Balance – I Failed

This is my first post in months.  I find it kind of ironic that my One Word was Enough, but going deeper it was Balance. This year was about Balance.  It was plastered everywhere I looked so that I would remember, and it was the one thing I did not do.   If I dare say it…I failed. (gasp!)

I feel like I should defend myself by explaining every reason why, and I will, but I am sharing this to share the learning in my failure.  It was through these failures that some of the greatest lessons and moments happened.

In October I began coursework for my Administration Certification and in November they finally narrowed down all the symptoms and fatigue I was feeling to extreme Adrenal Fatigue. Having the personality I have I knew that even though I tried (for a whole month) to slow down and be okay with resting, I could not. I failed. It was almost more stressful for my body to try to rest at this point.  I was going to push myself and maximize this learning opportunity. Ten years ago when I completed my master’s degree I said the same thing, “I’m just going to take a few classes and see how it goes.”  A year later I was graduating with a 4.0 and stomach ulcers.  I just couldn’t help it.

In January, I was full blown in the program with coursework assignments, 300+ practicum hours required and assignments, working, and attempting to be the best wife and mommy I could be.  Then, we decided to put our house on the market and move to live in the community in which I work and my daughter attends school.  We had been contemplating this for awhile and it just made sense now that things seemed to feel right.  We knew instantly when we made the move over to O.C. Taylor two years ago that we were in the place we were meant to be.  Families overwhelmingly welcomed us with kindness and we instantly formed great friendships with these wonderful families.

And so in February it began….selling our house, insisting I make a 4.0 in my classes, completing practicum hours, keeping up my exercise routine, being a wife, a mommy, working, moving most of our things into a storage unit, moving out of our house and living out of a suitcase with our friend for two months with a child and a dog who ended up with an episode of colitis because SHE was stressed (BREATHE!), house hunting in this fiercely competitive market with very specific parameters, finding the perfect home for us, moving stuff out of storage and into our new house!

As if that wasn’t enough, the last two years I have been led to wanting to teach middle school!  This is something I have never done and I am sure you know the elementary and secondary worlds are two completely different beasts!  My husband does not always understand my craziness, most people don’t, but he always supports it!  So in May I began packing and in June I was moving out of my current school and into a new school, moving school stuff from storage to my new school, and switching jobs completely from being an elementary literacy specialist to stepping back into the classroom as a 7th grade ELA teacher and becoming a cheer coach!  (BREATHE!)

All of this was going on WHILE I was completing my Administration Certification courses, which brings us to today.   June….having done it all AND PASSED that 5-hour online TExES 068 Principal Certification test…and you know what y’all?  I survived.  Somehow I did.  I survived, and so did my family.

So, I am sure you are wondering…..how did I fail at my One Word: Balance?

  • I failed at being a friend that sends birthday cards.  
  • I failed at being in shape and taking care of my body, for me personally.  
  • I failed at getting cute teacher gifts and all those on-top-of-it things.  
  • I failed at family dinners having to miss some because of web conferences, meetings, and homework.  
  • I failed at balancing all of the things I wanted to do and all of the places I wanted to be at one time.

But here is what I learned through this failure learning experience.

  1. I am a deeply committed person.  When I commit to something, it is at full speed, not halfway.
  2. I love learning. I mean, REALLY love the process of learning new things. After all, it is my Top Strengths Theme!  It truly is the process and not the outcome that excites me.
  3. Children really are resilient.  They will be okay if we are not catering to them and they have to make their own fun for a period of time. 
  4. Hard work pays off.  I already believe this, but I was able to model this for my child.
  5. After reading about my other Top Strengths Theme, Achiever,  I was able to understand that internal fire burning inside me that pushes me to always do more.  I will have to develop the ability to be okay with the whisper of discontent and that craving of new learning.  This is okay. This is who I am.
  6. I strengthened some friendships and developed some new ones that have become my very dearest friends through this process. 
  7. Unfortunately, it also revealed friendships where I was giving more and when I became busy and stopped being the lead giver, they weakened. 
  8. God really does only give you what you can handle.  
  9. I can’t do it all.  I want to with all my heart, but I can’t. I started saying no.
Finally……
   10.  I am going to rest awhile before starting my doctorate!!  😉

Excuse Me, Life…Can I Have Time To Process?

Sofie taking in the gorgeous city of Chicago one morning. #reflecting

I procrastinate on things I have zero interest in doing until the very last second and I HAVE to do them.  Then, I go into panic mode to complete them.  It’s true.  I will admit it.

I am also a compulsive tab-hopper.  Although I may not know the correct term for this, I do know that this article tells us why we do it. In short, the article says, your brain is releasing dopamine receptors that are giving you the illusion that you are being more productive. Your brain, however, is not actually processing all of these stimuli.” 
(I may or may not have tab-hopped and ran across that while taking a break from writing a paper and wanted to read about something else I heard about earlier that day, which led to this article that I ended up reading.)

