Transitions, or Leaping from the Lion’s Head

Lithograph by Calvert Litho Company, 1890

Transitions are sacred.

I’ve spent the summer preparing files, updating my resume, scanning copies of my teaching certificate, transcript and passport, refining my CV, crafting cover letters, reading forums, gathering recommendation letters and networking with international teachers. I am confident about moving, yet, on some days, I play tug-o-war with the temptation to just stay put in my comfort zone. Some days the transition seems more like climbing an insurmountable mountain rather than kicking over a molehill. On those days, butterflies of self-doubt quiver in my stomach. What am I doing? I already have a great job at the best school ever. I teach great students who come from great families and I work with a host of supportive colleagues; there’s no reason to leave.

Except . . . I want an overseas teaching adventure and I’ve been dreaming and longing for this for some years. Being witness to my Dad’s slow decline towards death this summer, I know there’s still more I want to do with my life. I want to give away what I know best: helping others find self-expression and joy through the visual arts. And why not? I’m single, my terrific daughter is going to graduate from college next May, I could care less about owning my home or continuing to collect material possessions and I want to see the world!

In my faith there is a common saying, “Let Go and Let God.” I know this is true, but letting go is scary. Remember the scene in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade when Indiana comes to an opening high above in the rocky cliffs?

His treasure book of clues says, “Only in the leap from the lion’s head will he prove his worth.” Teetering on the edge, sweating bullets, he knows he has to step off the cliff into the void below! And what happens? As he steps off, a stone bridge magically appears. He steps off into unknown territory and he is saved from destruction by his faith. In the same way, I know I must go. It is difficult to provide answers to many who ask for specifics, like Where? When? And How? Yet, I know I must leave to prove my worth. There is nothing that scares me more and nothing that excites me more.

Many books and films resonate with this theme but nothing I have ever watched has affected me more than the words by Danaan Parry . I’m begging you to watch this short, 6-minute film called, “The Parable of the Trapeze.” Parry’s powerful words capture the double-edged sword of faith and fear. This film is a gift and I’m happy to share it with you. Do yourself a favor and watch. As Dianne Gray says, “Death is not optional, but living life fully is.”

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27 thoughts on “Transitions, or Leaping from the Lion’s Head

  1. […] September I wrote an article called, “Transitions, Or Leaping From The Lion’s Head.” In it, I included a video, “ The Parable of the Trapeze,” with the voice of Daanan Parry. […]

  2. inukshuk says:

    Looks like you are poised for a great adventure. Certainly taking that leap of faith is not easy, but you are in fact quite lucky: you know what you want.

    Now all you need to do is make it happen – that’s the easy part !

    As a friend of mine once said : “if your dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough”.

  3. Bettina says:

    Wow, Anita,
    I love the second video. Do you know what the movie is?
    Because I’m scared of heights, last year I forced myself to go to a trapeze class…even though even typing about it now, my palms get sweaty!
    Funnily enough, tomorrow I’ll be publishing an interview I did with someone about playing with fear.
    Keep going…

    • Dear Bettina,
      Soooo glad you loved that video! The actual movie stars Tony Curtis and is called either, “Trapeze” or “Trapeze Artist” and was made in the late 1950’s. WOW! How crazy to take a trapeze class! I’m not sure I could ever do that. I had trouble taking a gymnastics class in college. I was so afraid to run and jump on the “horse” at the end of the trampoline area, I hesitated and smashed into the horse, toppling over it and broke my big toe! Never again! 🙂 You keep going too!

  4. Hi A……I am about to see my 23 year old son graduate with a teaching cert from BC Canada. I’d be very interested to learn from you as you take the plunge. Personally, I have done ‘just fine’ without having any foundation on which to stand, but I understand how scary the world might be for someone who may be experiencing change for the first time. Any advice you can pass along so that I may advise my son would be welcome. One thing I may tell you though is that one day you’ll look back and realize that you’re where you dreamed you would be when you first stepped out onto your path and say to yourself “That wasn’t too hard.”

    • Dear J West Hardin,
      I’m so glad you wrote! We follow some of the same blogs and I have really enjoyed your blog as well–especially as I’m researching all these “new-to-me” parts of the world. Thanks for your great research and commentary. Congrats on your son’s upcoming graduation! My 22 year old daughter will be graduating in May! We both deserve a pat on the shoulder! Good job, Dad. 🙂 I hope your son knows about my blog. I’ve uncovered some really great opportunities for teachers. Much of my research into the international arena says that, before teachers can get a somewhat “good” school, they must have a minimum of 2 years in the classroom. So, if I were him, I’d get that asap, and then flap my wings to places unknown. A great resource I’ve found is International Schools Review. It is fascinating to read the Forum. I think it costs about $30/year to join. It has been well worth it. Let me know if I can answer any more questions.

