Building a Life

In about a week, I’ll begin building a new life for myself.

I’ve done it many times now.  Every nomadic move opened the door to a new life, a new home, a new community.  Even the temporary moves and three-month rotations brought people and experiences into my life that made those places a unique time and place.  My husband and I always made a point to throw ourselves into whatever community we were in, no matter how short our stay there.  We never let ourselves say “Why bother?  We’re moving away soon anyway.”  Instead, we made friends and found surrogate families.  We explored the sights and claimed our favorite haunts.  We built routines specific to that location and that stage of our lives.  Whether we lived in a place for over a year or just three months, we deliberately built a life for ourselves.

All the locations we've built lives in the last four years in one Google map...

All the locations we’ve called home in the last four years in one Google map…

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Rephrasing the Big Question

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

I’ve decided that this is the wrong question.  It places the focus on titles, nouns, a state of being.

“A Ballerina.”  “A Fireman.”  “A Doctor.”  “A Forensic Scientist.”

When we ask our students about their futures, I don’t want to hear about passive states of being.  So here’s the question I ask:

What do you want to DO when you grow up?

See the difference?  One question focuses on the kids as a state of being, and the other focuses on the action.  One makes them a noun, and the other describes the verb.   Continue reading

How Barnes & Noble Prepared Me for Life After High School

I’ve always been an avid reader, and in 8th grade I identified myself as a lover of classic literature.  Whether or not that was a good thing may be up for discussion, but it was fact.  My junior and senior year of high school, there was a Barnes & Noble directly on my route.  I drove right past it twice a day.  When I needed a new book to read, that’s where I would go.  I usually headed right to the upstairs table filled with summer reading books assigned by area schools, because it was a collection of good literature that I hadn’t read yet.  I would also frequent the “Barnes & Noble Classics” display for the same reason.  I knew the entire floor plan of the store – the literature, the mythology section, Shakespeare, poetry, drama – I knew exactly where to find everything I wanted.  I loved it.

Bookshelves 3 stories

This is beautiful. Just sayin’. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The summer after I graduated high school I got a job as a pool operator at a hotel.  I spent 10 hours a day sitting next to an often-empty pool, and if there wasn’t anyone to guard in the pool, I read.  It rained a lot that summer, so I did a lot of reading.   That same Barnes & Noble was on my route again, so I would frequently stop in to pick up a new book.  I had a friend who worked at the attached Starbucks, and he passed me free coffee drinks whenever his manager wasn’t watching.  I was at the bookstore so often that a sales guy began to recognize me, befriended me, and was soon giving me his employee discount on my purchases.  It got to the point that on any given day, I could enjoy a fancy coffee drink and leave with my choice of book, only spending a total of a few dollars.  It was dangerously addictive.  For an English nerd like me, it was glorious.  And even though I didn’t recognize it at the time, it was my emotional salvation.   Continue reading