Life is full of surprises. For example, I never imagined I would have the words business owner next to my name at age 52. Michelle Gunnin B.S., M.A., and Business Owner. Say what? Instead of winding down towards retirement, I am gearing up to build something new. Taking on challenges is something I know how to do, so this is simply that…a new challenge. I am finding it requires a different skill set than teaching does. However, I am also finding that my past experiences make it a fit for me and that what skills I don’t have, my partner Mary does have. We are a team. We joke that between us we have a whole brain!
The freedom to create our own schedule, our own pricing, our own lessons, our own way to assess is mindboggling. Twenty years of being told how to do everything is a hard mindset to break. When Mary and I were discussing how to show documentation of our lessons we had an epiphany, we are no longer required to PROVE that we know what we are doing. We simply do it and it speaks for itself. Plan the lesson. Teach the lesson. Pretty simple. Amazingly simple. Finding the right strategy for each student has long been our specialty, so this new thing is giving us the ability to do it for each child we work with. What a gift that is!
As exciting as it is to be doing what we love in a new format, there are mixed feelings. While all our teaching friends are getting ready for the new school year we are not…not in the usual way anyway. The comradery of a school family is missing, and I’ll be honest, it stings a bit. If I had left under better circumstances, I think it might not be as difficult. However, since I left against my will, I find myself grieving the loss of my teaching career. I feel passed over, pushed to the side, run off, and left behind. In a way, I feel like my career was stolen from me before it was time, even though the choice was mine to make. My friendships with colleagues will change no matter how much I don’t want them to. How can they not? When you do not see people every day things just change, and that is as big a loss as not teaching. My heart is bleeding.
Doing the same thing every year for 20 years, it is ingrained in my identity. It is who I am…a teacher. When that schedule was interrupted suddenly it felt as if I was in a free fall. It has taken some time to remember that who I am is not dictated by the job I do. Adjusting to the free fall is much like jumping out of an airplane. The first step was the scariest. Now I am adapting to the feeling of flying, not knowing exactly if the parachute will open or where I will land. If it sounds scary it is because it is. Yet, the freedom of the flight is worth the risk. If I crash at least I can say I went out in a blaze of glorious freedom!
I do believe in healing of wounded hearts. I know the healer personally. I also know myself, and that for me to step into a change this momentous, I had to be forced into it. Usually it is how God does things with me…allows it to blow up in my face, and THEN I move towards change, out of survival. He knows me so well. I sometimes wish I would learn to move BEFORE things implode on me. Haha. This change was a needed one. It is a good one. Hard, but good. As the new school year begins I wish my teacher friends the best of years! I pray for you daily, because you are on the frontlines. I wish the parents a smooth beginning and transition to new grade levels and higher expectations. Most of all I wish the students the best possible year where learning is both exciting and fun! I also wish myself and my business partner an adventurous year in which the parachute will open and we will glide to the perfect landing in our new endeavors.
P.S. We did NOT go skydiving…these pictures are from the internet. 🙂