Yes, it has been a while since I have set foot in these parts. Almost a month, to be exact. In truth, sometimes you just have to put something on the back burner until you actually have the time for it, and with a lot going on in my life in the past month, there really wasn't time.
Yesterday, I spent a final day in the classroom. I had spent three days tearing down my room, giving away six years worth of materials, supplies, and other odds and ends, and it all came down to two black milk crates filled with a few things that I decided to keep. It's amazing how long it takes to build up a stock of all of these materials and supplies, and how quickly they disappear after you send an email blast to your entire school proclaiming "FREE STUFF!"
Two hours. Yup, two hours was it and all of the markers (except for my Sharpies! You can't take those from a Sharpie addict!), crayons, colored pencils, bulletin board borders and letters, books, construction paper, paper towels, and everything else you can imagine was gone. These things are GOLD to teachers and despite it all, it felt good to know that a lot of people left my room super happy with some amazing supplies for next year.
When I decided to stop teaching it was the easiest decision I had to make in a long time. And while the past week has been extremely bittersweet, I don't feel a bit of regret. In Baltimore City, six years is a long time for someone like me that came through an alternative teaching certification program. I had never intended to teach for my entire life, but just for a couple years. A couple years turned into six, and those six years were fabulous. But times change and your heart no longer feels happy or something just feels tiring about going into the classroom every single day. And then one day, you realize that summer break isn't going to be enough. That you are just too tired to think about returning.
Today is the start of a new era. I know that I am done for good, that I'm moving on to my card business. At the same time, nothing about it feels strange. I am usually free with all the time in the world to work on my business during this time of year. My brain has been buzzing with all sorts of new ideas and projects like it usually does as the school year winds down. It feels normal. What won't feel normal is when August rolls around and I'm not setting up my classroom. Summer is a good transition period. It's a great time for me to change, but I am still unsure of how I will feel when I truly realize that this is it. I'm not going back and I'm stuck with myself in my studio until I decide otherwise.
I think it is only natural to have fears amidst all of the excitement. The unknown is scary. I've crunched numbers what feels like a thousand times, but what if I forgot something? What if people stop buying my cards? What if I fail miserably? What if all of the friends I've made at school never speak to me again? These are all seriously legitimate fears that I've had roaming around in this head of mine over the last two months.
On the other hand, how will I ever know whether or not I can accomplish what I dream of if I never try? The fear of regret of what could have been, if I don't do what I feel pulled toward in my life right now, is bigger than all of those other what ifs. Wondering whether or not my business could have been a success later on in life is not something that I want to be thinking about when I'm old, feeling as though my life passed without me truly doing what I love.
Not taking this risk is the greatest risk of all.