How Getting Fired Made My Dream Come True
If I were a dog, I’d be an Australian Shepard. They are herders, and they stay at your side until the job is done.
I’m like that, only with helping people write and chase after their dreams.
It had taken me what feels like forever, but after trying for thirty years, I finally wrote a book in 93 days. I was so free. I had figured out what had been blocking me and how to move forward even though I wasn’t sure where I was headed. I had needed those thirty years of trying and trying and trying and not getting anywhere to fully appreciate the miracle of finishing something. With that experience, I became an expert on the block. I understood what keeps so many people from writing because I have been both blocked and deep in the flow.
I was fired a few years ago from teaching at the college level because I threw a pen at a student. Granted, there was a lot going on in my life at the time and I could call the whole event a nervous breakdown, but I could also tell you that I was talking about how to write conclusions, and this student who had added the class two weeks late was talking to the guy next to him in the back row even after I had asked them both to stop. I threw the pen because I’d read this kid’s work and he had no idea how to write a conclusion—he’d done the death move of repeating his introduction which, for a person who loves to learn, is the worst kind of essay to read. It means I went all the way from start to finish just to end up exactly where I had begun.
What a waste of time, both of his and mine. It's like he left home to climb a mountain and at the top was the same home.
I threw the pen because I wanted him to wake up, to know I was not a television, something to stare at or ignore. I wanted him to know that I cared. Clearly, I missed the lesson about using your words to express your feelings, but I’m from Boston, born in New York, and I blame my aggressive behavior on my roots. It felt good to throw the pen. I wasn’t trying to hit him, and I didn’t. I was trying to change the energy in the room.
I changed it all right. The student went to the dean of the department, and since I was new to this school and only teaching one class, I was especially easy to fire. Who knew throwing a pen was assault and battery? I had no idea. I thought it was called 3-dimensional teaching.
If I could go back in time would I use my words?
I’d still throw the pen.
Why? That’s who I am. I think of a classroom as a vital place, a place with a heartbeat. The best classrooms are like cliffs, pushing you to the edge of how you see yourself and the world so you can experience life even more deeply and widely. If I hadn’t gotten fired, I wouldn’t have gone to the writer’s retreat where I met Kitty, and I wouldn’t have lived in her New York City apartment for three months and written my book.
Thank goodness for bad behavior.
On the coaching page on this blog, I have a number of ways you and I can work together. The best news is that since most likely we’ll be communicating by phone or Skype, I can’t throw anything at you. I can only cheer you on like the goal-oriented maniac I am.
I can’t wait to get started. Hurry. I’m waiting.