This post was written in September 2009, and documents my transition from part-time to full-time coaching.
Last night, I was giving my students some last-minute study time before their first test of the semester. I had a nagging feeling that the stack of tests in front of me seemed a little too slim for the number of students that were in the class, so I quickly counted them.
Oh, man–not enough tests. What to do? Nothing but find a photocopier and copy four more.
I left the room with the tests while my students studied, and headed up a flight of stairs, crossing my fingers that I would find a photocopier that wasn’t broken (and this is, often enough, a challenge–someday when I win the lottery, I am totally going to donate brand new, spiffy photocopiers to the college). I was walking down a long hallway when I passed a bulletin board that featured photographs of the current deans of the college, arranged by discipline, and the top administrators who work under those deans. And as I passed this display, I suddenly felt this huge sense of connection to something larger than me, to this institution and all that it aims to do, to every student I’ve ever come into contact with, and an overwhelming rush of gratitude for everything in my life, including teaching, even though I am making a choice to let it go.
I felt such gratitude that I have had the honor of teaching students. I felt such gratitude that I have been privileged enough to teach for this institution, which is a place where I have seen teachers who genuinely, truly care about students, who regularly sacrifice themselves and time with their families to stay late and conference, plan the best lesson plans, meet with other teachers to get ideas or collectively improve courses. This lovely community college, so beleaguered with challenges, just does the best it can with them and what comes out, actually, is pretty damned good.
I felt such gratitude that I stuck with the challenges my Coach had placed before me–to not leave the job in a huff of frustration or in the darkest moments, but instead to fully clean up my side, to get in integrity with me. I felt such gratitude for that because I’ve met teachers who waited too long, who didn’t get out until they were utterly worn down and leaving felt simply like surviving. I’ve felt worn down like that before and had I not had the good fortune to take time to restore myself, I might be even more worn down, now.
My thoughts were these: Thank you thank you thank you, such big gratitude, for the experience of sticking through for all of the right reasons–to work on me. Thank you thank you thank you, such big gratitude, for the clarity to know when it’s time to let go.
I notice a softening inside of myself around the fear. The fear moves in waves. Over the weekend, as I was going back and forth, back and forth, the fear was so intense that I was waking up with stomach cramps in the middle of the night. I felt as if I’d eaten gravel. Nearly every food made my stomach hurt, so I ate very little. This, too, was a surprise. Everything about the fear with this decision has been a surprise to me, the decision to let go of teaching itself has been a surprise, the reckoning with myself and what I really want has been a surprise.
I went to the crunchy-granola natural pharmacy nearby to pick up some pro-biotics and a naturopath checked out my tongue and also suggested some Chinese herbs. Within twenty-four hours of taking the pro-biotics and herbs, my days of stomach troubles were significantly abated and then much better, and I felt held.
And I thought to myself, “I want to remember everything about this.” I want to remember how difficult it was, because it has become very clear to me that this experience of letting one job go in order to pursue another career is not about money or health insurance. Instead, I am very curious about who this woman is who is so unexpectedly afraid, and I am even more curious to see who she is, what she looks like, on the other side of that fear.
I am interested to see what the edges of me look like, the places that are more raw and less put-together.
I feel so much more alive.
I have been working and am continuing to work on what my next direction will be. What has come to me has been really swift, really clear, really directed. I finished the website design for the site that will go with this idea in only one hour, and that is practically unheard of for me (usually, I have about ten “false start” designs, that cover the span of a few days!).
I’m making the announcements on October 1st and sharing it all. I’m so excited. As Jill Scott says, “I’m living my life like it’s golden.”
~ in gratitude ~
Click to tweet: Have gratitude for knowing when you’re ready to let go.