I Went Running. What Did You See?

(If you can name the book that inspired the title of the post, you are definitely an early elementary teacher.  And I love you a little bit more than I did two seconds ago.)

Friends, I went running this weekend.  Running.  Running as in sneakers on, headphones in, Mini napping and work bag idle in a corner running.  Running. 

I know I keep typing it, but it’s like my fingers are in shock.  So are my feet.  And my legs.  And – holy crap – the endorphins!  I am awesome right now.  AWESOME.  Awesome with a capital amaze balls.

Why has it taken me so long to get back on the horse?  And, honestly, was I ever really on the horse to begin with?  Oh.  Wait.  I know.  I’m an educator and we feel intense guilt whenever we do something for ourselves with time we feel like we should be doing something for our classrooms, or our families, or our friends or all the other individuals who get neglected between the months of Setpember August and June.  I doubled down with that guilt a little over a year ago when I became a mommy and, holy shit you guys, the mommy / educator combo is a whole world of guilt I never knew existed!  It’s like a layer of guilt wrapped up in a you-suck-at-balancing-everything wrap.  Mayo on the side of course.  (See what I mean?  These endorphins have made me insane!)

If you’ve been reading me for awhile, you know that I am on a constant search for Zen.  (Read more posts about my impossible dream here.)   And I feel like every teacher friend I have is too.  We all lament our inability to go to the gym, to get a pedicure, to sit down and enjoy a book for ourselves.  We all make grand promises to fit that stuff in.  Because we are teachers, we organize a massive Plan To Do More For Ourselves And Be More Efficient which includes goals that are impossible to meet.  Like “go running six days a week” or “only eat dessert twice a month” or “grade papers the same night that I collect them” or “answer every single email I receive within 24 hours.”  Um, can you say “set yourself up for failure much?” 

But you know what I did today?  Inspired by my version of a self help book The Happiness Project, I stopped complaining about how I never get to do anything for myself and used that time to actually go and do something for myself.  (Effing revolutionary, I know.)  I didn’t tell myself I was going to run seven miles, I started with one.  And then I came home so freaking proud of myself and hopped up on endorphins that I know I will do it again.  Sooner rather than later.

And I thought to myself, “Self, maybe we should start a TEACHER’s Happiness Project….”  In the spirit of continuing to strive for that Zen, that’s exactly what I’m going to do.  In the spirit of just starting and starting small, let’s just keep it to the blog for now.  I’ll post about what I did to find more balance and be happier and you can respond with what you did (or hope to do) in the comments.


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  • I could not have read this at a better time. Here I sit, just having woken up on my day off from school, running through the things I need to accomplish. For school. On my day off. I have a full day ahead of me to complete planning out a 6 week unit. I felt guilty for even stopping to take time to read the latest blog entries on my Google Reader. Your post reminded me to take some time for ME. I've read through the first chapter of The Happiness Project and love it so far. I just need to put it into practice! So after I type this, I'm hopping on the treadmill and doing something for ME. Before I start any school related projects. Thank you!

    January 16, 2012 at 10:39 pm
  • Congrats to you! I encourage you to keep it up! I've been walking (not much of a runner here) and yesterday took a 3 mile hike through the snow. It was invigorating…although I wonder if I can count extra miles for the resistance that the snow added?

    January 16, 2012 at 10:39 pm
  • I'm on a search for Zen too:-) I have tried really hard to fit yoga and exercise in these last few weeks. I think the struggle is always fall and spring when things get sooo busy at school. But I am committed to doing just a little bit a few days a week. It is definitely a struggle doing something like this when there are things to do for family, school, etc. Definite guilt!

    January 16, 2012 at 10:39 pm
  • retired teacher, here…41 years! So totally understand the frenzy of life in the teacher/mom/multi-everything mode we put ourselves in! Love the Happiness Project..breathe and appreciate the moment, wherever you are…:)

    January 16, 2012 at 10:39 pm
  • I'm trying to eat smarter – no pasta three nights a week, no junk food at school, no soda at school…

    Of course, I downed 1/2 box of chocolates while grading essays yesterday. Oh well!

