I’m so proud of this guy. He is tackling the unexpected and he is doing it with flying colors. Not bad for a guy who hates change.
Mike and I thought we had the roadmap for our life journey at least a little bit figured out. What we thought was the biggest risk of our lives came at the edge of our 40’s when Mike stepped out into a longtime dream and started his own business. Challenging, but fulfilling, it was our life’s course. And he was finding great success!
A decade later, windows started slipping shut. A crazy economy kicked door after door until all were shut. What do you do now?
Seriously, what do you do in your early 50’s with a college degree you haven’t been using for thirty years and a career field that you no longer fit? Potential employers slide their eyes to the line on the application that betrays your age and you see that look they try to mask. You know they see you as washed up … and you had just convinced yourself that you’re young still. And 50 is STILL young! There’s still lots of game in you, but bosses play it differently. What do you do now?
Well, Mike decided to become a teacher. Talk about a switch in directions.
And here he is. Weeks from finishing up his Masters in special education, I couldn’t be more proud of this guy.
Looking back … it all makes total sense … of course. The countless times he’s walked into my classrooms over the years … high-fiving the kids … swinging his hand so that they miss … making them laugh… engaging the kids who sit off by themselves … volunteering to teach a Bible class at our kids’ school … helping out the athletic teams as a sports trainer … subbing for my co-workers when his schedule allowed … all the kids who asked when he was going to come back again … the kids who never talked in class, until he came around.
There’s something about walking into a coffee shop, having a couple of moms stare at me oddly and then have one of them say, “Wait, you are Mr. Awesome’s wife (yes, that’s what he tells the kids our name is) aren’t you? My son had him in class this week. He’s thinks your husband is the greatest.”
Yes, he is the greatest. And I don’t tell him near enough.
Here’s a mini list of what makes Mike, Mr. Awesome:
Out the door at 5:30 AM to work with kids who don’t want to be at school and don’t want him there. (He taken an emergency subbing job at one of the toughest schools in Seattle … he’s a Spanish teacher until he starts his student teaching in January!)
Hours and hours of writing papers. (He hates writing papers … but has become very good at it.)
Hours and hours of doing online projects with people who don’t care – well … not all of them, for sure – but enough that he has been up until 3:00 in the morning re-doing poor quality work that would have affected the whole team.
Enduring observations in districts where no one, especially teachers, seems to care.
Coaching strangers on the phone as he convinces classmates that they too can make it … that the hard work will pay off … that they will be amazing teachers.
Juggling non-glamorous weekend and evening jobs along the way to make ends meet.
Encounters with lovely souls who spend their days on kids who take countless time and energy … kids who don’t understand the first, second, or fiftieth time … kids who can’t seem to stay our trouble. Yet these lovely souls love and serve without complaint. He’s come away inspired and he should … because he’s one of these souls.
Change smange … a lot of you, our friends, are in the midst of it as well. The 40’s and 50’s of our lives are not what we hoped for. The 60’s, 70’s and 80’s probably won’t be either.
So what do you do? You wait on God … you refuse to give up … and you stay flexible … and you end up making a difference. Just like this guy.
Oh … and to make this complete, a few of Mr. Awesome’s trademark sayings:
“Hey guys, it just doesn’t get any better than this.”
“You may have the freedom of choice, but you don’t have the freedom of consequences.”
“Wait! Let me see that picture! Is that a bald spot on my head?!”