way out of the darkness, with or without luck on my side. 

 

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The F Word

Patience. Optimism. Perserverance. I’ve written about all of these concepts in some form or another lately, but today I’m writing about a very different word. One that’s frowned upon in many of my professional circles. A forbidden word.

The F word.

Frustration. (I know I scared some of you for a second there). Anyone who has ever been unemployed, and had to job search knows the feelings that come with rejection. These feelings are part of the process, and should ultimately help you to become more driven, passionate and focused in regards to finding that perfect job. But today, after receiving yet another rejection notification, I’m not feeling motivated in the least. Instead, I’m tired. I’m angry. I’m sad. It’s left me feeling short on patience and confidence. In a word, I’m frustrated.


“Chin up, something will come along soon.” “Do what makes you happy.” “You are talented- you have so many options.” I’ve heard all the positive anecdotes from family, friends, and colleagues. I’ve sold many  such promises to myself over the past months in the hopes of reinforcing a positive outcome. And every single time I think I’ve finally found the perfect job – one that meshes with my experience and my passion; one that I know I’m perfectly suited for, you guessed it… I receive another rejection. I can only be left to wonder what other applicants put forth, and what I lack. My rejections are followed up with questions asking what I might have improved upon in order to increase my chances of getting hired next time, yet most companies rarely take the time to explicitly answer these requests.

I’m frustrated because no matter how much experience I have, how well read I am, or how many connections I make, the doors keep closing on every opportunity I seek to pursue. It makes me question my beliefs about myself, about who I am as a professional, my worth, my dreams… This process has left me feeling lost. Each time I pull myself back up, I get knocked back down, and can’t help but question why. I’m certainly not the first person to seek  new opportunities within a chosen field, yet my unsuccessful attempts make me wonder if such a move is in the cards for me. These doubts lead to the frustration of which I write about today. I don’t want to remain stuck, trapped, or without options, yet this is exactly how my circumstances have left me feeling.


I know that many of my friends who will read this piece will kindly reach out with words of encouragement. Rest assured that your advice has not fallen on deaf ears. I know I wouldn’t have survived these past months with your constant support, and I wonder daily how I will ever repay you. For those of you who think I’ve complained far too long about the whole relocating/ seeking a job ordeal, I agree. I’m tired of myself. I get it. It’s … frustrating. However, this post was not written as a means to garner pity, or to apologize. It was written simply for this writer to release some raw emotions. Out of frustration.

Who Am I?

The start of a new school year is rapidly approaching. In fact, some localities have already gone back. As a teacher, this is an exciting time of year. After a summer of recharging, I always feel ready to greet my new students, and eager to engage them in new and exciting ways. With this time of year also comes the bittersweet end to lazy summer days, warm weather and let’s face it, less stress. 

This year is different. For the first time in almost 20 years, I do not have class rosters, schedules, supplies, or meetings to attend. I have no students. I have no classroom. Thus the consequence of relocating in mid August to a different state. Having filed for a new teacher license, and filled out the lengthy application forms, I wonder what happens next. My bio on social media says that I am a teacher. I have credentials, references, recommendations, books, boxes, bins, and experience to prove my worth. Yet in the area where I now reside, school starts in just a mere 5 days. Sadly I will not be among the masses who will wake up early on Monday morning ready to enter the halls of one of these fine schools. 

So as I reflect on all the changes that have occurred for my family and I these past 3-4 months, I am left to ponder who I am, if not a teacher. The saying goes, ‘Once a teacher, always a teacher’, which to some extent is true. However, in the face of unemployment, it can be difficult not to question one’s worth outside of the field of this noble profession. Should I not gain employment as an educator, what does that mean? Am I defined only by my role as a teacher? And if I am not employed, who am I? 

Self-reflection and change are good for the soul. I know this to be true. So I am open to the possibilities that will come my way. After all, in the world of education one should never be resistant to change. So, who am I? I am, and always will be a teacher. Perhaps not in the traditional sense right now, but I remain open to all the possibilities that await me …

Cargo

So the boxes are packed, the moving truck sits in my driveway, and the memories of this home are tucked deep inside my heart. Leaving the space where I watched my daughters grow up is difficult. This is the home where they explored our woods in search of fairies and adventures. Here is where they learned to ride bikes, had sleepovers, developed lasting friendships, and watched their new puppy come to life. In this yard we buried the beloved remains of our first dog. We had picnics in this yard, watched fireworks every 4th of July, and had family gatherings in this home. So leaving is hard. But when we move to a new location it isn’t the physical space we will miss, because it’s easy to create a home somewhere new. What we really want to hang on to is time. Moving away means that time has passed, kids grow up, parents age – life moves on. And this is what hurts the most with any move we make in life. Moving represents some form of closure.

