Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Teaching is my Weather

Here in Central Texas, they have a saying: "If you don't like the weather, stick around.  It'll change in a minute."  When I moved here for college in the early 1990's several years ago, I learned that the weather was a volatile animal.  And the one meteorologist (now Chief Weathercaster) who could help make sense of it all, in real time, was Jim Spencer, with KXAN News.  My roommates, my sister, and I would watch him when hurricanes came perilously close to Austin, when hail storms threatened to ruin our cars, and when flash flooding was happening (right now!) all across our area.  We'd watch.  We'd listen.  He'd educate.  He'd predict.  He'd... nearly jump with joy about bad weather!?  Yes.  He would nearly jump with joy when he spoke about bad weather.  At first, this was a strange thing to witness.  I mean, people are in danger, possibly even dying.  Isn't it in bad taste to get excited about Mother Nature beating up on people?  And winning??  Well, perhaps to some people, but, I saw a man who was truly passionate about his job.  And who was energized by it all to a degree that I'd never seen anyone be energized by their job.  That, I thought, is how I want to feel about my job someday.  If everyone loved their job like Jim Spencer loves his job, this world would be a much better place.

And so I earned my Bachelor's Degree in Psychology as I intended when I first started college.  And then I moved away and earned my Master's Degree in Psychology, uncertain about my final goal.  All the while, although I couldn't be sure of my end game, I hoped that I was studying to do something I would love as much as Jim Spencer loved predicting, teaching, talking about the Weather.  When I got to do a therapy practicum in grad school, I loved it.  Loved it!  And I was so energized by it.  This is what I want to do! I thought.  But internships don't pay the bills, and I was so so tired of selling things --shoes, jewelry, perfume-- to pay my bills.  Wasn't there something more... worthwhile I could do?  So I started substitute teaching, all the while working toward my license to practice therapy and get paid for it.  Then I moved back to Texas, where my degree was not aligned with the licenses therapists need in Texas.  Still, I worked toward getting that license, jumping through hoops.  All the while, teaching as a substitute in several different school districts, wishing I could just do this full time.  Then one day, it struck me like a bolt of lightening that would have made Jim Spencer jump with joy: teaching is my weather!  I don't want to leave the classroom!  I can do THIS full time!!  It couldn't be any more work than becoming a therapist would be.  So I researched it, figured it out, and 18 long months later, I was the teacher of record for my very first classroom.  It was exhilarating!

 So, you see, when I got this award today at my school, six years after that first year of teaching, we all had a silly laugh about my Super-Fan status, and I was a little embarrassed that I've talked like a crazy person about how much I love Jim Spencer.  But only a little.  Because my appreciation and admiration of Jim Spencer isn't about how cute he is or how smart he is.  It's about how he followed his bliss and found his calling.  And I believe that's a human responsibility we should all take more seriously.  More than feeling a little embarrassed, I felt proud that I can say I love my job as much as he loves his.  Because, I'm still convinced, that if everyone did, this world would be a much better place.


  1. I was wondering if there would be a blog about this award! I'm glad we could bring a smile to your face. :)

  2. I am so happy you have found your bliss with your dog and 17 kids (give or take a few more or less each school year), and you earned an award from your colleagues since you love your job of teaching as much as you love the enthusiasm Jim Spencer shows for his job! It makes me really proud of you and your dedication to your chosen profession of being a TEACHER!

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Oops! Hit the wrong button!!

      Thanks, Laura, it was great! :)

      Thanks, "Anonymous." It means so much to me. :)

  4. Glad you found your bliss and so did Jim. I agree, wouldn't it be great if everyone loved their job that much!

  5. Someone shared your blog post with me, and I wanted to say it is as touching a tribute as any I've ever received. I always tell the students I talk to at career days to make sure the career they choose is their passion. I'm not sure I get through to them, but it's very humbling to know I reached you just by doing what I do every day. Thanks for sharing your story! Jim Spencer spencer@kxan.com

  6. I can't help myself from commenting here. My name is Vonda, Jim's sister, 2 1/2 years his junior. I can speak firsthand of his passion for weather, which started for him as young as 3rd grade. I remember him taking pictures of clouds, labeling the name of each one, then proudly displaying them on a poster board in his room until he left for college. As a little boy he wrote our local weatherman and was so excited to receive A reply from Gary England, his hero. Then, when he was old enough to drive, waking me up on numerous occasions to go "chase tornados" when there was bad weather. Weather aside, what I love about my brother is his huge, kind heart. He would give anyone the shirt off his back...the most giving, selfless person I have ever known!....just like our dad was. He has been there for me more times than I can count, as well as our entire family and countless others. He never expects anything in return or gives and tells....anything he does or has done, I've known from others. What you see is what you get. He is my brother and best friend....in spite of the "torture" all big brothers put their sisters through! He offerered to pay for my psychiatrist after we were older for the crap he gave me! Ha ha. Jmmy, you are MY hero!!!! I love you dearly!!!!!

  7. Great!! This is awesome! I will try on this

  8. What wonderful comments from Jim and his sister. As I read through this post again today, for the first time in a while, I realize I didn't post anything here after they posted. That's because I emailed him directly, and thanked him for all he does every day, and for letting me know he read my blog. Thanks, Jim and Vonda! Now, everyone go forth, and follow your bliss!


Way to blissfully paws for comments! Well done, you.

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