There is a little book in stores this holiday season called ish. And this little picture book written by Peter H. Reynold has crossed my path several times throughout the fall- popping up in casual conversations as well as recommended in formal meetings with other teacher colleagues. The premise of the book is that you don't have to be expert at something to enjoy it. You just have to be -ish. That is, goodish. Okayish. ALL RIGHT (ish).
Which is also to say that you don't have to be an expert at something so as to love that 'thing' either (whatever that 'thing' might happen to be). And you certainly don't have to be perfect at it, so as to give it a go.
You just have to be -ish. Being '-ish at it' is more than enough.
I have been tinkering with this writing hobby of mine for a few years now. It started out blog-style as a means of connecting with my own feelings about my role as a woman who happens to also be a mother, and then it moved gradually into my thoughts about other areas of my life. Teaching. Relationships. Faith. Pain. Loss. Joy. Humor.
As I went along my writing journey, there was always this desire within, to reach the elusive status of being a recognized writer. Published, that is. It drove me to stay up until insanely late hours of the night, when all else were asleep so as to write, write, write. Writing about my life as I saw it that day, that very moment. Writing about what made me sad, what made me happy. Writing even when I didn't feel like writing. Writing when I felt that what might come out just wouldn't make any sense at all. Writing for the love of it- because it made me feel I was at my most vulnerable, truest self when I put words to paper. Script to the blank page.
And at best, I was writing for the sake of writing my story. Because everyone has a story. I just like to write about mine.
My writing has been for me at times a coping mechanism, helping me to see the joy in my life even when I felt anything but. At other times, writing offered me an escape. And at still other times, it was a platform. But all in all, writing has been my truest passion. It is what I love to do best.
The other day, I had a shadow at work who was observing me as a teacher inside my classroom. We were talking on my prep about her future goals as a potential working teacher when she asked me out of the blue, "What would you be doing if you weren't teaching?"
I knew as soon as she asked me what the answer would be. I'd be writing. Professionally. If I was good enough to be considered, that is. But, I wondered if this was fair game to offer someone I didn't know very well. Let alone, someone who was shadowing me as a teacher.
I have been thinking about how I responded to her question for a few days now. Thinking about why she asked me that question when my job that day was to model the art of teaching. Thinking about my immediate thoughts and feelings in that moment. Thinking about what I'd be if I wasn't a teacher. And in the process of all this thinking, I have re-discovered a few things about myself and my writing hobby.
1.) If I waited around for the rest of my life to be a professional, widely-published writer, it might never happen.
2.) I don't know if my goals are realistic anyway.
3.) There might be a reason for why I am where I am right now- a reason that explains my purpose for being a kindergarten teacher.
4.) I am writer-ish for a reason.
5.) There is no reason to cease being writer-ish for the rest of my life. If that continues to be my passion.
Over the past four years, I have found passion in teaching writing to my students, even at the kindergarten level. Just recently, I had the opportunity to speak to kindergarten teachers at two workshops about this passion for teaching writing and share with them that everyone is writer-ish. We are all born with a story. The delight of my teaching career has been helping my students give voice to their story and then find the pictures and words so as to share that story with a wider audience.
If I was not writer-ish, I might never know this joy. I might have missed the opportunity to see the beauty in watching other writers discover their own -ishfulness.
I might someday be a published writer. There might someday be a widely-read book with my name on the front cover or a viral post with my by-line underneath. Or not. That might never happen. And that's okay. Because I know that there lies within me an ishful joy in exercising my passion for words and weaving stories. Even if just for the love of it.
For the simple love and joy of being -ish.
For I know that I will continue being ishfully a writer as long as I have the words and the story. As long as I can keep on being ish.
But for now, my name is Lori Gard; and I am a mom, a teacher, a friend. And I am quite adept at being writer-ish.