It’s a cool winter day in Texas: dry and crisp, demanding a vest not a heavy coat.
The trip from the DFW metroplex to Austin Hill Country is its expected “How is this just 3 and a half hours away?” sentiment. The concrete highway slowly gave way to hidden couloirs punctuated by succulents and groves of mesquite trees. It’s a welcome change from barren suburbia.
Earlier that morning, I quasi-hyperventilated as I read the lineup of extraordinary educators on Yammer. People casually bouncing hellos and can’t-wait-to-see-yous in the private group. The list read as a Who’s Who in literacy education, and I sunk deeper into my sheets, trying desperately to be swallowed up by the white duvet and the white king-size pillow.
How in the world did I get myself into this? Why did they invite me? How in the world could I have anything to offer this richly talented, passionate group?
I was overwhelmed.
Still, deeper down, I knew that I would gain more than imaginable at National Writing Project’s Building New Pathways to Leadership Working Retreat. I knew that as with everything else with NWP, I would dig down, step out of my comfort zone, find my edge, and get it done. Because it’s not about fears or residing in trepidation. When it comes to any of my work with this network, it’s about trust, empowerment, and risk-taking.
And I lay in my lavish bedding, having been catered to as every teacher should be, with open arms, an open mind, and an open heart: poised to eagerly accept the invitation to make, reflect, and articulate what it is to be a part of NWP.
It is a privilege. It is a calling. It is a part of me and everyone else in the Lone Star room tonight.
It is our responsibility to ponder how NWP has become such a powerful catalyst in the journeys of so many who have made such a difference one classroom at a time. It is our duty to sort through the seemingly charmed experiences of our NWP lives to find patterns and differences that will give way to more lucky souls who are fortunate enough to associate with NWP.
So, no. No, I will not retreat back into the safety of my bed. I will not hide and listen passively to other stories when I have one of my own to share and make sense of. I will not question my being here.
Instead, I will soak up the rugged breathtaking scenery. I will listen for hints of my own experiences with NWP in the stories of others. I will write and revise and scrap and rethink and write and revisit and make and question how NWP has managed to get so much more out of me than anyone else.
I am ready to, as Elyse put it, “blow the lid off!”