March 2013

When I was eight, I suffered a total public meltdown. The grade school that I attended, St. Mary’s, taught grades 1 through 8, but the school wasn’t big enough to house all the students, so the 1st and 2nd graders were taught at a smaller building about a half mile away. Whenever there was a school-wide assembly, the 1st and 2nd graders were marched in a single file line along the road that led from the “little” school to the “big” school.  Aside from a few assemblies a year, the “little” school almost never interacted with the “big” school.

On my first day of school in the 3rd grade, I was dropped off in unfamiliar territory, now promoted to the “big” school and having no clue how to find my way around to my classroom. New experiences were especially frightening to me as a child, and this day I felt overwhelmed and abandoned in a foreign land, my parents nowhere in sight and a bunch of militant nuns asserting their authority on the first day of school. So I did what most of us do when we’re out of our comfort zone – we pretend to know what we’re doing.

When the bell ran and all the children filed into the building from the playground/parking lot outside, I walked in with them. But then I had no idea where to go. I wandered around, scared and frantic until I gave up, broke down into tears and crumbled to the floor against one of the hallway walls. I was lost, overwhelmed and terrified. Fortunately, a kind nun came upon me, spoke in a soothing voice, and gently guided me to my classroom. The day ended well.

This memory is so vivid that whenever I find myself in a new and unfamiliar situation as an adult, a part of me still feels like that little girl. Usually I get through by faking it, pretending I know what I’m doing. Sometimes it’s more difficult, and I can feel that little girl cringing in me, terrified and anxious.

Transitions can be hard, even when we’ve volunteered for the experience. I bring this up because I’m about to embark on a new beginning. After two wonderful years of living my dream as a full-time writer, I’m headed back into the workplace. Fortunately, I’m doing this in the best possible way, reporting to a wonderful boss I worked for years ago in a job that I loved. Emotionally, this has the same effect on me as the kindly nun rescuing me in that hallway. Because I know and trust this person, there is an anchor of certainty in the new job that wouldn’t exist if I had chosen to go elsewhere, and I feel much calmer about my new beginning.

Still, I feel sad that my writing sabbatical is coming to an end. I’m immensely grateful to have experienced focusing on my writing full-time and really exploring what it means to be a writer. I had a chance to reinvent myself and I’m proud of what I accomplished. I have no plans to give up on writing, and my third novel is in the works.  But my attention will now be divided between my professional work life and my professional writing life.

During my writing life, I forged new friendships and relationships, and these will have to adapt to my new professional life as well. I won’t have the time flexibility that I once did, and it will require more thoughtful effort to stay in touch. But I am absolutely committed to doing so.

For the last two years, I possessed the distinct feeling that I was receiving divine assistance, as though a trail of breadcrumbs was left for me to follow. I got just what I needed, just when I needed it. I found the right people, the right inspirations, and the right help to assist me along my path. I have to admit that this new job feels like just another bit of divine assistance. Things fell into place easily. The right job came along at the right time, working for the right person. I am grateful for the opportunity.

So here’s yet another chance to reinvent myself, to take it to another level, to keep going along my path, never abandoning my core truth. I look forward to meeting new people and making new friends and having new experiences. I trust that the universe is leading me to the next best thing for me.

This time I know where to find my classroom.