I love storms and rain and puddles and jumping in puddles in cute navy blue and flowered rain boots. I also love time to reflect and ponder and restore a slow rhythm to my life. Neither of those has been abundant in my life in the previous months, until this week—rather, until this past Friday! We received more rain last week than our state has seen in this drought all year—well, in more than a year! Friday happened to be the perfect opportunity for both rain and reflection: especially extended reflection time. It was a travel day for football, as we made the nearly 6 hour trek down to San Diego in our charter buses to take on the El Capitan Vaqueros for the CIF Regional Bowl Game Saturday night. It was a beautiful stormy day to sit and recline in the soft blue marble patterned chairs and ponder the craziness of the past six months.
From countless Saturday 5am coast drives for credential class, an apartment fumigation, a football CIF Championship, a progressive Thanksgiving, and my first real full-sized Christmas Tree, it has been a jam-packed four months of pure craziness and absolute JOY.
While managing two jobs (teaching and athletic training) has been a juggling act to say the least, it has been incredibly rewarding. If two jobs have not been enough to keep me busy, I have pursued the incredible undertaking of completing my Career Technical Education Credential as well during my first year at Paso Robles High School as part of my contract. The song that seems to follow me is the circus theme s <insert song NOW>. I have classes online that I complete as well as every three weeks an in-person classroom meeting down in Camarillo. So, every three weeks, on Saturday morning, my alarm wakes me up to the Frozen song, “ Do you want to build a snowman” at 4am and I drive down in the dark and stop in Summerland, near Santa Barbara and enjoy the beauty of a beach sunrise before I begin class. Those 5am coast drives and early morning beach sunrises have become an absolute highlight.
Another adventure this season occurred last month. My apartment building was in need of a bit of…termite killing, to say the least! Fumigation weekend taught me a lot. From Friday morning to Monday night, I was not allowed into my apartment building, so for all intents and purposes, I was a traveling gypsy for those next four days with no one place to call home. I ended up camping out at my sweet friend Amanda’s house in Atascadero for two evenings before staying my last night in Paso with my adorable coworker, Denise and her family. What started as a weekend of potential frustration and annoyance of being transient became a weekend of gratitude and truth and feeling blessed beyond measure. Staying with Amanda was an unexpected gift, as it brought about time to reflect on where I have come in the past six months since staying at her house prior to my move to the central coast. Six short months ago, I was sleeping on the same air mattress, preparing for my job interview at PRHS and San Luis Sports Therapy. I remember those nights vividly, June 10th and 11th. It was a week already filled with heightened emotion, and as I arrived at her house after my first interview, I hugged her tightly, reunited after 5 years of limited conversation. It felt so easy, so safe. Vulnerability happened rather quickly, as I shared with her about life changes and fears and excitements and new possibilities. I went to sleep that evening on that comfortable but quickly deflating air mattress, asking for guidance and answers and signs direction about taking the risk of stepping into NEW. So much NEW. I was reminded that night of those emotions, as I returned to Amanda’s house to stay with her while my apartment was being fumigated. And what also came that night was the reminder and blessing of gratitude for friendships and hospitality and vulnerability, no matter what coast I am on. It’s almost hard to believe at times that one of my biggest hesitations to moving was the fear of a lack of community: God definitively answered that prayer 100 fold.
Our football team has had an incredible season! We ended up playing through the week of Thanksgiving, which meant I would not make it home to celebrate as originally planned. This year was the first time in 27 years that I did not go home to my family on Thanksgiving Day. As someone who is very big on tradition, I was fearful of the sadness and impact this would have. Fortunately, I was able to see my family the weekend before Thanksgiving, so we planned to celebrate early. My family was very easy going and encouraging and loved that I made it home early. Every one was extremely excited for the team and how successful our boys were competing. They sent me on the road, wished me well and said they would see me soon! As Thanksgiving Day approached, I still did not know what my own personal reaction would be. I had been invited by a few families to stop by and celebrate with them if I had no place to “call home” for Thanksgiving dinner. I decided to try something I called “Progressive Thanksgiving.” I would go to a few different houses to celebrate with the various families that had invited me over and opened their homes to me!
We practiced on the morning of Thanksgiving, and I had the wonderful help of two of my senior students who joined me to help tape and manage any injuries. I treated them to a quick Starbucks breakfast (unfortunately it was one of the few places open in Paso) as a thank you for their help and then I went home to prepare for my progressive Thanksgiving! I started at the Conte house! It was a delight! Denise is one of my coworkers at the high school and it was an absolute treat to spend some time with her family and meet her daughters. They were just the sweetest! Afterward, I went over to the Baldwin home where I spent the majority of the afternoon and evening. We shared in delicious food and played fun games and had wonderful conversation. It was such a joy to spend time with these families and get to know them better and feel like such a valued member of their community and family as well. I can honestly say I left those homes feeling treasured and honored and hopeful that I left behind even a spark of the joy that I took away.