I’ll Follow the Sun

Middle school. The last day of school. You could power a medium-sized city if you could harness the energy here today. Looking at kids in the lunchroom, it’s almost as if I can see the molecules in their bodies, spinning in random, haphazard fashion—aimlessly but at breakneck speed. It is something to see. (Bring earplugs.)

I try to focus on these abstract, scientific interpretations because I am not yet ready to sink into the reality of my decision. There is nothing more self-centered that believing that things can’t go on without you. And that’s not exactly how I feel. I know that someone else will be helping kids cope with friendship rifts and broken hearts, making calls to social services and playing cheerleader when kids and adults are carrying loads that seem to be more than they can bear. But part of me still wants to be the one handling all of that, partly because I don’t have a clear view of my future life right now. And because I was good at doing all those things, and it’s satisfying to be in a situation doing things we’re good at.

I explained to my 7th graders yesterday that when I am at school it feels like there’s a hole in my heart because I’m away from my kids and that, come August, there will be a hole in my heart where they (my school kids) should be. But I wonder if that’s true. I feel like the few emotional situations that I dread are usually less horrendous and long-lasting than I anticipate in all my fretting about them. I’m not sure if this will be one of those.

Last week my husband suggested I go get a massage. I’ve been on edge, getting migraines, not sleeping well. I declined the massage because I was afraid of letting go of my stress too soon. This school year I had a baby, went on leave and then came back (reluctantly). That was a lot but not all. One of our students died in February, and we spent much of the rest of the year grieving and trying to regain our bearings. Then, in April, a female student went missing. A few days passed with no word from her—luckily, she reappeared, safe and sound. Then there are the daily heartaches that anyone who works with kids is familiar with: broken families, abuse, so many other non-academic situations which interfere with learning and—one of the hardest for me to help kids manage—getting through to adulthood without believing that hurtful things said about them are true.

I guess I just feel like I had the choice between quitting my job to attend daily therapy sessions or forcing all that emotion down as far as it would go. And I haven’t let it out since. So when my husband suggests I get a massage, I don’t visualize relaxation. I see myself breaking into a thousand pieces. And I can’t afford to do that yet.

My plan is to walk out my sadness and grief from this year and my uneasiness about what the future holds for me – walk it all out in the sun, wandering with my sons around our neighborhood, listening to music and letting all of the emotions seep out through my skin a bit at a time. Let it all swim out of my body with my sweat and evaporate out into the universe in particles so tiny they are harmless.



  1. Do it. You’ll be keeping your own kids from those middle school traumas by giving them a solid foundation of acceptance with their own family, something so few middle schoolers feel or have. I spent that time with my babies, and it’s made all the difference in their lives. They have been able to keep middle school and the other kids in perspective because their lives are far bigger than that 8 hours per day. All the best to you!

  2. What a stressful time you’ve had! Now its time for you to spend time on you 🙂
    Love your idea of walking it all out or letting things swim away – sounds calming and peaceful. Do hope you find your peace soon 🙂

  3. Sending you Love, Light and Prayers for healing :)…Love yourself first 🙂 The rest will take care of itself 🙂 Time takes time.

    1. Thanks, Anita. I am looking to you as I figure out how to navigate this new venture and seek support from and offer support to those in similar situations.

  4. Today I started reading a book called “The Charge” by Brendon Burchard. I don’t know why I’m recommending it, and could be totally off base. But something tells me that when you are trying to put back together the critical drivers in your life, Brendon’s viewpoint can be powerful. Just a thought, Amy. 😉

      1. Amy, I just re-read your post. And, in light of something I’m looking at as well, don’t forget to address the anger … an emotion we as women tend to think of last. Behind the sadness and grief is likely anger … for what the children endured and will endure going forward … and for what you endured. Don’t forget to let that “swim out” or “walk out” too, although that’s typically not how it leaves … 😉 Heal well!

      2. Sharon, Wise words. Anger can be so corrosive, and if there’s a quality in people I can’t stand it’s bitterness, which comes from pent-up anger, I think. I will heed your words. 🙂

  5. Hugs to you, Amy. This sounds like a year of great stress and change. Giving back to yourself is so important. Decide what you would like to do to begin to release your emotions and discover the strength that lives inside you. I am also a massage therapist and support those who let go on my table. You will move forward when you are ready. Thank you for writing about where you are in life xo

    1. Thanks, Lisa. I am often one who “puts it all out there” when I write but am new to the “out there” being the WORLD WIDE web. A little daunting, so I appreciate the encouraging words.

  6. Hi Amy, I been through both situations staying at home and working full time and now I own my own business which is work that surpasses a 9 to 5. All I can say to you is take it one day at a time, in the middle of it all you may decide that staying home is not for you and that is fine as well. Life is about testing what is right for us at different times, take the massage and break if you have to, just remember to pick up the pieces on the way out and build yourself even better.

    1. Karla, I think you’re right. It’s a good reminder – every step is an experiment and changing course isn’t failure but being open and responsive. One day at a time seems about right. 🙂

  7. Let your light shine and let that sun shine in to guide the way….you are loved and supported in #HYFG

  8. Life is full of so many big changes. I can empathize because I remember doing this very thing so very many years ago. While my heart knew it was the right thing for our family, it was still the biggest roller coaster I had ever ridden, exhilarating and terrifying by turns–sometimes at the same time. But you will never regret putting your family first. I know I have not and it has been nearly two decades since I made the big leap.

  9. I applaud your decision. I remember the day I decided to “leave school”. It wasn’t an easy decision. But ultimately my own children had to come first. I watched their lives growing and moving onward and my time becoming more limited. I watched the school system failing in ways. I do miss some aspects of teaching. But I love having this time with my children because it is time I can never regain. I can return to teaching at any time if I want.

  10. I believe any woman who chooses to leave stay at home is a brave woman. I can only imagine how torn you were to make this decision. You will never be able to take back the time you will spend with your own children, and no matter how much we want to do for other people’s children our own are the most important. I envy you and wish you the best! I am sure you will figure out how to get that dissertation written, and I guess on occasion I might have to check in and see how you are coming.

    You are beginning the next ride of your life. Enjoy it!

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