Teaching is an ideal profession if nothing ever happens in your personal life.
And while things are superficially fine, I am finding myself stretched in too many directions at the moment.
I have some big personal changes on the horizon, and some questions about those changes that I have been spending a lot of time searching for.
And I look at the two years prior on my blog, and I realize that from about mid-October to the start of December, I rarely write things. That’s been my tendency, at least.
It’s an absolutely bonkers time of year, and the schedule starts to get to you. Lots of outside stakeholders demanding lots and lots of things, from you, from your program, and burnout starts to set in. I wrote about that last year, when it also seemed that I was watching too many of my colleagues get too sick. Between the time I completed that entry and the time I posted it to social media, another one of my county colleagues was hospitalized. He died early this year.
What we do in this profession means everything to so many people.
But doing the job requires being physically present, emotional cogent, and most obviously, alive & healthy enough to do it.
If you’re like me, you get tired of hearing about self-care. Like, do I have to actually sleep properly every night?! (Unfortunately for night owls like myself, science says yes, we do.)
Self-preservation has never been my forte. I always saw myself, as my father saw me, as an artiste, as a boheme, as someone who could stay up nights and eat terribly and indulge constantly and be creative and add to the world. Someone whose purported madness could propel humanity forward.
My father considered himself the same, except he never produced an exceptional work of art, just undiagnosed mental health issues, an exceptional addiction to alcohol, and an untimely death. And struggles for his family that would continue for decades.
A hero of mine, Lin-Manuel Miranda, sees being an artist in a different way. About taking care of yourself, and your family. He talks about starting therapy at the age of 19 to deal with his issues. And staying in Saturday nights to write. About doing your best to not burn the candle at both ends, but being honest about the toll of hard work & exhaustion.
That’s not to say that you need to write your own Hamilton to be an artist or a pedagogue of worth. But if you’re going to take care of your creative community, you need to plan, you need to prepare, and you need to take care of yourself. Every single day.
Just as musicians should practice every day, writers should write every day, athletes should train most every day, human beings need to take care of themselves — every single day. I say that more as a reminder to myself than for the benefit of anyone else, but it’s something important to remember.
For me, at this point, writing about pop songs & about teaching feels like being creative. Being creative shows up in a multitude of different ways. Sometimes those who consider ourselves creative are productive, and sometimes, life gets in the way of creating.
Whether you’re being creatively productive or not right now, take care.