Thursday, October 13, 2011

Look at me GROW!

Today, I took lots of deep breaths. You know, the heavy sighing kind of breath, when something so amazing happens to you that you can't believe it's real? That's kind of how I've been for the last 24 hours. Not really able to breathe, but in the most amazing sort of way. I am starting a new job. It's not just any job though, it's my dream job. I can't even describe how I feel, but more than anything, I am so proud of myself. That's not something I normally feel.

Over the past two years, I have really come in to my own. I've been learning how to be me, and to be proud of the me that I am. I've learned what I like, what I don't like, what I love, and what I want to be when I grow up. I've learned what I'm good at, what I'm not so good at, and what I'm GREAT at. Life has been a roller coaster of a ride over the last couple of years for me. But this last year, has been extra tough. I lost a dear friend to Breast Cancer, and it really made me re-evaluate my own life. I married my long time boyfriend of 8 years, and the father of 2 of my children, and nearly divorced him before our first year of marriage was up. During all of the turmoil that came of that, I still continued to keep on doing what I had finally found that I am so passionate about. Advocating. Parent Empowerment and Early Learning. I was blessed with an awesome opportunity to become the Coordinator of the Parent Ambassador program in February.

The Parent Ambassador program has changed my life. Even though life at home was rough, my director and mentor, and friend Joel, told me that if I needed to take time off from the PA program to deal with things at home, all I had to do was say the word. I told him that the work of the PA program was what gave me my sanity at the moment, and I didn't want to give up any of it. And it's true. As many hours, and stress I put in to a lot of the work I do, it's so rewarding to me, that it makes it all worth while. Over the last year, I have been a part of many committees, organizations, and events. I was a Policy Council member for my Head Start program, I was on the advisory committee for WaKids, a 9 million dollar bill that became law this year in the legislature; I serve on my county's Early Learning Coalition, I am a member of the Early Learning Action Alliance, have become more involved in my school board, was the president of my children's PTO, and too many other things to think of right now. But it all started because I was "just a parent". Those words mean something more to me than I ever thought they would.

"JUST A PARENT" is no longer part of my vocabulary, and when I hear other parents say it now, there's like a spring loaded trigger in my head that snaps and goes in to advocate role. I instantly want to have a conversation with the person saying that they are "just a parent!" 3 years ago, I started as my Policy Council Representative for my local Head Start program, from there I became a Parent Ambassador, then the Coordinator for the Parent Ambassador program, which led me to all these amazing things I have done over the last 3 years. Testifying at the legislature, visiting Capital Hill, Visiting our Senators in Washington DC, being invited to the White House to talk about Parent Engagement in K-12, being present when the Governor signed a bill in to law that I helped create, flying to Pennsylvania to train parents on advocacy, creating events at the Capital, training even more parents, and just LEARNING so much. Learning how to share my knowledge, and helping people find their own empowerment.

Because of participating in all these activities, it led me to this amazing job. I will be starting Nov 1, as an Early Learning Community Organizer for the League of Education Voters. It is everything I've been doing as a hobby, or volunteering for, but as a full time job! It will allow me to provide for my family, in a way I haven't been able to do in over 5 years. I can't believe how lucky I am to have worked so hard because I loved something so much, to have this opportunity! It will give me the flexibility to work around my family's schedule and work from home. I will be doing all of the amazing things I've been doing, on a much larger scale, and for a greater good. I am so excited, and so extremely proud of myself, for proving to MYSELF, that I am good. I hear other people tell me all the time, that I'm meant for this work, and I truly believe that I am. I found what I love. I am now that lucky person who finds a job that they love.

They tell you to do what you love, and love what you do, and as of November 1st, I will be doing just that! I am so proud.