For the first time in thirty-one years, I didn’t go back to school in August.
Kindergarten. College. Teaching.
August (and, let’s be honest, the end of July) were for getting ready for the classroom. Whether I was the student or the teacher, I’ve walked into a new school year every August for the majority of my life.
But not this year.
I was curious how this would feel. How sending my kids back to school without the stress of also getting myself ready. Of watching my friends and former co-workers return to their classrooms, while I didn’t ready a syllabus, make millions of copies, or eager look over my roster to see who I’d be spending the year with.
Weird reality: it didn’t bother me at all.
I anticipated the missing out. I was even looking forward to the sadness a little bit, as a way to say I was missing my calling because I have felt for years I was made to be a teacher. I was made to be in the classroom with loud-mouth kids and books and passing periods.
The eerie peace and calm I’ve felt has been unexpected. Like I almost don’t trust the way I feel right now. Shouldn’t I be worried and anxious and bummed a little?
I feel like I’m doing this wrong.
Maybe because I still bought new pens, set up a desk in a new office, and purchased a few new outfits (“writing” outfits, I shall henceforth call them), that I magically pulled out all the best parts? I know that’s not true, but I’m searching for answer and I’m willing to make them up right now.
Here’s what I’m doing while I’m not in the classroom:
–I’m writing for at least an hour every day. Uninterrupted, write-the-freaking-book writing. It is hard and good and sometimes telling the truth about the past few years makes me physically ill. But I am writing it. After years of saying I’d write something, I am actually writing. (My goal is 25,000 words by the end of August.)
–I’m writing twice a week here. I have always been overflowing with ideas for posts but there was never enough time. That is definitely weird to say since there was a period of time when I was working full time, parenting two young kids, and publishing posts at least five days a week. I cannot vouch for the quality of writing that was happening then though so there’s that.
–I’m talking. Joining the Not Terrible podcast with Jess last spring has challenged me in new and exciting ways. In a weird way, learning to share stories out loud without the option to edit much is influencing the way I write too. I’m not sure what I was expecting when Jess and I started discussing this new version of the podcast, but God’s doing some crazy things with it.
–I’m helping some local businesses manage their social media accounts. Working on the internet for over ten years has given me some skills I didn’t realize I had until someone pointed them out. So that’s cool.
–I’m sharing an office and studio. In the heart of the small town I grew up in, just a few miles from our current house, sits a blue-gray building with giant windows and really uneven floors. Jess and I have signed a lease, moved ourselves in, and are working hard to build a creative space so we can run our media businesses, collaborate with and encourage each other, and develop a place to host local events. (Full tour of the space and how you can rent it for yourself in a few weeks!)
–I’m preparing to teach again. But my students won’t have to call me Mrs. Graham (unless they want extra credit, then they totally can). One of the things I want to do with the office/studio space we’ve created is host some writer’s workshops. Gathering people to talk about the craft of writing and how to do it better in the context of telling our stories is something that gets me really excited so I’m collecting ideas, taking notes, and dreaming about what that will look like.
–I will be freelance writing more soon. But not yet. I know myself well enough and without a doubt, I can fill my days with lots of activities and work things that will take the focus off finally writing the story I need to tell. The outline is done. The prep work is done. I just have to sit and write. I’m doing it, but in the process, I’ve had to turn down some exciting opportunities or experiences so I don’t get distracted. I am trusting God will give me what I need when it’s time, but I’m trying really hard to be faithful and quiet with the task I believe He’s given me.
The reality of August coming and me not going back to the classroom but having the margin to write full time felt like a fake dream, too good to be true. But here I am, far from the halls of a school writing my little brains out. I know without a doubt it will get harder, but August has been kind to me and I’m thankful for the opportunity.
*That picture is NOT my office. I mean, seriously, you didn’t think that did you? I’m not a millionaire for goodness sake.
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