Today is my last “official” day of summer. This week teachers report to school to set up new classrooms in a new building with a new principal (yes, lots of changes have taken place since the middle of May). Parents and students come to “check us out” at Back-to-School night on Thursday and next Monday morning classes begin. I have always considered the start of a new school year my New Year rather than the traditional January 1st. There is something about the purchase of new school supplies, new school outfits, transitioning to a new season of the year, and the anticipation of new classes (new teachers – new students – new knowledge) that causes me to pause and consider goals and aspirations for the upcoming 10 months. While I traditionally make the New Year’s Resolutions in January, I really begin those resolutions in August.
This year I would like to focus all efforts on the theme of “balance.” The last two years have been a blur with working two separate teaching jobs (both years prepping no less than 8 classes), dealing with an ill parent (and the journey through hospice and back again), and experiencing my husband’s two job losses during a declining economy. Combine these energy-sucking activities with the fact that I turn 50 this year and I have decided that now is the time for life-style change.
My first step towards this end is to decline the second teaching job. I will only teach at one school this year on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. I will prep for 5 different classes (teaching 6 class periods) and will have Tuesdays and Thursdays “free.” Now I know myself well enough to know that I will use these days off to grade endless papers and perfect lesson plans, BUT I also want to leave several hours for doing something fun for me. One way I plan to use the free time is to READ books of my own choosing. This activity alone has several components that requires a balance:
- I will need to find a balance between reading contemporary fiction, classical literature, and review books.
- I hope to begin a “face-to-face” book club with like-minded friends who enjoy reading and crave the social interaction as well.
- I will need to make the time to read others’ blogs and comment.
- I will need to make the time to write reviews for my blog and respond to those who comment.
For those of you who have maintained a blog for quite some time, do you have any words of wisdom for finding this reading balance in life?
Other areas of my life that need attention include:
- healthy eating habits (I have never been one to drink much water and I think I need to start)
- begin an exercise routine (I have never been one to exercise and I really don’t want to go overboard — but it seems that walking on the treadmill 5 days a week should not be a big deal)
- develop weekly meal plans to help save money (it is amazing how much of our budget can go towards the purchase of convenience food)
- cultivate a writing lifestyle (I so enjoyed the writing class this summer and I truly wish to continue the discipline of daily journal writing – perhaps developing some of those ideas into larger literary works)
- round out my reading/writing life with other activities that I have enjoyed in the past but have put on the back burner for several years (such as photography, scrapbooking, stamping cards, and learning more about art appreciation).
In the past I have used a writing exercise with my students: describe your “perfect” day. While students tend to pick an a-typical day, such as summer vacation or birthday, I think I would like to challenge myself to write a draft of my “perfectly ordinary” day. How might I include all these balanced activities into my ordinary life?
While this may seem like a mountainous task, I think it is doable if I remember to ‘balance’ I cannot do all of these things at once — I must ease into the process. I must be patient with myself and not “quit” with the first day of a missed exercise routine or the first second helping of dessert. I know there are those of you out there who succeed at finding this elusive balance better than I have done and I welcome any words of wisdom or encouragement that you may have. I am in this for the long haul: the next 50 years of life.