Seeing multiple posts of high school and college graduates with their goofy caps and gowns reminds me how much the end of spring and the beginning of summer brings countless endings and new beginnings. Many of you may be exhaling with relief for the first time all semester, but anxiously awaiting news related to job offers etc. While I’m far removed from my own graduation ceremonies; I want to encourage you that the changes around the bend will amaze and ultimately change nearly everything about you!
Right after completing my undergraduate degree from Ohio Wesleyan University I
packed up my belongings and moved to Michigan to live with my sister Alison for a short while as I completed a job search. I was open to jobs in many places, and ultimately Minnesota became my new home midsummer when I landed my first “real” job with Lifetime Fitness and soon landed a coaching job at St. Thomas. My 100% commission based job was a true challenge as was adjusting to life after being a busy student-athlete in college. But this change yielded a higher income than before (duh!) and opportunities to date and socialize with all sorts of new people. I also got to live with my oldest sister, her husband, and her first born, Addison. When I did leave Minnesota for graduate school two years later it was a bittersweet move. I’d learned so much from my amazing clients and my college athletes, yet I didn’t know what else was in store!
Graduate school at Smith College shook all of my preconceived notions on nearly every single topic. I thought I was a good track and field coach, I thought I was open, I thought I was kinda smart; then graduate school showed me the truth. Graduate school allowed me to think critically about many issues even beyond my degree of Exercise and Sports Studies and coaching women. I never truly thought about the ethical and psychological aspects of sport. I never really examined Title IX issues. I never looked at my own coaching and what standard language I used to acknowledge athletes. These years both empowered and enraged me as a female, ultimately showing me that change is needed but also that change will be a slow, upward battle.
Ultimately it was my move to Memphis where I changed from just a coach to an educator. My restart in Memphis allowed me to see what high school was like outside of my educational system in an Ivy League influenced hometown. I saw firsthand how schools looked like prisons and how miserable students without freedom mindlessly walked school hallways. I learned of my privilege and realized that public and private school systems vary in oh so many ways. I ultimately “sold out” from the public school after earning tenure and entered into new challenges as a private school educator. My teaching philosophy in Memphis grew, shattered, rebuilt, morphed, and soared.
In my lifetime, I’ve moved from various regions across the country quite a bit, and moving is always a process, but it gets done. The stuff gets to where it needs to go, things get thrown away, the home gets cleaned, and boxes get unpacked. That part is relatively easy. The hard part about moving is leaving the friends and support system you’ve established and starting over, but that’s the point. Starting over is your chance to reinvent, renew, and reestablish yourself in both a physical and an emotional sense.
My move from Memphis, TN to Texas came at the perfect time in my life. I was turning 35, single, without kids, and struggling to find a good work-life balance. I had a stressful teaching assignment serving as both a yearbook faculty advisor and the head coach of a track and field team with 40+ athletes. I felt “on call” almost every night answering various texts and emails from students and athletes. Simply stated, my job was my life in Memphis which left little time for anything more.
Fast forward to present day and I’m not the same person. I got a restart. Moves can and will change you. I still feel passionate about teaching high school students. I still coach, but in a much more limited capacity. I make time to exercise daily. I eat well. I rest well. I feel well. Physically the differences are noticeable, but for those that really know me the emotional changes inside are even more profound. I will turn 39 next week and I’ve never felt more equipped to make the next move in life as I know it will teach, challenge, and show me what life is really about. Good luck to all out there on their next move and remember that it is easier to look back on your life when you are proud of what you’ve achieved.