Finding Joy in the Little Things…like an unexpected plunge in the river for five minutes of unparalled bliss…has helped me realize I need balance

Tonight is the first night I have had to myself in weeks where I am actually doing something that interests me – it happens to be work related, but it is also inspiring. I have found that when things get really bad, as I have felt them recently, but more so of which I am attributing to being so overwhelmed with my job with too many competing responsibilities, I have to look for what I can do to make things better.

Seeking Balance in an Imbalanced Life

Now, this was not my first response today, but I have come to know that is what works best with me. I am responsible for my reality. My response today was that I am ready to move on from education – that it is not fun. What can be such a great topic is burdened by timetables and tests and it’s not fun!

My life has been more of a swarm of activity of these past couple of months – moreso than any other time in my life I believe. There have been a convergence of things going on – prom planning, moving, and science fair – on top of which I am a teacher which itself is a ridiculous amount of responsibility beyond what time is provided in a regular workday.

I have found that when I embrace my responsibilities that I am happier. Maybe this morning, and it has been waxing and waning over this past month plus, I just feel I do not want to do it any more. That it is no fun. That every day is consumed with something – something to do – always something to do – it’s too much right now!

There has literally been no free time except for my weekends which were consumed with moving and which I have been unable to bear as of recent b/c of the burnout from doing that all by myself, as well. There have been 12 hour days almost daily, and for 4 days I travelled last week, and had more “no me time,” but I will say it was easier and better than being in the classroom for awhile. I needed a break, but it was still not enough. Burnout is what I get (understand) now. I’m a worker and always have been, but it’s beyond reasonable, but I have brought on some of it myself by also adding tutoring jobs in the evening on top of everything else I am doing.  At any rate, my day today has been depressing, and I am not a depressive woman. I felt burdened and heavy and edgy. Cranky. Heavy is the best word. Snippy with students too – very stern and mean kind of with shananigans. Got better over the day as I realized my harshness, but my bs meter with certain student behaviors is in the red.

I actually had 40 minutes free tonight between work and tutoring. Normally, I literally come home, brush my teeth and head back out, but because I had about a 3 hour planning period today because my students were testing and my normal period of planning was extended, I got much done for once in a while.  Then, I found out, on my way to tutoring tonight that my tutee had cancelled. I happened to be at a shopping mall so I popped into Home Goods to looks around and left empty-handed but with a couple of options.

I need to do some stuff like apply for a passport – the main thing, taxes, put together my bookshelf, and write/post online, but I opted to eat some ice cream and cookies, instead, to have some coffee, and watch a plant documentary by which I got inspired.

Just having this night to myself without doing anything I have to do has left me inspired and back to feeling like me again. My inspiration has left me not wanting to get out of teaching, but instead employ a new idea, of which I’d also gotten more as I planned for my tutee while I was having my 40 mins of “down time” earlier, but that one was much more elaborate and would not likely happen in a traditional classroom b/c of all the science it involves with testing. Too bad b/c that is what we should be doing!!

So, my life recently has me realizing the importance of taking time for me. My morning time is so important. I had an actual hour this a.m. which felt great, but still left me in a bad mood for some reason – not sure why – maybe just too under it all still! Not normally a time-counter, but the next 7+ weeks will be gladly met my me for my mental and physical well-being. No time for exercise either b/c every night has been occupied and by the time I get home, I eat dinner and go to bed shortly thereafter – bad combo, but that’s where I’ve been. 2 more weeks and prom will be over. Science fair ended last week. Then, just the EOC for the students and it’s easy sailing from there. The weights will all have been lifted and I will have accomplished them all.

Here’s what I’ve found. I don’t like this much responsibility. I am a big fan of responsibility and when I embrace it, it makes me feel good. Recently, however, because it is too much in terms of not being balanced, I’ve been more resentful primarily just with my job because I desire to fulfill my responsibilities well – not just show up, and I feel my teaching is suffering as a result too which I do not  like.

