the story of Joy.

Tucked in my wallet I have: a ticket stub for a movie. a dime. and a picture of Gram and I.

I kept them to remember how I felt that night, so I would have the courage to keep going.

I was eight or nine months pregnant with Thatcher. Mom and Dad were in Toronto visiting; it must have been during Christmas holidays. I didn’t want to fly home that winter because I was worried that I might go into labour early (they live 4 – 5 hours away from a major city centre with a hospital).

With my parents at home with Tate (who was 1 at the time), we decided to duck out and see a movie. We hadn’t gone in over a year. We went to see Joy. We knew little about it and thought we might be able to stay awake long enough to see the whole thing.

If you haven’t seen it yet, the movie is based on the true story of Joy Mangano. A very successful entrepreneur who owns over 100 patents for various inventions and is known for her work on the Home Shopping Network.

Joy was a single mom who had a creative and inventive mind. As a kid, she loved coming up with ideas and making them come to life through paper and prototypes. Joy’s biggest cheerleader and supporter in life was her grandma, Mimi. They had such a close relationship. Mimi often told her that she was destined for great things.

In the movie, Joy invents a new mop. She knows that she has a great idea and has to overcome many obstacles to become successful. And in the middle of it all, her grandma dies.

Now picture me. 8 or 9 months pregnant, with my big round belly, sitting in the middle of a movie theatre. It’s been just over a year since my Grandma Lainie died. At this point, I still can’t talk about her without crying. Now I’m watching someone on screen lose their grandma, their biggest cheerleader in life. It hit too close to home.

You know that feeling when your throat constricts and burns when you try not to cry? You hold your breath, just trying to keep it together. That was me. I knew that if I started, it would become a sob. A messy, loud sob in the middle of a movie theatre.

I missed my Gram. I grew up with a woman who made me feel like I could do anything. And she would want me to be happy. She would want me to go for it.

Why was I still in a job that I didn’t enjoy? Why did I keep pushing myself to live a life that wasn’t me?

I was done.

When I walked out of the theatre that night, I told myself that I would do my own thing. I decided that my career as an educator was over. I didn’t know what I would do, but life was too short. I would figure it out and she would want me to.

That was in 2015.

Today is January 15, 2019. It’s officially my last day of work. Last week I submitted my resignation.

It was as easy as an e-form and picking out my last date. An entire career ended with a few blanks to fill in and a quick phone call. Such a weird way to end such a big part of my life.

I worked so hard to become a teacher. I have two degrees and my Masters in Education. I did my Masters degree while teaching. Teach during the day and then classes and assignments at night.

I became a curriculum consultant for a school board – facilitating learning for teachers and principals. I have my qualifications to be an elementary school principal if I wanted to. I knew it wasn’t for me, but I was interested in learning more about leadership.

I have a math specialist. I taught the Math Specialist Additional Qualification course for the Elementary Teacher’s Federation of Ontario for two years.

I chose to leave a job with an incredible pension. benefits. and job security.

And it’s scary. Who leaves a career like that?

Apparently me.

I was afraid to tell my parents. I didn’t want to upset them or for them to worry about me. Even this morning I was picturing them having to explain to others what I’m up to these days. I don’t want them to feel embarrassed having to tell people what I’ve done.

And there are days where I’m worried that I won’t figure it out and that I might put our family in a difficult situation financially.

And yet I know that I need to pursue something different.

I want our kids to grow up seeing a mom who loves what she does. I want them to be brave enough to do work that is meaningful to them and not worry about the expectations or views of others. And I want them to have a mom who is happy.

For the first time in my life, I am unemployed. I’ve had my own paycheck since I was 12 years old. This is new territory for me.

And this decision wasn’t made lightly. I’ve sat in on webinars about my pension. We have a rental property. I have been making and selling things for a year now. I host workshops and have lots of other ideas I want to explore. I know we’ll be fine.

It’s been a long time in the making. I’ve known since 2009 that I needed to do something different. I can read it in my notebooks…

And I am so thankful for Eric. My husband is my biggest supporter and the one who has helped me feel brave enough to do it. You’re an educated person, Lainie. You will figure it out. We’ll be fine. I love him.

I don’t know exactly what I’m going to do, but I’ll get there (which is so not me). I’ve always had my life mapped out with career goals and expected milestones. School. Job. Marriage. Children. I wanted to make my family proud of my accomplishments. And I feel like I’m starting over. I am trying to picture this all as one big adventure.

I am writing a book that I want to publish. I have two publishers in mind. The book launch in already planned in my head. I have 419 pages sitting in Google docs and a clear bin in our bedroom that I call My Book. I keep tucking pieces inside.

I want to create e-courses and do workshops. I want to create things that will make a difference in other people’s lives. It probably sounds cheesy and I’m okay with that. I want to do good and I feel like I can finally start.

Here’s to new things. Here’s to Joy.

Gram once told me that I need to write my own book. I will and I’ll dedicate it to her.

6 Replies to “the story of Joy.”

  1. Hi Lainie,

    This certainly is a big step, but you’ll figure it out. It wasn’t a haphazard decision but one that was carefully weighed and measured. So much of our identity is rooted in our work that to be without work is often viewed in a less than positive light. Whatever path you pursue you will be able to utilize all those hard and soft skills you acquired as a teacher and consultant. Happiness trumps everything else with possible exception of health and even so personal well-being is intricately linked to our our happiness meter.

    These days the expectation is that you will have at least 4 careers over a lifespan. Reframing our language and shifting our mindset in respect to work is key. For example, your life as a teacher/consultant is just one point along the continuum *(not a stop gap).

    Good luck

  2. Thank you, Pauline. I love the idea of multiple careers and interests over a lifetime. It means a person is constantly learning and evolving. Thank you for your encouragement.

  3. Good luck Lainie! I too had a successful teaching career which I loved and just like all things we care passionately about – it is hard to leave. Sounds like you will be using your skills and knowledge to create the next wonderful season in your life.

  4. This is a powerful story and one that I imagine was not easy to write. I think your story reminds us that just because we might be good at something, and be able to contribute in a positive way, does not mean it is what we are meant to be doing. When we ignore the little voice in our head and heart we end up making decisions that are not true to what we are meant to be doing. You are listening to you inner voice and being true to who you are.

    Part of me read this and wished that you could have loved your job the way I love my job but your decision is not a reflection on whether being an educator is a worthwhile pursuit….you will always be an educator but your path will be your own.

    Thank-you for being you.

    1. Thank you, Kim ❤️ Being an educator is such a worthwhile pursuit. It’s a role that has such remarkable influence in a child’s life. Which is why it needs to be done by those who love it. Your students are so lucky to have you. Your love of learning is contagious and your care for them makes me want to drive my kids up to your school 😉

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