I just finished 13 years of teaching college-level writing. Having just completed teaching seven years for the University of Colorado at Boulder in the Program for Writing and Rhetoric, it’s still surreal that this summer is my first in 13 years that I’m not teaching writing. It’s surreal that I turned in my university keys last week and cleaned out my office a few days before then. And it’s surreal that I’m not feeling the intense weight and burden of grading writing and preparing for my courses—all the time, into the wee hours of the morning, without real breaks, for little pay and often for little respect. While teaching was and is something I love, the environment of teaching writing courses as an instructor for a university is unfortunately not typically sustainable for many reasons.
Sometimes it takes awhile to realize that something, such as a relationship or job, is just not worth it or working anymore. It can be easier to stay with what’s comfortable and what we know, but sometimes we stay too long. I really lost sight of true balance, missing out on so much sleep, so many social events and so much time for my own well-being. Yes, I definitely loved many aspects of teaching writing to college students; I wouldn’t have stayed so long in it if I didn’t. But when the signs started intensifying, and I really had to be honest with myself, I realized that even without another job lined up, even with no savings, even with leaving behind the familiar, it was time to move on. And I stayed committed to my decision, resigning this semester.
And then wonderful things started happening! Despite an intense semester of non-stop grading, ridiculous lack of sleep, signs that continued to get louder and even some icky student encounters (making me all the more grateful for the respectful, genuine, hardworking ones), I noticed my reiki practice growing. Clients—especially new ones—had been referred to me and were e-mailing and calling. I also experienced an increase in orders for my bath salts, eye pillows, crocheted newborn caps, all-natural and organic soap, and essential oil sprays; more interest in my tarot and totem animal readings; and even inquiries for my freelance editing. I could only smile, realizing the Universe was providing, especially once I’d finally decided to take the leap of faith and accepted what I needed to do to leave a toxic environment. There are rewards for taking the risks and doing what we know we need to do.
I’m feeling more like myself. Last week, during one of my reiki healing sessions, as I cradled the beautiful, bald head of a woman in the midst of chemotherapy treatments, I felt teary just realizing that I am doing what I am supposed to be doing and that I am making a positive difference—for this amazing, lovely, indomitable woman and for so many others. Reiki has changed my life and is allowing me to change the lives of others, and I am in such gratitude for this gift and for my clients. My energy has returned, and I’m slowly transitioning to lighter, brighter days. It was time to jump, trusting the net would be there. And one interesting, great aspect of how things are unfolding is that I’m completing my reiki master training, which will allow me to teach and attune others in reiki. Perhaps I’m not completely done with teaching, and I didn’t really think I was; I just needed a new audience and a new path.
I find it fascinating how many colleagues have said, “I wish I could leave, too.” I’ve heard many kudos and praises for living the dream and taking the risk and following [my] passions and dreams. And then I hear the reasons for why they can’t, yet. We all have our own timelines, and I do not judge those who express these sentiments, but I only hope that when any of us reach a point where peace and joy have diminished, we can choose the lighter, brighter days. Why wait? (Note: With the latter question, I’ll insert a plug here for my new friend Kristen Moeller and her book Waiting for Jack; Kristen often asks this question and is so inspiring.)
While I’m still taking one day at a time and refraining from freaking out about the future, I am here now, right where I’m supposed to be.