Monday, February 27, 2012

Balancing Act

Life is about balance.  When I think about this statement, I visualize a seesaw on a playground.  In all aspects of life, people tend to "seesaw" through things.  If we were really to balance our lives, that seesaw would be flat as a board, but let's be real, that's super difficult to achieve.  I have found that throughout my kind of adult life, I would say since high school, that I have had a difficult time with balance. I tend to throw my whole self into something, so that my seesaw looks like two little kids are tipping the scales with great enthusiasm. This, however, typically leads to what I like to refer to as a "mental health day," during which I sleep in, stay in bed all day, and generally have a mini-meltdown for 24 hours before throwing myself back into my terrible attempt at a balancing act.  This happens about every six months. Hey, at least I know myself well enough to admit this cycle now.

When I started teaching in August, I promised myself that I would make a valiant attempt NOT to continue this vicious cycle of non-balance.  I got into the habit of regular exercise, decided not to rely on chocolate as my primary means of fighting stress, and set a limit on how long I would let myself think about work each day.  While these were noble promises to make to myself, they haven't exactly been implemented flawlessly.  I have totally relied on chocolate (and occasionally ice cream) to fix a bad day, and there have been other stumbles in my attempt at balance.

I've found that my biggest downfall in this balancing act is caving to negativity.  You see, balance isn't just about taking on too much or too little or just enough.  It's about balancing mind, body, and spirit.  My problem is that I seem to have a hard time remembering that maintaining all three is the key to finding true balance in life.  When my desk gets covered in paperwork or I have a lot of grading to do or I have a tough day, I tend to hyper focus on my problem and forget about all the other things that are going on in my life that are awesome.  For example, I could (and should) change my focus to the fact that I'm super lucky just to have a job.  I have a friend from high school that used to say "accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative."  I think that is quite possibly one of the most difficult things to do when you are out of balance, because you just can't see the forest for the trees.

As I look at the next month ahead of me, I have lots of things that have the potential to overwhelm me at work.  I will have to choose every day whether I will accentuate the positive or eliminate the negative.  My goal for March is to choose the positive.  I can view my Praxis observation as a big, stressful, scary thing or as an opportunity for me to show off my smart, wonderful students.  I can look at Benchmark as overwhelming and out of my control, or I can look at it as a challenge to do my best teaching now.  In order to choose the positive and avoid an impending "mental health day," I'm going to have to improve my balancing act, but I think that's very possible.  My mind is committed, and I think that's an excellent first step.

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