As I’ve noted in earlier posts…personal fashion isn’t a strong suit of mine. Typically, I don’t buy my next pair of black dress shoes till I’ve gotten as much milage out of them as possible. I vividly remember walking with students at National FFA Convention a few years back beneath the bridge between Lucas Oil Stadium and the Convention Center. Suddenly, on my next step without warning my foot dropped hard. I looked back and behold my right shoe heel had ripped off completely. The timing couldn’t have been better though! We were walking to the charter bus and it was our last evening in Indy…so I didn’t have to try thinking of how I’d need to patch my heel for a few more days of walking! 😉
Then there was my students’ favorite shoe incident my first year teaching. We get to work on landscaping projects around our community and I don’t view my role as a foreman, they take that ownership, I view my role to model effort, hard work, and a little fun when it counts! So, of course, out shoveling up old landscapes in my dress shoes, competing with a group of boys to clear a section out the fastest and next thing my right heel (yep…) got stuck on the shovel…umm a little embarrassing. We got some great laughs and figured out an epic story for the Payless ShoeSource salesman.
Though these shoe incidents bring back great memories and joys; the metaphor speaks to a lie…a lie that was destroying my passion for working with young people; a lie that almost destroyed my marriage; a lie being widely peddled by society.
This lie: It is a badge of honor to work yourself till the heels of life fall off.
It earns no badges to be burned out! It earns no badges to neglect the most precious relationships of your life! Yet, what does societal pressures say? MORE. MORE. We don’t frame the questions about what plates will you remove from spinning…we try to find ways and strategies to just make them all balance and maybe add a few more.
I can’t mislead you, I’ve been a very slow learner of this and there are times even now that I am struggling. This year has been a hard reality check; I cannot be it all for all people. Though I thrive off my current schedule, it is by no means healthy for me or my young family, notwithstanding that it is in no way sustainable. I’m wearing out the heels of my life much too fast and I’m only 27.
All of us need to be strong, healthy models for those newly entering our teaching profession. We need to be teaching them how to be strategic in saying ‘Yes’, we need to provide opportunities for personal reflection and growth. I’m blessed that my school administration has allowed me to come down to San Antonio this whole week for the National Association of Agricultural Educators Conference. It has recharged my battery; equipped me with tools to enhance my teaching, but above all expanded my support network in the profession. This week is shaping up to be a game-changer, but the goals I’m developing for myself look different than ever before.
I’m looking at strategically scaling back in different facets of my work life, starting this Spring Semester. Putting First Things First at home, so Annelle stops getting the left over pieces of me…
The following observation will come off as harsh…please be aware it is for me not my readers…
What did I do with the shoes I wore out? Did I idolize them, hang them on a plaque (okay the shoe shovel we almost did)? NO THEY GOT THOWN IN THE DUMP…IN TATTERED PIECES! Serving only a fleeting purpose…ouch…this cannot be my life!
We must start talking about teaching differently; because it is unlike any vocation, our goal should not be to seek balancing competing silos. This compartmentalizing is wrong, we need a holistic view of an educator. Many of us find our life mission in this field, so how do we harmonize that with our desires and need for family and personal development.
I don’t have the answers, I’m a young pup, but I know that I need to be better, I know I can be better! It starts with the first step in harmonizing my schedule to reflect the values of my life.
I’ll finish with a final anecdote:
My wife loves her pairs of boots. One pair in particular she has taken great care of and has taken to be resoled over the past ten years, close to three times. They are still functioning like new and show little wear. Yet, she uses them constantly!
I’m not disposable, its not a badge to view my life as disposable, even if my time seems to be filled with worthy work…I need to be resoled. Lord give me the resolve, strength, and courage to do so!
Writer’s Note: Thank you for reading these past few posts. They have been weighing heavy on my heart and this writing process has been an outlet of great reflection and outpouring. You are all making a huge impact on the lives of young people and I’m blessed and honored to count you all as friends and colleagues. Keeping changing the world one child at a time! 🙂