So it’s a leap year, which means my birthday is postponed by a day to accommodate February 29th – for my birthday is March 1st.
I mentioned before that I have been working with a magical resource to create a “shining” year: Leonie Dawson’s 2016 Create Your Shining Year in Life workbook. By now, I’ve filled in virtually all the workbook pages, except for the “How would you like to celebrate your birthday?” page. No ideas came to me, aside from having a small family get-together – which, of course, is actually quite wonderful. But I wanted to come up with some additional ideas, and they just weren’t coming…until yesterday morning, when I woke up with a Big Idea.
If you have been following my blog for a while, you are aware that I resigned from my job as a kindergarten teacher last June after becoming disheartened by how kindergarten had changed over the past few years.
There’s a school in Manhattan called The Blue School that is my dream school. It epitomizes all my values as an artistic, holistic educator. I first learned about the school when the Blue Man Group founders, Matt Goldman and Chris Wink, were part of a panel discussion on “Educating the Heart and Mind” (with Eckhart Tolle, Sir Ken Robinson, Dan Siegel, Murray Gell-Mann, and H.H. the Dalai Lama) during the 2009 Vancouver Peace Summit.
Two summers ago, a Blue School teacher spoke at the Mindfulness & Education Conference I attended at Omega Institute, and I was inspired and deeply moved by her description of the school and its mission – and her obvious love for her work. Actually, I was inspired to tears because it was in such complete alignment with why I was drawn to teaching in the first place.
A couple times recently, a little voice arose from within and urged me to visit the school as a last-ditch effort to determine whether my passion for teaching can be reignited or inspired in the (right kind of) classroom environment. But I am a country girl and avoid New York City (which is about a 3-hour drive) because I find it intimidating.
Well, it so happens that I am taking my son for a film school interview near NYC on Monday and am staying overnight (far enough from the City to remain within my comfort zone). The Big Idea I awoke with yesterday morning is that perhaps I can venture to Lower Manhattan Tuesday morning and visit The Blue School and discover first-hand what it feels like in that kind of holistic educational environment, since I’ll be in the general vicinity, anyway (and the educator who spoke at Omega invited conference attendees to visit).
I intend to call the school first thing Monday morning to set up a visit for Tuesday, if at all possible. So my new vision for my birthday is to visit the school and either be inspired in some way or to feel greater clarity and closure about walking away from classroom teaching once and for all and pursuing other options (i.e. growing my photography business, starting my own
teaching inspiration studio). I believe that visiting my dream school will provide me with the ultimate answers, inspiration, and/or permission I seek with regard to moving forward. I asked friends who are familiar with the area for advice about the best way to get there and have a plan of action all mapped out, assuming the school is able to accommodate me on such short notice.
It might not seem like a huge deal to you, but it’s an epic decision for me. A game changer. I am choosing to go to a place that scares me because my sense of adventure and desire for clarity outweigh my fear, which already has been transformed into excitement. (I suspect excitement is often what exists just beyond the boundary of fear, when you dare to cross that line.) In addition, I have accepted an invitation from the mother of a former student to have my first-ever massage later in the week. Believe it or not, that falls into the same category as a solo trip to Manhattan! And I am thrilled. Thrilled to be busting out of my comfort zone and self-imposed limitations and embracing a larger life. It feels so empowering, as if anything is possible.
It reminds me of my discovery a few years ago that the ocean is easily within reach.
The truth is, except for the years I lived in Ithaca, the ocean was always within a four-hour drive. And I love the ocean! But aside from the 2-1/2 years I lived in Florida, I didn’t visit the ocean at all during my adult life. The reason was that I had become a creature of habit. I was comfortable driving west (to Ithaca) and until a few summers ago never thought about exploring in the opposite direction. East was unexplored territory. It wasn’t off-limits by any means. It was merely unexplored. The only thing that prevented me from going to the ocean and savoring the rhythm of the waves and the sensation of warm sand between my toes was that my sense of discovery, exploration, and adventure was dormant. I believed it would have to be a big deal that I couldn’t afford. One day, it occurred to me that a trip to the ocean and back could even be a long day trip. And then I did some research and found a nice, affordable hotel, which meant it could be an easy, two-day trip. And so it was. And then trips to the coast became more regular, and I couldn’t believe what I had missed out on all those years!
My discovery that the ocean is accessible was revelatory! It was there the whole time and serves as a great metaphor. We can get to the end of our life only to realize that it (whatever “it” is for each of us) was there the whole time, but we just never noticed. Never turned our head an inch to the right, which would have made all the difference. What else are we not seeing or noticing? To love something as much as I love the ocean and to have shut it out for so many years seems utterly absurd now, and I wonder what else I’m not seeing or allowing in that would be nourishing and make a positive difference in my life.
I don’t know what happened to turn me into an explorer, but it’s the biggest transformation I’ve experienced since becoming a mother more than 21 years ago. It might have been the resolution born from my mom’s quick demise from pancreatic cancer: Life is short. Do what you love. It might have been overcoming my fears and finally having the courage to leave my teaching job. It might have been being close enough to catch someone else’s infectious sense of exploration and adventure. Or all of the above. But the result is that I now have a burning desire to leap out of habit, familiarity, and the safety of my comfort zone and live a larger, more engaged life full of possibilities I’d never opened myself to before. It’s a completely new mindset, and how appropriate for a leap year! I’ve heard the adage that you can’t expect to get different results by repeating the same, old thing, and that rings so true. I sense that a wealth of possibility exists beyond the borders of my comfort zone and am eager to leap out and explore exciting new territory. It’s my birthday gift to myself.
© Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography, 2016. SHARING IS CARING, and I appreciate my work being shared with others! Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography (river-bliss.com). Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, including all text and photos, without express and written permission from this website’s author/owner is strictly prohibited. In other words, I put my heart and soul into my writing and photography and want to be credited for it and have some traffic sent my way. It’s the high vibration thing to do! 🙂