Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Learning How to Say No

Home sick today. "Forced" to, you could say, by a colleague who tells sick students to stay home to get better. "If you don't, you will only get worse. Rest, and take care of yourself."

So I am home...I went to the 3rd doctor yesterday (4th visit) after five weeks of having a very swollen tonsil and much soreness swallowing. He did a nasty scope and put me on an extreme antibiotic and scared me with crazy words that I refuse to type. I would lay down in bed right now, but the medicine requires me not to, so I write...

It's been a crazy, crazy year at school. Within the last year, we have witnessed a beloved former student's shocking death, a colleague's diagnosis of stage 4 cancer, and the death of a former colleague's son. This has been a year like no other, and I can't believe we are almost at the point of spring break, where the rest of the year will begin to fly by.

With all of this going on, I have to say that my health is at its worst. I usually get a pretty bad cold once a year, but this has been 5 weeks of hell. But I wonder, am I doing it to myself? Am I taking on too much? Isn't it OK if you love doing it all?? I'm starting to think it's not.

My sickness began when I got home from our first ever school immersion. This year, we took freshmen and sophomores on trips literally around the world. What was supposed to be a great trip to explore math and science in France and Germany, canceled due to the bombings in Paris, turned out to be a wonderful trip of a lifetime in Quebec and Montreal. We took students dogsledding, tubing, tobogganing, and so much more. But it took me twice the amount of work to organize because we had to change it. And so it all began...the year of over programming for me. Here's what I did (and mostly loved) so far this year with work:

  • Spent hours organizing two immersion trips and communicating with parents and students throughout.
  • Traveled on said immersion trip to Quebec and Montreal, always on the go, always having fun, doing things that I would never have done on my own...but "on" non-stop for a week.
  • Chaperoned and organized three math competitions on Saturdays, with one more to go this upcoming weekend. We did the best we ever did this year, winning a math trivia competition and $500 for our school as well as several individual and team awards. Also organizing States, in April.
  • Met with math team every Friday.
  • Got three guest speakers to come to our school--awesome, great, but a lot of work (Art Benjamin coming next week!!)
  • Served on several committees, was a mentor, worked with math department regularly to redo our curriculum and meet with new hires.
  • Started a "Tech for Scots" technology program with a friend and colleague.
  • Wrote several letters of recommendation for scholarships and summer programs in addition to colleges.
  • Organized pi day--got help from everyone in the department, but then made it bigger, better.
  • Going to Twitter Math Camp, Desmos workshop, workshop at Rutgers, went to Miami Device, and an Ed Camp.
  • Started a new Problem-Solving course and daily trying to find innovative ideas to teach in the class.
  • Have a new textbook for Algebra 2 Honors, and have new lesson plans daily for the course.
  • Solved the Rubik's Cube and entered a mosaic contest.
  • Organized a French cooking class for immersion reunion.
Outside of work:
  • Helping husband who has also not been able to hack a sickness. The two of us are a mess.
  • Driving an overworked son (who does he get it from?) back and forth from school events even though he can drive, so he can catch up on sleep or school work in the car.
  • Helped said son deal with writing 18 college applications over winter break.
  • Applied for financial aid...need I say more??? HOURS.
  • Wrote a Ted-Ed video riddle...should be out in May!
  • Tutored in my "spare" time.
  • Friend to those in need...and it seemed like it was a ROUGH year for them as well.
  • Applied and going to Israel through a women's organization this summer.
  • Working at a yoga studio once a week for "Karma yoga"
  • The normal cleaning, cooking, working out, etc., that everyone does to make life happen...including doing Meg's #fitbos (which is not looking that good for me as I have been very low on the workout hours these last 5 weeks)
  • Feelings of guilt of not going to enough games of my son, not being the best wife, not reading enough, working out enough, not relaxing.
The last two words: not relaxing...this is something I HAVE to learn how to do. My cousin came out last week, and we did some things, like go to the Green Market, walked around downtown, etc, that I NEVER get to do. Weekends, for me, consist of school work, cleaning, schlepping, going to games, working out... and relaxation comes with a glass of wine at a nice dinner out or in with the family. Which I love. But as my colleague who made me stay home today told me, I need to stop being the "hero." I need to relax and just be. I need to be OK with that. My body is telling me to SLOW DOWN. I want to regularly be this picture of me, shown below, where I am feeling super relaxed after an awesome yoga class, walking around the Green Market, sipping on a fresh coconut. It has to start. I have to do it. Now. If not, when? 


Mermaid of Brooklyn - Wendy Menard said...

Lisa - you are amazing in all that you do and give. But clearly your body is telling you it's too much. Be as good to yourself as you are to your students.

spindrift,maine said...

We know so much more about "multitasking" than we did as we were making it a virtue a few decades ago. It occurs to me that you came of age with "Multitasking is a Virtue" as a foregone conclusion. We now know that, as we divert our attention from one incomplete task to another, our bodies are treated to small jolts of stress hormones. Which build up and float around our bodies unless we spend them down by doing what they were meant to do in caveman times: fight or flee. 21st century lives don't afford much opportunity for fight or flight, despite providing ample provocation for stress. It all is made so much worse for those of us who are "highly competent women" (HCW). (Which I came to understand in my 7th decade as more of a curse than a blessing.) Because we have a higher tolerance for this kind of crazy living, we don't develop habits early in our adulthood that protect us from taking on too much. And so we become those people that the world sees as "so strong" or " so capable"--which prompts even those who love us the most to pile on the expectations. Which then sit atop of our own unrealistic expectations of ourselves. Sooner or later, even we HCWs hit the wall. Sounds like you are there, honey. Sometimes we highly competents have to find our own salvation through the concepts of our demons, so try this on for size: for a respectable amount of time (longer than a summer, maybe as long as a "HCW sabbatical" year?), work on getting super competent at saying no. Super skilled at zen living--one thing at a time, stopping to be in the moment, becoming the Queen of Self Care. Your body is trying to slow you down. Listen to it. We who love you want to have you with us for a long, long time. xo