You may have noticed that a lot of my stories include a story of a “failure” or need to overcome something difficult. When I look back at my time living on Quadra 2014-2015 there were things to overcome- going back to living with parents as an adult, gaining my health back after a long episode of darkness, to name a few- but Quadra was mostly a victory time. I got my first teaching job in Canada and I started dating my first and only boyfriend and I drew closer to my parents than ever before. As I look back on the year 2015 there was very very little that went wrong. In the ups and downs of life it is nice to have those years sometimes.
The teaching job started with volunteering. I was very happy to volunteer without the expectations of a paid position. I could come and go as I wanted and only work with a few students at a time. I was still recovering in health. I have lots of time I told myself.
I had done my teaching practicum at Quadra Elementary in 2011 so the teacher that I helped was familiar and she wanted to help me progress in my career. “Guess what Melody?” She said one day in October. I had only been volunteering for a couple of weeks. I looked up with a smile. She was very excited. “The TOC list has just opened! I will help you with your application.” Wow. I thought. I don’t know if I am ready for this. The TOC list is a collection of employed Teachers On Call or formerly known as substitute teachers. Whether I was ready or not, the list only opened every few years so this was an opporunity I couldn’t miss.
I learned to keep my practicum reports, reference letters etc.. handy because it was quite a job to dig them all up. I remember frantically typing, copying, pasting, inserting and emailing minutes before the closing time. Then I remembered that I forgot something so I called the school board office and sent another email. whew!! That was done, now I could just get back to volunteering.
It was a couple of months before the phone call came for the interview. Then the scrambling of practicing interview questions came. Sweaty hands, beating heart. But as I said earlier, this was a year of favour. One of my interviewers was a principal that I had met and he made me feel very much at ease. They had a glass of water for my and five good questions. I could tell by their smiles and glances that I was saying the right words. I felt confident sharing stories about China and my practicum. I guess when you are in the right place the words kind of flow.
Reference checks and I was in! Dad took a picture of me with my photo badge on my first day of work. The Quadra teachers were thrilled to have another local TOC and I became relieved to discover that TOCing on Quadra was not much more difficult than volunteering and I was getting paid!
The biggest TOC lesson I learned was stick to the class routine as much as possible. Otherwise, someone will always say… “Mrs. — doesn’t do it that way!” Routine provides so much security for students. I also learned though not be afraid to be myself. I was not Mrs. — and sometimes it was good to push the kids a bit out of their comfort zone as long as I gave them notice.
Teaching on Quadra was so healing for me. Being in China 2012 was my big adventure of teaching four classes a day with cute kids that I didn’t understand at all. I loved their parroting “how are you? I’m fine thank you and you…” but not being able to go beyond that was a challenge for someone who uses words to make connections with people. I had jumped off the cliff in China…. and survived with some stories and scars and special memories. Teaching at Quadra was like playing at the beach. There were risks and things to be aware of but ultimately I knew that everything would be okay. I learned that I can be a good teacher and make mistakes and grow. One thing I am notice about myself is that there is a side of me that is fearless, that wants to jump off cliffs (I am still considering sky diving) shave my head for wigs for kids (June 6!) and jump on a plane the day after grad. Then there is another part of me that really likes being safe and sheltered. Quadra was a season for that. There were stretching moments for sure. Teaching gym class still gives me weak knees.
My Forest story is similar in that it started sooner than I expected but ended up being a very comforting experience. You can watch the story here: https://youtu.be/uAE_tjT_QWM
Because I was on Quadra and Forest was in Burnaby we had long distance relationship for a year. Which may make you groan and yes, there were many moments when I wanted to fly across the Georgia strait ASAP and I did go over fairly often. But the beauty and safety of long distance was that all we could do was talk and pray. No intense outings or chances to cuddle. (One night when we did have a chance to cuddle at a park, a German Shepherd jumped right between us on the bench. I thought it was cute. Forest was grumpy)
We were able to build an incredible foundation that holds today. There were dramatic moments like going to a black tie Christmas ball for our first ever date but for the most part it was like TOCing on Quadra. I knew that everything would be okay. One conversation at a time.
My Quadra interlude was such a gift. One morning, when I was feeling overwhelmed by this guy who had fallen in love me and I didn’t know yet if I had fallen in love with him, I read Isaiah 40: 31 “But those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
Then I went to the beach and poured out my frantic thoughts to the Creator. In response, an eagle flew out and circled above my head a bunch of times and then flew off towards the sun. Just wait. Let it all unfold. And it did, beautifully.
Quadra interlude was also a gift in giving me many “aunts” ladies around my parent’s age who cared for me in so many ways. And I had one wild French friend who took me for fast walks and looked at snowflakes and ran in the field with me to remind me that I was just 30.
I started giving my Dad hugs every night and doing artwork with my Mom. I got to be a little girl again for a while.
I feel like 2017 is another interlude.
2016 was move to Vancouver, interview with the Vancouver School board, TOC job with a small private school, move into a new house, plan wedding, parents move to Vancouver, get married, Forest joins me in the new house, get seasick in Hawaii, take an intense Mandarin course, get braces, sing in a choir and many other adventures.
2017 is doing laundry, playing in the garden, playing with my niece and nephew, writing blogs and… volunteering at a school again. Full circle. My dramatic self is getting restless which is why Forest and I are hopping on a plane to China in May for three weeks.
In this quiet moment I breathe a prayer of thanks for the interludes in life. The quiet gentle victories and knowing that everything is okay. The calm before and after storms.
It is well with my soul.