Friday, November 12, 2010

Seeking the elusive balance

Regular readers know that I'm in the midst of an extremely stressful school year. Health issues in September made that even harder. I usually de-stress by gardening, visiting the farmers' market, and then cooking or canning what I harvest and buy. While on crutches, playing in the kitchen wasn't an option. Walking around downtown to buy fresh food wasn't in the cards, either.

Seeking balance is tough. I'm recovering from the bout with gout, and my feet and ankles are slowly but surely regaining strength. I've learned to avoid the worst of the bullies at school (yes, some of my coworkers are nasty). Nightmares about school disturb my sleep or wake me in a cold sweat with a tension backache.

I make lemonade with the lemons I've been given by writing grants, procuring books, and preparing a DonorsChoose.org project that will benefit my neediest students.

A recent weekend showed the challenge of successful balance.
Spreading compost on the gardens takes strength, risks injuring weak ankle and sore back. But it feels so good, so productive, and sets up for a successful spring planting. What to do?
I always bring home a bag full of schoolwork. Bringing out these papers and projects takes time and concentration and risks taking my train of thought to scary-stressful tangents. A stack of math or science papers can send my blood pressure sky high, but this work has to be done. What to do?
The family needs to be fed, the blog needs updating, and there's laundry to wash, dry, fold, and stash. Well? Now what?

Balance. I drafted the bulk of a math project, a summary and plan of a recent geometry unit for a math training institute I started last summer. With a focus on the task at hand (and the washer and dryer running while I worked), I created a strong rough draft that will need only a few additions and revisions Monday before the class meets on Tuesday.
Then I grabbed a shovel and went to play in the dirt. Now I can stand and contemplate with pride the compost and soil on top of the barriers on the mint bed. After a few months under the snow and ice, this section will be available for better use in the spring. I stopped after this (three wheelbarrow-loads of compost was enough shoveling for the day) and went back inside.
More laundry: wash, dry, fold, stash.
Updated blog, planned more posts for later in the week, knowing I'd be in meetings at least three days after school and have limited blog time.

There was more, and Chuck kept wondering why I didn't stick to just one project. Alternating physical and mental and emotionally-charged tasks helped keep me balanced. And after that, taking a break by the fireplace and doing a little recipe research helped plan for decent healthy eating later in the week. That's another good time investment; takes pressure off to think, plan, and cook at 4:30 after struggling to teach in a rough environment all day.

Balance? I might never achieve the elusive goal. Maybe someday I'll reach that point. For now, what I'm doing can only help keep the effects of major stresses at bay.

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5 Comments:

Anonymous Jen on the Edge said...

Balance is challenging, but it sounds like you managed it nicely.

11/12/2010 6:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a retired teacher. Recently friends were asking me about the "bully" problem in school. I replied that it is bad. I did say though that there is one thing worse than a student bully. An adult bully.

11/12/2010 7:06 AM  
Blogger Kim Moldofsky said...

Sorry to hear about the gout and the bullies, but I admire your can-do attitude. Please let me know when your Donor's Choose project is live. I'd love to contribute and share the link.

11/12/2010 12:31 PM  
Anonymous cityslipper (home kitchen garden) said...

Your are a star with an iron constitution. I usually cover my planting bed with compost, mulch, or manure over the winter. However, this year I had a nasty Squash Vine Borer problem and lots of squash bugs. I've read that turning the soil in autumn and leaving it exposed helps kill these pests... so I'm torn: improve the soil this winter, or deplete the insect population? Either way, it's work. I've yet to find the motivation that you bring to it.

I hope you feel 100% soon!

11/13/2010 9:39 AM  
Blogger Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

I'm sorry about the bullies. Ugh.
And about your gout.
But I'm happy to read (tho not surprised) that you have ways to destress and keep balance.

11/15/2010 9:51 AM  

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