Sunday, October 19, 2014

Finding my Purpose

I’ve been struggling of late. It began at the start of the school year, before it even began. I watched friends I teach with get ready and was shocked that they had so much energy! They were talking about everything they had done since the end of the previous year. They seemed ready to start anew with a bounce in their step and a smile on their face. I looked at them with envy. I had anything but a bounce – I did have a smile. In fact, I felt a strong connection to Atlas. I was weighed down.

Frustrated, I reflected. I knew I had created this issue myself. Being a teacher is a full time job. Sometimes I wish it only took up my brain space during the time while I was actually at school, but it doesn’t. It can’t. Beyond teaching I also:

Write for Choice Literacy
Run Choice Literacy’s Twitter account
Read 10-15 blogs a day so I can share them for Choice Literacy and myself.
Schedule the Nerdy Book Club post for Mondays, Fridays, and Saturdays.
Write for my own blog.

This year I added to that pile. I agreed to co-chair a canvassing committee for our local referendum and teach CCD for my oldest son’s class at our church on Sundays.

Oh, yes, and I also wanted – and was trying – to write a book.

Beyond that, I am a mom to two amazing boys with two very full sports schedules.

I was stressed.

The school year began. My students are AMAZING. My stress increased. This year we combined reading and writing into one class – language arts. Previously I taught three sections of reading, one section of writing. Now I taught three classes each day – but all of that previous content needed to squeeze into those three classes.


I added on teaching our gifted students.


And more piled on.

I stopped excercising.
I stopped writing.
I stopped reading.

It hasn’t been pretty. I know myself. I say yes to too much, but not to myself. I want to help everyone, and can end up helping no one. It is frustrating. I can look at the list I typed above, know that I take on too much, but also know there isn’t one thing I would want to give up.


I don’t have any answers. The world I am trying to hold up on my shoulders has not gotten any lighter, and I don’t anticipate that happening anytime soon. What I have gained is some perspective on what my purpose is, which I think helps.

Yesterday I went door to door for three hours in our tiny town. My brother came with me, desperate for folks to canvass, I had asked him. It meant the world to me that he came. (Thanks, Ryan!) I wondered what it would be like – would people be angry? Would they be kind? It was enlightening.

Many people weren’t home, which is to be expected. Some don’t answer their doors, which I understand. But I got to talk to so many people.

People who were curious.
People who were excited.
People who thanked me for doing this work.
People who were confused.
People who were lonely.
People who were sad.

I left my shift grateful that I had been given the opportunity to reach out to my community, to help in some small way. Watching others come back to report on their shifts, I saw that they had similar experiences. It made me excited to go out again next weekend.


This morning I went to teach Sunday school, CCD. Talking to my former students, we discussed forgiveness and sin. I was able to tie in so many lessons I had tried to teach them last year in reading class. We talked about the book by Woodson, Each Kindness, that I had shared then. We talked about their moral compass. We jigsawed their chapter, presented information to the class, and then closed with a prayer for a student in their middle school who is struggling. One of the students came up at the end and gave me a hug. With a whisper she said, “I’m so glad you are my teacher again.”


I really don’t have any huge words of wisdom here, or any great insights into the life as a teacher. Mainly, I wanted to reach out today to any of you who are also struggling – whether it is because you are trying to do so much like I am, or for your own reasons. I think sometimes I forget to look at the bigger picture and realize that I am doing some good. The day-to-day craziness overtakes me and I feel weighed down. This weekend I have tried to step back and see my purpose, and that helps.

Now you know why I haven’t posted as much as I normally would. I’m trying to regain a bit of balance, which means some things have shifted to the back burner. Writing, unfortunately, has been one. Reading Ruth’s post yesterday (HERE) has reminded me that I need to pull it back in, and I will, but right now I am headed on a walk. I think that is where I must begin.