But I Was an English Major?

October 02, 2015

I majored in English Literature and Rhetoric and minored in Russian Language and Literature. My first master’s degree is a Masters of Arts in Teaching English, my second is in School Building Leadership with a Principal’s Certificate. What happened to me that I declare myself a “Teacher Gone Rogue Candle-Master”?

Breaking Bad happened. Yup, the acclaimed AMC television show which my husband and I binged-watched on Netflix in the late part of 2014.

I have taught high school English for 9 years, and I had aspirations to become an Assistant Principal. I worked day and night, weekends, and breaks; I have been set on fire, I have bled, I have cleaned urine and vomit, scrubbed out unmentionables graffiti-plastered on painted walls; I have called 911, I have been 911; I’ve watched beloved students pass away from childhood cancer, I’ve watched beloved students pass away from drug overdoses; I have been insulted, disempowered, disgusted, and disheartened. I have done it all in the name of love. I love my students, each one, and I cherish how much they are always teaching me. I saw all of this in Walter White.

If you’re a fan of the show, you know what I mean, but if you’re not, it’s easy to dismiss it as “that chemistry teacher who started making meth.” It’s so much more. It highlights the troubles of the American education system. It shows how the best part of teaching is, was, and always will be, the students. Everything else just chips away at your soul, little by little.

In the process of binge-watching, I realized I needed a more productive sense of stress relief besides binge-watching television. Inspired by the chemistry, I bought myself a starter pack of essential oils and tried to start using them to resolve household troubles. First was our fruit fly problem, so I bought peppermint, and ignorant of the powers of measuring, doused my house it in. Drowning in the attack on our sinuses, my husband banished me from ever opening peppermint again.

But the burning sensation lingered.

There had to be more to life than this.

So, I started cooking, and even started a cooking blog. And while I still love cooking, my oils called to me….I started mixing, and then pouring, and then filling mason jars. As I poured and filled, I felt a part of me getting filled with a new passion. I started painting, and took up my writing again. I realized that as much as I loved my students, it wasn’t enough; the confines of teaching were diminishing the creative artist in me. In fact, I had forgotten that the artist was ever there; she was lost in rubrics, and Common Core, and testing. I needed to create anything that wasn’t a lesson plan.

Then there it was – the birth of my first “candle” made out of Crisco. (I later realized marrying my love of candles with cooking wasn’t a genius move.) I found passion again in candles. I also found soy wax (which makes a far better oil than Crisco).

My love of Breaking Bad remains fervent in its attribution to seeking out my passion, but as rogue as I feel now, the teacher in me must still remind you to “just say no.”




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