One Life to Live

Once upon a time, I was a graduate student waiting to finish her Masters degree. I was flipping through textbooks wondering what life was trying to teach me. I was unhappy and unfulfilled there, except for by one thing: Learning what teens were looking for in novels, in writing, in life. I soon learned “Some beautiful paths can’t be discovered without getting lost.”- Erol Ozanre. And I left my program.

I had no idea what was in store for me. I left the graduate program due to just a gut feeling.

There was nothing waiting for me when I got home. I was alone, at square one, waiting, wondering what life would bring me.

Here’s what I learned:

I originally decided to be a motivational speaker for youth when I left my program, but that all changed when my story did. I was diagnosed bipolar in my late twenties. And it affected everything to fall apart the way it led me to.

My speaking goals changed. I decided to speak about bipolar, overcoming the stigma after first feeling like I needed to hide it from the world.

Life kept pushing me. I started with connecting spirituality and psychology in my own recovery. And then, besides speaking, I decided to write a self help book integrating both called Unseen Brilliance.

I also worked with kids from the time I came home from Boston (my graduate program was at Brandeis University) to when I was put on disability for bipolar. I worked as a preschool teacher, a support teacher, an educational paraprofessional for kids with autism, a workshop facilitator and speaker and a nanny.

Each experience helped me realize that I wasn’t teaching formerly in the education system as a high school English teacher as I had once envisioned, but I was still helping youth. And writing for them.

“I shall pass this way but once; any good that I can do or any kindness I can show to any human being; let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.” — Anonymous

Wonder. It starts with childhood wonder. I see the kids in my life as forces of nature that instead of teaching, I had to learn to emulate. And doing good felt good.

Nothing can change the fact that I left a program. But I do not want to go back.

I’m on my own sort of road, telling my story…my way. It wasn’t perfect, but the good I did tripled what I was originally trying to accomplish. It was simple good. Helping a child turn around, teaching a child with autism to value themselves and to play… all of this was enough for me.

I had left prestige for ethics. I left my program for purpose. You see, I did not trust the education system completely. I remember student teaching and being surrounded by teens trying to debate their grades out of desperation. And I thought to myself, this is what it is becoming? I was at a top high school afterall. I left it all to do simple good and to write about it.

What have you done lately to change someone’s life? How about your own life?

Spoiler alert. It doesn’t get any easier to stay on the road that you are. You are just performing not practicing realness. You are existing, not living while chasing the shallowness of societal success for self worth.

“You can dream it, you can do it.” — Walt Disney

I envision a life where my choices lead me to a brilliant path, a road that glows or lights up when I step on each space. An authentic road.

I’ll meet you on such a road.

What do you say?

Will you attempt, will you try?

Good luck.