Ditch the Road Map

I have recently been thinking about the idea of goals. We are taught from a young age that goals are good. Goals are how you get ahead in life and become successful, but what if having a detailed roadmap of your life is just getting in the way? Having specific goals can be limiting, especially when we are subconsciously influenced by our past, society, and social norms. My new theory (assisted by authors Martha Beck and Wayne Dyer) is that life becomes more peaceful, more “on-purpose” and more efficient when we let go, trust the universe (or God, or whatever you relate to) and follow our instincts.

Never in a million years would I have come up with the goal: “Move to Tunisia.” It’s not something I always wanted to do. In fact, I don’t think I’d ever really heard of that country and I definitely wouldn’t have been able to find it on a map!

But that’s where I’m going and I couldn’t be more excited. It just feels right. Sometimes it’s fun to think about how I got there- the emotional, spiritual journey that lead me to where I am now. (A journey that by no means is complete or ever will be!)

I spent months reflecting, looking inward, and pursuing whatever “felt right.” I sometimes wished I had a crystal ball. I would get frustrated at the far-away, haziness of my future. I knew I needed to make a change, but I had no clue what it was. I looked down many avenues, applied to many jobs, and ended up with many dead-ends. I could never put my finger on a specific goal but I just kept telling myself, “If it’s meant to be, it will be.” Although it was discouraging at times, every rejection just narrowed down my path. I continued to put my trust in the universe and my instincts.

Anything that sounded interesting or fun- I’d explore it. And that wasn’t just in the narrow scope of careers. I auditioned for plays, took dance classes, read books, went on a retreat, and more. I was opening myself up to the universe. I never quite felt in charge- more of a collaborator in my life. I learned to relax and listen and let myself be guided.

The times I tried to be logical and strategic- tried to force my brain into “figuring out” my life- was always unsuccessful. Meditating, sitting in silence, talking with people I love, and trying my best to live in the moment brought me more break-throughs than cold-hard logic ever did. When I followed my gut and made decisions based on how I felt, making an effort to say yes to life as much as possible, I started getting somewhere. I had no idea where I’d end up, but little by little, the haziness started to subside and my future started to fall into place.

My “change” bracelet. A nice little daily reminder that “change is good!”

So I’m going to teach in Tunisia and meet new people and travel and say yes to life, even when it’s scary. If it feels “shackles off”- feels like fun and freedom, I’m doing it! I am ready to live my life to the fullest.

When people ask me how many years we will stay in Tunis, I just smile because I have no idea and a year ago that would have stressed me out, but now it doesn’t. I don’t need or want specific goals. I’m ditching the detailed road map in exchange for going with the flow and waiting to see where the universe takes me. As Wayne Dyer wrote, “You don’t have to know where you are going to get there.” If I’ve learned anything, the universe has grander, more interesting plans than anything I could come up with.

The Recruitment Process

By Guest Writer: Justin Peavey

When my wife agreed that moving overseas would be the best bet to re-energize our personal and professional selves, I immediately began researching.  I always begin with a simple “how to” search in Google and start my journey down the rabbit-hole. The journey took me through blog posts, how-to guides, and various companies trying to make a profit at our expense.  Two common threads kept popping up. Either A) you research and contact schools on your own or B) you use a reputable recruiting agency.  

As beginners in the world of international teaching, April and I agreed that going through an agency was the way to go.  But, which one? I came across a plethora of agencies claiming to offer the best teaching gigs in the nicest of locales. Most of these looked unprofessional at best and truly sketchy at worst.  Blog posts helped in navigating our way to an agency. A common thread came up several times from former international teachers: if you can afford it, use one of the better agencies such as ISS or Search Associates.  We landed on the latter.  

The first thing that surprised us about Search Associates was the level of vetting that the company goes through before showing you any of their goods.  We had to have a background check, full online resume with a personal narrative, 5 references, and the list goes on! On top of this was the fee. Search Associates charges $225 a teacher to use their platform.  For April and I, that was $450. While that is a manageable fee, it definitely made us pause and have the conversation of “Are we sure about doing all this?” We also had a recruiter assigned to us from our geographical area that helped to answer any of our early questions and make sure that we got everything in before we received access to the full site.  “Captain Bob” was an invaluable resource to us during the process. Once all the vetting was complete and the fees were paid, we finally gained full access to the site.

