My father grew up on a farm in central Mississippi. His parents were sharecroppers, working the soil that belonged to someone else and scraping out a living. Daddy used to talk about how they had to rotate the crop because certain plants depleted the soil, making it toxic and unable to sustain that crop any longer. Changing the type of plant in that soil would help replenish the nutrients in the soil.
We didn’t live on a farm, but Daddy did keep a garden in the backyard. Same concepts, he said. Rotate your plants, replenish the soil. Or, if your plant is in a pot, change the soil, replenish the plant. The plant will flourish and grow.
The time has come for ME, this scrawny little plant, to be repotted. After 8 years in one place, I sense I am not getting the nutrients I need anymore. I’m climbing out of the soil that has sustained me and moving to a different pot, that will, hopefully, revive my underfed roots. It has proven to be a sadder, harder experience than I’d hoped. Cleaning out cabinets full of my science crap, labeling and boxing up things I’ve chosen to take with me and gifting other things to colleagues who insist upon trying to cry about it all. Avoiding text messages and emails, and turning down invitations to laugh and get completely drunk one last time.
This week was the hardest though. At our annual eLearning conference, I had to tell my “bff”, my “mija” – that I was leaving. My team members begged me to wait til the very end of the 2 day event, but she sensed something was amiss and caught me in a hallway the end of the first day.
Tell me bff, I can’t wait til tomorrow.
I took a deep breath and told her. I’ve accepted a teaching position at a different school, in a different district, closer to home. The position promises to revive me, I’m sure. I have to do it…. for me.
She drops her Diet Pepsi on the floor. As we’re cleaning up, she starts to cry.
BFF, how am I supposed to do technology without you there to help me? How will I get the cookies to your mother?
(She is of Cuban descent and brings me the most delicious cookies to share with my mother, who like hers, has dementia.)
We part for the day, reflective on what we have with each other.
The second day, she clings to me and sits with me and continues to cry. Her tears are water to my soil… just enough to sustain me til the actual repotting occurs. She tells me how much she has appreciate all I’ve done for her and how she’s grown so much in her teaching because of me. She wants the Handicam I had and I have to tell her I’ve given it to another teacher who will be using it to record the daily announcements. She’s heartbroken.
My coworkers giggle and suggest she’s a weed and I will be glad to be rid of her. I don’t see her that way at all. She’s more like a companion plant in my pot, the one that truly did keep me on my toes and gave me reason to do what I do. With me gone, she now has room to spread her roots out and become a stronger plant in that pot. I will miss her. I will miss them all. The Grinch in me has finally gotten that small, cold heart to grow.
Enough of this!! On to the next adventure! I am a firm believer that NO ONE should sit in the same soil forever. How does one GROW, FLOURISH, produce SEEDS of CHANGE sitting in the same soil all the time? Where you re-pot yourself, how you do it, when you do it, is not important. Simply doing it is. Make some sort of change in your professional life that will revive you, replenish you, make you glad you do what you do. Do it… before you die.