Tuesday, September 13, 2016

I was Once a New Yorker

It was the first day of our home school co-op and I had the sign-in sheet ready for when all my kindergarten students arrived. The first day of classes is the best! There is so much excitement buzzing through the air. I love meeting my students and welcoming them and I love meeting the families that are strangers to me now, but by the end of the year we will be close sisters in Christ.

One woman walked in with her grandson and quickly leaned down to write her signature on the form, but before she left I asked her if she could write down her phone number as well. She began writing, '516-' as the area code, I stopped her and asked her if she was from Long Island, New York. She jumped up with a smile and inquired, "How did you know?" I told her that I was once a, "718- area code!' We hit it off and began talking and talking!

Throughout the day I bumped into my new found, New Yorker, friend and we would stop and share our life stories and encourage each other. Of course the first thing I asked her was, "What brought you down here?" Immediately she told me that her daughter was just diagnosed with cancer. She told me that she prayed and believed God was calling her to come down and help her daughter and take care of her grandchildren. So, in obedience to God, she sold her house, packed everything up and moved.
I was shocked.
I was breathless.
After hearing this story my mind filled with hundreds of questions for her and so I asked every one!

"Did you just leave your job?"
Her calm and confident response was, "Oh, no, I am an independent Avon consultant. I have a whole network in New York and now I'll just start one here!"

"So, is this daughter that has cancer your only child?"
Again she responded with a calm, no worries answer..."I have four children-two are still home with me. One is 14 years old, the other 12. " She continued, "I felt like God was asking me to home school my children, so when we moved here we didn't need to look for a new school."

"So, your grandchildren AND your children are signed up at the co-op?"

"So, are you volunteering to help teach, be an assistant, in one of the classrooms?"
"Yes. I will be teaching the kindergarten class in the afternoons."

Each time I walked away from her, the more I was filled with awe. She left everything for her daughter and grandchildren. She believes and is confident that she can build up group of clients here in Hampton. She is also confident that she can teach not only her children, but the kindergarten class.

My head was swirling. "Wow!" I thought to myself, "I was once like her." I was once a New Yorker. I had dreams. I had visions. I had strength. I had hope. I had courage. I had an, "I can do it!" attitude. It had me thinking...I'm not sure if I have it any more. Being in the south has changed me, and, after mulling it over, I can't say that I like what it has done to me.

 When I came down here it didn't take me long to see that I didn't fit in. I talked fast, walked fast, and said my opinion openly and freely. (For those of you who do not know, that is not how they do it down in the south). They talk slower than I did, walk slower (no one is in a rush), and well, opinions are not spoken- they keep that to themselves, (except when it's time to gossip).

I have been hushed. Kicked under the table. Given the evil-eye to the point that I now just hold my tongue even if I have something inspired from the Lord.

I feel like all my dreams have been kicked out of me too. I actually listened to a pastor give a sermon on how we should not have ambition! He said that ambition is self-centered and ultimately it can hurt people. I sat there burning inside. Anything we do can be turned into a selfish act, so yes, while ambition can be motivated by impure or for selfish gain, there is good ambition too. Ambition to use our gifts to bless others is not a bad thing.

 I've also noticed that no one seems to go after their dreams down here. It's like they talk about what they'd like to do and be and 'wouldn't it be nice to' and so on, but I don't see people putting their hand to the pump, as they say, to get it done. I don't feel the 'chutzpah' down here.

I don't know, maybe it's not the south, maybe it's the crowd I'm hanging around in. Maybe they have all been depressed for so long and have given up on life that it's rubbed off on me. I have to be honest here. Here comes my opinion. Don't kick me or hush me... I hate this 'no dreams', 'no goals', 'no fire in the belly' lifestyle. And to be further honest, I hate the fear too. I hate it. The fear of living. The fear of failing. The fear of rejection. "Well, my grandmother never did it, so I guess I won't either." God has put us here with gifts and talents to share with this world and we should be using them.

I was once a New Yorker, or am I in there somewhere? I still have dreams, but I don't talk about them anymore. Honestly, for the last five or more years I have felt like a horse behind the starting gate, pawing the ground, grunting for the gun to go off, just ready for the release of the race. I want to run. I want to be free to dream and go after it.

Maybe one day I can feel free to be me, a New Yorker, and still live in the south. Here's hoping!

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