Sodaro's Stories

October 11, 2017

Closure

Filed under: Writer's thoughts — michelle sodaro @ 2:39 pm
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Yesterday, I was standing in a classroom at a university…which at a time not too long ago, was the ultimate dream…to get my PhD and teach future teachers…pass the torch and help those who came after me…that was the goal for such a long time…until it wasn’t.

When I quit teaching in April, I felt good about my decision to focus on being an author. I felt a peace about my decision, which always lets me know I am on the right path…but there was a small part of me that wondered, if I was misreading the signals, making a mistake, if I would have regrets.

Yesterday, I stood in the classroom and waited for 3rd and 4th grade tiny humans to come for their sessions about poetry…and I also waited for that tiniest of twinges that I was supposed to be back in a classroom, and all I felt was that I was an author, about to talk to (and hopefully inspire) future authors. There was no longing, no love lost sickness, no ‘how could I walk away from this,’ in fact there was nothing but closure. That chapter of my life is closed…and my soul is at peace.

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May 8, 2017

More…

Filed under: Writer's thoughts — michelle sodaro @ 3:16 pm
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So, as I am adjusting to the teacher-free life, I am realizing there are things I want to do and have more of…

** Writing (obviously, as this what was the driving force behind this career change). It will be amazing to have actual scheduled chunks of time to write every day rather than stolen moments between grading and meetings.

**Reading — there is so much I want to read and haven’t had time to. Suggestions are always welcome.

**Publishing, promoting, and all the other parts of the business side of authoring. These have all been woefully neglected.

**Relaxing — I have heard of this an am excited to check this out.

**Netflix…though as not to take away from writing or reading, but again, suggestions are always welcome. I have finally seen How I met your Mother from start to finish (and it made a lot more sense than the random episode I would catch here and there) and am in the middle of season 3 of Blue Bloods.

**Dating — It’s probably time. It will help, I think, when I am not getting lied to on a regular basis as to why work was not done. Just tell me you didn’t have time. I was always good with that. But it has affected how I see people when every day there was a different excuse, a bunch of which were not true.

**Exercising — it’s way past time. Time to stop hiding from the world.

**Smiling and laughing — though I have to admit, I did a lot of this as a teacher as well, as it is just a part of my personality.

I am sure this list will grow…but this is a mighty fine start.

May 5, 2017

Career — Author

Filed under: Writer's thoughts — michelle sodaro @ 3:14 pm
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Wow…okay…this is getting real. The first items on my to-do list this morning are to update my profession on Linked In, Facebook, and to revamp my resume. I need to put end dates on my teaching career (and I need to do this mentally as well as on my resume, as I keep thinking I have to be at school next week).  There are people who keep hoping it is just over for now, not forever…and I don’t know how to answer that. All I know is that right now I am considering it a permanent change.

I was a teacher.

I am an author.

I gave teaching 20 years of my life (not counting the schooling to get there).

I want to give my author career more than 20 years…I certainly have more than enough projects to accomplish that goal.

Hello New Career!

 

May 3, 2017

Brave

Filed under: Writer's thoughts — michelle sodaro @ 3:05 pm
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Walking away from teaching is very much like walking away from a 20-year marriage. I say that as someone who has not ever been married…but who has sacrificed and has been loyal and has devoted my whole life (at the cost of my writing and any kind of a personal life) to teaching.

A lot of people are telling me I am “so brave” to walk away from my full-time teaching career to more fully pursue my author career.

To me, it’s not about being brave, nor did it really require any kind of courage, per se. (Of course it is still very new and shiny, so maybe when it sinks in — you know, in a couple of weeks when I don’t get that teacher paycheck). I didn’t do it to be brave; it was just something I felt like I had to do.

I have lived very deliberately to not have any regrets and with the possible exception of some guys I have dated- I can honestly say I have no regrets.  (Let’s just call those fellas research, shall we?)

I have taught countless students (many of whom have become treasured friends). I have written curriculum and lesson plans to help challenge students and accomplish their goals. I have made friends at every school I have been at — friends I cannot imagine my life without knowing.

My life has been shaped (for better or worse) by every class, every student I have taught. And I have given my all to that profession. And now, I am giving my all to my writing, which has been on the back burner for far too long. So to me, it’s not about being brave at all. It’s about doing what I had to, to be true to who I am now. Something I think we should all do. What makes you feel alive? Do that. Pursue that.

