Earlier this fall, I interviewed for a programs writing position with the Preemptive Love Coalition (PLC), a nonprofit waging peace in conflict zones. I didn't tell but a handful of folks because I knew from the start that it was a longshot job. I have little writing experience (in the grand scheme) and zero international writing experience, but I took a chance, and went ahead and applied for it anyway because I appreciate the mission and history of the PLC and wanted desperately to be a part of this.

You see, since I left teaching, my life often feels a bit void of meaning. I really don't mean to be melodramatic, but teaching was everything for me (which was actually part of the problem). For me, teaching was an act of social justice. Much of my teaching was an act of defiance--a pushing back and maneuvering around confining standards. It was picking the books and the articles and creating the assignments that went above and beyond the standards and fanned critical discourse. For me, teaching was an outstretched hand to the kid whose hand had been slapped too many times. But, there are dark days to teaching...many dark days, and many days I left whatever school I called home feeling like I had the shit kicked outta me by administrators, parents, colleagues, and kids. Even on these days, though, I knew my work had meaning. But I don't feel pulled back into teaching. (I know that sounds so woo-woo, but I feel like I have a new, undiscovered purpose.)

Still, there are lots of things I'm doing now that bring me great joy and allow me to really engage meaningfully in the world around me:

  • Parenting two small people adopted from foster care, showing them another meaning of the word family, giving them opportunities to interact with the marginalized, loving them wholeheartedly no matter what. 
  • Preparing folks in my community for their citizenship exams, listening to their stories, empowering them to achieve a dream. 
  • Feeding people--whether it's serving meals to folks in need through a local church, feeding my family, or feeding my friends in Bible study, it feels significant to meet a person's most basic need. 
  • Empowering students to make their own choices in writing, to tell their story; encouraging and teaching my students to form logical arguments because I know this skill transcends any college writing assignment. 
You see, I can identify genuinely good, joy-giving activities in my life that I don't take lightly. I've filled my schedule with them. Maybe it's the millennial in me, but I still feel like I'm grasping a bit for that one task that would be as meaningful as teaching was. I hoped I would find it in the programs writing position with the PLC, but I didn't get the job. Someone amazing and more qualified got it. I wasn't surprised, but now that I've come close, now that I know jobs like that one exist, I feel simultaneously restless and helpless. 

I feel like the lady in the top, center of the image.
The world feels like a dumpster fire: Brexit, a Trump presidency, Americans' tendency to lean towards deliberate ignorance, Aleppo, racism, mass acts of violence....The job with the PLC felt like a tangible step of action towards these issues. Now, I'm having a hard time putting my fingers to a keyboard because my words all feel meaningless when I think about the issues our country and world are facing. I've had moderate success with freelancing for various parenting blogs in the last year, but the brighter the dumpster fire of the world, the harder it is to write. The hard stuff with a social justice slant often doesn't get picked up by sites, and if it does, the views are low, and then my faith in humanity wanes. 

If you're hoping for a nice ending to this post sprinkled with insight, you'll likely be disappointed. It's late where I live, my head is swirling with anxieties, and tonight, I'm fresh out of insight. So, can anyone relate? When your world is consumed by flames, how do you find purpose? How do you take tangible steps towards some of the big social justice infractions of our time? Feel free to continue the conversation in the comments section or send them through email (use the contact me button on the left). 

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