The snow glows white on the mountain tonight
Not a footprint to be seen.
A kingdom of isolation,
and it looks like I’m the Queen
The wind is howling like this swirling storm inside
Couldn’t keep it in;
Heaven knows I’ve tried
Don’t let them in,
don’t let them see
Be the good girl you always have to be
Conceal, don’t feel,
don’t let them know
Well now they know
Let it go, let it go
Can’t hold it back anymore
And so we begin…you and me on the side of my frozen mountain of dreams as I let go. I am and have always wanted to be the “good girl”. There is nothing that I like more than making it perfect. My fantasies revolve around Celveresque dinners where I serve hand rolled meatballs on impeccable china, while my children politely wipe the corners of their mouths and use all the utensils properly. Or sometimes I envision my classroom where the children are sitting quietly engaged in scientific inquiry as they write down observations in their journals and ask one another meaningful questions. Or perhaps it is the end of the boot-camp class I used to teach where the students drip with sweat and marvel at my endurance.
In the fall of 2013, I experience an unexpected pay cut of about 15%. I had known it might be coming. I had even run through a few financial scenarios trying to mentally prepare myself, but the gritty reality was far more challenging than my imagined remedies. The truth is that I had grown complacent in my job at the college. I had always talked in generalities of returning to K-12. In the course I taught, I would even say something like, “Someday when I am working with kids again…” But every time I thought about the stress of a massive career change, or looked up the starting pay-scale for a step 1 teacher online, I would shutter at how hard that would be, and push my dream way deep down inside myself. One more year, I would think…just a little more time here and then I can try. But in the end, it was the pay-cut that would rescue my dream from the risk of becoming a lifelong regret.
It’s funny how some distance
Makes everything seem small
And the fears that once controlled me
Can’t get to me at all
When Mike and I stood back and took stock, we realized something…there would never be an easy time to take the additional pay-cut K-12 teaching would require and that our lives were not going to slow down for the next 15 or so years. And I saw suddenly with clarity there was a way to make it less financially painful…I could teach at classes at the college in addition to teaching school. There were so many restless night when my anxiety riddled brain tried to imagine the stress of both careers happening simultaneously. And the question that pounded, thundering and blasting through all of my thoughts, with an unrelenting rhythm, “How could I do them both well modeling best practices, take care of my family, be a wife and still be the “good girl”?
It’s time to see what I can do
To test the limits and break through
No right, no wrong, no rules for me,
See to find my way to this new reality there was one dream I had to let go…it was the dream of being perfect while having it all. It sounds so silly, but even now I feel the physical ache of loss as I type with tears dripping down my nose. And now there are the exchanges. Instead of being there for my boys before and after school -a typed checklist of chores, instead of preparing fresh dinners- a crock-pot, instead of teaching boot-camp-family workouts. Instead of week-long vacations to National Parks – a short Groupon trip to Niagara Falls. And yet, there is so much sweetness in living out my dreams it leaves me breathless…
Let it go, let it go
And I’ll rise like the break of dawn
Let it go, let it go
That perfect girl is gone
Here I stand
In the light of day
Let the storm rage on
The cold never bothered me anyway!
And driving home last night from Niagara Falls, after two days of sharing dinners and doing every free activity imaginable, my dear sweet husband held my hand and said, “There is no one I would rather be broke with than you.” He told me gently that no matter what the next decade brings we can pretty much count it including piles of need, so we might as well be sure it includes buckets of joy as well. I think of last week in my college class when I showed this video and told the students to become a real teacher again, I have had to let go of my image of being perfect so I can show up EVERY day…
And herein lays my true super power. I am not perfect but I am enough. The past is the past, I let it go and stretch out my arms praying you will find your courage to release your burdens and reach out with me, as together we grasp the sky of a new beginning.