January 20, 2017

End of a road…

Filed under: Uncategorized — michelle sodaro @ 6:04 pm
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I find myself standing at the end of a road…I decided in May of last year that my teaching career needed to come to a close. I had been questioned about my integrity one too many times because my percentage of adults who didn’t pass my course was too high…the implication being that I am a “bad teacher” when the truth is in fact I am a very good one…one who feels the sting of every single “F” I have ever given out…did I not do enough? Could I have pushed harder? Did I push too hard?

I have cried at every graduation I have been to…every graduation except the one I attended last year…last year I just felt numb. My 20 years in the field have put me through every emotion possible…every emotion except numb. I have never been numb…and to feel it at one of the greatest days of the year in the education world…I knew there was a problem.

The world of education is changing. It has changed over my 2 decades in the field, of course, but the changes I see now are not ones I can bend toward, as I have done for countless other changes.

12/31/17 will be my last day as Ms. Sodaro, my last day as a “teacher,” my last day in this role I have played for twenty years of my life.

Last month I self-published my 6th novel. I am going to self-publish 4 more this year. Clearing projects off my plate. Making room for new ones.

I don’t know yet how I will pay my bills in 2018…I know I will have a job. I know that it will be 40hours a week. Clock in. Do my job. Clock out. Go home and work on what makes me feel alive. One day I will pay my bills with my books…and until then I will do whatever I have to do.

March 2, 2016

Hiding out…

Filed under: Writer's thoughts — michelle sodaro @ 12:43 pm
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An acquaintance kindly told me that I needed to have more of a social life and while I tend to agree that I do ‘hermit out’ a bit too much, and while I do want to go out and meet people (I would LOVE, for example, to go on a date, which is rather impossible when all I do is teach and write)…I also look at my calendar and wonder where in my schedule I could do this as I assume it is like exercising and you have to be out in public more than once to see any results.

Right now I teach a full-time job that I love (and anyone who tells you that teaching is a 40-hour work week has clearly never taught. I also teach a part-time job, which I also love. I enjoy both of these because it is a nice contrast between online and face to face. I also try to put in about 30-40 hours a week for my author life because those books and projects don’t write/edit/revise/publish themselves. Check my math (always) but there are 168 hours in a week and though I don’t do it well, I do like to at least try to sleep, not to mention eat, exercise, drive my Jeep, and make sure I see and talk to people once in a while…and to make sure some of those people are non-coworker and non-student types of people.

People have said they don’t know how I have time to write books and then they laugh that they don’t have time to even write out a grocery list. It’s a sacrifice, a choice, and one I can do right now with no romantic relationship or kids or family commitments. Right now I choose to be a hermit — to get projects done — all with the goal of one day writing full time and teaching part-time instead of all I am currently juggling.

So, I know I need to have more of a social life…and I really am doing my best.

January 27, 2016

Grandiose Plans

Filed under: Uncategorized — michelle sodaro @ 12:30 pm
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I always have the best plans and intentions and goals…and perhaps I am a little too optimistic (although sometimes I think the world in general could use a little more optimism, but I digress).
My publishing plans for 2015 were Broken Trust, Redeeming Trust, and First Down of the Lucky Charms series. I also planned to publish articles about education or writing. Of that list, I made a lot of progress on all of those things, but only Broken Trust made it out into the world…not blaming or making excuses but sometimes plans change because the universe is putting new things in play and we just have to ride the wave and see where we end up when the storm settles.
My publishing plans for 2016 are Redeeming Trust, First Down and Stealing Second (of the Lucky Charms series) [which as a side note means I will get to fill in my book tattoo and get my 4-leaf clover tattoo!!!!] I also plan on making more progress on my nonfiction projects (no tattoo plans at current for those). I am settled now in a comfy place to call home and can start making some progress on the huge pile of debt I am carrying around with me. My teaching job is solid and I am doing all I can to keep that strong. (My part-time teaching is also going well and I will continue that quarter by quarter, as I am able to do so.)
Seasonal Affective and a slight general depression (when I feel all alone or when I feel that the pile of debt is on top of me rather than beside me) have made my December and January productivity slow to a crawl, but I am fighting it and even though it is at a turtle’s pace, I am still putting one foot in front of the other and making what progress I can while also allowing for some much needed healing and regrouping. So I am “behind” in my plans, but I am still fighting the good fight, and I’ll get there. Bet on it.

November 10, 2015

30 Days of Gratitude: Teaching Jobs

In the 19 years I have taught, I have had jobs at 8 different schools, and I have taught anything and everything that had any kind of writing, any sort of analyzing, critical thinking, research (pretty much the gamut of General Education courses that weren’t math or science).

