When I first began this blog in September of 2008, I had recently retired from a 34 year career as a public school teacher in the School District of Philadelphia. For those 34 years, my classroom along with my family were at the center of my life. I left the classroom at the same time that my children were graduating from college, moving to other cities and starting adult lives with their own careers and loving partners. The challenges I faced redefining myself in my retirement were intensified by my changing role with my adult children.
My former blog, “Beyond the Classroom” became a place where I could look back over my life and my career and explore my past experiences I had had as a teacher and use that knowledge to build a bridge to the next phase of my life.
It also provided the space for me to reflect on issues still important to me in education as I found myself working with new teachers, particularly those wonderful and dedicated young people I met who were doing Teach for America in Philadelphia.
As time went on, and my teaching years moved further behind me, I found myself growing restless and my interests veered away from education. I began taking writing classes, studying new subjects, such as Jungian psychology and alternative health care, becoming passionate about film and gardening, meeting new people, traveling to other countries and just generally, expanding my horizons.
For years, whenever I was asked to define myself I would answer with the following: “wife-mother-teacher. ” These words were always hyphenated to express the ways in which those roles were inextricably linked. Now, looking at this description. I realize that what these words have in common is that they all define me in relationship to caring for others – my husband, my children and my students. My own identity was lost, hidden somewhere along the hyphen.
It is time to forground those spaces on the hypen and move them to the center of my life. It’s scary, for sure, but I am learning that this liminality can be a very exciting place if one is not afraid to claim it as home. Being in transition, can be frightening, but if embraced, very vital and exciting. Much has been written about different passages that women go through in our lives. This particular phase that I find myself in can be very generative, as I no longer have the needs of others providing the framework for so many of my interactions with the world.
The new blog is my attempt to reclaim my own interests and passions, re-establish my own identity through writing and re-enter the world beyond the classroom on my own terms. It begins with a question — What happens when a post mid-life woman seeks to re-write her life on her own terms? I hope to explore new ideas, develop new passions and share my questions and challenges with others who like me are trying to continue to grow throughout their lives.
I hope that Her Own Terms will find readers — other co-wonderers and co-travellers who will share questions, stories and passions.