Thanksgiving was my 463rd day to live in northern Michigan. It was also one of the happiest days I’ve had since moving here. When we came here in August of 2021, I was thrilled! For quite some time I lived on the adrenaline of all the newness I was experiencing. We spent six weeks in a tiny parsonage while our belongings were in storage, waiting for our home to close and I was fine. Then, when we had to spend hundreds of dollars to get set up in our home – appliances, storage containers, odds & ends that add up – I remained optimistic. “Things will level out,” I said. Everyone was so excited to meet us and help us, everyone was so welcoming and warm as the days grew colder. I kept my head up and focused on my plans to continue my education and fulfill my dream of teaching.
It wasn’t long before I realized that getting my degree here would be nearly impossible. As the reality hit me, my enthusiasm waned tremendously about my situation. I still tried to be positive, but it sure was a lot of work. The joyous veneer wore off more and more, especially at home. I had to get a job because moving is expensive. I was so excited to get hired at a bank in town. I didn’t really expect to be hirable – I hadn’t worked in the job force for over twenty years. I was all in! I came to work each day trying to be as happy as I could be. But the job was pretty stressful, in ways that I had trouble managing. I was sweating from fear each day. When customers approached me, I was happy to talk to them, but dealing with their money was something I wanted to pass along to someone else. Each night, we had to balance our drawers, cash recyclers, and the vault – ooo boy! More sweating! What if I miscounted? What would happen? I became morose and melancholy at home. I gained weight. I cried a lot. I was too exhausted from all the sweating and heart-palpitations at work that didn’t have much left to give my family each night. I dreaded waking up each day with more money-counting in my future. Folks, it wasn’t pretty.
Finally, I resigned from that job. I didn’t really have a plan to make money when I quit, which was another source of stress in my life, but I was moving forward! I decided to try to finish my education. I took a class over the summer, but I also had to find a part-time job…so more stress. I finally decided to give up my education and see if I could just work in the school somehow. At least that way I would be able to have the same hours as my kids and I would get to be around kids. Maybe that would be enough? I applied for a secretarial job, but that job was filled. The principal called me after seeing my application and offered me a job as a teacher’s aide. I wasn’t sure I would like that role, but after counseling with my mom, who was an educator for over forty years, I decided to go for it!
For the first time in 463 days, I feel genuinely happy to be here. I am not always thrilled with the short winter days and the snow-covered roads, but every day I get to pour smiles and love into children who need it. I get to help teachers teach while I absorb all of their skills and knowledge. I get to help other children reach their goals. I can listen to their problems. I can even do some teaching myself.
I thought I had given up my dream of having my own classroom, but I may actually be able to complete my degree online! Lord willing, I will start January 1, 2023! I have no idea how long it will take me, but I am going to try. Yes, I feel too old, but I am needed – teachers who want to invest in children are so desperately needed. And it feels so good to be needed!
All was not lost at my six months at the bank. I met lots of great people, but one who I am particularly thankful for is my friend, Christina. She even went snowshoeing with me!
I am very grateful to have a job that I love. I’m grateful to like waking up each day. I’m thankful I can help our family make money. I am thankful to be losing weight! I’m even grateful for the 462 days that I was unhappy. If I hadn’t felt so low, I wouldn’t appreciate this wonderful feeling of being up.
Keep going, the best is yet to come.