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Art vs Life

Updated on April 23, 2009

Transformational Beginnings

"Just click your heels and repeat--." If only it were so simple. This first post is my introduction to the hub of potential readers, so I should give you a short synopsis of my current life. I am a thirty six year old wife, mother, educator--and sometimes writer. I have two daughters--one is sixteen, and the other five. Enough said? No? Well, how about this--I met my husband of nearly eighteen years at the age of seventeen. "We met, we wooed, and made exchange of vow . . . ." Three weeks out of high school, we married. A year later, we had our first daughter . . . and then, we went to college.

Doing things out of order has led us through interesting challenges, as you can imagine, but the key here is that we were broke. I mean, broke-broke. We used to take every single penny of the loans offered, and then we'd pay rent, insurance and car payments up front through the entire semester. Whatever was left, we used to live on , and it wasn't much. We both, obviously, also had to work. And then it came--the big break. Jay was offered an internship with a big reputable company one city away. This was his junior year of undergrad. Thirteen years later, guess what? He was still working there--up until last week, that is.

It's a tough blow, to feel as though we're facing a reversal of fortune. After the initial shock from the layoff, we reassessed and knew that we are in a much better place than we were those eighteen years ago. I have an MFA and a full-time teaching post, for one. But there's the girls' tuition to think about (both in independent schools) and the house that a teacher's salary isn't going to pay for. Hmm . . .

For the first time, well ever, we can entertain the idea of going anywhere. Anywhere. Every job I've taken, every educational move I've made, I've made with the understanding that I was limited to places that were near Jay's work. I am currently pursuing a doctoral degree--potential problem. But still, it's also a little exciting to think that I could apply for a transfer at any university I want to.

As Peter Alheit addresses in his essay, "Biographical learning--within the new lifelong learning discourse," it is the overwhelming amount of not yet even conceived of possibilities that is responsible for producing this sudden and ironic "explosive force" in me. This is what educators call an opportunity for "transformative learning." While not every imaginable avenue is open, those that are remain invisible at the moment.

Unemployment is frightening, the fear of being dirt poor again, is frightening--but that hidden "what if?" You have to admit--that's pretty thrilling.


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