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How Online Courses Helped Me Change My Life

by Joanna Norman

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Early in 2020, I was working full time as a middle school science teacher, and I was struggling. Even though I loved my students and was good at what I did, there were some other huge changes going on in my life, like the end of my 25 year marriage, a choice not made by me. I was deeply ashamed and embarrassed. With the grieving I was doing and trying to heal my broken self and life, I didn’t feel like I was able to be fully present for my students anymore, so I made the decision to leave teaching at the end of the school year and planned to move to a new state.

In the meantime, I still had one wonderful daughter at home with me, half of the time, anyway, and I needed to support myself. You know how they say the woman always comes out poorer in a divorce? It is true, ladies. In searching for a way to support myself and starting to plan my future after my daughter went off to college, I ran across a story on a blog about a woman who was living the van life and supported herself doing transcription work. I was intrigued. She referenced an online course she took from I took Janet’s free transcription minicourse and decided it was the right fit for me to pursue when I left teaching. All those decisions were made in February 2020.

You all know what happened next — the COVID-19 pandemic. I finished out my last year of teaching online because schools were closed to in-person learning. While I was still teaching, I started the General Transcription Course from, and the rest is history. I have been working as a transcriptionist for six months now, and I love it. I can support myself, and the flexibility of my new work has allowed me to grieve, and grow and start anew.  

That brings me to the second online course that changed my life – Courtney Carver’s Summer School for Simplicity. I had been interested in minimalism and simplicity for several years and had made several steps towards simplifying my life, including participating in Project 333, a minimalist wardrobe challenge. When Courtney offered an online course in simplicity in summer 2020, I was all in. The timing couldn’t have been better. I was working from home and sheltering in place because of the pandemic, so why not? I also read her book Soulful Simplicity

I have greatly reduced the amount of stuff I own, and guess what? I don’t miss any of it.  Having less stuff gives me more time. With more time I was able to join a hiking club, finish many quilting projects, and learn a new craft, crocheting. Another benefit of owning less stuff is that in a few months when I have to sell the family home, it will be so much easier to show the house and pack everything up to move. I have by no means achieved everything I want to do to be living a life of simplicity, but I am on the way, and I have regained peace and contentment and, on many days, even joy.  

So what’s your story? Has something you’ve learned online changed your life? 

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1 Comment

  1. Joanna, what a beautiful, poignant, and interesting introspective article about how transcription and TA helped make such a difference for you. It made one for me, too. I am sorry you had to go through a painful marital break-up, and it takes bravery to open up about that. I am so grateful for my wife each and every day. As I have mentioned on my website bio, she battles MS. She had to retire earlier than she wanted from her successful teaching career. Though she can still walk with a walker and still retains the ability to drive, she can no longer safely stay at home for long periods by herself due to fall risks and such. I retired from teaching elementary school in June of 2018 in order to be at home full time. I am 60, not eligible for SS yet, and still want to work. Like you, I found TA as it aligned well with my skill set and career background. I love what I do; I love the freedom it affords; I love the commute, lol, or lack thereof. But mostly, I love the time it affords my wife and I to spend together.

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