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You'll Find Me in the Stacks...

On June 12th I posted this thought to Facebook:
"I have questioned where the future of my professional life lies many times over the past 3 years. I've stressed. I've tried to force. I've cried. I've been angry. I've recently decided to stop wasting energy trying to figure it all out, and instead put more energy into being the best I can be where I'm currently landed. That decision has brought much peace to my heart, which I think is a pretty good indication that I'm doing exactly what I need to be doing right now in my life."
A number of key events had happened in the weeks leading up to this point that influenced this thought.
  1. I had taught my last scheduled yoga class in Carlisle and cleaned out the studio space I was renting...for a second time. Class attendance numbers, while steady, were small and it was getting increasingly more difficult to juggle my teaching schedule and family activity conflicts which seemed to be occurring more often.
  2. I had gotten yet another "thanks for applying, but we are pursuing other candidates at this time..." email from one of the few wellness related jobs I've found to apply for over the past 2 years. Repeatedly not even getting to speak to someone in person about a job in a field in which I have 15 years of experience has been discouraging to say the least.
  3. I'd just interviewed for a different position at the school where I have worked for the past 2 years, having left the interview quite excited about the possibilities should I be offered the position.
Last week I was offered that position, and gladly accepted the chance to start a new adventure come August. I will be serving as an Instructional Media Assistant, which basically means I'll be working as a school librarian with some teaching duties. I'm super excited that everyday I will have the chance to work with kids ranging from Kindergartners through 5th graders. I'm going to be able to revamp some of the lesson plans from what the previous media assistant taught, and I will being incorporating some new technology instruction into the mix for the 4th and 5th grade kiddos. I've already started to do some reading about the duties of elementary school librarians, how to develop library skills lessons, and have begun gathering ideas for teaching students solid research skills, which I envision will be a large part of my technology instruction time. There is so much information out there for me explore and learn, which is part of what makes this opportunity all that much more exciting for me. I plan to do some writing about this new adventure on a new dedicated blog, Little Footsteps in the Stacks. I've also decided to lift my self imposed ban on Pinterest so that I can use its powers to gather ideas and information. I'm hoping both blogging and pinning will help me connect and network with this new pool of professionals which I will be joining. In a way I feel like I'm starting my adult working life all over again, and honestly it feels great!

While relocating our family, and my business, was a big factor in my most recent professional direction questions, realistically it's been an issue that's been brewing in the back of my mind for a number of years. I loved the work-life schedule I had built teaching fitness and yoga in Grinnell, but I knew it was unrealistic to believe my body could maintain that type of schedule long term. I also found that if I didn't find ways to keep myself mentally stimulated, it didn't take long for my work to feel mundane at times. As a student it's easy for things to feel fresh when you only see the same instructor 1-2 times a week. It's much harder to keep that fresh feeling when your the one regularly teaching 10-12 classes a week.

I had really believed that what I wanted professionally when we decided to relocate closer to DSM, is to rebuild my wellness focused business here in Carlisle where I could work close to home like I had in Grinnell. I knew it would be a challenge, and that the question about physically being able to keep up with the demands of such work long term were still present, but I didn't want to make excuses, not try out of fear, and then spend time wondering "what if". In many ways my undertaking was a success. Because of my willingness to stick my neck out there, I met many, lovely individuals in our community that I may not have otherwise met. I also helped a few people new to yoga come to love the practice  and know that they are continuing to practice even without the availability of my classes. THAT fact makes me incredibly happy. In the end the stress of working to build something with little to no income, working as a solo instructor without any back-up, and the difference in the local trends when it comes to fitness/yoga, proved to be more than I was willing to deal with at this point and time in life. I considered stepping outside of our local community in order to find opportunities to continue to work in wellness, but the fact of the matter is how I approach health and wellness, and how that shows on my body, doesn't jive well with the mainstream fitness scene. I know that being in the more image focused world of mainstream fitness is not healthy for ME and my personal body image. As a Mom of 2 young girls, that's not a place I'm willing to go.

I've really come to enjoy working in public education over the past 2 years. While my specific job wasn't always the best fit for my personality, knowing I was spending time everyday making a difference in the lives of kids, supporting all the good that happens within the walls of a school, and working alongside others who have similar goals of making a positive impact on the world around them, HAS proved to be a very good fit. For years a dear college friend of mine, one who herself is a 3rd grade teacher, has been telling me I belong in education. I'm thankful for her gentle, constant encouragement to just consider the possibility as I'm starting to believe she's been right all this time. Now that I've allowed myself to accept that I am spending my working hours right where I need to be, a huge sense of relief has come over me. No longer is that constant, nagging question about what I'm going to BE when I grow up rolling around in the back of my brain even as I face this new adventure much as it has before. I'm excited for not only the challenge of learning the ins and outs of a new industry, but I can see it as being a field that would provide plenty of opportunities for growth and learning for years to come.

I do no wish for the remaining weeks of summer to pass any faster than they are already passing. The girls and I fully enjoy our summer days of gardening, projecting, hanging out at the pool, and visiting friends and family. I've always enjoyed the excitement of the start of school come August even if I am a little sad to say good-bye to the casual schedule of summer for another year. I think this year will hold even a little more excitement than normal for me...and it won't just be because of the fresh, new school supplies each of us will carry in our bags. I wonder what school supplies a school librarian needs in her school bag? Maybe I should Google that...



Beverly said…
Lovely post, Jenn. Congratulations on your new position. It sounds exciting and rewarding.

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