Since we've moved out to Ogallala, I've done a terrible job of developing hobbies. I've put almost all of my effort and energy into growing my career. My free time is spent grading, lesson planning, developing activities, reading books/articles/blogs relating to teaching, responding to an insane amount of emails each day, and taking classes. It's stressful. I am passionate about my career, but this year I have wondered if teaching high school is really in the cards for me. I think the main reason I'm questioning my career choice is because I'm burnt out...I've lit the candle at both ends and I'm now down to the middle part of the candle that is about to become a pitiful puddle of wax.
Today I joined two local musicians to play and sing some great music. The owner of the music store asked me to come play with them over New Years Day, but I was running a fever. I'm not going to lie, I was a little relieved that I couldn't join them. Not because I didn't want to join them but because I don't feel talented enough to sing and play with other people. What irritates me is that I possess a fair amount of musical talent, but in the past three years I've not taken the time to hone my skills. In high school I played guitar, wrote, and sang nearly every night. I continued this into college by playing guitar with friends on the weekends and then leading worship for Navigators. I was even in a few choirs for two years while studying at UNK. But the minute I started teaching, my guitar was shelved and was more or less a decorative item in whatever room it sat.
So today when we began playing, I froze. I had my guitar out, music open, and was ready but couldn't find a rhythm. I found that I could still sing, but my range has shrank so much that I struggled to hit a C (above middle C). The two musicians were patient, but it was humiliating and extremely frustrating.
Before I go any further, please know this is not a pity post. I don't want your pity. Actually---this is more of a realization for me that I have not allowed myself time to step away from the role of Mrs. Helzer--the crazy teacher who works too much, to be Danielle--the 24 year old woman who enjoys spending time with her husband, running, singing, playing guitar, cooking, listening to music, writing, and reading. For the past three years I've longed to have time to indulge in these leisurely activities. Now it's time to put my foot down.
This isn't going to be easy. This week I was invited to participate in a pretty cool professional opportunity with the National Writing Project that I wanted to be a part of, but after a week of making pro's and con's lists, I realized that I am overbooked, so I turned it down. It was painful. But, I think it was the right decision. If I'm going to stay sane, I need to be able to say no to some opportunities and allow myself time to partake in hobbies. And who knows---maybe stepping away from my job will actually make me a better teacher....