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Because life never goes as planned…

Blueprints

My whole life, I knew I wanted to be a teacher. My mom has a picture of me at about 4 years old, wearing my grandmother’s pumps, holding a book and reading to my pretend classroom. I must have been in preschool at the time. I played school from the time I was old enough to know what school was until I was way too old to still be playing pretend.

When I got to high school and we were supposed to start thinking about what we wanted to be when we grew up, it was a no brainer for me. I was going to be a teacher. I went off to college in New England and majored in Elementary Education, as planned. I took every opportunity to spend time in an elementary school classroom, even taking on extra intern position one summer. I loved my senior year student teaching assignment with a 3rd grade class in a local public school. I was totally in my element. I graduated, got my degree, took the exams, and got my license to teach grades 1-6.

After graduation, I was a substitute teacher while I hunted for a permanent teaching job, but there were none to be had (or so it seemed). I applied to every public school district in a 30-mile radius, and I never even got an interview.

Substitute teaching got old, and eventually I started doing temporary administrative work, but it did nothing to fill me up. I had been out of college for almost three years and had pretty much given up on ever having my own classroom when an opportunity fell into my lap. A friend of a friend of a friend (or something like that) was a principal at a small Christian elementary school in New Jersey. They were hiring, so she hooked me up with an interview.

I got the job — my very own 3rd grade classroom.

my-first-classroom

It was everything I had dreamed of and more. Even though I’d done all of my student teaching and substitute teaching in public schools, I found my home in that small private school. I taught 3rd grade for two years, and I had a blast. I threw myself into my job 110%. It was a small community, and I got to know many of the parents. I loved my fellow teachers. I felt like those students were my very own kids. I adored them, and they adored me. Those were two of the best years of my life.

Then I got pregnant. My pay check wasn’t enough to cover my travel + daycare, and I’d always planned to stay at home with my babies, so that was that. My teaching career ended after two short years.

I suppose I thought I might go back to teaching some day, but by the time my 3rd child was in school and I was ready to consider full-time employment again, my blogging career had started taking off. When I started this blog, I never in a million years thought it would turn into an opportunity to help support our family financially. There was no concept of a professional “mommy blogger” in 2006. And pulleeeeese, don’t ever call me or anyone else a mommy blogger. We hate that.

As fate would have it, that cute little hobby did turn into a whole lot more, and now I have no desire to return to the classroom. I look back on those two years of teaching with fond memories, but that is all they are — memories. When I visit my kids’ elementary school, I sometimes get a wave of nostalgia, but I have no desire to go back to teaching. So much has changed in the past 15 years, including me.

I love what I do now, and it provides me with tremendous flexibility and unique opportunities that I wouldn’t have in a traditional job. I could have never envisioned this when I was choosing my major and what I thought would be my lifelong career, but I couldn’t be happier.

Life has a way of surprising us, doesn’t it? It’s like walking a long, winding road with no way of knowing what’s beyond the bend. Sometimes I think I’d like to know what life holds for me down the road, but that would probably take the fun out of living.

I just finished reading a book called Blueprints that addresses these themes.

BlueprintsCover

Not only did I enjoy the narrative, but I also love how the story is located in the Boston area, a place that is near and dear to my heart. It’s basically the story of two women and how they deal with life’s unpredictable twists and turns.

Here’s a synopsis.

Caroline MacAfee is a skilled carpenter, her daughter Jamie, a talented architect. Together they are the faces of Gut It!, a home renovation series on local public television. Caroline takes pride in her work, and in the way she connects with the show’s audience. But when she is told the network wants her daughter to replace her as host — the day after Caroline’s fifty-sixth birthday –she is devastated. The fallout couldn’t come at a worse time.

For Jamie, life changes overnight when, soon after learning of the host shift, her father and his new wife die in a car accident that orphans their two-year-old son. Accustomed to organization and planning, she is now grappling with a toddler who misses his parents, a fiancé who doesn’t want the child, a staggering new attraction, and a work challenge that, if botched, could undermine the future of both MacAfee Homes and Gut It!

For Caroline, hosting Gut It! is part of her identity. Facing its loss, she feels betrayed by her daughter and old in the eyes of the world. Her ex-husband’s death thrusts her into the role of caregiver to his aging father. And then there’s Dean, a long-time friend, whose efforts to seduce her awaken desires that have been dormant for so long that she feels foreign to herself.

Who am I? Both women ask, as the blueprints they’ve built their lives around suddenly need revising. While loyalties shift, decisions hover, and new relationships tempt, their challenge comes not only in remaking themselves, but in rebuilding their relationship with each other.

I included this book in my 20 Great Summer Beach Reads because I enjoyed it so much. If you’re looking for a light summer beach read, this is a great choice, but I want to add one disclaimer. There are a few parts of the book that get a bit, um, racy. I only add this caveat because I know my audience tends to be on the conservative side, and I wouldn’t want anyone to be caught off-guard. Those scenes are brief, but they are a part of the story.

Blueprints is written by award-winning author, Barbara Delinsky. This is the first time I’ve read one of Delinsky’s books, and I can’t wait to read more. She has quite a collection to keep me in reading material this summer.

