Have you ever had a time in your life where you woke up? A time where you all of a sudden stopped, looked around and felt this “Where am I and what am I doing kind of feeling?”

This time came for me at the end of 2016. I was sitting at the desk of my dream job, the job that I had wanted and worked my way towards since the start of my teaching career in 1999. Sitting at my familiar desk, hearing the familiar and comforting sounds around me of my peers typing on their keyboards, shuffling papers around, sounds that I had grown to love when I literally heard an internal mental record scratch.

You know that loud scratch that stops the whole room in movies? Yup, that one.

It was like a had just been waken from a long, deep sleep and I couldn’t figure out what I was doing there. Or why I was there at all. In fact, I found myself kind of wondering what exactly had been happening over the last few years.

And I knew it was the end…but I didn’t really expect what was just beginning.

What awoke in me that day was an inner voice. She was quiet but firm and spoke impatiently and with urgency. She said to me, “What the F are you doing? Is this how you are going to spend your life?”

“Yes”, I thought. This is exactly how I am going to spend my life. I have worked almost 20 years to get to where I am. I invested in years of education from my teaching credential to my Masters of Education and National Board Certification to spend my life doing what I am doing. This was the plan for god sakes!

And so I went back to work. Day in and day out. Same routine, same story, just a different day.

But, she didn’t leave. She quieted down some (at least for a bit), but she was still with me. And she had been awakened.

Now, if you’ve had this experience, you know that there is no turning back. I mean, you have a choice to listen or to ignore but the voice will not quiet and I was just starting to learn that. This was just the start.

Over the months, I continued my routine. You know, that mundane routine that I had worked for so many years to have.

Wake up, get the kiddos ready for my husband to take them to school, rush out of the house complaining about having to work, late as usual. Then camp out from 7:30 a.m. (ok, 7:43 a.m.) until 4 p.m. and watch the clock for when it was time to leave, grab the kiddos and put my mom hat on.

And she stayed with me. “There is more out there.” she said. “It’s not too late to make a change.” she’d urge. Sometimes, “Grow some balls and go find something you’d really love to do.” depending on her mood.

So I planned. I started thinking about my options and making moves to get into position of being able to even consider leaving the one stable source of income that provided our family’s health benefits for god sakes.

But as she awakened, she also awakened something in me. That clearing in the sky, the small ray of light that showed me that there was something more out there. That I did deserve to do something that excited me, fulfilled me and allowed me to shine in all the glory of my purpose.

With that new part of me coming out of the deep slumber, the real kicker is that I saw what was happening. What had been happening. Every day I woke up, complained about going to work, bitched about the things that bothered me every 3 days or so, whined about the usual this, that or the other thing by little kiddos were listening. They were hearing.

And more importantly, they were seeing. They were seeing me less than thrilled and passionate about my job, hearing me complain and resist working and SEEING ME head off to work any way. As if I didn’t have a choice. As if I didn’t deserve anything better. As if this was the life that they were destined for.

It was then that I made my decision. It was time to let go of a career that I had built for almost 20 years. I deserved more and I was ready to get it.