Long ago, when I started a blog, I called it Not so Shiny Jules. It was random observations from just an ordinary human. As I shifted, it shifted with me to make room for more specific and pointed conversations about observations in the workforce world and I renamed it Julie Brock because I had also written a book and hoped to write some more.
And then life happened.
I didn’t write another book, instead I wrote a sort of long piece about reasonableness in a time of contention. I changed jobs two more times. We transitioned one boy to high school and the other to middle school. Randy changed careers.
And somewhere in there, my habit of writing shifted to the back burner. In one toxic place of work I allowed my voice to shut off because of threats and scrutiny. It was about reputation and maintaining status quo. It clipped my wings and recovery has been hard and slow.
It’s why The Reasonables continues to live in my google drive and here it bits, because the constant drumbeat in my head was one of accusations and fear. Who the hell do you think you are? Who do you think will listen to a damn thing you say? You are…and fill it in with the lowest form of insult and demeaning comments you can find.
I was done. I had listened to lies from people who didn’t matter and those lies weaved a dark cynical web in my soul, I felt my spirit fall into a protective deep abyss, and I’ve spent the last four years spelunking and calling for her.
Maybe she didn’t fall or retreat or leave at all. That might have been another lie I told myself while I was in the dark and couldn’t see the lies weaving tight, tight knots across my heart. Anxiety told me it was protection, no one could hurt me again.
But that is the strongest, most wretched, worst lie to believe.
We will get hurt. If we fear it so deeply that we cut ourselves off, we miss out on living.
I risked a lot by leaving my classroom in the middle of the year in 2015. I loved my work and the kids other parents entrusted to me for nine months, thirty-four weeks, 184 days, a year. I had created a system that made room for every student. It challenged each person to take ownership of their education, assess where they were and make a plan to get to where they wanted to be. I was a guide on their journey, and it was beautiful. I had non-readers start to read. I had kids who told me they couldn’t write start defining themselves as writers. I made room for failure, room for time-management, room for humanity and it was a place I loved.
My teaching license lapsed in June and I cried.
I won’t return to the classroom in that way again. It isn’t because I was burned out, but because the season had passed. I was good, maybe great, but was I making a dent in the overall system? Was I perpetuating a grind that was training our young humans to jump through hoops versus own an education they were proud of?
Sometimes the system cannot be changed from within. Sometimes a whole new approach has to be taken to create lift, to create change, to challenge the status quo.
And so I am returning to this writing thing, but this time around the mountain, I picked up some new knowledge. This time in my sabbatical from writing I found some truths that were slowly but deliberately gnawing away that densely woven web. I can only be who I am. And that doesn’t require explanation, a label, or justification. yes, I am an ordinary human observing the world, but I’m not just an ordinary human. As Walt Whitman reminds us, “Do I contradict myself? Very well, so I contradict myself. I am large — I contain multitudes.”
Into the deep abyss I go, not to find a thing, but to marvel in the multitudes of humanity. I have no idea what it will reveal, and my curiosity is giddy.