Sometimes Big Changes Mean Better Things

When life gives you lemons, you have a choice to make.  Each choice involves making the lemonade, because, hey, this is life and you have to do something.  Will you make lemonade and be happy and satisfied of your choice, finding it better tasting than the older version?  Or will you make lemonade and pout about the tart or sweetness, saying the older version was better, crawl into bed and pull the covers over your head and will the world away?  

I'll be honest, there have been times where I regret leaving a continuous paycheck and the insurance benefits, the great coworkers I left and the personal bonds I had formed, but never leaving the situation I was in.  I decided the moment I sent in my resignation that the most important thing to me was my health and family.  I could always be in contact with those people (many of them I have been in contact with), and I would figure out the financial part.  Lemonade was going to be made, like it or not!

I was contacted by another teacher who had left the same district to see if I was interested in tutoring a fourth grade boy who was behind in Math and Reading due to a family medical issue with his sister.  I was told that this boy was thought to be a handful from some teachers, but he was a lot like the kids I worked with for 13 years.  This teacher mentioned specific students of ours from the past that he was like.  The names she mentioned were kids we had both taught.  They were hard workers, stinkers, and all around lovable, funny, and smart beings.  Unfortunately, many adults who worked with kids like this only see the word 'stinker' and give up on them right away.  Not me.  These are the kids who have the most to gain from someone taking a little time and effort to teach in a different way to connect the dots for them.  

I met Jacob at the local library a few times a week. His parents were gracious enough to let me have my own kids with us, though they did their homework, too.  Jake was just as I imagined him to be: super smart and full of it.  I immediately took a liking to him.  I found out more about what his likes and fears were and used them to boost his learning.  He advanced so quickly in most areas that I think he surprised himself.  His grandma picked him up from tutoring one day and shared a video she had of him reading fluently.  FLUENTLY!  He was so proud of himself, but it was me who felt blessed.  Being a good teacher required me to work longer than typical school hours, and he was in a different district from which I had taught.  I would have never had the opportunity to work with Jake if I hadn't resigned. 

In addition to working with Jacob, I found a job as a caretaker for an elderly woman named Ms. Mary.  It was an ideal job, because it was during school hours and the woman I worked for allowed for my kids and Jacob to get off the bus and hang out until she arrived.   Because I couldn't make the time work to tutor Jake and be there for this new job, she also allowed me to tutor Jake at her dining room table and keep an eye on her mom.  I am so fortunate for the time working with Ms. Mary.  She taught me so much.  I admire her inner strength, determination, and funny personality.  There was never a dull moment with Ms. Mary, and when her daughter's signifiant other came home from work each day, you could never predict what kind of trouble the two of them would get into.  Usually it involved a slot machine and ice cream cone for Ms. Mary.  I couldn't have been happier to be her wheel-chair operator during these outings.  Had I not left the district I was in, I would have never had the opportunity to do this.

One summer, I worked as a caretaker to another elderly woman and companion to her daughter, who had an old brain injury.  Part of the agreement of me working was for my kids to attend a summer camp while I worked.  Without this agreement, I wouldn’t have worked, because it wouldn’t pay to put the kids in daycare. It was another ideal situation.  The kids were in camp all morning, came back to me for lunch and for the afternoon, either had a low-key day hanging with us, or walked to a private beach with the daughter, who was a blessing in disguise.  I learned patience and gained a new sense of respect for the elderly.  Who knew how difficult it was to maneuver a wheelchair in and out of the trunk of a car?  Even the daughter taught me that life is full of lemons.  You need to make the best of it.  Shortly into the summer, the elderly woman got sick and was hospitalized for most of the summer and her daughter moved in to stay with her other sister.   There was a chance both would return home, so I never took another job.  Because the kids were in camp, I drove them to camp and sat in the park down the street, writing on my iPad.  It is here that the book Ordinary to Extraordinary: The Beginning came to life.  Eventually she got better, but the summer was over and I had starting subbing most days.

I've taken some other odd jobs to try to fill the financial gaps, it is always the same story: God has blessed me in ways I would have never thought possible.  My life is rich with countless people I would have never met, lessons I learned that made me a better person, and jobs I would have never done.  The lemonade tastes different, but it’s not bad.  If only I could sweeten it a little more, those gaps might actually fill.  I'm going to have to call on patience and trust that it will all work out.  It wouldn't hurt if you bought my book, though.  Just saying.  :)

Author’s note: With my last post, I was amazed at the support people gave me. Many of the people I directly knew, but even some total strangers reached out to me. I am gracious. One report, however, took me by surprise. This person did not directly contact me, but let enough people know so that I heard. I was not offended, just confused. This person thought I was whining about my job loss and even said that enough time had passed, that I needed to get over it. My last post was not meant to get over a situation, but to tell my story and support those who have a similar one. Workplace bullying is a real thing, and it's not okay. I hope this post reaches that same person, maybe they will see more of my story and it will shed a different light on my intent. 

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