The pandemic summer of 2020 has been quite busy. In addition to ruminating over how teachers will be reinventing education in a just a few short weeks, I’ve been writing a play, planning how it will be produced virtually, getting a book ready for editing, composing a couple of songs, training for a half marathon, and also adopted a new dog. Seems like a lot when I write it all down. I’ve really challenged my comfort zone and have been working on dreaming bigger – a concept promoted eagerly by my new friend, Julie.
The days have zoomed by. Honestly, as my family looked at my activity from the outside, the summer looked shockingly similar to the spring – me sitting behind a computer screen, typing furiously, having video meetings, and working long hours. My older daughter would look at me and say “what are you DOING all day?” My husband even commented “all this work and you’re not even getting paid!” Alas, this is too true. But what all this work has done for me is to jump start a growth process so I can start to envision my next steps.
See, last year, I actually started paying attention to the concept of “retirement” as a looming reality. I asked myself what the hell I would do after my career as a teacher was over. I knew I did not have the desire to spend the rest of my life in the classroom – I want to retire with some energy to spare. I also wanted to have new goals to achieve – to figure out who I was and what I had to offer to the world outside of my dance studio classroom. When I first asked those questions, I was frightened – I had no idea what my next steps could be. Imposter syndrome set in and that was enough for me to start doing some soul-searching. What on earth could I offer? What did I want? What else could I do? I needed to start exploring some answers.
For the last four years, I’ve been recording my teaching experiences and musings about them. In 25 years, I’ve collected a lot of war stories and developed many relationships of which I am proud. In my students, I often have pretty captive audiences. Though all of those students grow up and move on, I’ve stayed connected to some who still think I’ve got some pretty good things to say. They are still listening. And that was my hook. Maybe, just maybe, there are others out there in the world who might enjoy a story or two from my headspace.
Thus, I pressed on the gas pedal to move things forward. I’m seeking an editor and thinking about self-publishing. I’ve reached out and talked to complete strangers I was connected with who have shown some interest and given their time and energy to help guide me into the complex world of publishing. As an introvert, the idea of asking strangers for help was petrifying and yet, necessary to gain momentum. I realized just how much work I’d have to do, and affirmed that I really had something good to share with the world. More on that for a future post.
The impetus for this post was something I received in the mail today. Earlier in the summer, as I was connecting to Julie and she was giving birth to The Give Back Experience, I wrote and arranged a song lovingly referred to as “The Give Back Anthem.” It only took me a day or so to write, because the excitement and inspiration was there. Strains of melody came to me as I drove on the NYS Thruway and when I got home, I sat at the piano and started scribbling. I hit the ground running, gathering talent, sending rehearsal recordings, giving instructions how to create performance video to be incorporated into a choral video and mixing music in Garage Band. When the score was complete, I sent it off to be officially registered – my first artistic work ever to be registered with the US copyright office. I remember shaking and my face feeling hot as I completed the transaction. This was something so new – what if I screwed it up? What if I did something wrong? The self-doubt was intense. I pressed the button anyway, because if you don’t take risks, you don’t get rewards. It was time to grow up and do something that millions of people have already done.
Today, my reward was in the mailbox. The Certificate of Registration for “Give Back” arrived. My heart beat faster as I opened the envelope, half expecting to see some sort of rejection letter telling me to start from scratch. As I unfolded it, a smile came across my face – I did it. The song was official. My crazy brain created something beautiful and inspiring and in a couple of weeks, it will be unveiled. That’s also for another post.
Now, creation continues. One milestone has been reached, and there are so many more ahead of me. The goal to search for some answers has led to a million more questions which, when you think about it, is really the way to finding a million answers. I feel like I have successfully created a path to more unknown places. Learning to embrace the unknown is part of the battle, and as unsettling as that can be, I’m getting better at it. Time to get a book edited, a play produced, to run a half marathon and to give unconditional love to a new pup. It’s a good life that has endless possibilities. As long as I work on one moment at a time, and don’t ruminate too much about the unknown future, I think I’ll be just fine.