As soon as I heard the words, "You should consider taking a year off" I knew it was what I needed to do. My mind said it was a ludicrous suggestion and something I would never follow through. My heart said, you can, you should, and you will. So I did. It's been an amazing learning experience and school has been in session only three weeks.
Here are my lessons so far:
I can actually think about things. It seems before I quit teaching (still not believing the words I write) my mind was always at least half full of teaching junk. My kids, my classroom, the lessons, the paperwork, the technology, my team, and on and on forever. When I knew I wasn't returning, all of that started to slowly empty. And for the first time in a very long time I could fully focus on other things. My husband. My children. My house. Cooking. My pets. Reading. Sitting. Coffee. Tea (yes, I like both).
I can actually learn new things. I didn't realize that I like to cook. I looked at cooking like a hole in the head - didn't want it, didn't need it. When I got married, John taught me some new tricks which was fun. However he continued to do most of the cooking or talked me through what needed to be done before he got home. I began cooking almost immediately when I knew I would be staying home. I let John help me make a menu, then I would cook. Then one day I wanted to make the menu, and cook. Then one day I wanted to try a new dish, and I did TWO new dishes in one week! Then I decided I would take over the menu and cook what I wanted. It has been fabulous. I like cooking. I have some good cooking instincts. And most of my dishes have been well received! My best friend still doesn't believe me.
I can actually feel the rhythm of the house. There is one. I didn't really know that. I was so busy trying to keep to my own rhythm that I didn't have time to listen to the rhythm of the house. I like hearing it. I like being a part of it. I am learning how to flow with it.
I can actually hear what my dogs (and sometimes even the cat) are thinking. Go ahead. Stop reading because now you know I'm a nut. It's ok. No loss here. But recently I decided I don't need an animal communicator. I know what my dogs would say to me. They want to live in the house full time. They want more real meat. And they want me to live outside with them. Who needs more? In all seriousness, it's easy to become out of touch with your pets. And they are the line we all need to remember that we're part of nature. We all breathe. We all love the sun. And we are all social. Spend time with your pets and notice how they react to you. It's a great feeling.
I can actually pray and listen. I keep hearing words from songs we sing at church running through my head. I wasn't sure why. Then I realized it was my way of connecting to God. Not that I don't pray, I do. And I read the bible. But having more room in my head now makes more room for Him. I'm so grateful for that.
I can actually decide how full my head is. This has been a huge learning experience. One I won't forget. Even when I decide to return to teaching, I know that it doesn't have to take up ALL the room. I decide what is in my thoughts. The big question is - will I still like cooking?