Tonight, this girl said "girl" clear as a bell for the first time in her life! After so many years of speech issues, THIS IS HUGE!! This made me cry. This is a victory.

She didn't even realize she had done it, and when Jake stopped her, she said, "Now don't make me practice saying girl over and over." But that's when we saw the little light where we knew she knew she had it. 

She is quite resistant to change, and right after the "light," she asked, with a little quiver in her voice, "Does this mean I have to start talking right?" The way she speaks is important to her sense of self. For as triumphant as it feels as her parent, it's nice to be reminded that it's still a transition for her. While still acknowledging that sensitivity for her, I can't deny that I am one proud mama.

Credo Statement

Almost three weeks ago was the last meeting in a 6 week course I participated in called Building Your Own Theology. The course was designed as a space for those with a wide variety of beliefs to come together to discuss several common readings and exercises. Throughout the course, we examined our religious and spiritual traditions and where we all were on our journeys. There were Atheists, Agnostics, Christians, Scientologists, New Agers, Humanists, and a few others. It ended up being a lovely community to be part of. At the final meeting, each participant shared a credo statement they'd prepared.

I wrote mine really quickly. I've always had a difficult time trying to put my beliefs in written form. During my last semester of college at Oklahoma City University, I took a course called Literature and Spirituality. One of our assignments was to compose a poem that described our spirituality. What a task then! And what a task now. I went into the BYOT course quite comfortable with what I believe, and I left with those same beliefs, but found a new sense of comfort with how to express them. In all honesty, my beliefs aren't very different from my full-time in-the-thick-of-Mormonism beliefs, but how I describe those beliefs has changed. How I feel and live and acknowledge those beliefs sounds different from the Mormon vocabulary I grew up with, and that evolution of understanding through new descriptions feels better. The words mean more to me. They move me closer to that which I am seeking.

While my personal beliefs run far deeper than the series of words I jotted down, I feel like this is a good summation of where I'm at right now. And I love knowing that there is a fluidity to how I describe my beliefs now versus how I might look at them in the future. There's always a level of difficulty in change, but I'll take the difficulty as it comes because it's a quiet reminder that I am still learning and growing, that I am always becoming.

I grew up in a world where truth was held in the highest esteem - in a church that proclaimed it was the only true church on the earth. I believed it. I defended it. And then one day, after years of trying to fit myself into a box, that claim broke my heart. 

I came to a place where I found peace in knowing less and asking more. I believe in questions more than answers. I live my life in the questions; they drive me forward.

I believe in a universal force. I call that force God. I imagine that force in human form. It is both father and mother to me. 

I believe in gender equity. That stereotypes have negative effects on both men and women, but that women have been getting the short end of the stick for all of history. I’m tired of it. Enough is enough.

I believe in the power of prayer. In focusing intention. 

I believe in a savior. That savior is love. Examples of love are my guiding force. I still obsessively study the life of Jesus. I continue to learn and apply his teachings in my life. 

My path of discipleship is important to me.

I believe in simplicity. In kindness towards all living things. In reciprocity between humanity and the earth. 

I have hope that life continues on in some form after we leave this body behind. I have no idea what that looks like or how it works, but I hope for it just the same. 

I believe in the connectedness of humanity, in working to unite all people regardless of time and space. I believe in the power of relationships, in family, in friends, in traditions and meaningful conversations.

I can only be a force of peace in the world if I have peace within myself. “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.” 
And with you. 
And you. 
And you.

When weeks feel like eternity. Or something like that.

Sometimes it takes a minute for life to catch up. I feel like I've been working at my new job forever. 3 weeks compared to forever is quite the overstatement, but maybe forever brings with it a certain sense of familiarity. Going from working 20 hours per week to 43.5 hours per week is something I'm still adjusting to. I think having to be at work at 7:30 was the biggest hurdle, only because I really love sleep. Magnolia didn't sleep through the night for 20 months. I feel like I'll be catching up for the rest of my life.

7:30 hasn't been so bad. I'd actually been waking up before my alarm every day until daylight savings happened. That. Hit. Hard. Maybe tomorrow will be a little easier. Have I ever mentioned I hate daylight savings? I do. 

Many things have happened in the last 3 weeks. The first week brought news from Oklahoma. One of our old neighbors on our block in Mesta Park was badly injured in a car accident. She is the glue in her family in so many ways. Another family of Oklahoma friends lost their adult son in an accident at work. They are the sweetest family. They love and care for one another so deeply. The last bit of news we received that week is still news I haven't quite let sink in yet; it makes me so very sad. One of my aunts went in for surgery to have a spot removed from her lungs. When they were able to look closer, they found that that one spot was the largest of many. She has opted out of treatment, hoping to make the most of the rest of her life and time she has with people she loves. I'm glad she feels comfortable and confident in her decision. Even with the love and support I have for her, I'm praying for miracles.

