It’s no secret to those who know me or have had about a 30-second conversation with me, that I do a lot of stuff. I have a lot of interests, passions, and energy. I am often referred to as an energizer bunny, cheerleader of all things, and superwoman of sorts. It’s true, I do a lot of different things, I do have a ton of energy, I am THAT morning person that most people dread (I think they secretly love it though), and I love everything that I undertake.

I am a teacher, wife, mother, explorer, adventurer, athlete, practicing Catholic, dance mom, soccer mom, singer, violin player, blogger, vlogger, podcaster, Twitter-er (tweeter?), Instagrammer, facebooker, coach, talker, jokester, friend, the list goes on. With everything I undertake, I do it with everything that I am. I have never, in my life, felt bad about doing what I do until the last two years, when other people’s questions have made me, well, question what I do. It’s the human side of life, expectations, judgments, opinions, and ultimately unending criticism, constructive and hurtful.

You see, two years ago, my professional hopes, dreams, and aspirations were crushed. I interviewed for a position that I had felt my entire career in education up to that point had prepared me for, and I looked forward to the prospect of serving in a new role within the world of education and my school. The day I was told I did not earn that position was difficult. Heck, the next few MONTHS were. I thought that’s where my professional life was headed, this position and hearing that I was not selected broke me to my core. I am not being dramatic, I cried, a lot. I did not want to return to my school, I felt betrayed, disappointed, frustrated, lost. It was then that I began searching for what I wanted to do with my professional life. I found out that what I thought was “it”, really wasn’t. I am thankful for that heartbreak although at the time I wanted to throw it all away, my entire teaching career. As a result of that heartbreak, I found what I am truly passionate about in education: authenticity. Don’t get me wrong, I knew that was foundational to my educational philosophy, but that thirst for authenticity for my students’ sake brought me to a huge opportunity which then fed into a bunch more afterward. Each of them, was a stretch and I convinced myself they were too far from my reach — but I went after them. The first opportunity was to pitch a professional development idea, the second was to apply for a Fellowship with National Geographic and Lindblad Expeditions, the third was to apply for a national level award, the fourth was to set out abroad to train teachers in a limited resource environment, the fifth was to apply to be a master educator with a company I cannot release yet — these are/were just the beginning. Each of the opportunities allowed me to gain practical, field experience that I would then use in my classroom and to create educational materials for classrooms worldwide; all feeding directly into my educational philosophy of providing authenticity in the classroom for my students. I should probably dedicate a whole post to each of these opportunities — they definitely deserve that detail — but that’s for another day.

I tell you this to show you that my professional (and personal) life took a 90 degree turn two years ago. This turn has brought me out into the field — and away from my family. I married a Saint on August 8, 2008 — which I knew then, but in the last 2 years especially, it has been more apparent than ever. Last summer, I left on an expedition for a month, in November I left for 2 weeks, just before Spring Break, I left for 4 days, last week I was in the Florida Keys with students for a week, I am currently on my way to Washington DC for a week, and Monday — I leave for a month to Belize and Tangier Island. Oh, and in July/August, I will be in the Amazon again.

This is where the struggle gets real, y’all.

I miss my family when I leave. When I leave the field to return home; I miss my expedition team (family).

On top of this difficult struggle are the questions and comment from others. Sometimes innocent, sometimes insta-judgy.

Yeah, I just made that word, up-come at me, Bro.

“Don’t you miss your family?”

“Your husband lets you do that?”

“Your children are so small, I would/could never do that”

“Do you ever think of your kids/husband?”

“When are you going to stop?”

“Shouldn’t you be home?”

“What does your husband say/think?”

“How DO you do it all?” Now this one seems innocent enough written here, but let me tell you — it’s the tone and the facial expression that accompanies these words that make it incredibly difficult to stomach and to respond.

As tears stream down my face now, I miss my family. I can almost guarantee you though, on Friday on this train home, I will cry because I am leaving my National Geographic family. They are both amazing families and I cherish my expeditions with each — yes, it’s difficult, yes, I married a Saint, no, this is not at all the life I thought I would lead — -but yes, I love it.

The struggle is real though.

I am hoping that my children, their friends, my friends, my colleagues all recognize at some point though, that you CAN follow your passions, be a spouse, friend, jokester, career person, coach, etc. You CAN do it all — I will not pretend for an instant it is easy — but you can do it. It will make you incredibly happy, at times sad, at times disappointed in the snap judgments and assumptions of others, but mostly — incredibly happy.

I hope you DO follow your passions, wherever they lead — and perhaps more importantly — I hope you share them and your stories with others.

I know I want to hear your story and maybe you want to hear mine too.


#ExpeditionSchnekser #OutdoorEdCollective #BoilingRiver #EducatorExplorer she/her #scitlap Founder @OutdoorEdColl National Geographic Grantee