  5. […] week, a friend of mine commented on my post with these words, “The fear of success may be more difficult to contemplate than the fear of […]

  6. belocchio says:

    It takes enormous courage to leap from the lion’s head. You’ve done your homework. This is going to be a wonderful adventure. Bravo. Virginia

  7. Jimmie Hudson says:

    I love this video. Excellent analogy. Was that Tony Curtis?

  8. Wendy says:

    Dear Anita,
    I say it’s fantastic that your school won’t grant you leave, or let you apply for a fulbright.

    You don’t need training wheels friend, you are ready.

    You are clear-headed and know that it won’t be easy, there will be good days and less-than-good days, but all of them will stretch your mind and spirit. Woo hoo!! go Anita!!

  9. Lena Hobbs says:

    My Dear Daughter: After reading your blog, and for the first time, I get a glimpse of the depth of challenge, dream and drive that is pushing you. I am deep in thought for your well being, but slowly I am accepting your need to expand your boundaries and will be more in tune with your challenge. I am looking forward to further discussion and have many questions. I was not able to get Indiana Jones, but will try again later. I am still trying to absorb your blog. I do appreciate the work you are putting into this explanation process. Mom

  10. Jill Bedgood says:

    Thanks Anita for your words. The fear of success may be more difficult to contemplate than the fear of failure. I find happiness in the mundane or the adventure, or the constant or the change, at different times within my life; at times I long for one and then the other. And to me, that is how it should be. My ex said to me, you are making changes and envied my transition to not stagnate. I leapt into the abyss – the 18 months since — I have first of all felt all of my senses heightened, no longer numb — a well of sadness and loneliness at times, amazing feelings of joy and generosity that cause me to dance, healing feelings of knowing better who I am and want to be, and that educating myself about myself is life long. With the safety net of friends and family and our own self reliance the risk is not that great. One carries the home of love with you. xo j

    • Bless you, sweet Jill. Yes, I’ve been privileged to watch part of your transformation, and, as my post says, transformation is sacred. It is in those no-thing times when change is really taking place, to a better place. It’s not in the holding on of the bars. What a concept! – – -the fear of success! OMGosh! Love that!

  11. David Hobbs says:

    Awesome post! Just hold your breath and go for it!

    David Hobbs

    Sent from my IPhone

  12. Dear Anita,

    I remember having a rather emotional talk with you in our quarters at VSC in 2009.I had left advertising after a divorce, and gone to New Orleans to study photography and was teaching. Since, as you know, I am back in Brooklyn. I don’t remember everything, BUT I remember you asking me about shifting careers, MFAs and leaving a long time job.

    At the time I was struggling with a lot of demons, and had a lot of fear about my future. I told you that if I had a good full time job with benefits, I would never leave it. The ironic thing about being an American is that we live in fear of losing our health benefits, and throw our dreams to the wind, just for that reason.

    Now I am at another fork in the road where I am very lucky to be retaining the Cobra benefits that I need, but I would have very different words for you!

    I look back now and I think ‘I would not trade my 7 years in New Orleans, and the perspective and joy that it brought to me for the world, or any amount of security.’ I am so happy for you and know that it takes a lot of courage to make the shifts that you are making! Now that your beautiful daughter is raised, the world is in fact your oyster, and you should eat it con gusto! Bravo.

    • Sweet, Pat, it’s been much too long. Oh, how I’d love to see you! I mean that. We need to really catch up. Do you Skype? I, too, remember that talk we had. I remember where we both “were” in life. And if I remember, I was talking about the possibility of moving overseas. I tell you, I’m haunted by this thought, but in a good way. There is NOTHING that makes me as excited, as the thought of exploring new cultures.

      It is so,so terribly easy to live by fear. Many people do, and, many times, as you know, it is about those blasted health benefits. I want to “go out of life” in ACTION!!! I know this is a longer conversation, but I’m curious about your Cobra benefits.

      Thank you so much for your encouragement. I pray that this dream of mine will become a reality and it will be made clear for me, which direction I should go. Please stay in touch!

  13. Kathleen says:

    Dear Anita –

    I don’t know where your path will lead you – but your blog is fantastic. Thank you!


  14. Linda says:

    Could a middle of the road path give you a taste for your dream before you totally uproot things…perhaps a summer of volunteer teaching abroad, or a year’s leave of absence.

    • Hi, Linda! Thank you so much for your comment and thoughts. I feel like I’ve already been doing middle of the road things for the last 5 years! I’ve travelled overseas every chance I’ve had and every time, I yearn to live somewhere outside of the USA. I’ve participated in conferences overseas, meeting hosts of new friends who are scattered all over the world. Some of them I’ve visited and in return, I’ve hosted them here in Texas! Unfortunately, my school will not grant me a year’s leave of absence. If they would, I’d do that. They also won’t allow me to participate in a Fulbright program which involves swapping places with an international teacher. Actually, when I left the corporate world 12 years ago to begin teaching, I “knew in my heart” that doing that would prepare me for the “next thing”. This is the next thing! All the best to you!!!

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