Last night I really struggled with some internal battles. I should have been on cloud nine as this has been an incredibly fulfilling week. My school rocked our first Teach Like A Pirate Day (more on that in a separate blog later), our Community Game Night was a success, and I got to co-facilitate two terrific #BreakoutEDU games, one for every 7th grade science class and the other for every 6th grade social studies class!
There were a few setbacks; I felt pretty rough Monday night and Tuesday and my youngest daughter had the stomach bug Thursday night. My daughters are excited about Christmas which means they are a bit wild(er than normal). Combine that with getting less than ideal amounts of sleep, I was operating on a short fuse at home.
However, none of that was enough to make me feel as melancholy as I was feeling last night. I even tweeted about it – which I VERY rarely do. Typically my tweets are insanely positive, but last night, I just couldn’t help myself. I had to share my thoughts.
Of course, my amazing PLN responded with love and kindness.
I just kept trying to figure out what was getting under my skin though. Reflecting on the week, I began thinking about self-care and balance. That’s when I remembered that my Balance Like A Pirate implementation for #DBCBookBlogs was to track what I did every 30-60 minutes and determine which quadrant (professional, personal, passion, and positional) those activities belonged in.
I may have cheated a bit because I didn’t do this throughout the week as I had intended, but by thinking backward through my week I was able to account for each of the major things I did this week. I used this spreadsheet to write down my activities (feel free to make a copy of your own). The results were pretty much what I expected.
Out of the 168 hours in a week, I spent a little over 50 hours sleeping. Subtracting that time, because it doesn’t really fit into one of the quadrants as it’s a necessity, I was left with roughly 115 waking hours this week.
My Positional responsibilities ate up over half of this time this week. The Positional quadrant includes my role at my job; it’s what “pays the bills”, as the authors of Balance Like A Pirate, Sarah, Jessica and Jessica say. This doesn’t always take up over half of my week. This coming week, for example, I am blessed to be able to spend the week with my family for Christmas break. However, in the past week, I spent over 52 hours physically at work, over 7 hours working from home, approximately 10 hours commuting (including running my daughters to practice, etc) and nearly 7 hours showering and getting ready for work. If I did the math right, that leaves me with less than 40 hours in my week. (This is easily an example of why teachers advocate for a higher salary and summers off. I worked over 60 hours this week.)
Our professional responsibilities are how we continue to learn and grow in our ability to serve our students and staff. This week, I spent less time in this quadrant than usual. Normally, I spend over an hour on Twitter chats nightly, connecting with educators from across the globe to improve my practices and revisit my educational philosophies. I also did not read a professional book this week (odd, I know!) and this is my only blog post this week. I was able to connect with my PLN on Sunday night for two of my favorite chats, #teachpos and #BeKindEDU, Monday night was an incredible #tlap conversation, and this morning I enjoyed the #LeadLAP chat. I have also been taking an online course and spent some time today revisiting and learning about self-care from the one and only, Dan Tricarico (author of The Zen Teacher AND nearly released Sanctuaries).
I highly recommend diving into Dan’s courses, in addition to his books. I finished his first course, which is an introduction of sorts to self-care called Self-Care Starter Kit. I am currently nearing the halfway point of another of his courses, Self-Care 101, and am enjoying the breathing exercises and mantras he takes you through. I really appreciate that he gives us permission to take care of ourselves. Dan reminds us that it’s okay to be idle; we must schedule this time for ourselves. He says that self-care isn’ t meant to be something extra, something added to your schedule. It’s actually about subtracting, about taking things away to make time for yourself. Carve out some time in your schedule to go through one of Dan’s courses! You can go to zenprocourses.com for more information. He breaks the courses into 5-7 minute videos, so it’s easy to take bite-sized pieces. Trust me, it’s good stuff. This week I’ve spent around 9 hours in the professional quadrant.
So the personal quadrant is all about who you are outside of your job. It’s about all of the others titles you hold. For me, these include Believer, mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend, niece, aunt, cousin, nursery volunteer, dog mom to our almost 11 year old shih-tzu, etc. Some of the personal quadrant is a joy. Others, however, are not so much fun. I spent nearly 10 hours this week doing “chores” (I miss getting an allowance for these things, don’t you?!). We do a ridiculous amount of laundry, and with our youngest daughter being a newly-diagnosed type 1 diabetic, we spend a lot of time packing lunch and counting carbohydrates as we continue to get used to managing her blood sugar.
Checking homework and cleaning the house and the car are also among chores I don’t enjoy. Finally, with both my youngest daughter and I being sick this week, I didn’t waste any time taking the trash off. We had to do some last minute shopping this week for the holidays in addition to our normal grocery store visit.
However, there are many parts of my personal quadrant that I greatly enjoy! These are times when my daughters and I are laughing together doing karaoke in the car line at school, or when our family enjoys Christmas movies lounging on one another on our sectional. (We got two movies in this week!) We spent about 7 hours eating meals as a family this week, while other meal times were spent at work/school or on demand. Throughout the week, we spent about an hour tucking our kids in bed. We spent a little over 2 hours at church on Sunday. I am a volunteer in our church nursery, so I loved on the babies during one service and attended the next one. During that service, our oldest daughter Bailey was baptized based on her profession of faith, which was a huge celebration in our family.
The last few hours (only about five hours this week) were spent reflecting as I lay in bed at night before I fall asleep, playing games on my phone, watching TV, and just relaxing.
So where does that leave room for my quadrant of passion? According to Balance Like A Pirate, our passion quadrant includes that which gets us out of bed every morning. I am incredibly lucky in that my profession, my position, and my family are all passions of mine. Sure there are parts of my position that I’m not passionate about, and those chores I don’t enjoy. However, I typically can find joy in most of what I do.
So why was I have such a tough night last night? Why did I feel as if the rainbow on the umbrella in the image drawn by my student (isn’t it beautiful?!?!) was being erased rather than being exposed?
I’m still not sure, to be honest. Part of those same feelings from last night are still lingering today, but blogging is really helping. I am in the middle of writing my story, my implementation from Stories from Webb and Run Like A Pirate. I wasn’t able to take any time this week to write part of that, so perhaps that is what is bothering me. I am expecting to finish the writing of my story during Christmas break, so hopefully that will lift a weight off my shoulders. It’s been on my mind incessantly since this spring, so having it “out of my head” and “onto paper” (errrr, Google Doc) should free up some headspace. (Possibly? I’ve never done this before so we’ll see if that really happens, ha!)
So back to my Balance Like A Pirate implementation. Passion is embedded within my other three quadrants, so based on this week my positional quadrant took two-thirds of my waking hours, while the personal quadrant was given about 25% of my waking hours. The remainder (less than 10%) was spent in the professional quadrant. I was surprised to see the professional quadrant being so limited, and perhaps that is the real reason I felt so off-kilter last night. I have devoted so much time to professional growth in 2018, that maybe I felt as if I was neglecting that this week.
Either way, the most important thing to remember is that there is no such thing as perfect balance. It’s just not going to happen. Instead, we will constantly fluctuate between our quadrants based on our needs that week, that day, even within that hour. It’s about finding joy and having an attitude of gratitude. It’s about making the time to take care of ourselves and acknowledging those moments like I had last night. I truly feel like it’s important to share those moments with others, because we all have them. It’s equally as important to pick yourself back up and move forward, so others can see perseverance and determination. I’m picking myself back up and am determined to have a tremendous week with my family during this holiday season.