When you have no words…

Yesterday, I learned that one of my sweetest friends passed away unexpectedly. She was exuberant and vivacious, so incredibly full of life, and to hear that she is gone is just…numbing.

I met Leslie when we worked at the same district. She was the Instructional Coach for ELA at the district, so I spent many hours with her, under her guidance and tutelage as I learned how to incorporate the “district way” of writing into my overflowing toolbox of teacher tricks. That same year, I was overgoing a bit of an overhaul, personally, physically. She joined me on that journey and we spent afternoons walking Cosmo Park, talking and laughing.

It was in those walks that I learned just how incredibly lucky I was to be in her presence. You see, Leslie’s world…her people orbit around her. She is the guiding light, the person whom 6-degrees of separation stems off of. She wasn’t narcissitic or egotistical, people were just naturally drawn into her gravitational pull…because that’s exactly what it was – her ENERGY drew you in. All in.

All in. Just like Leslie, who committed to everything and everyone 10000%. There was no half-in, half-out with her. It was all or nothing. And I am so incredibly grateful that my five years of friendship with her has felt like a thousand lightyears. I just wish I could have a thousand more.

You will be missed beyond measure, Leslie. Forever and always, my bubbly, unconditionally loving friend you’ll be.

Me and Leslie

From one insecure soul to another — Part 3 (and finale)

Okay, Kristine, we get it. You were insecure and measured yourself against others’ success instead of your own. We’re human – we all do it – so, what?

I realized I spent my three years running away. I taught a zero-hour class, which meant I was free and clear by 1:20 p.m., every day. And as often as I could, I hauled ass away from the school by 2:00 p.m. – mainly because I had college classes to teach beginning at 2:45 p.m. This was all fine and good — but it got to an unhealthy point where I booked myself solid, maxing out on the number of classes an adjunct can teach in a given semester (9 credit hours), all for what purpose?

To prove my MA wasn’t a waste of time or money? To prove that I can teach secondary AND post-secondary students? To whom? Myself? My peers? Why? What were the benefits?

I honestly do not know.

What I do know is that if I had stayed, I would have continued this unhealthy pattern of running away and avoiding reality. My leaving was more about my sanity than it was to move on from somewhere where I felt like I was constantly being judged, raked through the coals, and spit out. Let me go on record to say that my department chair, my department, and my principals were all phenomenal — they were my reason for remaining sane. However, it was the constant struggle against a machine that wasn’t privy to my daily contributions that squashed my will to stay and fight.

I focused my energy on my “why” — reflecting on the reason(s) for having a mid-life career change into this beautiful, wonderful field that I call “home.” I landed at a 7-12 secondary school, teaching 8th graders (middle schoolers are FUN!), and falling back in love with my craft. I stopped being an adjunct instructor because my cup was being filled at my “day” job. I stopped running away and I stayed put.

What I found at the end of this year was a school I want to retire from, my “forever school.” I have felt more support and unspoken recognition than I’ve felt in the past couple of years, and I finally heard, “You’re the expert, we trust you.” And to me, that’s priceless.