I've been attending a 6-week long course called Building Your Own Theology. Tomorrow is the last night, and it culminates in a reading of each participant's personal credo statement. I've thought about mine, dreamt about it, repeated portions in my head over and over, but I haven't actually written it yet. I'm so good at putting things off. :) 

I started BYOT pretty sure of what I believe, and that hasn't changed, but I've grown so much listening to the stories of others. I've thought a lot about Mormonism. One night we made a collective list of all of the good things we experienced in the religious traditions we grew up in/came from, then we made a list of the good things coming from our current religious experience and compared the two. I didn't know how to succinctly say all of the positive things that are part of me because of my Mormon experience. I did, however, know exactly what to say about the positive thing with where I currently am with my faith community. I won't share it here, but it was an epiphany. I was surprised at how quickly and strongly it came to me. I was glad for that moment of clarity. To me, there isn't a "previous" and a "current" to my experience. My spiritual life is one continuous thread. It doesn't start and stop depending on where I am on Sunday. It's all of who I am, all of my experiences, all of the ways I've found new understanding, all the ways I've come closer to love.

I have about 940,000 more things to say, but I'll leave it there for tonight. 

Here's How it Happened

In August, I was hired to teach supplemental remedial English classes at Santa Monica College. I had a six-month contract, with the chance of being hired on permanently as the enrollment and budget allowed. My initial contract was set to expire on February 29th. I found out three weeks before February 29th that my contract would definitely be ending. The budget for supplemental instructors was gone at the end of fall semester, so no new permanents would be hired.

That's when I got really serious about finding a new job. Don't get me wrong, I'd done plenty of applying before then, including applying at Starbucks! They didn't call me. I didn't let it affect my ego [too much], and I found a position covering a teacher's maternity leave through the end of the year at an Orthodox Jewish school. I applied. The next day they asked if I could come in for an interview. And the day after that, I was there having an interview. I was invited back to do a demo lesson the following week.  Between the interview and the demo lesson, I applied for positions at four different schools for the 2016-2017 school year.

Here's a timeline:

2/10: Apply to Orthodox Jewish school [OJS]
2/11: Hear back from OJS
2/12: Interview at OJS - invited to teach demo lesson in one week
2/17: Apply to 4 different independent schools for the 2016-2017 school year
2/19: Teach Demo Lesson

This is where it gets interesting...

2/21: Wake up to an email from the head of one of the independent schools I'd applied to on 2/17 saying they were pretty far down the candidate list for the position next year, but there's a spot open immediately through the end of the school year. He wanted to set up a time for a phone call that day. I responded with my available time to call, but said I preferred to meet in person. I met him at 2 that afternoon, and around 3:15 I all of a sudden had a job. And he wanted me to start the next day. The assistant head of school and I both said "Whoa."

2/22: I went to SMC and told my supervisor about the new job and asked if I could get out of my contract a few days early. She thought that was fine. I emailed the OJS letting them know I'd accepted a position at another school.

2/23: My last day at SMC. My colleagues there were fantastic. They threw a sweet little going away party and sent me on my way with a thoughtful card.

2/24: This was supposed to be my first day at the new job, BUT I got a phone call at 2:30 that morning from my doula client saying it was time. I got to the hospital around 3:30, and made it home around 7 that evening.

2:25: My official first day as the new 8th grade English teacher at a PK-8 Independent School.

Today marked my seventh day there. It's a great environment. I teach all of the 8th graders. All 44 of them between three sections. When I heard how many students I would have in my interview, I almost fell over. Back in my days teaching high school in Oklahoma City, I had over 100 students each semester. I literally couldn't have dreamt up a better daily schedule. My hours are a little longer than they were at a public school. I arrive at 7:30 each morning, and I leave at 4 every day except for Monday, which is 5.  

In all of my applying and most of my not hearing back, I just kept praying for a job to come along that would be a good fit for me and my family. It was very much a trust thing, turning over the worry so I could spend more energy hoping that the right job would come along. It absolutely did. In the waiting to see if I would continue on at SMC, and the search for a job when I found out I wouldn't, I found myself being really aware of having and keeping faith that everything would work out just as it should. It's such a powerful lesson every time something like this occurs. And it's a lesson that is worth learning and reinforcing over and over again.

Being back in a classroom reinforces my love of being in a school and around students. Students are my favorite part of teaching. I have a good bunch. I'm grateful for that. It's funny how life has circular patterns sometimes. I spent so much time while I was staying home with my girls trying to figure out what I would be doing differently when I went back to work, in large part because of how little teachers make, but some things just fit. Spending time with students working through literature and writing reinforces something really powerful in me. I like what 17-year-old-me decided she wanted to do for her career. And I like that almost-31-year-old-me knows there's a fluidity in life that allows for one to be exactly where one is supposed to be at any given time with room for change along the way.

Jake has gone to Wichita this weekend to play for the auditions for Music Theatre of Wichita. (He's the accompanist for auditions, not auditioning.) I plan on soaking up every second with my best little friends, Cora and Magnolia.


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