free falling


We did this big thing over the winter. I did. We did. We both did.

The back-story: last year this time, I came to the realization that I was healthy enough to DO something outside of the four walls of our house. I was ready to step outside of homemaking and housewifery for a while. (No, it wasn’t time to go back to vet school. In fact, my time for all-things-vet-school had passed. But, that is an entirely other blog post.) Here’s the short version: I did a bunch of paperwork and mailed it to the Virginia Department of Education, who then dubbed me licensed-to-teach biology and English to kids in the sixth-twelfth grades.

Within a week, I landed a long-term-substitute-English-teacher-gig at a local urban high school, and 147 city kids became my sole responsibility for eight hours a day, five days a week. I became intensely absorbed, hyper-focused, and unspeakably connected to my kids within days. That was the start of my professional teaching experience. It can’t be summed up in words. But, I can say this: those kids and that experience changed my life in a way that I’m not yet able to confine to the written word.

In the midst of my urban teaching experience last fall, I began to realize some major capital-T-Truths in my Life. City life and city kids weren’t right for me. My Life didn’t have room for the violence, gangs, vulgarity, and despair, even though joy, hope, and triumph were also present. When I walked away from that urban high school and MY 147 kids, something inside me broke in a way that was marked by deep despair and an equally intense feeling of self-empowerment. I mourned those children for weeks, but I chose what was best for my Life. And living there, in that city environment, and teaching there, in that city school, and surrounding myself with all the good and the bad that comes with city life, was so distinctly wrong for me. And it wasn’t right for my husband nor our future children either…

There is a small town in the hills of southwestern Virginia, on the other side of the mountain, southwest of that city. It’s a remarkably small place that harbors a beauty and ever-present sense of peace that my husband and I have never felt elsewhere. It didn’t take us too many visits to discover our deep longing to live and grow, as a family, in Floyd. We just couldn’t see how moving to Floyd was possible nor how it would ever be. Last winter we quit believing that we “couldn’t” move to Floyd, and we started honoring the capital-T-Truths that manifested during our time living and working in that city. Without knowing the “how,” we grabbed onto our BIG DREAM of moving to Floyd and raising a family there. I quit my job and started packing up our belongings, with no idea how things would “play out.” Within two weeks of claiming our Truth (to live in Floyd and raise a family there,) all the big and little “how’s” materialized and resolved.

Seven months ago we moved to the one stoplight, one high school, no middle school, county in southwestern Virginia, known as Floyd. Since then, it’s been straight free-falling. And I still don’t know what’s going to happen next. (And, by that I mean that I still don’t know all the “how’s” that will bring forth the materialization of our small and fancy homestead, with a bit of land, a few goats and chickens, and our brood of children.) I have taken a bit of a detour from the life of solely homemaking and house-wife-ing. This past year has been a year of teaching, discovering, and learning. I’ve signed up for another year of learning alongside the young people and fellow educators in my community, but Namaste House-Wifery is still within me. The beat to this rock song has changed a bit, but my capital-T-Truths haven’t changed; rather, the “hows” have just begun to materialize.


About Emily Stansberry

Emily Stansberry is a freelance writer who teaches high school English in Appalachia. A teacher by day and a writer/reader by night, Emily lives in Floyd with her husband, two dogs, and cat. Emily’s family transplanted to Floyd County for the love of the Floyd-fashioned peace, culture, music, simplicity, and most certainly for the mountains. Emily writes about healing, simplicity, and the pursuit of good-enough-ness that lies beneath her (and everyone else’s) past stories of un-wellness and despair. She also enjoys the dance of article writing about happenings in her local community, with a particular interest in the theatre arts and literature arenas. Emily enjoys both fiction and non-fiction writing, memoir writing, science writing, reporting, editing, and even children’s literature writing, with a bit of illustration creation thrown in too. The act of writing is synonymous with the act of breathing for Emily, and as long as she’s writing, regardless of genre, she’s dancing to the beat of her muse.

2 responses to “free falling

  1. Betty Ann & Haynes

    We still miss you,Matt, and the girls!!!!

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