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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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.