Mountains and Straws Are Making Me Pause
Right now, I’m struggling. And not long after I began writing this post, my friend Thaddeus Bourassa tagged me in this tweet… talk about timely!
#Educators are used to climbing mountains, but these past 3 months we have been carrying them.
We all have & I know it’s been hard.
We will soon be able to unload the weight.
Be kind to yourself & make sure you do what you can to push through these last few weeks. #YouGotThis pic.twitter.com/KN50IQ5ZJH
— 🇨🇦 Thaddeus Bourassa 📖 Educator & Learner 🧠 (@ThaddeusBTeach) June 15, 2020
In February of 2017, I wrote the post Balance vs. Meaning where I shared that I am often misunderstood:
What I wish people would understand is that working is my “me time” and it refills my bucket, just like some people play sports or go to yoga to refuel. I’m so thankful for my amazing husband and family members who support me in all of this so that I can do these work related activities that reenergize me. So, although from the outside, it may look like I’m this crazy busy mom of 4 who works full time and who has to juggle and balance her work and home life, working gives me MEANING, and meaning is much more important than balance.
Then in December 2017, I followed up by writing Balance to find Meaning where I explained that I realized that without some sort of balance, meaning can’t happen:
Right now, through the busiest time of my life, I feel like I’m losing my meaning. Blogging, reading educational books, connecting with my wonderful PLN both online and off, used to give me so much meaning. I used to thrive on it. It used to fill my bucket and give me great joy. But… right now… my life is too crazy. I’ve lost the balance, and what used to give me meaning now feels like an extra chore. Insert guilt here. When I’ve sat down to blog lately, nothing’s been coming out. Snuggling up with a good DBC book used to happen consistently, where now I struggle to make time just to read inspiring blog posts from amazing educators. Being active on twitter, reading, connecting, providing feedback, all that that has turned into more of a consumer roll seeing as I’m lacking energy to share back and engage. Oh, how this makes me sad.
Now, in June of 2020, I am back to that same kind of place. I feel lost. I feel overwhelmed. I am losing my meaning. It’s really no wonder, though because there’s not even the slightest glimmer of balance right now.
Last month, Wendell Head from the Hanover Teachers’ Association wrote The Weight of Straws:
We’ve all heard the expression about “the straw that broke the camel’s back.” Generally, this cliché indicates that we’ve had enough of something, that we can’t take any more. But there is much more to it than that. This expression references a solitary, rather weightless straw as having catastrophic impact. What is NOT spoken of in this expression, yet alluded to with great significance, is the multitude of other straws already on the camel’s back. Furthermore, it is not insignificant that the animal at the centre of this expression is the camel – it is a very powerful animal that can carry tremendous loads; it is resilient and can survive long periods without food or water; and it can run for a long period of time at surprisingly high speeds. But even an incredibly strong and tough animal like this has limits, and if you just keep adding straws without taking any off, at some point that camel will collapse under that immense weight of straws.
Something like the public school teachers of today.
If you haven’t read this article yet, I really encourage you to read it in its entirety.
As I read every word, every paragraph, and noticed every additional straw, it was hard because I finally began to understand the sheer mount of stress that I’ve been carrying. These are those mountains we’ve been carrying instead of climbing. We all know that our profession comes with countless responsibilities, but I feel as though I compartmentalize well and don’t always see the combined weight, the whole picture, and the toll it takes.
Until moments like right now. Or moments like in December of 2017. Moments when it’s gotten so bad that the things that usually bring me joy, don’t. I’ve lost my light. I’ve lost my drive. I’m exhausted and what usually fills me back up is an extra chore right now. This is a clear sign that I need reprieve in order to take care of myself and be my best self for everyone around me.
With that being said, this space that I’m so incredibly proud of, the blog that I’ve build by consistently writing over the last few years, is adding yet another straw to my load right now. I’m not saying that I’m giving it up completely, I’m just acknowledging that it is too much in this moment in time. I need to release the pressure I put on myself to write weekly. Who knows, maybe just by taking those expectations away, I’ll feel like writing and it will be, once again, a refueling activity. Regardless of if that happens or not, I’m giving myself permission to write if and when inspiration strikes over the next couple of months instead of having to produce something every week.
I hope that in all of this, you are also taking the time to tune in and listen to what your mind, body, and soul needs. Take care of yourself. We need you.
Grow all ways… and in case you haven’t caught on yet, hitting the pause button is NEEDED to grow. In fact, knowing that you need to hit that pause button demonstrates that you’ve grown to the point of being able to realize that you need to slow down before you break, and that is a beautiful and powerful thing!
Don’t find out which straw will break the camel’s back.
Until next time… sometime… eventually…
-Annick, who is hitting pause
Jennifer Casa-ToddJune 16, 2020 at 8:13 pm
Once again, I feel so strongly connected to the words you have written. My Sunday blog has been a Monday morning dash. I am feeling unproductive and uncreative. And I don’t even have young children. Give yourself Grace and take a pause if you need to. Much love, Jen
Annick RauchJune 16, 2020 at 8:56 pm
Thanks, Jen! And you do the same!! The weight of the straws add up, and maybe stepping away from blogging is just what we need to find inspiration, and be more productive and creative! Sending love back your way!
Allyson ApseyJune 17, 2020 at 6:55 am
Annick, I am right there with you in many ways, and I appreciate that you shared this, as I think many educators will relate. Your message that hitting pause is okay and needed is a very important one. The phases and stages of our lives don’t always feel good but they definitely always teach us something. Sending love your way my friend!
Annick RauchJune 17, 2020 at 7:02 am
“The phases and stages of our lives don’t always feel good but they definitely always teach us something” Yes!!!! Learning and growing through the highs and lows is so important. Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts, Allyson!
Sue TonnesenJune 17, 2020 at 4:37 pm
Annick, an incredibly vulnerable piece. I believe we are all feeling a little bit of what you have described and hitting pause seems to be the advice we all need to be following right now. Summer will feel surreal with not travelling and remaining inside our bubbles. Take the time you need to recharge and to get back to loving what you love. Your writing inspires and speaks to so many in incredible personal ways. Take care of yourself, my friend!
Annick RauchJune 17, 2020 at 6:38 pm
Thanks for your kind words, Sue! This summer will do me a lot of good, but I’m ready to finish the year strong first. I’m very excited to begin seeing students… it will do all of our hearts some good before we head into the break!