Saturday, October 27th, I stood on the sweet serene sand wondering which direction the storm had gone. I shut my eyes, inhaled and listened to the perfect whoosh of each wave meet the shore. It is the one place on earth where I am completely content. It was two weeks before the end of 1st quarter. It was the first time I had taken three consecutive days off during the school year. It was the first time I had been to Fort Lauderdale. Just at that perfect moment, a large wave crashed onto my unprepared converse shoes. I awoke to what seemed like the most obvious epiphany: I miss my students. When I take a break, I miss my work; It allows me to remember how much I love my job.
For the past six years, I have lived feeling this insane and unrealistic responsibility to my job. If I ever took a day off, I felt guilty at least 2-3 times that day. I thought my work was so important that I shouldn’t, couldn’t take a day off, even when my body begged for a day off by getting sick. The other part of my guilt came from comparing myself to others. We work in a world where working harder, longer hours get us acknowledged by our bosses. I remember at the end of last year, a teacher was acknowledged at a faculty meeting for working everyday till 5 pm. I also remember thinking I would be completely burnt-out, if I did that still.
I have spent all of my years as a teacher searching for balance. I even attempted to take a year off and find a different career in hopes of achieving balance. The truth is though that balance looks different every day in my life. Some days it’s watching 2 hours of television at the end of a challenging day. This trip showed me what happens when I am truly balanced: truly doing something for myself so that I can give back to my students without resentment.
The best part was the day we got there, Hurricane Sandy arrived and remained till that Saturday. Usually, rain at the beach ruins my vacations, but this time I was so happy to get a break that it didn’t matter. We did our usually foodie itinerary and ate extremely well. We planned indoor activities like walking around the mall and taking long afternoon naps and going to the steam rooms. We let go of expectations and plans. Instead, we took each day, each hour as it came–a way of life that is new to me.
October in Fort Lauderdale. Saturday morning on the beach, I searched the Atlantic for its opposite edge, allowing my insanely busy thoughts to drift off on the warm wind and smiled grateful for that moment, grateful for my husband who insisted on this trip, grateful for my students who make me laugh and infuriate me some days. Next stop: March in New Orleans.