About the Author

barbara_delinsky

BARBARA DELINSKY is the author of twenty-one New York Times bestselling books. She has been published in twenty-eight languages worldwide. A lifelong New Englander, Delinsky earned a B.A. in psychology at Tufts University and an M.A. in sociology at Boston College. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband, more books than she’ll ever be able to read, two tennis racquets, and enough electronic devices to keep in close touch with her children and their families. Follow Barbara on Twitter and Facebook.

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One reader will win her own copy of Barbara Delinsky’s Blueprints. Use the Rafflecopter below to enter. Good luck!

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Many thanks to St. Martin’s Press for sponsoring this post and introducing me to a new author. All opinions and experiences are my own.

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39 thoughts on “Because life never goes as planned…

  1. Often, when I read your blog, I find myself nodding my head. We followed so many of the same paths, at the same times, just different locations! I taught for about ten years and even earned my masters last year but really don’t have a desire to be back in the classroom right now. Education has changed a lot (especially in my state). However, I always knew I wanted to be a teacher. And really, you still educate people through your blog in many facets so that aspect of “teaching” is still there! 🙂 Looks like a good read! Will definitely check it out.

  2. I am always looking for a good book to read. I have read a couple of Barbara Delinsky’s books before and enjoyed them. I will have to check out this new one. Thanks for the recommendation:)

  3. This sounds like a great book. I can completely related to the idea of life not going how you planned it, I used to think that my life would be so much different than it is but now I can’t imagine it being anything but the way it is. I might have to pick this book up for some summer reading.

  4. I love reading your blog! This post rings so true with me. My life has definitely not gone as I had planned, but I think in the long run, it’s just how it was supposed to be 🙂

  5. I can relate to this! All my life I wanted to write but I could never quite find the way to get into this niche – until blogging came along. And, there I got into that because I thought I wanted to be a web designer! Going with the flow of open doors was always a challenge for me but it’s a better way because it’s usually God Who’s opening those doors. I’m very talented at opening the wrong ones, LOL. The book sounds wonderful! I love the idea of 2 female protagonists running a business and then getting hit with really uncomfortable situations. Thanks for sharing!

  6. I’m always looking for new books to read and this sounds great. I had a wrench thrown at my “blueprint” so I can relate. And as a bonus, I went to Tufts as did the author–how funny!

  7. Can definitely relate to life taking unexpected twists and turns… I’d love to add this to my Summer Reading pile!

  8. I think I have read something by this author before but cannot remember what it was! Will have to check . Anyway, sounds like a good book 🙂

  9. Thank you, Jo-Lynne, for sharing your life with us. My life has followed a similar trajectory. I, too taught for a few short years before staying home with my kids. I would like to go back to teaching but once again there are no teaching jobs. I am pursuing a different path but I haven’t quite found my niche yet. So, it is encouraging to hear similar stories from you and your readers. I will pick up that book!

  10. JoLynne, so many of us wanted to teach but found a different path. I taught 8 years and although I loved it….I found that it sucked the life out of me. I’m happy to do other things.

    1. sucked the life out of me… lol. that is pretty much how I felt. LOVED it, but didn’t want to be a teacher and a mom of schoolage kids. I don’t think I have it in me to do both at the same time.

  11. I’ve read a bunch of Barbara Delinsky books and they are wonderful, I’d LOVE to win a copy of her newest one!!

  12. It’s funny how life takes you in different directions than you thought. I, too, started off as a teacher. I love the adventure I’m on now and wouldn’t trade it for the world!

  13. I copied your “20 Summer Beach Reads” when you posted them awhile back. I see this book was #1 on the list. I can’t wait to read it. Thanks for all of the suggestions.

    Debbi

  14. Enjoyed your post and story of life…we never know what God’s plan is for our lives….can’t do anything except trust him and do the best we can daily!

  15. I like reading books by this author, she always makes me think about different ways my life could have turned out if i did
    this or that.

  16. I love books like this that show how quickly life can change on you and how to face those challenges!

  17. Your teaching career started the same as mine, no one would give me an interview after applying to so many schools in a 50mile radius. After 2 years of subbing after college, a friend of mine recommended me for a job at a parochial school and I taught kindergarten there for 7 years. During that time, I got married and had my first daughter. I got pregnant with my second and left the school so I could have more time with the baby, unlike with my oldest. It was really hard to get another interview when I decided to start teaching again, but I got one! I just finished up my 21st year; however, had I stayed at the parochial school I would have 25 years and that much more closer to retirement! 🙂
    I read several teacher blogs and really would like to start one, but I have no idea where to start as I have no technology knowledge whatsoever. It would be fun to start a new project like that, learn along the way, and open up great conversation with people over the world!

    1. It’s interesting that so many teachers have had the same challenges. I haven’t read any teacher blogs, but starting a blog is super easy with blogger.com. You should try it out! 🙂

  18. I always wanted to be a novelist and was going to write the great American novel. My family scoffed at the idea, and my lack of talent for writing dialog and turning a metaphor didn’t help my quest. So, I studied education and have been teaching ever since. I’m in my fifteenth year and can’t imagine doing anything else because it is where God led me to be.

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