July 22, 2020
Rebuilding Your Life When the Lights Go Out
This was such a monumental trip for me. It was during this trip to St. Louis I made the decision to go out on my own and start my own consulting business, Vann-Ray, LLC. This picture was taken 2 days before the decision was made. I actually made the decision in the early hours of the 25th after I missed all of Andrew's birthday working and didn't get to spend any time with Ray or Gideon on his day. I decided I wasn't getting any younger... and if I went out on my own... I could control more of my time. So... with Ray and Gideon both shaking their heads in disbelief... and me feeling more nervous than I'd ever felt before in my life... I took the plunge... It was like I was on top of the Arch and I simply did a free fall...
I wrote out my resignation during the morning hours of the 25th ... I went on one more trip for STI... and Vann-Ray was born. Vann from Gideon "Vann" Odom and Ray from Andrew "Ray" Odom... there's the story behind the name for Vann-Ray.
I had continued teaching after Andrew's death for several years. I taught for 9 years, went on to Choctaw County for almost 2 years, and I had 11 years total in the Public School system. (I still keep my certificate renewed just in case I ever need to go back.) But I had left the public school system to go to work for Software Technology Inc. (STI)
STI gave me my wings. I lived a life during my time there I never imagined. I traveled extensively; I met new people almost every week. The STI Family gave me so much experience and latitude to do what I wanted. I was part of their Achievement Services team, and when I resigned I was the Chief Academic Officer for the team. I was with STI for 7 years. But, I'm a dreamer... And I knew I wanted more. Not more money (that would be a horrible joke on me...) No... STI was the best job I ever had in terms of salary. (I really miss that part of the job!) But I wanted freedom to find myself.
So, the only way for me to do that (personally) was to "JUMP!" I had to let go of all the security... all the cushion... I had to go solo. Now... When I look back and look at all my family on my mom's side... I think I understand. For they all were deeply independent, and most owned their own businesses at one time or another... So... Sometimes I blame the Bozeman's for my wild hair.
I am amazed at the opportunities God provided for me through the years. I am so thankful for my public educational administrators and the love they gave me. They also pushed me to do greater. I am so thankful for all my STI administrators and the support and love they gave me. I would not be where I am today without them. I am thankful to my husband (while he was skeptical but supportive) for all the love he's gave me through the years.
Because of these people I was given the opportunities to grow beyond my grief... to find my purpose... to see a light at the end of a very dark place. I don't think had I not been grieving I would have ever done some of the things I did. A vested tenured teacher who was in a field with a great need was security - I have never been pink-slipped in my life. I would have been safe there. STI offered me the greatest opportunity in my life to grow and flourish as a private educational consultant. I could have not asked for a better job... But I think because I had experienced so much grief and worked my way through what I thought was the greatest loss... I gained courage. I did not lose my fear... but I gained enough courage to just jump and see what happened. The stirring was in my heart to jump... My security layers were thick and tight around me... but the courage I had gained gave me the ability to unpeel the security and just go for it.
Funny how it was my grief that likely gave me my courage. But looking back, I think that is exactly what happened. When you realize that absolutely nothing is truly secure in this world, not even your child's life, you realize that there are things in this life that are worth the risk.
So... for my grieving friends... what advice would I give you today?
1. Find your courage, even in your grief.
2. Take the risks, even if it's scary.
3. Overcome what holds you back.
To all my family who stood with me and loved me through my grief... I love you to infinity and beyond.
To all my former educational family... I love you so much, and I thank you for standing with me through the dark days.
To all my former STI family... I love you so much too! Thank you for putting up with me as I ended my personal chrysalis.
"Mourn not the cocoon! The Butterfly has flown..."
Much love to you all!
To Be Continued!