It’s good to be back, though I’m afraid I won’t be back to my regular blogging routine, if ever. Ah well..I’ll just post when I can, right?
But the last few weeks have been profound on so many levels. I’m always up for those life journeys that open us up to possibilities, fulfill dreams, and allow us to be on that path that gets us closer to our version of Enlightenment.
I have much to be thankful for.
1. The opportunity to return to school.
I was sitting at the beach in June - mid-June to be exact.
I looked at my husband and I was brainstorming ways to tutor kids, create fun adult Spanish conversation groups and suddenly a lightbulb went on in my head: I needed to finish my master’s degree.
Dang, I’d already quit twice – I had written it off as something I wasn’t going to finish. But four years later, it was bugging me. I hate not finishing big things like this.
There are plenty of things I haven’t finished, but something so important to my future? It was bugging me.
And going back to school went something like this: contact my professor (and good friend), fill out some paperwork, start classes two weeks later.
It must be a sign when it’s that easy.
Do you believe in signs?
2. The good kind of dilemmas.
When I returned to school, I had not one, but two professors try to convince me to go for the PhD program offered through the University of Salamanca.
While this seems like a grand opportunity, I have no idea what I’m going to do. I really need to improve my Spanish (after the last year not practicing it very much) and it would require another 3-4 years of my time.
And the school where I’m teaching these days? I feel like I’ve found home, you know? For the first time in my life, I feel like I could plant myself there for 20 years and never leave. It’s a freaking dream.
I still have another year of graduate courses for my master’s degree, so I have time to think. But I know myself: the passage of time thinking about this won’t necessarily give me an answer.
The pros: I’ll be able to work at any university in the world. I can specialize and do very niche things, like being a language coordinator. I could even possibly stay at the school where I work now. The prestige. The pay bump. The love of learning and devoting myself to my studies.
The cons: Will I still be able to have a creative outlet via my art and blogging/writing? What if I decide that teaching university isn’t for me? I would have to live away from my husband for 4 or five months and if you have any idea how much I love my hunky dude, you’d know that the mere thought of spending time away from him makes me cringe. The pay isn’t even that much greater than with a master’s degree. You have to write a long thesis – all in Spanish – and you’re competing with native Spanish speakers. Yikes.
My “cons” list right now is longer than my “pros” list and the pros list seems a bit materialistic. But being Dr. Calhoun has a nice ring to it…and I could live in Spain. I love that damned country. Alas…visiting is almost as good as living there.
I also learned about another possibility: Latin studies. I could study that language, art and culture and end up teaching art history classes about indigenous art.
It’s almost cruel there are so many choices out there.
3. My art.
I am completely inspired. I got an idea for an upcoming project I’d like to work on: return to doing Southwestern/Mexican art and do a year-long project with Mayan hieroglyphics – and create art from them.
No, it won’t be as ambitious as the Picto Project was (and got derailed by certain life events), but I always need to create art. Maybe not make a living at it, but I need to unleash my creativity and painting/drawing is one of the best ways I know of to do that.
4. The desire to give back.
I want to make a difference in a big, bad way. I desperately want to leave this planet in a better place than when I got here.
I don’t know how or when I’m going to do that just yet, but I certainly have some ideas brimming: donating the monies from my artwork to indigenous peoples in Central America or joining Amnesty International, or volunteering with the Hispanic people in my community or…all of those things!
5. The ability to learn a new language.
Well, “new” isn’t exactly the right word here.
But, I love learning Spanish. It’s the tongue of so many of my ancestors.
It would be so cool to do a genealogical search to figure out at what point they arrived in Mexico and if, indeed, they came from Spain.
I also love the fact that my family has always spoken Spanish. They have lived in what is now New Mexico for generations – even before the Mexican-American War in the mid-1800s.
One day they were in Mexico, and the next day it became the US – they went right on speaking Spanish and frankly, all this debate about everybody speaking English in the US is stupid: nearly half this country WAS Mexico at one point and the connection the US has to Mexico is so intricate that I have a preposterous theory: that neither one can exist without the other. But that is a debate for another day.