The second thing to note here is that Search Associates is not a typical “recruiting agency.”  Your assigned recruiter is not going to go find you a job and place you somewhere. What SA offers you is the ability to research schools, view postings that may not be visible by the public, contact the schools directly using the SA platform, and to look more reputable to the schools.  Remember, Search Associates has already done the vetting, so the schools do not have to do as much. They give you the access, you do the work.  

And so I went to work!  The SA search features make it exceedingly easy to find schools that meet all of our wants and needs.  I could search for jobs that match both April and my expertise in areas that we approve of. For example, we could easily search for schools on a particular continent that had an open position for an Elementary Art teacher and a High School Special Education teacher. Obviously, April and I are a package deal. We couldn’t consider any schools that only had openings for one of us.The school profiles gave you more information than you could dream of. This included average salaries with savings potential and benefits to the number of students in the building and start dates for the academic year. You also can contact the schools directly through the site with an email directly from Search Associates.  Within the first month, I had contacted roughly 40 schools that met our criteria, had responses back from around half of them, and had interviews set up with around 6 of them.  

We started the process the second week of September (which I was told was a fantastic time to start the process, FYI).  By the end of September, we were thoroughly vetted and gained access to the site. Through October and the beginning of November, we searched and applied to schools.  We had multiple interviews through November. Finally, we settled on a school and signed a contract with the American Cooperative School of Tunis the first week of December.  If we would have continued the process and did not receive offers, we would have gone to the San Francisco Search Associates Job Fair in February. Fortunately (or unfortunately as we wanted to see what the job fair’s were like) we didn’t have to!

I am a fan of Search Associates.  Again, this is a service where you get out of it what you put into it.  They’ve done a lot of the work for you. You just have to present the best version of yourself! That $450 fee will more than pay for itself. I really don’t think contacting schools individually, on our own would have given us the credibility to land such great jobs.  In the future, if we want to go to another country and teach at a different school, I would definitely use their services again.

We’re Hired!

Here’s the announcement video we made to share our news.

Well, that escalated quickly! Justin and I have been applying for jobs at International schools around the world since October. We applied to over 30 schools and we were fortunate enough to land quite a few interviews from schools in Indonisia, Dubai, Mozambique, Jordan, and Tunisia. Today is December 20th, and I am sitting here with contract signed, news shared, and a feeling of nerves and excitement. I can’t believe this happened so fast!

A couple Sundays ago, we received offers from 2 schools, and here’s the kicker- we had 48 hours to make our decision! I went into full-blown panic mode, making pro/con lists, pacing the floor, researching, and reaching out to family for advice. 48 hours is not enough time to make a life-altering decision like this! It was between Amman, Jordan and Tunis, Tunisia. I really clicked with the people in Amman, and they offered me a job teaching art which was my preference. Tunisia was offering a 5th Grade classroom position and the area was beautiful. The money and benefits were great in both locations. Both schools are well-established, top-rate places to teach. I went back and forth in my mind a hundred times.

On Sunday afternoon, we Skyped with a couple currently teaching at The American Cooperative School of Tunis. It was their first international gig and they moved from the States a couple of years ago. I had a million questions for them- Do your kids like the food? Do we need a car? How often do you take vacations? Do you like your principal? What’s the school schedule like? What do you do for fun? Do you feel safe? What’s the best neighborhood? What do you wish you would have known before you made this decision? The list goes on and on… We talked for an hour and after our conversation, I started feeling pulled towards Tunisia.

Going to bed Sunday night, I still didn’t feel certain, but I knew I would get there. I felt relaxed and I was ready for a good night’s sleep. I hoped I would have an epiphany in the middle of the night or maybe a dream that would speak to me about the right choice, but it wasn’t like that. Instead it felt like a cloud of dust had been kicked up Sunday morning and as time passed, and as the dust slowly drifted away, my vision became a little more clear. By Monday night, I knew my answer. Justin suggested we count to 3 and then both say what we are thinking at the same time. 1…2….3…. “Tunisia,” we said in unison. It just felt right. And that’s how it was for us. Not a logical decision, breaking down savings and researching every aspect of the school. It was something I just had to feel. We technically had until Tuesday to reply to our offers, but we had already made up our minds. We hugged. We wrote an email to the Superintendent at the Tunisian school and we called our parents and told our kids.

