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We shared pieces from our writing portfolios in my teaching English class today. I shared Damien Malice. (Damien Malice is a fictional character that is taking shape with much influence from the literature and music I love).

My professor said: “that was beautiful; did you share that with your class?”

I blushed from Lorin’s compliment and told him I had not shared it. He said I should.

I might. Then the students would get to do the same writing exercise that helped me create that piece.

There is a back story to this. Teaching changes you. It makes you aware of how everything you say and do can influence those around you. This awareness is why I struggle so much with who I am right now; what I say, what I write, and what I share.

Learning to teach makes your sense of self fragmented and searching. This is difficult for me. I’ve spent most of my life searching for an identity that has been kept from me because I am adopted.

Self is shaped by social surroundings; I know this is true; I am so much like my Mother and my family. Yet, there are biological parts of me that I never knew or thought of. My self was always found in relation to music. This will always be a huge part of who I am.

Ray Wallace came to mind today as I listened to Toni Braxton and missed my old self that obsessed over writing songs. I thought of Ray supporting me when I was determined to be a pop/r&b singer/song-writer. “Black Metal”, Ray Wallace, was a hard core metal head and he believed in me.

I know I’ve said this many times, but Ray is a huge part of who I am. I am a huge music fan that will do anything to help bands and artists I believe in.

I hope I never underestimate the toll of losing someone. Losing Ray, so unexpectedly, taught me how precious life is; how fragile our lives are and how special music is and always will be.

A recent post called Unsettled felt like good-bye to the music I have written. I won’t be saying good-bye. I will remain me within teaching.

I’ve always taken that line from Madonna’s Express Yourself to heart: “don’t go for second best baby / put your love to the test”. It’s time to apply that again. Teaching is about love. (Teaching is also about many other things, but let’s, for the sake of this post, focus on the love).

I will grow and change through this but the parts of me that keep me sane will remain. If this self leaves me; the self that writes, sings, and loves music, I will leave teaching until I find that self again.

Until then, I will bask in the knowledge of knowing what a good teacher can do. What Lorin did today, how he made me feel after reading that piece I wrote, maybe one day I can do the same with my students.

I am not alone in my love of his class. Today, after class ended, my table discussed amongst ourselves how much we adore Lorin, how much we love his class, and how thankful we are.

One student spoke for all of us. She stood up and she thanked him. We clapped and he received a standing ovation.

I have struggled with wanting to remain a writer, singer, and song writer, along with being a serious heavy metal fan, and Lorin taught me today that I can still do that while learning to teach.

A Tribute to Ray in Song  and I have added a song I wrote because I meant what I said. This is not good-bye.