The divorce was final. I didn't even go to the courthouse to watch it happen. At that time, it was just me, Sparky, and Drew living in our little duplex. Sparky was a great comfort to me as a puppy and Drew was a challenge on a daily basis, being a 12 yr. old. Zach and Hayden (tdub's sons) were in and out from time to time, sometimes staying the night, sometimes not, and Daniel (my oldest) was home from college looking like some sort of leftover roadie from a disastrously untalented rock band. I'd become very unhappy with my work situation even though I loved going to school every day to teach and learn from my 7th graders. It was my extremely left-brained principal who almost put me over the edge last fall. His idea of "helping" deal with the difficulties of my new situation was to give me extra scheduling committments. HA! That would be like trying to raise George Bush's approval rating by having him read aloud on camera from Dostoevsky.
Lesson learned: Sometimes the very BEST thing you can do to help someone is to simply leave them alone, particularly if you are the polar opposite of them in personality and temperament.
Having joined eHarmony (big mistake) a few months earlier, I'd met this extremely kind, generous and talented art teacher who lived in Oklahoma City.
Lesson learned: If you're wanting someone to desire you in a relationship, be sure you're ready for the same thing, or you hurt people unnecessarily.
By this time, I knew beyond a doubt that I had to get out of Granbury. Having moved there 22 years prior when it was still a quaint little community, I'd made far to many friends and aquaintances to be able to venture even to a place as ominous as Super-Walmart without running into all sorts of folks who knew all about the tragedy that had become my life. It was a different sort of tragedy than say a death or even just a typical divorce. Alot of people responded to my desire to move with "well, HE should be the one moving, not YOU." But honestly, it wouldn't have mattered. Even if Tdub had moved away, I'd still have wanted to get out of there. I literally felt like every time I walked into any public place that I had this huge backstory I carried with me. Imagine one of those little pet shop turtles with a shell of the giant sea tortoise on its back. That was me in Granbury.
Lesson learned: Sometimes running away is not running away, it's just starting over.
Having spent my spring break in Oklahoma City handing out resumes, I waited anxiously to hear something. Now, you'd think after having been in the school business for 18 years, I'd know full well that it's a rare situation for a school to be ready to think about hiring for the next year at this point. If they are, it could mean trouble. Nevertheless, I got discouraged because with each passing week I was more and more certain that I could not live many days past June 1 in Granbury. My mental health just could not take it. I managed, during that month, to eek out one last hurrah of a service project at church. I wrote and directed a drama for two groups of youth for our annual Leadership Training for Christ gathering which was held during Easter weekend at a hotel in Dallas. I'll never regret having done that. It was awesome.
Lesson learned: You can get by for a time on sheer will and guts.
By this time I was getting extremely antsy about finding a job in Oklahoma. At school, we'd gotten past the state mandated writing test that I'd been preparing my students for all year. This was a major relief for me mostly because it finally tamed the bee in my principal's bonnet that had him buzzing around wondering if I were going to be able to produce the DATA he desired from me. As it turns out, my data was great and I still managed to form the sorts of relationships with students that continue to motivate them long after you're no longer their teacher. Professionally, it was my worst year ever simply because until that year, I'd never had a principal who doubted my abilities as a teacher like he did. He reminded me of one of those gingerbread houses I made with my little friends this year - everything layered up so sweetly and pretty to form a house perfectly balanced in form, texture, and overall visual appeal. Yet, underneath, just a cardboard shell with no real staying power of its own. OH....and it was during this month, that Daniel and Drew picked out Emma for me as a Mother's Day gift!
Lesson learned: Even if you're great at what you do - honest and humble in your efforts - some people just don't have the DNA code that allows them to appreciate uniqueness in others.
