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  • Writer's pictureMicki Bare

A writer who teaches

Amidst my hectic graduate work, middle school teacher, and novel writer schedule, I carved out time for a writers and illustrators retreat this fall. I spent a glorious three days at a lakefront camp with people like me. It was exactly what my soul needed.

Fall retreat morning on misty lake

Most writers have other jobs and responsibilities. That's why it's so easy for us to put writing on the back burner of the kitchen of life. It simmers on low. We stir when we can. Meanwhile, there's a casserole bubbling over in the oven, the microwave is dinging, and there's a missing ketchup crisis brewing at the fridge.

My kitchen looks like this: I teach 8th-grade social studies. I'm in my last year of graduate school. Hubby and I are adjusting to a real empty nest this time. Our first grandchild was born this month. We also take care of my mom. Meanwhile, simmering on that back burner, I submitted my third middle-grade novel to my editor and now have to dive into drafting book four.

Right before the retreat, I felt like a shark drowning in a freshwater river of salmon and alligators. Every day I danced a flailing tango of stress.

Upon arrival at the fall retreat, I was so discombobulated that I couldn't follow simple directions to find my room. I was assigned to room number one in the first building next to the lodge. After somehow getting lost, a gracious volunteer escorted me to a door marked with a conspicuous "1", which was just inside the entrance of the first building next to the lodge.

The rough edges soon melted. By the end of dinner that evening, I glowed with relief and happiness. I was with my people. I felt normal. I felt seen.

For three days, "Writer Micki" received my full attention. Writer Micki drank in the attention. Writer Micki reconnected with other writers, made new writer friends, and spent much-needed time with her manuscript.

On the drive home from the retreat, I had an epiphany.

It began as I realized that for years, I identified as a (fill-in-the-blank-with-with-current-career-path) who writes. When I was a Head Start Director who also wrote a weekly column, I was an early childhood administrator who writes. When I signed my five-book deal, I was a marketing director who writes. When I shifted back to my "first-love" career after the debut of my first middle-grade novel, I became a teacher who writes.

That's when the epiphany dropped. I was never any of those things. Basking in the after-glow of an amazing retreat with people just like me, I saw clearly that I'm not a teacher who writes. I'm a writer who teaches.

That shift in mindset was the single most empowering moment of my life.

Now, instead of filling my bowl with graduate school, teaching, and all the demands of our hectic lives, then trying to shove writing, editing, and promoting into the crooks and crannies, I do the opposite. I fill my bowl with writing, editing, and promoting. The rest of life slides perfectly into the space between. And what drips over the sides was not likely a huge priority.

Since my post-retreat epiphany, the balance that once eluded me has settled into place. I still have and do all the things, but my priorities changed. As a result, my attitude found the sun.

The week after the fall retreat, I was notified that my second book won an award and I booked a school visit. The week after that, I was invited to participate as a featured author at a book festival.

I am a writer who teaches. I am a writer.

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1 Comment

May 23

Again, alas! Don't git2controlled

by this whorizontal-psycho-world,

dear; looky above to the Wedding

Feast - exactly where I'm gonnaB


to the Elysian Fields, miss dollface:

Cya soon, girl gorgeous...

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