Wednesday, January 22, 2014

My Life as a Journal

I have not journaled in forever. Seems I always feel the need to pretty up my words and parade them in front of people, dress them in their Sunday best and show them off to Grandma. I am always eager for that nod of approval that, yes, I am doing a wonderful job and have raised them well. Well, like the pimply teen at that first school dance, I am enticed now by the thought of stepping out onto the dance floor and giving it what I’ve got, moving, feeling, exploring with no expectation, with just the freedom of letting loose. So, patience please while I kick off these shoes, change into my favorite old tee and worn out jeans, and throw my hair up in a ponytail. Let’s give this journaling a shot.

I am at a good place right now. I say right now because two weeks ago I was not at a good place. Two weeks ago I was stressed and anxious and questioning my abilities and decisions. Two weeks ago I had stepped into the classroom as someone else. I am substituting for an instructor who is out for six weeks on medical leave. I have done this before. I was a substitute teacher during and after college for everything from kindergarten through senior year of high school. I have taught fractions, sung the Dreidel song, colored in maps of the world, and overseen band practice. Understand that math and I are not friends. Neither do I sing, play an instrument, or have any great knowledge of geography. But I did it. I have also substituted at the college level. An instructor was in the hospital unexpectedly. I picked up and covered for him without thought or great effort. This time, however, this time is different.

For six weeks I am to be someone who I am not. At least this is how I came into the job. I stepped into the classroom as someone else, trying to BE that someone else. This was not my class. This was not my material. And this was not me. I tried hard. I put on my best smile, threw up the PowerPoints, and took the stage. I felt the lie. I felt the lie every second I was in that room. I did the job, yes, but I did not like it. Understand I love what I do. For me to say to myself that I do not like my job is like hearing a foreign language I do not speak. I could not comprehend how it could be. I could not comprehend why it was not as it should be. I could not comprehend if I was doing everything that I do in my own classes how it could be that it did not feel the same.

Then I remembered something a student said to me once. He said, “You could teach the most wretched subject, and somehow you would find a way to put your Tammie twist on it.”

How many times do we take the stage as someone else? We put on our best smiles, throw the material up on the screen, and out comes the voice of another. How many times do we deny those around us the person we are because we feel it somehow unacceptable or inappropriate? How many times do we pretty ourselves up and parade our fakeness in front of our family, our friends, those with whom we work, just looking for that nod of approval? How many times do we not put our own unique twist on something because we are afraid of how it will be received?

I am coming through this challenge as myself. It has not been an easy transition. I thought that I was simply stepping in for another. What I was doing was signing up for a lesson in getting real. What I was doing was getting back to the live version of journaling, being who I am when no one else is watching. I am learning that I best serve others when I am me, the REAL me, not the prettied up me. The REAL me is bare feet and a sleeveless tee, snug fitting jeans, hair wild and free. The real me is an easy smile and a friendly word, a little soft music and a bottle of tea. The real me is fun and free and giving. The real me loves others and loves life. Why would I not BE that?

Two weeks ago I was stressed. I was stressed and anxious and miserable with my life. Today I am free. I am free because I am being who I was put here to be.

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