My parents took a bus tour to Niagra Falls and were gone for a week at the beginning of the summer. I stayed at their house and continued what had become by now, in my mind, a desperate hunt for a job. Again, knowing full well that in all the years I'd been teaching we rarely ever hired anyone new until June. I had a few interviews lined up in Oklahoma City for art jobs but decided on a whim to call my Aunt Kathy in Sulphur to see if she'd heard of anything opening up over there. Sulphur is one hour East of my hometown of Duncan, and almost all of my aunts and uncles live there. My Aunt Kathy and her husband own and run the local newspaper, so she's usually "in the know" to say the least, about what's going on in town. Within 5 minutes she had two interviews lined up for me - THAT day.
Lesson learned: Sometimes it is who you know.
I loaded and moved the final boxes from Granbury to Sulphur on July 4. Our last stop with the U-haul was at my school to load 18 years worth of accumulated and boxed school stuff. It was significant to me that we had to drive straight through the beginnings of the Granbury 4th of July parade as we made our way out of town. The Granbury 4th is the largest yearly event in town, drawing in thousands of visitors and bringing the entire community to town for the festivities. I literally saw most everything I was leaving behind as I pulled away. And it was okay.
Lesson learned: Sometimes you just know you're doing the right thing.
After arriving in Sulphur, I quickly became reaquainted with my first cousin, Wes, who's a state representative for Oklahoma. Wes is 10 years younger than me and still single. (he's not gay) I say that because I have this gay theme that seems to run through my blog, so for the sake of his dating future, I feel the need to point that out! He is a democrat as are most folks here in this agriculture and ranch-based part of the state. I mention Wes because having him for a cousin has made this move so much easier for me. He gives me an instant connection to just about everyone. Well, he and the rest of my family who lives here and who have insured that I'm not more than 3 degrees seperation relationally from any other person in town. I had a great time in August helping Wes spruce up his brand new home with some decorating just before his open house.
Lesson learned/relearned: Family is a wonderful thing.
School started and reconfirmed to me that I'd done the right thing by moving here. My 4th grade teaching partners are absolutely the BEST. They are the sort of women who can hug you with a smile or give you the real thing if that's what you're needing. They make me feel 10 feet tall when I know I'll never be more than the same old 5 foot 2 I've always been. And my class, oh, my class. They're absolutley perfect.
Lesson learned/relearned: Life is good.
I met pirate girl and she changed my life. This little urchin-like creature full of spunk and mischief, came bicycling by my back yard when I was outside with the dogs. I asked her what she was going to be for Halloween, and our relationship was born. Helping her and her family has become a mission for me. Not a mission to "save" anyone, God takes care of that stuff....but a mission to help those in need.
Lesson learned: Stay outside yourself and your problems go away.
My family continues to bless me by joining in with my mission to help pirate girl and her family. One of my aunt's petitioned her Sunday School class for help and because of this pirate girl and her family now have their own washer and dryer in their home. Two of my aunts gave me large cash donations to buy coats, shoes, and Christmas gifts. My parents continue to supplement my income so that I can help others. My art teacher friend in Oklahoma City is now mentoring the oldest boy who is a senior in high school. Turns out he is an awesome artist and wants to pursue an art education of some sort after high school. I spent most of the month of November helping this family which made the holiday season much easier to bear. There's just no time to think about things gone by when there are things in front of you to accomplish.
Lesson learned/relearned: All things work together for good.
What a year. And yet, with all the turmoil and all the change, I'm able to sit here amongst the mess of things left to clean up from the holidays and feel at peace. For the first December of many, the worries that had worn on my mind and become part of me, the way bronze or copper sculptures grow a patina, are gone. While patina can be beautiful in its own right, cleaning it off now and then adds a brand new shine and a beauty of a different sort. I feel I've come out from under a veil and can breathe free and easy, no inhaler needed. I love being able to step outside those issues and look back at them now more clearly. Some have wondered aloud to me at how that clarity seems to have bred more compassion than bitterness in my heart toward Tdub. I just call that the love of God. That's the beauty of a life given to Christ. Either way you go, worn patina or freshly cleaned shine, you're bound to end up in a place of compassion. That's how the love of God works in the hearts of those who seek him. At least that's the way I choose to look at it.
Lesson learned/relearned: Love wins.
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