6. Coming to terms with the fact that I’m supposed to teach.
I’ve tried to deny it. I’ve tried to play down the fact that there is this passion that occupies my heart to convey information to eager minds and to anyone who would listen.
I get a high from the smiles I get from students who understand the material I teach.
I love helping our younger generations understand other cultures better that would help them in their own lives, and I love getting people excited about my passion to teach languages, culture and art.
I suppose I can’t ignore the fact that I have parents coming up to me telling me how much their children love my Spanish classes.
I reckon I can’t downplay the fact that my peers made me Teacher of the Year in 2011.
I can’t forget how many gifts and cards parents and students have given to me over the years in appreciation: I have a box-full of mementos and whenever I’m feeling down about the difference I’ve made, I look at those cards and my heart melts and screams to be in the classroom.
Even though I make a pittance doing it.
Even though there are parents who are tough to deal with.
Even though our society seems hell-bent on attacking and blaming teachers for our students’ shortcomings. Don’t they know that schools are small replicas and mirrors of our society? No matter. Those who are meant to do this plow through the political flames and go right on doing what they know they’re born to do.
I still am answering this call.
All the signs are there: the ease with which I found a teaching job earlier this year, how much I’ve come to love it, how easy it’s been to go back to school to improve my own Spanish and teaching skills, and the response I get from my community.
I’m supposed to do this.
Have you found your passion?
7. My iPad.
After getting back from the beach, my laptop had died. I think it overheated. I had plugged it into the outlets near the bathhouses, and I was never out in the sun or anything like that, the computer felt hot to the touch on the last day I was using it and after getting home to turn it on, the screen was blank.
Off to summer courses I went and I had my iPad, a gift from my wonderful parents last year. That thing saved me.
But more than that, I’ve been watching video after video of a stupid telenovela to keep improving my Spanish. It’s called “La Mentira” and I’m hopelessly hooked.
I never watch soap operas.
But the sick irony is that when you watch them in the language you want to learn, it draws you in so that you find yourself pausing numerous times to look up words you don’t know just so you don’t miss a thing. Oh, I do hope Verónica gets back together with Demetrio.
And the iPad makes it incredibly easy to plunge myself into the world of Pueblo Alegre with one touch of a button.
My husband gives me these looks like, “who are you?”
I tell him I’m practicing. I promise.
Would you watch soap operas to help you learn another language?
8. Good makeup.
This is another instance of my husband giving me sidelong glances, wondering what in the world has come over me.
I don’t wear makeup.
But, thanks to the influence of my Latin friends, I find myself wearing a little bit of it lately.
I’m still the same crunchy granola girl who romps around in the mud on her mountain bike.
Lately, though, I find that I feel slightly more confident and feel a little prettier with it. Somehow, I secretly think my husby doesn’t mind too much.
Ladies, most of you wear makeup, don’t you?
9. Supportive family and friends.
My husband is my #1 fan. I’m also his. But, in all my endeavors he’s supportive. He called me up one night when I was away at school and he told me that he was proud of me: for my Spanish and for the artwork. Oh how my heart burst with adoration and love.
My parents, mother-in-law, and family friends have been cheering for me to finish this degree and for my artwork, too.
I won’t let them down and I know that there are people out there who are hard-pressed to find such support.
10. The Doctrine.
After the first week of school, I came home to a soft package. I had no idea what it was.
When I found a Wakefield Doctrine sweatshirt inside, I knew instantly it would be my teddy bear. Because we are in the mountains of North Carolina, it gets chilly in the evenings and immediately I snuggled in the soft comfort of fleecy goodness.
It started some great conversations at school, too. The other graduate students all wanted to know more about personality types and the like and it was fun to try to identify the clarks, scotts and rogers. It’s not easy pegging someone immediately: I don’t think there were any scotts in the bunch: no one had that intense gaze so characteristic of a scott. In fact, I think all but two were rogers, and another girl and I were the only clarks.
That’s my hunch, anyways.
Have you figured out if you’re a clark, scott or a roger?
Thank you for reading! This is part of the Ten Things of Thankful Blog Hop.