Writing a New Chapter

We experience seasons of change in our lives. I have taken to referring to them as new chapters. As I have experienced a few changes lately, I am well-acquainted with the combination of excitement and belly butterflies such chapters bring as they are being written. As some of you know, I recently made the life-changing decision to leave the only career I’ve ever had, the only state I’ve ever called home, and the only life that I’ve ever known. Time for a new chapter had finally come, and I was determined, nervousness and all, to cooperate. Today, I will briefly share the journey. I will also share details of my new chapter, which involves freelance writing, motivational speaking, and the newest of all, a job with Breitbart News as an editor.

After years of praying, seeking, and waiting for an open door, I finally got the go-ahead in my spirit to not only leave teaching in Hudson, NY, where I taught for more than 17 years, but to leave the profession altogether. My last day employed by my district was October 23rd. I also felt compelled to leave the state and head out to Missouri, which had become a second home for me over the last few years. The crazy thing about it was I decided to leave my job without knowing what would be next. I only knew that I felt it was what God called me to do. Now, those who know me know I agonized over this decision. I have always known that God had a specific plan for my life that would lead me away from teaching in the public school some day, though I would always carry the calling to teach. I’d always be a teacher, whether employed as such or not, for it’s an integral part of who I am. I would not, however, remain long enough to retire. I knew this even in the early days of my profession. That realization had nothing to do with the abundance of hours grading papers, the diminishing work ethic of students, or the growing lack of respect for educators. It had everything to do with simply knowing that God’s plan would eventually take me down a different course. And even as Common Core, and all that comes with it, soured me on education “reform” (I call it Common CorPSe for a reason!), that did not drive me out of the profession, either. It just made it easier to leave once I knew, through much prayer and godly counsel, that the time had come. Anyone who has ever walked into my classroom can tell you that God gifted me with an ability to connect to students and engage them. That’s not pride, by the way–just self-awareness and honesty. So no, nothing drove me to make this change, except another call.

I began my 18th year of teaching in September, having decided at the very end of the summer that I would answer the call, step out in faith, obey–and resign. New York requires 30 days’ notice, however, and I gave slightly more than that. The superintendent did not want to see me leave or accept my resignation and was very gracious in her talk with me, but she told me later that she knew when I entered her office that there was no changing my mind. She could see in me that I felt confident that I was called to move on. So she refrained from trying too hard to dissuade me, which would have been an exercise in futility, she sensed.

My students were most affected, of course, and they let me know every day after I told them that they wished I would stay, replete with cards, notes, pleas, “I finally have a favorite teacher, and you’re leaving,” and the like. It was an emotional time, to say the least. And as I packed up years of memories, both at home and at work, I shed many a tear unearthing all kinds of reminders of my career, the students, and the community. Add to that the emotion of family and friends coming to grips with my moving 19 hours away, and it has been a very…well, deep season of my life.

With the exception of some students, who took to calling Missouri “Misery” since it was, in their minds, the evil thing driving a wedge between them and their English Language Arts teacher, I received much encouragement from people who exclaimed, “Wow! How exciting! I wish I had the nerve to do what you’re doing!” And what was I doing? Among other things, I was leaving my profession, tenure, medical insurance, health insurance, a good salary, a growing retirement fund, snow days, summers off, and, let’s be honest, a lot of headaches, too! Add to that the fact that I was leaving my family, including my church family, friends, and familiarity, and either people lauded me or declared me temporarily insane. The hardest part for me was when people thought I was being evasive when they asked what the next chapter entailed and I responded that I really did not know. I was not being evasive. I really did not know! When I maintained this to be true, more than a few looked at me like I had ten heads–some out of admiration, others out of sheer shock, I’m sure.

The truth is I am one of the most cautious people one will ever meet. I do nothing without much contemplation and reflection, and I am a firm believer that it is foolish to make decisions when emotions are out of control, so I do not. The most important thing to me is being in God’s will, and because I know He has a specific plan for my life, the last thing I ever want to do is be out of His will. I also subscribe to the common sense dictum that one never leaves a job unless she or he has another one. I still believe that…unless–and that’s where I come in–unless one is called to do so. I was, so I did. I’m not sure why the step of faith was required before the new job came, since I would have taken it anyway. All I know is it was. I didn’t like it that way. I would have preferred the open door first. Wouldn’t you?

So I embarked on another chapter of my life. I knew deep down it would all work out because I knew I had heard in my spirit this was what I was to do, but that did not designate it a belly butterfly-free zone.

So here I am–a new Missouri resident, a former teacher at my ripe old age, and guess what: all is well. I started out doing some freelance writing and still am, which amounts to pocket change; I have stepped into the world of motivational speaking, something I’ve long had my eyes on; and now this whole new amazing job has opened up with Breitbart News. I love confirmation, and I appreciate new chapters. I suppose one could say these are several chapters all converging to create a rather fascinating book. I am proud that for my first motivational speaking opportunity, in mid-January, I will speak at the school from which I just resigned, to the student body that includes the students I fell in love with in the short time I was with them this school year. Furthermore, I am most honored to now be on staff with an organization as prestigious as Breitbart, which has set a standard of excellence in reporting, diversity of product, and fearless commitment to holding people accountable.

I wanted to take this opportunity to thank the C4P community. In this new chapter, I will no longer be part of C4P–technically, that is. Of course, I remain committed to standing alongside this community of conservatives who are for Governor Palin. I continue to support her, vehemently defend her character and record, and remain a voice for the principles she espouses and for which she has sacrificed much.

I used my leaving teaching as an opportunity to impress upon my students the message that we must not allow fear to keep us from pursuing our dreams, no matter our age or stage in life. Shortly before my last days with the district, I ran into a former student, now a freshman in college, and told him I was resigning and moving away. He asked why. I shared my reasons with him and admitted that it felt odd after over 17 years there. His words were words of wisdom that make me proud to have once served as his teacher: “Well, there is a whole world to discover,” he said. And there is, isn’t there?

Thank you all for the journey. I know our work together will continue, just in a different way. I’m humbled to have the opportunity to pen a new chapter, one with different characters and a slightly different plot–one of many to come.

God bless you!

I continue my blog, MotivationTruth, at www.motivationtruth.com. I have also begun recording daily motivational video clips, each a short inspirational message called a Motivation Moment. I post them at MotivationTruth.com, but I invite you to subscribe to my MotivationTruth YouTube channel so you won’t miss a segment.

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