I went away last weekend with my gorgeous book club friends. We rented a house at the beach, bought foods we all enjoyed and essentially sat around eating, drinking wine and talking books. In the course of our many and varied discussions, we got talking about self-identity and being satisfied with ones lot in life, looking for the silver lining. This is not something I’m naturally good at, and have especially found difficult for the last twelve months. But I’m on a mission to find the happiness in life (I even bought happy pants!) and so I decided I should look at the things I’ve been able to do this year which I would never have been able to had my life not taken its unexpected turn. I’m going to try and find the silver lining of losing my career.
- A return to study and a potential career change. This would never have happened if I was still teaching despite the fact I had contemplated a move into librarianship many times over the years. But going back to uni to do something quite different and then leaving an established career to launch a new one is daunting, perhaps only for the brave. I’m not the brave. I’m here not because of a decision I made but one that was forced on me. Nevertheless, I did make the choice not to pursue another teaching contract, started the course and began applying for jobs. There’s a certain degree of courage in all that and I’m feeling pretty positive about it all. Silver lining right there.
- I got to see lots of movies in the middle of the day with just a few other people. They were lovely, I chatted to them about all sorts of things. Plus the movies were great.
- I have spent lots of time with my parents, especially Mum. I can drop around for coffee or meet her in town for morning tea or lunch.
- I could help my sister out with transport and babysitting (and nag her to make doctors appointments). My gorgeous nephew now comes running to greet me at the door, arms and grin wide. That’s pretty special.
- Reading, reading, reading! I set me challenge pretty high this year, 52 books, one a week. I thought I was being ambitions. I’ve passed it already and I think I’ll hit at least 65 before the end of the year.
- I’ve visited several art galleries. I saw Van Gogh and Dior in Melbourne as well as regular viewings of the local galleries.
- I’ve sorted out many of the trouble spots in the house – those spaces where things go in never to be seen again or the dump zones which always look untidy and cluttered. Things are not perfect, the studying interrupted my progress somewhat (not a bad thing) and two children and a messy husband don’t help but plenty of progress was made and it makes me feel better to have less clutter around.
- Working in a primary school. When I first applied for teaching courses I included both primary and secondary options but ended up in a secondary course. Primary teaching always appealed to some degree (especially the older year levels). As a relief teacher I can work in both primary and secondary and have now taught at every level from grade 1 to year 12 (I have managed to avoid prep so far). I’ve had to adapt to the lower levels – very simple instructions, don’t expect too much writing etc – but I have really enjoyed it. It’s a bonus not to be sworn at or completely ignored.
- Spending time with Mr Good. Considering we are both at home for six hours a day together (most days) you’d think I’d be sick of the sight of him. But it’s been nice to chat a bit during the day – his work is pretty demanding so I have to pick my times – and to go out for the odd lunch together.
- Taking a holiday outside of the school holidays. We did have to take the kids out of school for a week but I think it was well worth it for all of us. Getting to see other cultures, talk to people who have such different lives is a terrific educational experience. One we intend to repeat (hopefully next year).
Having written that, I feel quite privileged to have had this time now. It may not have been my choice, I may not have always seen the silver lining, but I think I’ve done a pretty good job of making the most of it. What 2018 holds for me remains to be seen, but I will endeavor to continue looking for the silver lining and taking advantage of the opportunities that come my way.