I am a bedroom and living room writer. A shower and car singer. A home cook who hasn’t personally embraced the grams of insta. So how did I get into this whole mess of trying to make a business out of a lifestyle--a business whose essence is nested in my personal life but whose presence is displayed in the public eye? As Captain Ron says, “Shit happens.” And Matt may partly be to blame.
My story isn’t uncommon: A writer who doesn’t produce. A dreamer who doesn’t actualize. Someone who feels like he’s got something to give but doesn’t quite know how to give it--or when, where or why to give it, for that matter. Part of it is fear. Fear of judgment? of failure? of success? of expectation? Part of it is your typical Aries. Part of it is probably some other deep-seated issues that even I don’t know--or don’t want to know--exist. But this month’s theme is bravery, and if this post isn’t majestic and creative, it is open and honest; it is a moment of courage. It’s me, coming out. For the second time.
Here’s the lean version of the past few years. I graduated college. I took a job teaching English. (Taking a job? Teaching? Bravery? You may be thinking, I see where he’s going with this.) At the time this guy was glad and excited. And employed with benefits in 2010! Without hubris, I can say there were some good things going for me there: Chair of the department, founder of the Writing Center, yada yada.
It was through an interesting chain of events and connections that I fell into the job as much as the job fell onto me. Now, I have ultimate respect for teachers, but teaching high school was not something I really considered doing before getting the offer and jumping in. I accepted because it was relatively familiar territory (literature + Lake Placid, where my sister and her family lives) and, yes, it was exciting. But there is also the fact that I didn’t know what else to do. I hadn't planned well for the next stage. Grad school? Didn't start on that early enough. And screw the GREs. Ultimately, I let life lead me instead of leading my life. A lot was learned, but a lot was lost and forgotten:
Once there, a slow darkness began to descend upon and grow inside me. I became inactive and antisocial; I fell out of touch with old, close friends. I drank too much, and not in the good way. I ate crap. I blew up like a balloon. I put on a good face, all the while feeling hollow and lacking interest in things that used to make me tick. It kept getting worse, and I didn’t know how to help myself. Until I decided to quit. Yes, my Rachel Platten "take back my life song" moment. A step of bravery--leaving a relatively secure but toxic (for me at the moment) job and moving on, despite the headmaster’s request: Stay on for another year while we work on looking at other schools for me, say in San Francisco.
I used to crumble at requests like that. “No” was always a hard word for me to say. (I’m getting better at it.) At the time I knew two things. One: I wasn’t doing my students or the faculty a service by staying. Two: I wasn’t doing myself one, either. I enjoyed many aspects of teaching, but it wasn’t for me for various reasons. Teaching in any other place ultimately wouldn’t fulfill me any more. At least not at the time.
I think I practically skipped out of the office. I felt a burden instantly lifted off my shoulders, the darkness a little less oppressive. But it wasn’t the end. I was still so lost and finding my way. (On top of that, the realization hit hard that I had just lost my steady income, health insurance, etc. What next?) The job was only part of my problem, though leaving it behind let die a source of anxiety, and it jumpstarted the whole-self revolution I desperately needed. And so I set off on the path of self discovery. I am still on this road, which has led me back to NC with Samson, the pup-a-lup who came into my life at just the right moment. (I’ll write more about all that when I have a better sense of the journey. Plus, he is deserving of his own post.)
It led to my meeting Matt. And an engagement. And a wine importing company. And new experiences. It truly is an adventure in learning, and so much of it is due to School of Home--a venture that is unique and important; wonderful and inspiring. However, before now I’ve been working in the background, generating ideas but not content. And I want that to change. It’s scary. It’s tough. But I want to do it. I’m stepping up. I’m producing and actualizing, not just imagining and dreaming. I’m exercising for good health and higher energy. I’m practicing meditation and prayer. I’m working with a shaman mentor. I’m taking time to breathe. I’m putting myself out there and seeing what the universe has in store. I am (re)discovering the world's beauty, as well as my own--beauty which has been muted in mine own eyes.
Now I just have to keep it up, which is its own challenge. And good that our theme next month is… (wait until our newsletter!)
I look forward to writing more! Thanks for coming along!