To Begin Again

Photo by Ann Fisher

Hi and thanks for stopping by to read the inaugural post on my brand-spanking-new blog! I’m thrilled to be here.

Here’s why I decided to start a blog at this point in my life. Nobody said it better than Robert Frost, so I’ll defer to his perfect words:

 

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

 

In this new endeavor, I am stepping off the path I chose many years ago, backtracking, and trying the path that always called to me but remained veiled in the “what-ifs” of nostalgic ruminations. No, I haven’t quit my day job, but I am promising to nurture a passion I’ve lived with for as long as I can remember.

I’ve always loved language. I first embraced connection with others by being an early, and then constant, talker. Part of our family lore is the story about the time my grandmother, who lived in Manhattan, took me to visit her sister on Long Island. She didn’t drive or have a car so we took a taxi out to “the island.” I was six, and since it was before there were seatbelt laws, I was free to roam the backseat. Except I didn’t do that. Nanny reported that I stood directly behind the taxi driver and talked in his ear the entire way to Long Island. I vaguely remember doing this although it’s possible I’ve heard the story so many times I can imagine it happening. Anyway, when the car pulled up to my aunt’s house, the taxi driver turned around and said to my grandmother, “Is she a midget?” (I know – it’s a cringe-worthy term, but this was many years ago). I’d like to think he was impressed with the dazzling array of topics I covered, neglecting to mention I just finished first grade. Either that or I did regale him with my consuming crush on a boy named Alan and indignity at having my seat changed yet again (for incessantly talking to Kathleen) and the poor man just zoned out like all the other adults in my world who eventually reached their saturation point. We’ll never know.

So my appreciation for the power of language was firmly entrenched when I started reading and it became my next love. My mother brought my sister and I to the library often and I grew up a reader. I loved Madeline, Ferdinand, Sal, Christopher Robin and his friends, a certain stubborn Little House, the wandering ducklings, and eventually Carolyn Keene’s girl detective and all the antics of Roald Dahl’s characters. I’d read anything the librarian, or anyone else, recommended. At least I was quiet while I was reading but then of course I wanted to talk about what I had read. My poor, hardworking parents probably wanted rest and quiet while in the sanctuary of home. They were not talkers. Neither was my sister. Three peas in a pod. So I talked to the page by keeping a diary (under lock and key of course) and then writing my own stories. I penned poems, a play, short essays and a children’s book I gave to my mother for her birthday. I still pull out that story and revise it from time to time, but more on that in another post. The common denominator was connecting to others and learning about the world, and people, through language.

Fast forward to the end of high school and the necessity of answering the all important question; what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wanted to live with books. Surrounded by books. To always have the opportunity to read books, to discuss books, to create books. Back then, nobody I knew wanted to be a writer, and I wasn’t confident enough to even voice such a lofty ambition, so I turned my attention to a more practical career choice. I decided to be a high school English teacher. I (erroneously) thought working a school day and calendar would leave plenty of time for reading and writing. And in the process I’d get to excite my students about the world of books. Unfortunately, it was a time when teaching positions were scarce, and going into education was strongly discouraged. So once again I had to imagine a different future. Finally I decided to remain focused on language and communication by becoming a Speech-Language Pathologist, working with children to develop their language and communication skills. And that’s what I’ve been doing for the past (mumble the actual number) years.

I don’t regret my decision. I’m very blessed to have a job I love and to work with amazing children and exceptionally talented colleagues. Both uplift and inspire me. Seeing what my students achieved has taught me many things are possible when you work hard, believe in yourself and have people who support you. I do feel I have made a difference, and ultimately, who could ask for more from a career, or for that matter, a life? And yet….

There is that path that beckons. A voice within pushing and prodding me to do this. It’s always been there, but was drowned out by the demands of work, family, commitments and frankly, a large dose of insecurity. But life is quieter now, and I’m listening. It’s telling me to look over my shoulder, and reconsider that other path. That it’s not too late. That my desire for connection and understanding through language might like this relatively new platform that didn’t even exist for most of my adult life. That it’s okay to imagine myself at the fork, young and full of hope, and free to chose a path. I’m going to listen to that voice.

But this time I’ll be brave.

6 Comments
  • Patricia Newman
    March 26, 2016

    Warmed my heart and made me smile with pride that you are so talented !!

    • Jo-Ann
      March 26, 2016

      Thank you for your kind words and support! Hope you come back again!

  • Jess
    March 27, 2016

    Beautiful words, Jo-Ann! I can’t wait to read more 🙂

    • Jo-Ann
      March 27, 2016

      Thank you Jess! You certainly inspired and encouraged me and for that I thank YOU! 😉

  • James Arq
    March 31, 2016

    Awesome read, Jo-Ann!
    I love the passion you have and totally agree with you — Words have power! They can influence people, affect lives, and instigate positive change.

    Currently, at 15 years of age, I have already been fueled with the same passion you have and decided to make a blog too! Pretty recent.

    I shared your post on twitter, followed you, and subscribed. Wishing you all the best!

    James

    • Jo-Ann
      March 31, 2016

      Thank you James! Glad you are following your passion at a young age and look forward to following you as well. Here’s to both of us and our new ventures!

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