I went out with a friend this weekend for a walk on the beach, church and lunch. We spent most of the day together which was nice. We’d driven past the river at one point and I mentioned my desire to swim in it which hit me as I went to meet her that a.m. When we went to lunch, my desire was still intact. When I left her later that afternoon, she’s called to say she left her food in my car and would I return it to her. Begrudgingly I did, but I said yes. The time factor bothering me. I had been told by her earlier to go swimming in the pool if I wanted to swim – to take five minutes. I didn’t want to swim in the pool. I wanted to swim in the river! She went on to say I didn’t have to take a lot of time, but just rinse off the desire, so to speak and move on about my night. Figured that would not likely happen, but with the time frame, it might.

As I turned around and would drive by this river for a 4th time that day, I thought to just go sit by it for a moment and take time for me. I pulled off on the side of the road, and walked to the water. There were different people who did the same – some were swimming or fishing. I went a got a chair, an uncomfortable chair. I put it back. I got my beach recliner, and that felt wrong immediately. I didn’t want to relax and lay down, I wanted to go swimming…in that river! But who had a suit? It was gorgeous. A nice evening at this point around 5 p.m. The water was glistening which I love, from the sun descending. I decided I was goin in, bathingsuitless, in all my skivvies alone. I would wear an undershirt, too. Glad for that!

Maybe it would look like I had on a bathing suit, but I didn’t really care, I just wanted to swim in that river. I needed to be in that water for a swim like I need water when I’m really parched. I can’t explain it, but I was dry, and desperate to sooth my soul in there, momentarily. My spirit was aching for sun and water and freedom to swim and play in the water – the river water. I just needed to give myself that, and that I did. I stripped down into my undergarments, and in I went. I walked in slowly.

It was chilly. I then finally took the plunge, head in, swimming about free-style, finally meeting a jelly fish which quickly brought me to my feet again to assess the type. Knew it wasn’t a stinger, seemingly, and it wasn’t. Small and brown. Almost just like the ones my brother and I would throw at each other when we were kids. I went back in ignoring further jellies, but was then worried a bit about sharks as I was out quite a bit at this point. I just wanted to swim! I walked around for a minute taking in the wonder around me, really assessing, still, the shark situation, and decided eventually to head back in. If there was a shark, I should be closer to the shore. I gave it a hard swim feeling great to be back in the water and free to be in my element!

I got out and dried off, got my clothes back on and found my moments of happiness again, smiling, free, happy to have taken my five minutes for me to do something I really wanted. A true desire, fulfilled.

What I realized is by taking time to do what I really want to do, it makes me happy – no matter how little a time I may do it. Making time for that was huge, and set me up for a great rest of the night, happy to tackle whatever lay before me not worrying about what I had to do resentfully because I took care of myself first and derived a bit more of what makes me feel whole and more balanced.

Doing what I like is huge to me, apparently, and I have lost that in these past weeks.  There are a few times I can remember smiling recently and feeling really happy, and it was when I was in the river, and right after – driving home my face maintained it’s smile for some time, and of course, when I ride my bike – that always brings me to a smile.

My mom wrote in her parting letter to me – one of her many tidbits – to embrace all the parts of getting to know who I am, and then being her. I have found some less than desirous parts of myself this past year. This season of business, the new people in my life and different responsibilities in my life I have found many parts of myself, many of which I have found not to my liking and have made me sad to realize how I am (I’ve also found some good too), but also the moment I employed my mom’s advice and embraced a part I did not like, I was brought to tears by my own compassion of sincerely trying to love this hateful part, and trying to understand myself, and by doing so, I believe loving what I hated in myself had allowed me to let her go, in part, at least, seemingly, to a large degree.

I realize this is a lot of rambling maybe, but I have been keeping a lot in too which has me unraveling a bit on this – a catharsis, of course. . My main take-away from all of this: I have got to make more time for me and be more realistic with my schedule. I like making this extra money tutoring and with my other responsibilities, but they leave me with no “life” time from my work life and those are not viable, sustainable, realistic ways to live. At least not for me!

I am going to begin to make more time for me – if it’s a bike ride up to the store to buy some groceries or a visit to the gym , or a little walk, something just to get me out of the house or my routine, I must make time for me, even know literally 12 hour days have been much of my norm as of late.

Five minutes of doing something I really wanted to do revealed my desperation for joy and fun in my life right now. Fun and joy on a regular basis are now what I  will seek regularly for my sanity and for more happiness. 

To joy and fun, in whatever ways we may find them!


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