Me? Retired at age 33? I know, I roll my eyes and shake my head, too. But the whole full-time teaching thing is just a bit too much on my body right now. I haven't had much time or energy (read: any) to keep the blog updated over the past few months, as whatever I did have went towards work or family. After much deliberation on the part of doctors, therapists, and me, the conclusion was to find work a bit less taxing. I don't think I'm done with teaching forever, just perhaps this form. And with my current physical condition. I feel hopeful (often) that one day, my heart and lungs will recover fully and I will have the energy again to give to others.
That's the big news this week. Tomorrow will be my last day at my job of the past (almost) ten years. I will miss many things about it:
#1 the kids (the relationships, watching them grow and discover and gain confidence as they mature into big, sometimes-smelly tweens, seeing them develop strong relationships to each other, and feeling like members of their families),
#2 my co-workers (my always supportive school family),
#3 the feeling of knowing what I was doing, the routines, the familiarity of the task at hand...
While other things I won't miss quite as much.
Anyway. The road ahead is a little foggy. I know this is the right decision (my throat is killing me tonight after talking to parents all afternoon for report card conferences), but I'm not quite sure what's coming next. And we all know how I handle uncertainty. There have been times during the past few weeks that I have felt panicked, second guessing myself, my doctors, wondering if leaving with no particular plan ahead is the wisest decision to make. We do have a child to feed here.
And then I remember what it felt like last year, realizing my blood cells were making decisions independent of me. I have to have some say now. A teeny, tiny bit. I choose to put my health first, and hope beyond all hoping that everything else somehow magically falls into place.
Like I said, I was going through books yesterday. I picked up a book I used often when my last name was still Dansky, called The Art of Teaching Writing, a writing teacher's bible of sorts, written by the goddess of all writing instruction, Lucy McCormick Calkins. Calkins is a professor at Teacher's College, where I attended a week-long institute (on teaching writing) many years ago. Flocks of teachers gather each summer to hear her wisdom, scribble down her ideas, and gain the insight of other talented writers and teachers. There are always amazing authors there (Patricia Polacco, Joan Bauer, Pam Munoz Ryan have all made appearances), giving keynote speeches, and later signing autographs (my personal favorite: James Howe, author of Bunnicula, signed my copy of Bunnicula Strikes Again with bunny ears).
Apparently (though I have absolutely no recollection of this), I got Lucy to sign my copy of Art of Teaching Writing. When I opened the cover to make sure my name was inside, what I read was this:
Celebrate the new horizons that beckon you forward in your journey.
Couldn't have said it better myself.