9/7/17 – I will stand my ground, where hope can be found

“Though times it seems
Like I’m coming undone
This walk can often feel lonely
No matter what until this race is won
I will stand my ground where hope can be found
I will stand my ground where hope can be found”

It is Friday around 5:30PM, the magical time at the end of the week where the world seems to stop to take a breath as people transition from work mode and head into the weekend. The early evening sunlight pours through the windows as I sit and reflect on these past few days. The song “O’Lord” by Lauren Daigle pops into my head, and I realize that there is a reason. One line in particular.

I will stand my ground.

Fear of the unknown has always gripped and consumed me. My active imagination plays out multiple, often unrealistic, “what if” scenarios. Typically, right before a new school year starts, I feel like a young ballerina about to take the stage who is suddenly engulfed

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in stage fright; her heart thuds as she pictures the spotlight blaring in her eyes and the immense crowd of people sitting before her. Of course, one minute into the show, her stage fright melts away as she glides effortlessly into pirouettes across the stage. Likewise, once I meet my students and get settled into the year, those nerves float away. But that initial time before school starts when my fear of the unknown is heightened can be stressful and intimidating.

This year, however, I find that the night before school starts, I feel oddly at peace. Thinking about the day ahead does not even incite a flutter of nerves. I feel excited. I feel ready. Usually, my stomach is queasy, and all I can do is tell myself that this time tomorrow the unknown will be known.

I wake up that morning to the smell of coffee (thank you, Brittany) and confidently, yet still sleepily, pour myself a cup. Later, when the homeroom bell rings and students begin to flow down the hallway, I feel confident. The jitters and butterflies that would usually be at an all-time high at this moment seem to have traveled elsewhere.

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I stand outside of my classroom door (with my coffee in hand, of course) and animatedly greet my students with “Good morning, good morning, good morning” as they walk into the classroom in groups of twos and threes. The show has begun, and there isn’t the slightest flicker of anxiety.

“Find your schedule and have a seat,” I cheerfully say as they walk in. As of now, they are simply new to me. I can’t match names with faces. I don’t know what their personalities are like. But the show continues to play, and I float across the stage.

I will stand my ground.

Now, as I sit at my dining room table and reflect on the past few days, I realize that the calm I so differently experienced this year was a direct result of the pain and heartache from the break-up that I had previously endured. I had to find new levels of myself, had to reach in and dig deep to overcome the hopelessness that I felt. It is amazing how different areas of your life can be impacted, for the better, because of these emotional hardships.

This, of course, does not mean that for the remainder of time I will dodge feelings of anxiety and stress. That would, clearly, not be realistic. But it is a tiny moment of victory. Today, for me, happiness is going through the storm, finding hope, and standing my ground.

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9/4/17 Facebook

It is officially the last day of Summer Vacation. Yes, Summer Vacation is capitalized, in my world, because it should, in fact, be a national holiday. Banks should close in its honor!

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As I sit on the couch in the morning drinking coffee from my Harry Potter mug (that changes into the Maurader’s Map once it’s filled with hot coffee! #nerd), I take in the last bit of summer. The weather has already shown signs that fall approaches. To my dismay, small leaves have already begun to fall swiftly onto the deck out back. There is a slight chill in the air.

I head over to the dining room table where my computer sits and log in to Facebook. I scroll through various posts on my Home Page when one post in particular catches my eye.

It is written by a girl with whom I went to college, and in her post, she discusses how she had let the fear of doing something new hold her back from being passionate and happy. Reading her post strikes me. It resonates with me in a way that I want to know more.

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Licking my lips, I hesitantly open a new message to contact her. I haven’t spoken to her since college graduation. (Of course, the beauty of Facebook is that, despite our lack of communication, I know how many kids she has and what she has been up to. Not exactly a stranger.) Still, I nervously type out a message, indicating how much her post reminded me of me.

The saying, “If you want to go somewhere you’ve never gone, you have to do something you’ve never done” is swimming through my mind. I could begin another school year still feeling in a rut, and I could choose not to do anything about it, continuing to go through the motions like old hat. Or, I could take a leap of faith, do something I’ve never done, and get to somewhere I’ve never been.

To my delight, she responds almost immediately, and we begin communicating back and forth, comparing our lives and fears and hopes. It’s a good thing I’m on my second (okay third) cup of coffee.

As we talk, she opens my eyes to the possibility of adding a new path to my life. She, also a teacher, has joined a health and fitness company on the side, and it has tremendously changed the way she feels. There are different levels and stages to the company, but it has the chance to add something pretty spectacular to my life and has the potential for growth. Even though I already eat properly and am in good shape, the idea of entering a community of like-minded people, while inspiring others to do the same, is intriguing.

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After all, helping and motivating people was what attracted me to teaching, and the idea of joining her in this journey to motivate others suddenly gets my adrenaline going. (It is the equivalent feeling of when Carrie Bradshaw, in the movie Sex and the City, attends fashion week and is instantly brought back to life by fashion models striding down the runway. Yes. It’s like that.)

The possibility of adding a side job to the table is an undertaking, to say the least. It is something that will require me to change my routine and lifestyle. (What do you mean I can’t sit on the couch and watch Bravo anymore!)

If she were saying this to the person I was a year ago, I would have shied away. It is something new that will require work and, as such, is taking a risk. However, if there is one thing I have learned, it is that getting your heart broken strengthens you in ways that you didn’t know were possible. It strips you down until you find what you are made of. The girl I was a year ago is not the girl I am today. She has been tested and molded into something stronger than she had been. She has developed a confidence about herself that did not exist previously. The idea of joining this fitness community is exciting, not scary.

I’m certainly not saying that I’m ready to attempt bungee jumping or other life-threatening experience, like karaoke. But today, happiness is acknowledging that this particular risk would have, at one time, intimidated me. And now, because of the pain and heartache that I went through, instead of running for the hills because it’s new and complex, I’m facing it head on.