Almost 20 years ago I would graduate from high school, barely. I had it in my head that I would do everything to pursue being a professional athlete. I wasn’t very talented. I wasn’t very fast. I wasn’t strong. However, I always thought it would be possible. There was a paper written in high school about what we wanted to do as adults (that’s the grown up writer version of “what do you wanna be when you grow up?). I wrote this beautifully constructed piece about walking on at a University, about training hard, about learning quickly and becoming the story. I got a “B” on that paper. There were no grammatical errors. There was no problem with formatting. The paper hit all the requirements of the assignment. There was a message after the letter grade, “not going to happen, grow up.” A teacher wrote that.  Long story cut really short, I let doubt, fear and other mainlining issues control my brain. I quit. I quit and nobody stopped me. From there I began this crazy adventure. Years and years later I found myself in Arizona, fully into my new path, I saw an ad for “open tryouts” for the Arizona Rattlers. This is AZ’s arena football team, professional football. The last pro sport to do open tryouts.  I signed up. I would try out for this team twice in my life. This one, the first one, didn’t go so well. The second one, however did. I hit every throw. I even got some coaching from Danny White, that was pretty cool. The head coach had one question for me after, “how old are you?” I told him. He shook my hand and said thanks for coming out. You should live in the moment but I couldn’t help to flash back. I couldn’t help the “maybes,” “the should haves,” the could haves.” The regret.  I couldn’t help diving into my past and finding where this doubt came from. Why do I fight it every day?  I didn’t like what I found. My brain is a maze of anxiety, fear and most importantly abandonment. At a very young age people started, for no one reason, leaving my life….permanently. I am the youngest of 6 children that my mother would have. The first 4 are substantially older than me and would be gone by the time my “learning to be a man” stages would surface. My father stopped coming around. My brother, the closest in age and guy I looked up too, moved far away. Those would be the multiple tips of the “anger iceberg.” And to me those are the obvious ones. What I didn’t realize is how many more times it happened. When people give up on you, mostly men, for 30 years or so, you develop some bad habits. I write about this now because I am well on my way to repairing by brain. Changing how you think after decades of practice takes time and hard work. I finally found the right therapist and the birth of my daughter would propel me forward, inspiring me to recreate who I am. That’s the very short version of that…

After all those years of floundering I had finally landed a nice job. I was managing a golf shop and I was a master golf club fitter making a decent wage but more importantly it gave me a sense of security. There was a problem, I didn’t see myself there for long, I just didn’t feel the passion for it. With new ways of thinking I had to come up with new career paths. I sat down one day and thought hard about what I wanted to do. When I was a kid, along with pro jock, I thought briefly about being a teacher. I then thought about the best time in the golf business I ever had. Two instances came quickly to mind. I helped teach a beginner golf camp for kids with disabilities once. It was a long week but the rewards far outweighed the hardships. The other one would happen in my fitting studio. I had a father bring in his 12 year old Autistic son. The dad didn’t tell me he was Autistic but I could easily diagnose it. He did tell me that golf was the only thing that could get him to focus. He told me how much it inspired his son. I worked hard with the kid and provided a professional fitting and helped him with his swing a little. I looked in his eyes and saw passion for the game. Also, I saw gratitude for the simple fact that I was helping him with what he loved. I didn’t look down at him or treat him special, I just cared and it resonated. I started looking at careers for people that wanted to work in the “disabilities” field. I found something called a “paraprofessional.” This is basically a teacher’s assistant. I found a fantastic certificate program at Diablo Valley College. I enrolled and here I am. Since enrolling I’ve been inspired to go for more than just the certificate. I am going to get my bachelors’ degree and teaching cert and hopefully one day, will have my own classroom. It is far away but like everything else, it is going to happen way too fast but can’t come fast enough…

You may be asking yourself, “why Special Ed?” I know a lot of people ask me and I usually have a canned politically correct answer. Most people that go into the field are directly affected by some kind of disability. Either they have one or a family member or someone close to them does but I don’t. Truth: I identify with the kids. Is there a greater population of people with abandonment issues? No, the only answer is no. The field is always in need and the fact that I am a man only helps. There are not a lot of male presences in these classrooms. It’s going to take some time but this is going to happen and  I will never tell a kid  “not going to happen, grow up.” Instead, I will do everything in my power to help, inspire and lead.

Thanks to all that gave me suggestions for writing. It means a lot to know that there are people out there actually reading. Sometimes I feel like I’m talking to myself… Feel free to comment anytime, constructively of course. Cheers.

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