Friday, June 13, 2014

Work Life Balance

A large part of my career change was inspired from experiences volunteering in children's hospitals.  It is very humbling, heartfelt work and a privilege to help others in a time of need--to bring comfort, confidence or everyday living.  There were many small steps that all seemed to fall into place and fit very well with the wisdom that everything happens for a reason.  I loved teaching, but I am also blessed for this new direction and still being able to use my educational background to help children and families.

However, another benefit was that I was searching for a career that may lend itself better to work life balance for me.  Teaching is an art, and like many artists, the work does not leave you when you go home.  It is ever evolving and ideas crop up at anytime.  I loved and thrived on the creativity.  Sometimes it felt like I was ever problem solving in how to better teach children, help them figure it out and build a community, or at least that was how it was for me.  Summer was a time to recharge from the grind of the school year in its marathon style to prepare kids for the next step, the next grade level.  But, of course summer was not always "off," as there were classes to keep up on certification or the draw would come back and I would find myself doing some research or a mental homework of sorts in how the next year would be different.  I was very invested in my teaching and I cared a great deal for my students.  I always knew I would say good-bye at the end of the year.  And kids and families have a way of touching your heart.

Some people said that it would be different when I had kids of my own, that your priorities change.  Sometimes that left me with a bad feeling, like I cared too much about my work or that what I was doing wasn't really that important.  But one teacher told me, it is not that you care less about what you do, but that over time you figure out how to do it faster, be selective in your tasks and make room for your own children.  That seemed more reasonable and sensitive.

Then IF and divorce entered my life.  At the time I was substitute teaching after relocating for my former husband's work.  I was not sure how I was going to be able to continue teaching.  Going into the classroom broke my heart.  I was still very good at it, but there was a shift.  I realized that teaching was somehow integrated into my life dreams that were slipping away.  There was a hollow feeling of sorts, and that I was a shell of myself.  I almost felt like I was just going through the motions, which I was not so much really because I was very attuned and in the moment with my students.  But, everywhere I looked was a reminder of what was gone...a marriage, family and a dream of children.  I needed a change to give myself the space and time to heal.  It was difficult to imagine re-entering the regular classroom.  What if I never had a child of my own?  What would happen then?  Would teaching consume me?  I felt there was a slippery slope for me that I would risk becoming one-dimensional, single and alone with only dedication to my career as my life and that I would get lost.  Teaching is a noble profession, but I did not want to risk losing myself, my happiness and potential to expand as a person at a time in my life when I felt vulnerable.  Fortunately, I was self-aware to know that it would be easy for me to get lost in my work instead of true self-care.  Some people did not understand, but I was fortunate that I was able to go to graduate school full-time.  Many of the small pieces along the way pointed me towards my new career and I decided to take a chance.

While I am still finding my footing in my new career, I think I made the correct choice.  It is nice to be able to end the work day and not bring home additional work on a regular basis.  As with many jobs, there may be times that you bring work home.  But, it is considerably less and allows me to really spend more time with loved ones and friends.

Over the last several months, I have lost some of that work life balance.  Looking for new career opportunities and starting a new part-time job can kind of do that.  I has been frustrating for me because I want loved ones, family and joy in living to be important.  Sometimes it has felt like I have been in survivor mode and trying to take care of basic needs.  It is important, but after awhile there is a longing for normalcy--to be able to better enjoy free time, make plans for the future and just be.  It is one reason why I have not been writing as much in my blog.  I think that is understandable. 

Slowly, things are getting back on track to a degree.  I have had more to write about, too--actually a lot to write about.  But, I have not had the time to do so.  During the month of May, I kept a post for myself with a running list of things to blog.  So, that is what I have been doing during the first part of June, going back and writing the posts that I wanted to write.  I felt it was important for me to go back and add them in as a way to document my life and thoughts so they better reflected the timeline of them.  So, if you are now coming across this post and really want to catch up on my blog, I suggest you taking a look at May.  Hopefully, I can also get back some of that work life balance that I was in the process of learning when I left Pittsburgh and beginning to enjoy when I came to Florida.

More to come...

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