At every teaching job I have ever had, I have met students and fellow teachers, principals/deans, etc. that have changed my life and more importantly (at least for the purpose of today’s blog), inspired either a plot line or a character for a novel…or were the inspiration for a nonfiction project.

Broken Trust and Redeeming Trust were part of a dream I had one night and might have stayed a dream if not for a conversation with a math teacher friend, Beth. When I told her about Sam, my artist, and Ali, my music store owner, and Ben, my architect (I hadn’t mentally met Vincent at this point…Officer Biceps got added later, thanks to a police officer at another school) she helped me turn that spark into a plot line.

My Back on Track series had reached a stall when a conversation with a former high school student, Stacey, gave me a strong idea for book five and reawakened my passion for the whole series.

Some people I have met will meet their timely demise in three different novels I have started, Black Widow (my serial killing prostitute), Karma, (my vigilante killer), and All-American Diner (all tentative titles).

I have been influenced and inspired by so many of my students and coworkers and have observed and made so many notes on human behavior (what else am I supposed to do when I am standing in front of 25 students?)

A character here or there came from this student or this teacher or this boss…or this innocent crush. And maybe if they read my book, they might recognize themselves…but most likely not.

Every teaching job I have had has in one way or another, shaped my writing…and I am eternally grateful.

August 21, 2015

Friday Mornings at a coffee shop

Filed under: Writer's thoughts — michelle sodaro @ 1:08 pm
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Mornings are the best time for me to write. Monday through Wednesday this is not possible as I am expected in Lenexa for my teaching gig, so I write in the evenings. Thursday I work from home and always try to do some writing before I log in. (To my students, I would like to say ‘you’re welcome’ as writing keeps me balanced)…Friday mornings I also do some writing. More than I did on Thursday, usually not as much as I will do on a Saturday and/or Sunday.

Friday mornings, I try to have only a few hours of work left to catch up on. I try to stay focused long enough on Thursday to make Friday an easy breezy ‘catch up/clean up’ day so I can get to my writing. (trying very hard to keep balanced between my two passions. I am truly blessed to love teaching and writing both).

My ideal Friday morning, is coffee in my cup, Pandora in my ears, pen and paper playing nicely together. Peace and harmony in my soul. Music in my ears and coffee in my cup and all is right with this world and at this moment, I am calm and focused. I am amazed at the beauty and blessings that surround me.

Writing on Friday mornings is a guilty pleasure of mine, because it reminds me to be grateful for my flexible job. It reminds me to say thank you that I am not “at work”  today and am able to grade assignments and discussions at my leisure rather than at a set time. It reminds me to count my teaching job among my blessings and to always take advantage of the opportunity for writing time on a Friday morning.

I like to do my writing time on Friday mornings at a coffee shop where I can observe the busy pace of people coming and going to their offices and such. While I am relaxing with music in my ears and coffee in my cup. I don’t say this as a ‘haha you have to go to work and I don’t’ but as a “I really like to observe the hustle and bustle of life” so I can put that in my books…because as we all know…absolutely everything a writer experiences is potential fodder for a book.

August 10, 2014

Who I Am

Filed under: Writer's thoughts — michelle sodaro @ 7:56 pm
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“I wish you could see me now
I wish I could show you how
I’m not who I was…
I write about love and such
Maybe cuz I want it so much…
I was thinking maybe I, I should let you know
I am not the same,
But I never did forget your name.”
“I’m not who I was” Brandon Heath.

Recently a good friend told me I was “probably one of the least broken women I’ve ever met” and I had to stare at the message for a minute until I realized that it was an absolutely true statement and I also realized that once again, I had proven my Master’s Thesis right. My research was about using writing as therapy…using the idea of “free association” of psychology and applying it to paper. And as I have been writing and writing and writing, I have healed my scars, both real and imaginary. And just like Brandon Heath’s song, I’m not who I was.
When I taught high school, another friend once asked me why “Ms. Sodaro” was so different than Michelle, and that question has stuck with me for over a decade. I used to have this separate mask for Ms. Sodaro — who was always confident and strong and sure, whereas Michelle was not any of these things.
Now Michelle is generally the same person as Ms. Sodaro and as such, I am a better teacher and a stronger person over all.
Writing did all of this for me. Putting pen to paper every day (if possible). That is always my goal — every day, whether it is for 30 minutes or 16 hours, I put pen to paper and as the ink fills the page, scars are healed, wrongs are forgiven (not forgotten — they could be plot points later), and peace fills the pieces of me that once were broken.
Sometimes it takes a friend to see us clearly because we have gotten too used to seeing the scars that we forget to look at the new skin and growth.
Master’s Thesis…for the win.

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