In August, we will teach at The American Cooperative School of Tunis and our kids will attend as well. We have 8 months left in Kansas to enjoy time with the friends and family we will miss so dearly, sell our house and most of our belongings, and mentally prepare for this big move.

My Hopes and Dreams: Putting it out in the Universe (Or at least out on the Internet)

I was supposed to be a movie star. I was pretty adamant about it my whole life. Being a teacher was not the plan. Living in Eudora, Kansas was definitely not the plan. I actually doubted whether I’d ever settle down and get married and have kids….. But….

Here I am. My name is April Peavey. I have been an Elementary Teacher for 10 years now. I live and teach in Eudora, Kansas. I have an amazing, handsome, loving husband, and two wild, entertaining, adorable children. Teddy is seven years old and Penelope is four years old.

When I look around, I can see, “I’ve got it good!” I have the house, the husband, the kids, the cars, friends, a supportive family, and more. We live comfortably. No, we aren’t jet-setting around the world on extravagant vacations, and no, I can’t afford to buy what I want when I walk into an Anthropologie store, but we’re fine.

So…. Why do I feel so blah? Why am I drained? Why do I crave more out of life? I suppose we all feel that way, right?

What are we making for dinner?

Who’s picking up Penny from preschool this afternoon?

Are these dishes clean?

Do you have homework?

Did you switch over the laundry?

Anything interesting to watch on Netflix tonight?

Sound familiar?

My social media accounts look picturesque. My kids are smiling. We are out and about…. But….. It doesn’t feel satisfying. My life feels monotonous most days. I’m just not happy because I can’t shake the feeling that there’s something missing.

Alright… lets rewind for a moment, so I don’t sound like a completely privileged, first-world-problems, take-my-my-life-for-granted, white girl….

Although this was not the life I’d envisioned, I was comfortable AND happy… for a long time actually. The beginning years of teaching and starting our family were exhilarating. I was stressed out and sleep deprived but it all felt “right.”

But over the last couple years, it started to feel less “right.” This feeling started slowly; just a nagging voice telling me this wasn’t the life I wanted, but I pushed through. I justified my choices.

  • Being a teacher isn’t perfect, but you can’t beat the schedule!
  • I live close to my parents who have been a great support system to us.
  • Eudora is a great place to raise a family.
  • I’ve already invested so much into this job and community. People know me here.

I would never dream of giving up those comforts! I may not be happy, but I am logical and disciplined. I know the grass is not always greener on the other side. I know in my mind that my life is fine, so my heart can just shut up now!

And then, I woke up. All of a sudden, comfort was no longer a factor I wanted to consider when making life choices. I only have one life to live, damnit- Let’s go live it! Screw comfort!

Great! I knew I needed a change- so empowering! But…. I had NO IDEA what I wanted to do- so frustrating. I started going to counseling, reading self-help books, meditating, journaling, etc. etc. I was going to figure my shit out, by golly! And as I sit here, flipping through my journal, here, for your amusement and mine: My top 10 list of career changes I’ve considered in the past 4 months:

10. Actress

9. Corporate Trainer

8. Social Media Associate

7. Real estate agent

6. Founder of My Own Commune

5. Professional Public Speaker

4. Travel Agent

3. Children’s Book Author

2. Host of my Own Children’s TV Show

1. Artist

And that about brings you up to speed. (I swear I’m not a flaky, indecisive person. I’ve been in the same job for 10 years and been married for 11. I still have clothes I wore in High School.)

Anyways, after a lot of reflection, research, coffee, wine, tears, laughter, and conversations with people who know me well and people I don’t know at all, I think I’ve finally figured it out. So now, drum roll please…… My current career aspiration- my hopes and dreams:

I want to teach over-seas! I want to sell everything and move across the world with my little family. I want to jump way out of my comfort-zone and meet new people and see new things. I want adventure, and the thought of this is the first thing that’s felt “right” in a long time.

The purpose of this blog will be to chronicle this process and hopefully our soon-to-be travel experiences. I hope you’ll send good vibes our way and stay tuned for our journey’s stories. Fingers crossed that next year at this time, I’ll be writing this blog from Singapore or Dubai or Brazil or Germany. Time will tell.