the page and riding off to regroup for the next great Kiser adventure.
Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs,
even though checkered by failure... than to rank with those poor spirits who
neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows
not victory nor defeat. Theodore Roosevelt
And I did win some glorious personal triumphs in the last year as
well as learning new things about myself. I traversed unknown highways alone,
stayed with strangers, and met wonderful people. I relocated my entire life’s
belongings across mountainous roads in the dead of night. I built a chicken
coop and raised baby chicks to lay delicious eggs. Tilled and toiled and became
physically strong again. And, I found that this particular mountain is not for
me. I learned that I can accept that and move on without distress.
I realized that my grandchildren are an immense part of my life
and without them there is a large hole in my heart. It may have been different
if I’d lived a distance away all along, but having been involved in their lives
from the beginning, I sorely miss the football games and the school programs
and exposing them to cultural activities. I still want to show them a simpler,
more sustainable way of living, and I will somewhere in the future. I’ve a lot
of years left.
I’ve learned to research better a living location, that the age of
an area population matters, that a high dropout and pregnancy rate happens for
a reason, and that reason cannot necessarily be excised by one person. That is
probably my biggest lesson, that while one person can make a difference, that
one person cannot change the world alone. It’s a long battle and one must
choose their battles wisely.
So, time to regroup. Headed back to Kenosha, WI but not backward.
Regain some finances and rethink the next move. Thankfully, I have that
capability. Possibly, substitute teach in Kenosha or drive a school bus,
possibly obtain a CDL and travel the country, returning to see the grandkids
every few weeks. Save those finances to settle closer because I need them, and
needing people is not necessarily a bad thing. While I love solitary living, I’ve
learned it doesn’t require ripping out my heart.
Mistakes are lessons if we learn from them, and I’ve learned a
lot. I will miss the beauty of Appalachia but not near as much as I miss the
beauty of my grandsons. Choose those battles and relish in both victory and
defeat, for then we are never truly defeated.
I have never felt better about the future than I do since I lost my job. I have never felt more at peace, and sure about direction. Informing a few of the GED students that tomorrow would be my last day was more traumatic for them that I'd thought, given I was only there a short time. "That's just not fair, when we finally get someone we can relate to and doesn't talk down to us." So, I had made an impression - good. The two girls are planning to take the test next month and are struggling with the reading and writing. One session with the girl who'd spoken had resulted in a "hero" paper that would easily pass the testing - solid writing without extraneous wording, good formatting and structure with ideas flowing and connecting. I gave her my card and told her to call me for tutoring, "We'll work something out on the payment, we'll barter." It is as it should be, and the remainder of my day will be spent in compiling my Georgia trip poetry chapbook for submission. I have a grant proposal to write as a volunteer; I have a few updates and a few phones calls due, but the universe is telling me to pursue the dream. Taking the laptop and the dog onto the deck in the warm summer breeze and following the astute advice. Anyway, the chickens have finally started laying, so all is good.
never seems to end, especially when you’re open to the possibilities. The past two
years were chock full of challenges. From putting all my “stuff” in storage to
living in my daughters basement, to leaving my cherished cats and striking out
on the road of unknown, to staying with total strangers in strange cities, to
pulling a 6’ trailer through mountain passes at midnight, then getting lost on
an old logging road at 4000’ elevation. Through it all, I learned new things
about my strengths, discarded myths about my weaknesses, and grew spiritually
with each discovery.
another self emerged through disappointment. In the seven years I facilitated
workshops for the Neighborhood Writing Alliance, I thrilled at leading folks
into the realization that they had voices, that their words were important and
powerful, and that people wanted to read their stories. Those years brought me
to the idea that I loved teaching. What I learned today was that it isn’t
teaching. I didn’t teach them how to write. I didn’t edit their pieces before
publishing. In fact, many of my edits were edited. The joy was in the leading,
the guidance, the conversation and dialogue that got them to the point of
writing publishable work.
Three weeks of teaching GED reminded me that I am at complete odds with state rules,
regulations, and requirements, all which make no sense. The process leaves
students, and caring teachers, empty. It’s about meeting mandatory hours, and
using books that have no correlation with needs, only scores. There’s no true
rapport building with the individual, only process and procedure.
spending an hour with a student discussing how to learn their own process, for
writing or math or reading, was exhilarating as the student asked deeper and
richer questions. Discussing career goals and passions, suggesting possibilities,
actually relating to the human, this is what inspires and fulfills me. So, in losing my job due to illness, I've found another self. Now, to
follow this new path and carve out some type of living is a new challenge.