All of the above mentioned to say, I have not blogged in a month.  This weighs on my mind every single day. It’s not because I lack the learning to reflect on because that simply is not the case.  At all.  I am on learning overload, but would not change it for the world because I am a Learner. I thrive in an environment where I can learn something new, question things, and feel the excitement of learning.

To take this a step further, it excites me more when I can share this new learning with others in hopes of it sparking a better idea that they share, and so on.

I had two big realizations after reading that article:

1.   Is this how our students feel?
          – information overload
          – no time to reflect or process in the shuffle
          – panicked over procrastinating because they are asked to do things
            of zero interest to them
          – tab hopping because it this is when they can learn about things
             that they choose

2.   Only I can change my situation in this matter.

As I was talking with a friend last night while watching my daughter at tumbling, these words came out of my mouth:

“….I know. I know. I really am incredibly lucky to be able to have the opportunity to learn from so many amazing leaders throughout this internship and my classes, but I HAVE NOT HAD MUCH TIME TO PROCESS and REFLECT on these things.”  

Right after I said it I stopped and thought quietly, “You have time for what you make time for.”  There are things I can stop in order to carve time for this because without reflection time where I can mentally put my new learning into a file and organize how and when I will use this, what’s the point?

So this blog is nothing of amazing, deep thought.  It is simply me acknowledging today, this 20th day of October 2016, that I must intentionally set an alarm or write the date in my calendar to reflect on my learning.  I must do this to secure it in my brain before it all flies by and I have not grown from this experience because I never made time to stop and really reflect.

Balance: The Struggle is Real Y’all


Maybe it is just me, but I seem to be constantly working on balance in my life.  If you know me, you might have just laughed out loud.  Really though, the struggle is real y’all.  I feel constantly torn between loving what I am doing and stressing because I know I need to not be doing it. 

Funny story, I went to coffee with my dear teacher friend after yoga the other day and I said, “Here are my steps I am taking in July to take a step back and you know, spend some days where I am not doing something all the time. I am constantly going.  I want to really try to not constantly do stuff.”  She looked at me and said, “Do you mean relax?”  We couldn’t stop laughing!  So sad, but it’s the truth.  


Here is the problem with passionate educators: We find JOY in reading and learning about education. It just runs together.  It IS RELAXING for me to learn, create things, and read things on Twitter and blogs. 

So, in my attempt to be intentional about getting better I decided to sit down and read more about how people do this.  I was headed to the internet app when my ADD finger hit the Twitter icon and no kidding the first tweet that pops up is from someone in my PLN discussing how they need to balance their life better.  (I mean, maybe that was meant to be!) I click the comments and it is a strand of 7 people, all people I think highly of and are incredible educators that I feel have it all balanced, talking about how hard this is for them and how they are constantly working on it.  I hate to admit it, but I felt relief.  I am not the only one who struggles with this!! 

Guilty pleasure alert: Aside from turning to my faith, I like to read quotes on Pinterest to calm my mind. 🙂 I ran across this one and it stuck with me as I was thinking about this situation.

At first I thought, I AM doing what makes my soul happy.  I really love learning and using my creativity.  I love reading about how to do more exciting things to empower kids.

Then, I began thinking about this more.  I need to be really honest with myself and have no fear of being judged.  I asked myself, “What things do I do outside of education that make my soul really happy?”  Here is what came to mind.
I realized that music is a huge part of my life in so many ways.  I know a good beat starts my morning off right! The perfect song can take a bad mood and shake it off! I knew this, but wasn’t aware that it is so influential in calming my soul.  I need to make more time for this than I do already.  I know when I consistently read God’s word and do not let anything get in the way of my devotional time, I am truly fulfilled. I know that I love hugs and time with the ones I love the most.  All of these things are what makes my life pretty amazing!

It is a little scary, but I chose to be very open about this so that I am held accountable for making time to do more of the things I love with my family and things that make my soul happy.  Number one being sitting down!  Even if it is just to watch t.v. without multitasking.  Reading more fiction novels instead of only professional reading.  Not thinking about the list of things that need to get done.  As a person who is an “active person” and cannot stop moving, just sitting is a HUGE thing for me.  If I am not moving, my mind is going nonstop.  

I know the first step is admitting it, right?  Likewise, making changes will require small steps. I am taking baby steps.  The first step is a BIG one for me.  I am headed to the beach soon.  Every summer we go with our same group of super fun friends and seriously have the MOST AMAZING time goofing around and doing nothing! While on the beach that week, I normally catch up reading my professional books.  This year I am taking a fiction novel!  (I’ll let you know how that goes!)

There ya have it.  My new word for the next 6 months is BALANCE.  I will be very intentional to make more time to do things that make my soul happy.  I would love to hear from anyone who struggles with balance as well.  We are better together, so all ideas are welcomed! 🙂  

As always, my motto is…..