Ten weeks ago, I said yes to an unlikely proposition. Sadly, nothing that would curl the hair or flush the cheeks, nothing I couldn’t tell my grandmother. But it was something I had long said I would never do again.
I said yes to teaching a class of teenagers. Fifteen-year-olds, to be exact. Thirty five of them. All of whom had failed sophomore English.
I had not taught teenagers in years and had no burning urge to do it. But I said yes. After all, the school was in a bind. Extra income is a blessing. I’m good at this. And I can do anything for 10 weeks. Even teach 12 hour days.
Have you ever been to a sound check? You turn up the volume until it starts to distort, you push the limit until you find the limit, and then you pull back. You say yes and yes and yes until you find your no.
And here’s the thing about life: in order to say yes to one thing, we say no to something else. It’s all in the choosing.
Ten weeks later, I find that my students have actually learned something. But I’ve learned more. I learned my limit. I learned that I don’t have to do everything I’m good at – or do it all the time. In saying yes to more teaching, I had unwittingly said no to much else that matters: my writing, my health, my sense of balance.
But I also learned that I can handle longer days. That there are now extra hours in a week that I can offer to my own goals…and will. That sometimes you have to go far afield to find your way home.
This week I will say goodbye to teens and a heartfelt hello to myself. I will finally clean my house and rest. I will sit down with my words and listen. I will listen for yes. I will listen for no. I will try to choose well.
And you? What NO is longing to be spoken? What YES is aching to be heard? What small choice can you make in service of your dreams? And when will you do it, if not now?
Note: If it is writing that calls you, the Writing from the Well workshop is a safe, playful space to stretch your literary muscles. Is there a poem you want to write? A novel you’ve been longing to start? Or do you just want to discover what you have to say? Come stretch with us!
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.