It takes a lot of courageMay 15, 2013
After 10 years of working in the field of education as a public school teacher or nonprofit director I am walking away from my desk and board.
But this is not a diatribe about the shortcomings or benefits of standardized testing, nor a monologue about the value or devaluation of teachers in our society, or about how I have seen some of the brightest lights in the classroom burn out or blaze so intensely that we all were struck by lightning when they exploded and burst into falling flames.
This is not a story about leaving.
It’s a about showing up. It’s about heeding a call even when there’s static around the edges. It’s about praying for freedom and being brought to my knees when it arrives raw, unwashed, and unkempt. I thought it would be sexier. It’s about stepping out of the blinding trenches of “can’t” with muddy feet and clear eyes. It’s about coming home to find an old dream crumpled in the corner, ink fading, unfolding it, and pressing it to my heart.
This is about my heart.
Two years ago my mama survived a heart attack. A miracle. But I think her heart got so heavy from stories untold, tangled up love, and longings too wide to hold on to. So her heart attacked her. Thank God for second chances to live from the heart.
Last fall a friend of mine- young, beautiful, so much promise- made her heart stop.
The days before it happened she took to carrying big bulky yellow bags full of things that she didn’t know where else to put or didn’t trust anyone else to hold on to. Maybe she was hoping for a way to press pause, to put the bags down and sort them out. She ended up hitting “delete all.” Her heart stopped.
This is about starting. Starting a letter of resignation and it turning into a poem:
I will write. I will teach yoga. I will live. I will press my forehead to the ground so that I can see my way. I will lie out all of my journals and read them for clues. I will make a map and follow it sometimes. I will sweat. I will cry. I will laugh. I will remember who I was before fear convinced me that I had to “pick” a name and definition. But this is not about fear.
This is about knowing that “fear and faith cannot exist in the same place.”
It’s about planning for what you can…and praying for the strength, integrity, wisdom, and courage to navigate through what you can’t plan for. It’s about knowing my inner strength.
With this strength I have climbed mountains in literal and figurative deserts. Moved away from home as a teenager. Traveled across the Atlantic Ocean to West Africa and back. Fought my way out of the heavy clutches of strangers and “loved ones”. I have always found a way or made one. This is about my inner strength, but it is also about my willingness to surrender to this process of starting, remembering, becoming, and birthing dreams to vision. Every birth requires the support of community.
This is about community. This is about Jemar staying up late nights to listen to me swear, cry, and laugh my way in to the courage it took to leave the classroom once I realized it was time to go. It’s about watching my mama wake up from surgery singing “you’re the God of a second chance.” It’s about my sister saying she’s proud of me, even though I haven’t technically done anything-super fly yet. It’s about Meryl blazing a trail and stepping off the worn path a year and a half before. My yoga students telling me they can’t wait to see more of me.
It’s about Neda, Jocelyn, Rachel, and Julie asking with profound sincerity how they can support my process. About Chelsea counting on me. Bex telling me about the time she moved to the other side of the world so her soul could breath…and she only had $40 left in her account afterward. It’s about Isabelle’s “Hell yeah!” Tabby’s, “Girl just wait…see what opens for you.” And Todd’s “sooo much fun to be had!” It’s about Debra reminding me of the virtues of patience in word and action. It’s about Jason’s “baby girl that took guts…it’s on now!” About Jesse and Stephanie talking goals and visions with me in the lulu store, on the sidewalk, or after a sweat.
It’s about telling Leah that I am “leaping and the net will appear”…and her saying “screw a net, you got wings baby.”
It’s about shaking myself awake one particularly rough evening and finding this message from Kira: “Yes, it gets very real when changing your life so dramatically. What’s helping me, when it- the shaking, the panic, the worry happens -is really slowing down and breathing through it. Also closing my eyes, and remembering all the reasons I walked away from security into the unknown. I have a quote by Alan Cohen that is posted to my home office wall. I read it several times a day. It says ‘It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new. But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful. There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in change there is power.’ ”