“My journey” this month continues with lessons learned before I came to America, during my time as an educator in the U.K.
Over the coming months, I will share some of the ups and downs and unforgettable experiences I’ve shared with my beautiful Border Collie Bizzy, who may just have taught me some of the most valuable life lessons of all.
In a parallel universe, though not strictly part of my journey with dogs, one particular element of my previous life must certainly be included in any attempt to share my own personal journey. For 26 years in England, I was in the teaching profession. At first a Primary School teacher, I taught all age groups from 5 – 11 years old. After 13 years, I took up the position of Deputy Headteacher in a sought after Oxfordshire village school. This was a demanding managerial role, which also carried a full-time teaching commitment. The final 6 years of my teaching career found me leading this school through some pretty difficult times.
My teaching career in England culminated in our school achieving the prestigious label “A very Good School” by the Government inspectors, known in the U.K. as OFSTED. For that, a heartfelt thanks is due to my wonderful staff (and family who supported me through an extremely stressful period)
Lessons from teaching:
Yes, you can!
Even when the going gets tough (and it did!)
Some of the greatest achievements follow some of the greatest challenges.
Get out of your comfort zone!
I’m tougher than I thought!
Thank you, mum!
From Headteacher to homeless!
What comfort zone?
Way back in 1988 Pete and I decided that we really would like to have a new adventure in life. My sister, married to a Minnesotan for 10 years, had become a US Citizen. We had visited many parts of the USA on vacation. We loved everything we saw and felt that it would be exciting to move to the land of opportunity.
At that time, there was no thought of starting a dog school.
I was planning to continue my teaching career and Pete thought he’d probably continue in sales.
Fast forward 16 years.
Yes, it really did take that long for our application to be processed and for us to be invited to become resident aliens of the United States.
A lot can happen in 16 years.
For one, Pete and I had not got any younger!
I was now a headteacher of a village Primary school, Pete a Sales Manager and life was pretty good – and very stable.
Agility and dogs played a big part in our lives too and we were about to try out for the British Agility World Championship team.
There was a lot to consider.
But, with both eyes open, after a lot of deep thinking and plenty of wine consumption, we decided that, if we did not take this opportunity now, we would never stop wondering,
So, finally, in October 2004 two intrepid, not so young, adventurers, formally fine upstanding citizens of the UK, set foot on US soil, not as visitors, but as residents.
Lessons from the big move!
You can never be prepared for everything.
Understanding what is meant by “losing your identity.”
Culture shock is real!
Good standing in one country does not give you automatic respect in another.
Being homeless and starting a business does not make you a good credit risk!
Simple things can be very scary!
You can make it!
You can start again at 50!
And so, here we are, 12 years and many new experiences later, at my current location in this journey called life.
Maybe, after all of the above, I could have been forgiven, when embarking on my most recent agility adventure, for thinking that all would be plain sailing. But my beautiful Miss Bizzy was to show me that the journey goes on.