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When did the destination change?

It’s quite a change,living in a tiny town that values community over material goods and quality over quantity. I read so many of my friends’ Facebook posts about buying this new gadget or visiting some glossy place and wonder why I don’t want those things. Sure, the glossy vacations are nice and I wouldn’t mind traveling with my family to some of the destinations that we have discussed. The pretty gadgets are also really nice, but I’ve found that things wear out or become obsolete. I wonder what drove me to seek solace in a slower-paced life.

I’m currently taking classes that will earn me a Master’s certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorders. No, I don’t really want to be sitting in a classroom again, and I often find myself resenting the time spent away from my family. I ask myself (yes, more questions) why I chose this path when it is so far away from mainstream America. I’m a professor, an accounting textbook author, a teacher of college students who learn differently, and a nerd who prefers intelligent entertainment that is not generally available on mainstream media.

If you had asked me what I envisioned for my life when I was a teen, I probably would have described the suburban life that I knew as a child. Living in the suburbs is comfortable, “normal,” and socially acceptable, based on my upbringing and experience. It takes a different type of person to choose to live elsewhere. I used to think, “What’s wrong with me?”

There’s nothing wrong with me. There’s also nothing — not a damn thing — wrong with people who choose to live in the American mainstream. I think that I have found the place in this world that is “mine,” if that makes any sense. That I have three other people who agree with me (thank goodness!) is wonderful, because I wouldn’t be happy without them.

In today’s class, one of my colleagues introduced me to a poem called “Welcome to Holland.” I found that the poem resonated with me on many levels. To avoid copyright issues, here’s the link to the poem:

http://www.child-autism-parent-cafe.com/welcome-to-holland.html

The point of the poem is that you might not end up exactly where you planned to go, but that doesn’t mean that where you are is any less wonderful. I didn’t grow up intending to be an oddball who values and prefers peace, simplicity, and intellectual pursuits. I certainly didn’t intend to live on the opposite coast from my family and friends. That this destination found me is unbelievable in the way it nurtures and compels me to be the best “me” possible. It has broken me open in ways I never dreamed possible, and I am certain that many gifts of which I am currently unaware will likely come to fruition.

So what if the destination isn’t what I expected. This life that found me is better than any I ever imagined.

Image courtesy of vermontology.com

Image courtesy of vermontology.com

It’s the little things

This weekend, I’ve been reflecting on little actions that have affected our little family during this last week. I’m amazed at how often these everyday, throwaway, and otherwise inconsequential things have consequences that are disproportionate to the action itself. In no particular order, here’s what I mean:

  •  My older daughter, who because of a difference in age cutoff dates for kindergarten between California and Vermont is much younger that her peers in the same grade, started what we call 6-1/2 grade this year. Academically, she did fine last year, except in English. This year, we found that last year’s English teacher retired and she now has a younger teacher who has a complete different pedagogy and instructional method. My daughter is now engaged and excited about everything she does at school. One tiny change — holding her back from progressing to a full 7th grade class — has already resulted in some amazing differences in her attitude and self-confidence. This flower, given to her by her younger sister, really reminds me of my older daughter because of the profusion of petals that mirrors her wide variety of interests and joy for life.

pink flower

  • My darling husband, who has been a frustrated in his professional life, applied for a position as the Lister for our little town. This Lister works with tracking property assessments, verifying values, and other related issues. It doesn’t have a lot of pay or a huge number of hours, but it is a job in which he has ample training and experience for his to excel. He was selected by the Town’s Selectboard, and starts this week. Although it seems little, I see the huge implications: success in something he desired to do, a chance to network into a more fulfilling career in a field he enjoys, and a way into the close-knit word-of-mouth based real estate community in our town. Our goal is to buy our first house together in one year, and here’s a first step.
  • My younger daughter went for a walk yesterday, and here’s what she brought me. It is my absolutely favorite shade of red on the planet, and she brought it because she knew I would like it.red flower
  • I started a certificate program in which I will learn about Autism Spectrum Disorders. Our younger daughter is not on the Autism spectrum, but her tests revealed that she exhibited some traits and may yet be “on spectrum,” as it’s termed where I work. She was very excited that I am learning about this condition and how to teach people with it because I’m learning ways to connect more closely with her. I’ve also been invited to a private lunch with Temple Grandin, whom I tremendously admire, and have discovered a chance for financial stability that we would otherwise not have found. All of this happened because of one simple choice to learn how to be a better teacher.

It’s these little things in which I sense the Creator working her magic. I think these small magical occurrences heal our souls, re-energize use, and renew our strength to spread love to the world.

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