For 10 years between 2012 and 2022, I performed these following crucially important activities:
- Growing our family size and taking care of small children
- Moving our family from Vietnam to the United States
- Helping my husband David start and maintain a new and extremely demanding career
- Tuning in to my interior life with the help of music and many great books
- Trying to develop a sustainable spirituality as a Catholic
- Improving my cooking ability and expanding my cooking repertoire
- Improving my friendship with my husband
- Improving my parenting skills to try to educate growing children
- Improving my writing ability
- Learning about my body’s highly sensitive constitution and about my health
- Learning to do yoga and pilates
- Learning to garden
- Learning to decorate our home in a colorful, comfortable, classic and cozy style
- Searching for a classic and comfortable clothing style as I move towards middle age
- Starting to study Spanish
- Advancing my French proficiency from elementary to intermediate level
Two months ago in early January, I rejoined the working world by becoming an adjunct faculty in the English as a Second Language Institute at Campbellsville University, which is located so close to our house that it is a mere 10-minute walk away. I started this new job with a faculty meeting on my first day. Here I was on that day before I left home for the meeting. The last photo showed how I felt that morning: a moderate level of trepidation as I was about to go out on a limb into the outside world and left behind the protective cocoon of our home.
I had originally wanted to teach only one class in my first semester, but the large number of international students we had received dictated that I taught two classes. Thus I am now teaching two courses: Beginning Writing (10am – 10:50am) and Advanced Grammar (11am- 11:50am). I teach on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. I have 22 students in total and they come from Venezuela, Bolivia, Panama, Honduras, Japan, France, Spain and Germany. All my fears about going back to work after 10 years turned out to be valid. I had a horrifyingly stressful experience during my first couple of weeks of teaching. David remarked once that I constantly looked like I was in shock. After my first two days of working, I thought I was going to die from exhaustion, overstimulation and overexposure to the outside world.
I felt alarmingly anchorless during my first few weeks of working. I had used to anchor myself firmly in my family, home, music, learning, cooking and books, which I could hardly do any longer to the same degree. I was not able to feel at home even after I came back home from work because my mind always tried to search for solutions to work issues. I frantically tried to find a way to cope with work stress and to “return home” in my body and in our house. It took some time for me to finally develop a nourishing and refreshing routine at home after work. Needless to say, some days were much worse than others, and I felt myself riding on an emotional and hormonal roller coaster through the weeks. Here I was after coming home from work one afternoon.
Now that we are in Spring Break at Campbellsville University, I have enjoyed my school-free days grading my students’ mid-term exams, entering grades into the system, cleaning our house, reading an incredibly inspiring book and updating our family blog. I am experiencing the same solitude and freedom I used to have before going back to work, and it feels wonderful. I still carry around my notebook for jotting down ideas of class activities, discussion prompts and lesson enrichment for next term, but I have found myself think much less about my students and colleagues overall. Such a timely respite!
Here I was after work at Trace-Pitman Greenway on a beautiful day not too long before Spring Break.
Thank you for reading! I hope you find peace and joy both at work and at home.
I am so proud of you.