Today's blogging challenge prompt is teacher balance. What a great/important topic. And one that I am not good at. I am always a last-one-to-leave teacher. But I am determined that this year is going to be different!
I read Michelle's post and just nodded. "Yes, yes, and yes." But it was more like... I need that, and that, and that. Not that I have already implemented those practices that lead to a more balanced life. I had the best of intentions that this would be the magical summertime when I would start to cook and eat better. ha. Hasn't happened yet. That this would be the summer I would lower my daily stress by incorporating exercise into my life. That instead of staying up all hours of the night like my summer reality, I thought I would practice a reasonable bed time and early to rise time and get in the habit of resting my body and mind when it so greatly needs it. So now that I have told on myself and made it sound really woeful, it's time to talk about what I do right. Because sometimes I actually do some things right!
I maintain teacher balance by nurturing relationships that build me up. Toward the end of the year last year I finally loosened up and started making more friends in the building. Before that, I had ONE friend in the building. And sometimes that is enough... who am I kidding, that is not enough. There is a delicate balance between laying your personal struggles (and teaching struggles) out there for everyone to hear and see in the teacher's lounge and seeking out a trusted teaching friend to melt down to a little bit about a certain student interaction, or something we're troubled by.
Finding a teaching tribe. Mr. Greg at Kindergarten Smorgasbord is the first one I heard ranting about finding a teaching tribe. Well, by ranting, I mean, posting ENTHUSIASTICALLY on social media. Last summer my teaching friend, Alyce, invited some teachers from different walks of life and different school settings to meet and share ideas. Sharing ideas is cool. But the most valuable part of these get togethers, is what happens to my perspective. I leave our time together feeling refreshed and valued. I almost always have better perspective on my teaching life after our time together and invariably I feel refreshed in my personal life too. Making time for a teaching tribe is crucial to my sense of balance.
Pets. If you've been reading my blog, or happen to be a facebook friend, you know that I lost my beloved little dachshund this summer. His name was Hundley. Sometimes I called him Hundles. Often we called him "Mr. Weinee" like the dachshund in the movie Open Season. Every night before bedtime he would beg me to sit in the chair and watch tv so he could wedge himself between me and the side of the recliner. And when I would "watch tv" (this is code for: sleep in the recliner) with my pup, we would be joined by the cat. So I'd have a dog beside me and a cat on my lap. And there was something a little bit sacred about that time together that was relaxing and refreshing. Having pets who depend on me keeps me alive and in tune to needs around me that are not my own. But more than that, pets equal companionship and love. I talk to my pets. Worry about them. Scold them. Tell them that I love them. and so on. Pets lower my stress level and bring a little balance to my world. My cat (who is actually my redheaded daughter's cat) is my best friend and faithful companion. I talk to him, snuggle with him, tell him secrets, and just pet him when I want to feel calm. He is 15 years old. He will not among us forever. In fact, he's showing some signs of his age and I know I will be utterly devastated when he departs this world.
Crafty things that make me happy. Those things are part of maintaining balance. Like tie-dye. And crafting like mod-podging something, or painting. And there's coloring. I have jumped on the coloring band wagon. I love coloring.
I want to work to find healthier meals before school starts and start planning and eating in ways that help me stay sane and balanced. I like how I feel when I eat better. And sleeping. I would like to see what benefits I might encounter if I started getting a healthy amount of sleep.
I want to begin some sort of exercise on a regular basis. Not only will this help me combat the extra pounds I've put on in the last years, but it will help elevate my mood and provide a sense of accomplishment and well-being.
Balance. Some balances are in place already, some others are in my head and haven't become reality yet. I pray that they do become reality.
I have a serious problem with my short term memory. I know that this is in part if not in whole due to chronic stress. So I need the balance and I want to find out what my life would look like once I began a regimen of self-care that includes balance in my teaching world.