So as I lay in this sunny bedroom listening to the birds outside my window, I’m trying to pack up all the memories that time has given me these past 9 years. The moving truck will store and transport all of our material belongings, but I don’t need boxes or bags for what I will carry away from this place. My most precious cargo, my memories, will travel with me wherever I go. Yes, with the closure on this part of my life there is sadness, however I find comfort in knowing that I’m not leaving anything behind. My “cargo” will forever stay tucked deep within my heart.

Courage

The time has come for my family and I to relocate. Moving is something that both my husband and I are familiar with, having relocated 6 times in our marriage thus far. What sets this move apart from the previous times is distance. While we have crossed state lines before, all of our past address changes have been within a 30 mile radius. Presently not the case. Today we find ourselves moving across several state boundaries. 381.6 miles to be exact. In today’s global world, that distance shouldn’t mean much. Friends and family can tap in quicker than ever before. I know this to be true, yet right now my heart is heavy. I’m questioning all the reasons that weeks ago made so much sense. I know that feelings of unease accompany all of life’s major changes. Add the stress of selling a home, and searching for a new job into the mix, and it’s easy to understand why my emotions are getting the best of me.

Selfishly I would like nothing more than to vent these feeling to my family, which on occasion I do. But over the past few days while house hunting in our new state, I’ve watched my daughters carefully for signs that they need comforting. Signs that they are feeling stress, anger, or heartache with this reality thrust upon them. For they too have much at stake. Being 15 year olds, they will be entering their sophomore year of high school. They are moving away from the friends and family they love most. The terms of our housing and their schooling has not been determined, yet school begins in just a few weeks’ time. They will be going to a fairly large public high school, yet they leave behind an extremely small, sheltered Christian school. Yes, they have much at stake. Yesterday as we looked at each possible new home, I watched them. I looked for signs of stress, anger, and sadness. I saw none of the feelings that my heart seemed to be exploding with. Instead what I saw was courage and grace and happiness. Their willingness to embrace this change makes me want to try harder to be more like them. While I’m not foolish enough to think that the stressors in a teenager’s life can compare to that of an adult, it helps bring me some level of comfort to know that I am raising daughters who are open to change, and sometimes far stronger than I have ever been. Having spent much of the past night lying awake, fretting over our future, this realization at dawn’s early light will hopefully sustain me, and lead me to a braver path.

Hanging On

When you’re young and starting out you struggle to reach the truth about who you are, and your life’s ambition. With perseverance and perhaps a little luck, most do achieve success. You obtain your goal, the job you believe will make you happy. But life can be funny. Sometimes, just when you think you should be settled on the path you have set out for yourself, you find yourself at the top of that proverbial roller coaster. Hanging on for dear life.

Anxiously. Waiting. For. What. Happens. Next.

For what happens next? What happens when you reach a point in your life when the career you opted for back in your youth, is no longer enough to sustain you? What happens when you want to follow a different path? What happens when you are a person DRIVEN by passion, yet obstacles in your chosen career leave you feeling passionless?

You do a lot of soul searching. A LOT. You read. You pray. A LOT. You get connected. You redo your resume. A LOT. You network. You cry. You lose sleep. A LOT. You hang on for dear life.

But you cannot wait for what happens next. Waiting keeps you in an anxious place. Instead you must own it. You must embrace the ups, the downs, the twists, and the turns that you are about to face. You must be the thrill seeker of your own life’s journey. This is much easier said than done. Especially when you are a person who likes having his/her feet planted firmly on the ground. A person who does not like change, or the unknown. Hence the reason for the aforementioned soul searching, reading, praying, and crying.

Today I find myself sitting at the top of that roller coaster. Yes, I’m hanging on for dear life. But I’m ready to face all the twists and turns that life is throwing my way. How do I know? Because staying rooted in a passionless place feels so much worse.