I always say that teaching everywhere is hard, teaching middle school is even harder, and teaching middle school math in a turn-around environment in Miami-Dade County, Florida is a special kind of hard reserved for the saints and angels of this world. Of which, I am not.
And yet, that's how I started my professional career. I worked as a middle school teacher for a few years before transitioning to elementary school, and then moving up in the ranks as an instructional coach, department head, assistant principal, and finally, Director of Academics at a charter school in Washington, DC.
To say that I was burning the candle at both ends would be an understatement.
I was in such a state of perpetual burn out, that I forgot what it was like to not be burnt out.
Have you ever felt that way?
And then, in the summer of 2017, I got married and went on my honeymoon.
I woke up every single morning before dawn to enjoy the sunrise with my new husband and a cup of coffee. I found myself down right happy-sobbing at everything - the sunrise, the sunset, the fish we saw snorkeling, I mean everything.
It was the first time in ten years that I remembered feeling truly happy. That I remembered feeling a sense of calm presence. That I remembered feeling pure and absolute joy to just...be. To sit. To relax.
And on Thursday of that week, I made the mistake of checking my email and seeing the subject line: Due by COB today.
Suddenly, the peace, the calm, and the joy were gone. I was angry. Very angry.
Now listen, I thought, what could you POSSIBLY need while I'm on my honeymoon?! There are no students in the building, there are no teachers in the building, and just short of the building literally falling down, which I can do NOTHING about from here, mind you, WHAT COULD YOU POSSIBLY NEED?!
And then I made the second mistake of the day, and I opened the email.
And I started sobbing for a whole new reason.
I was being asked to apply for the principalship of my school. I was honored. I was flattered. I was angry. I was terrified. I was overwhelmed. I was anxious. I started to panic.
My husband comes running into the room to find me in a heap on the floor, and suddenly I realize that it's no longer just me that I'm martyring for the cause - I've signed him up too. The early mornings, the late nights, the phone that never seems to stop ringing, the work that never seems to get done. For years, I'd done that to myself - I'd volunteered for it, because education is something I believe deeply in and feel passionately about. It's important work, and I knew I could help.
But I'd never stepped back to see what impact it was having on the people around me.
Why is it that we're fine with running ourselves into the ground on behalf of other people?
Why is it that we're not okay with seeing this happening to others?
Why is it that it took me seeing the impact of my self-destruction on someone else for me to commit to doing something about it?
As women, we so often will burn our own candles at both ends for others - because it's good work. It's work the world needs. It's for a good cause. It's for people we love.
But really, we can only do this good work when we have first taken care of ourselves.
Because at the end of the day, we can't be our best selves if we don't take care of ourselves first.
And so I left education to take care of myself. And in the process I spoke to dozens of women who felt the same way - exhausted. Burnt out. In a state of perpetual stress. Unsure how to move forward. Yearning to connect with someone else who felt the same way.
The thing is - so many of us feel this way.
The thing is - we all want someone to see us for who we are and to love us.
I set out to find a book club to meet this need for me, where we could read the same transformational books and get together to talk about our experiences.
And when I couldn't find one, I created it.
This is my invitation for you not only to join the book club, but also to dive in and have engage in real, deep, meaningful, vulnerable, and authentic conversations with others, including coaches who can help us to think through what's going on and what action we might want to take next.
Because, as March's featured author Kelly Corrigan notes, "you can't really be loved if you can't bear to be really known." And you deserve to take the time for yourself to know yourself, and love yourself, to know others, and to love others, and to be known by others, and to be loved by others.
You don't have to go it alone.
We're here for you.
I'm here for you.
If you're interested in 1-on-1 coaching, you can book a discovery call with me here.