Woman looking at the camera while behind her is a sunset over water.

President’s Corner: Giving Myself Grace (Bay)

by Jaime Castle

In the spring of 2020, when the pandemic first hit Ohio and things started closing down, an interesting thing happened. People were home more and depending on your home situation, that meant different things. Those in bad home situations did not fare well and many came to realize the crucial role that schools played in our society. I noticed that many people that I knew, middle-aged moms mainly, were staying home with their kids, and trying to find silver linings. Many women left the workforce at that time. Grocery stores were running out of yeast as many were rediscovering the art of baking. Closets were being cleaned out and organized and donation drop-off locations were filling up. People were discovering their local parks and trails as being outdoors was still allowed and folks were getting cabin fever. We were anxious, fearful, and it was a big election year on top of it all.

In the fall of 2019, surprising everyone including myself, I became a U.S. Congressional candidate, and I stepped down from the Board of Trustees here at Heritage. I had completed my church presidency that July and things were left in a good place with the only tricky thing to navigate being Rev. Bill’s sabbatical on the horizon. It was thought best that I should step away so as to not worry about church vs. state conflicts. NO ONE could have predicted that things would turn so upside down in a matter of months!

We know the story of what came next, and the story is told a little differently from each of our points of views. For me, I completed my campaign, having had it change me in so many ways. Having had run during a pandemic was a strange and lonely thing.

Since my time away from Heritage leadership, I returned to teaching English as well. This coming school year, I will find myself at a new school and have been given the freedom to design my classes to my liking. This is exciting but also overwhelming in that there is so much content to choose from. I am at my best when I can be creative, but I find it hard to be able to focus sometimes on one thing.

Having been awakened to the world of politics and activism, it is hard to not want to spend all of my time wanting to fix the world. But I have to balance that with being a mom and wife and sister and daughter and now a teacher again. I am also at my best when I have much to do and feel like I am a part of something.

This summer I am finding the time to do the things that a lot of my mom friends did in 2020, finally cleaning out things and organizing. Doors have been closing and doors have been opening. This summer a cousin invited us along with her to Grace Bay in Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands. I really wanted the kids to experience this. But I was also forced to stop and rest and reset. It gave me a chance to process a lot of these last years and to focus on what is next. I had to give myself grace and take a step back. I didn’t realize how much I needed this pause and was grateful.

I have been here at church in person on occasion, but mostly have been utilizing the zoom option – which allowed me to multi-task my Sunday mornings. Going forward my plan for home, and work, and church is to slow down. I will be present and mindful and enjoy the journey and the little things and keep breathing….

I am glad to be here, and I am excited to be serving in this leadership space again.

August 2023.