Southbound

This photo popped up on my Facebook Memories this morning with some comments about my inspirational journey that made me teary.

It is of my daughter looking like she is deep in thought. I had just uprooted her life with a sudden move from Ohio to Florida when I accepted my first teaching job at the start of the school year. Six years later, she reports still not being happy with me about that. But I think it was all for the best.

It actually felt selfish. I had finished graduate school, but competition for teaching jobs was fierce in my area despite my having served all of the districts as a substitute teacher. It was the end of July. It looked like I would have to sub another year.

I actually don’t even remember how I learned of the vacancy in Florida, in the area my mom lived, the area I was a regular tourist of for many years. It wasn’t through mom because I remember surprising her with the news.

I got hired over the phone. My future supervisor claimed she just had a feeling about me through our conversations. (Or they were desperate.)

I had three weeks before I had to report to work, three weeks to move! Ahhh! I am NOT a frequent mover. I get very attached to homes and hometowns. We had lived in Ohio from the time my son started Kindergarten to his then junior year at The Ohio State University. We came for a (failed) career opportunity for my husband. Previously, I had lived in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. That’s it.

But Florida was familiar to us all as tourists since my mom moved down there when I was pregnant with my first child. The absolute heart-wrenching part of the decision was leaving my adult son, separating the siblings. But he had already moved out and led a busy life of his own. Most kids grow up and move away, but I was blessed in having mine stay. It was I who left him and moved away, like my mom did when I was his age. It tore me up emotionally. Lots of tears.

But I felt very strongly God’s calling, like I had a few times before in my life. With my marriage at its end (again), I should have been able to make the decision for myself, for my future, for the future of my children, but I simply would not have without feeling God’s hand.

I do still have guilt I moved my daughter and left my son. But I also acquired a stable salary with benefits and was able to pay my bills for the first time in my life. Although my husband followed me down here and we gave it one more shot (again), my twenty-four-year marriage finally came to a peaceful end once and for all four years later.

Above all, I could not ever imagine being more passionate or more fulfilled than I have been every day at this high school, with my staff and student family. Would I have gotten hired eventually up north? Maybe. Would I have loved my school? Maybe. We can never know.

We can never know what the future holds for us, what lies just beyond the next curve in the path. We simply blindly choose the paths, though we must be willing to change direction as needed, sometimes even going off-trail altogether. Sometimes we must collect, empty, exchange the gear in our packs depending on which path or non-path we wish to explore.

We must keep moving forward until we are sure we are home. That direction only becomes clear when we still ourselves enough to hear the calling, feel the gentle tug, of the soul.

I know I ended up where I was meant to be. And now I feel another’s pull leading to me. My story is filling with so many new beginnings.

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