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Questioning The Future While Living In The Present

thoughts on the futureJennifer can be found musing about motherhood, teaching and a lot more over at her website, mamawolfe. This post was originally featured there. 

I sure wish I had the guts to ask a psychic about what my future holds. It’s kind of funny, really. As a kid I was never one of those people who knew exactly what I wanted to be when I grew up. I didn’t have driving passions throughout high school, unless you counted my passion to get out of there as quickly as possible. In college I switched majors three times, and didn’t decide to become a teacher until the second semester of my senior year. I absolutely didn’t have life planned out whatsoever. I guess back then I was somehow OK with that. Young. Naive. I’m not quite sure.

But now, I’m realizing I’d rather not know all the details about my future. I understand that to let grace happen, I need to trust that for now, things are happening as they should be. Teaching for 25 years has challenged me to both, plan ahead and practice flexibility. I’m consciously trying to live in the present. For a type-A-control-freak like me that takes tons of energy. I’m realizing that being a teacher plays well into my style, but the negatives of always having a “lesson plan” can be super detrimental to other parts of my life. If becoming a mom taught me anything, it was that we can’t control other humans – no matter how hard I tried to get my first born to follow my lesson plan, she always had the idea to do it her way. And that’s exactly the way it should be.

Okay, I’ll be honest. As much as I’m realizing it’s best not to future trip, I’d love to just have a teeny, tiny peek into what might be coming up next for me. I’ve been feeling these stirrings in my heart for the last few years and I’ve been trying to acknowledge them and allow for openings in my work life. Teaching is hard, and it’s getting to the point where I just can’t imagine continuing like this until I retire. I’d love for someone to ask me to write a book. About anything. And pay me, so I could back off from teaching 120% and just teach part time – or not at all. One thing I know is that I can’t last teaching like this until I can retire at 65. I’ll have nothing left of me.

So I push myself to talk to new people, figuring that I never know what serendipitous moment the Universe might be offering me. I’m a natural-born introvert working in a very extroverted job, so my favorite icebreaker question is “What are you reading?” I’m one of those people who connects with people through books. When I go to someone’s house for the first time, if I don’t see stacks of books I get worried. I’m most comfortable scanning bookshelves for something to share in common with a new friend; their book titles will show me their values and interests and let me know if we are like-minded. And if I realize their books are just for show? Well, that’s a real deal breaker.

So for now I’ll skip the psychic and trust the marvelous mystery of the Universe. I’ll shorten my life lesson plan to just the next week or so, and be sure to build in moments to allow grace to step in. Heck, we never know who the person we’re standing next to at a lacrosse game might turn out to be, or where the person holding the door open to the next opening in life might show up. It’s always best to be alert, watch out of the corner of my eye, and see what these folks have to say. Grace shows up once in awhile in the most extraordinary ways, and I’m ready to see what the future holds.

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a mom and middle school teacher, loves nothing more than watching kids be brave, courageous and navigate the world. Jennifer reflects on life’s lessons on her blog, mamawolfe, as well as on Huffington Post, Midlife Blvd., Mamalode, Mamapedia, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Goodreads. Instagram: mamawolfeto2

John Reese

Wednesday 20th of April 2016

I think it's better to live your life full in the present than to make big plans for the future. Goals, dreams... it's OK to have them, of course, but don't try to take control of everything.

Jennifer Wolfe

Saturday 23rd of April 2016

Yes, you're right. I do believe in goals and dreams, but also in trusting the journey. Sometimes it's a tricky balance, isn't it? Thanks for commenting.

Lynn - Encore Voyage

Friday 15th of April 2016

Oh mamawolfe, I was sooooo where you are! I taught for 29 years (special ed. resource) before the politics and paperwork finally got the best of me. And now, we are on an Encore Voyage (that's what we call this not quite retired gig of ours). We've made it up as we've gone along, and we've never looked back - or been happier, for that matter! I must say that I do miss the actual teaching of children...that said, you most likely have lots and lots of Type A, control freak, lesson plan loving skills that you can capitalize on. You are right - Teaching is hard - very hard! Don't let it eat you up!

BTW, I'm also a book lover, and am currently reading The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George. It's enchanting and deliciously written!

Jennifer Wolfe

Saturday 23rd of April 2016

Lynn, I wish your comment wasn't the first time I've heard this. Education has changed, and I see more and more teachers leaving the profession - not because of the children, but because of the systems. And I loved that book! I just finished "The Outside Boy" - an interesting one!

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