Today is my final Common Ground column.

Through this column, I have had the opportunity to share a plethora of experiences and snippets from my life and from those of others I have encountered.

My columns were rarely planned; I just waited on life to happen. Whether it was taking my son on his first camping trip and writing about the frigid temperatures we were not prepared to face, or unexpectedly meeting award-winning author Ernest Gaines in a local clothing store, preparing columns each week was therapeutic and it allowed me to shed a little light on my story and on someone else’s.

It was never hard to find something inspiring to write about. During one typical grocery shopping trip, I met an extreme coupon champ in Wal-Mart who showed me how to save $100.

Walking through school hallways during my stint as a secretary and as a substitute teacher, I met a poet-writing school custodian who made it his business to inspire everyone he touched with a positive rhyme.

In other columns, I shared the struggles of a young man who became the first in his family to graduate from high school. Neither my husband nor my children could escape my columns. I wrote about my oldest child facing puberty and some of my children’s behaviors that warranted stiff consequences, mainly more chores and fewer privileges.

For our 15th wedding anniversary and my husband’s 50th birthday, my husband grew adventurous and bought a “Grizzly” four-wheeler that he took me riding on through a sugarcane field. Those were just some of the unexpected or quirky stories that became column fodder.

I am especially thankful for the diverse audience of readers who kept up with my columns, both my good ones and my not-so-great ones. Writing a column each week was not always easy, but it made me feel like a treasure hunter, hunting to find those little truths and digging for some extra meaning behind each little story.

Though I will miss writing the columns, I am busily preparing for the next opportunity crossing my path, namely teaching and working toward my teacher certification.

Working in a school this year has already given me an up-close look at what teachers face in the classroom.

Teachers execute lesson plans each day that require late night and early morning preparation. Whether it’s creating a Powerpoint presentation or drawing up tests and well-thought out activities, teachers are skilled at inspiring students in a very short time frame.

Teaching is not an easy career, however, but nothing important ever is. Teaching requires a love for knowledge and translating it in a way that children can grasp and gain from.

Thank you to all who have read, critiqued, influenced and offered me feedback through the years.

It’s been a great ride.