    January 16, 2012 at 10:39 pm
  • I've recently asked my husband to commit to making two healthy dinners a week (up until now most of his cooking consisted of microwaving). That may not sound like much to some people, but on the chaotic days when I can't cook, we've been doing the frozen pizza/takeout thing, and I get that mommy guilt for not feeding my kids nutritious food. We now plan out the week and pick which two days I need him to cook (and we allow a maximum of two days a week of quick/pick-up meals). It's been a nice relief to know after a busy day I won't have to cook or feel guilty!

    January 17, 2012 at 7:16 pm
  • I read The Happiness Project this summer and loved it. I probably should go back and review the key points and ideas to re-energize myself. Right now I'm reading Awakened which has good teacher specific stress relieving ideas.

    Blackboard and Beyond

    January 18, 2012 at 2:36 am
  • I'm not sure if it's so much that we don't want to take time out for ourselves or if we just get really really good at making excuses for why we don't do something for ourselves! Let's be honest – we listen to them everyday from our students! What a great post you have written. Look forward to reading some more! Please check out my new blog too…I'm finding so much inspiration, it's amazing! http://www.akellyclassroom.blogspot.com

    January 19, 2012 at 4:34 am
  • You're right, all teachers look for Zen, peace, happiness and 'me' time. The school year starts in a couple of weeks for me here and I've already started dreaming about the kids.

    I knit. I knit and it keeps me calm. In particularly stressful times, I toss my knitting in my bag and I do it at lunch. Last year, I taught some students to knit when we had a bit of spare time – it was lovely and helped immeasurably!

    Well done with the running – you're awesome!

    January 19, 2012 at 4:34 am
  • Oh – this post couldn't be more timely…..I am desperately trying to find balance. I hoped to run this afternoon (I haven't run in several weeks)….only to feel exhausted after a tough teaching day, scramble to the drug store to gather materials for school tomorrow….and then to the grocery store. Having been inspired by the Happiness Project, I am game to start a TEACHERS Happiness Project 🙂

    January 19, 2012 at 4:34 am
  • you are so great!– i totally know the book from your blog title. i went running yesterday for the 1st time- even bought myself fancy new kicks just for running. felt totally guilty about spending the money on myself, but loved it too. also have a new years resolution/goal/new-fab-me-life-plan a mile long. i've been meaning to read happiness project, you just gave me the push to keep up & just do what i can! there's some saying about no matter how slow you run, you're still lapping everyone that's sitting on their couch– i try to keep that in mind!

    January 19, 2012 at 4:34 am
  • "I Went Walking" -by Sue Williams
    Do I get a gold star?

    January 26, 2012 at 1:50 am
  • Good for you, "Mizz" M! And what's good for you is good for "them."

    February 10, 2012 at 9:41 pm
  • I started taking ballet again!

    February 10, 2012 at 9:41 pm
  • Keep running! I need to get out there more. I love the feeling (sometimes the burning in my legs is not the best) but sometimes it's actually nice too! 🙂

    Teachers need their zen…absolutely. Thanks!

    February 10, 2012 at 9:41 pm
  • Glad to hear you're taking on such a refreshing activity. For me I'm keeping my eating clean and returning to crossfit. Keep it up. Fantastic blog by the way.

    February 13, 2012 at 3:05 pm
  • Oh my gosh. I just discovered your blog and it is like you are me. I am a mom of two now and the work/life balance is something I am always striving for. I won't even tell you how many planners I try in a given year since I don't trust my smartphone to be smart.

    February 29, 2012 at 8:22 pm
  • Finding balance and zen in a stressful environment can be such a challenge. To all the stressed out teachers out there, this book is a must, Learn to Love Teaching Again. I highly recommend it!
    I think we need to find ways to not only de-stress while we are at home, but also while we are at school.

    February 29, 2012 at 8:22 pm
  • I looked at my treadmill today as I did my laundry. Well, I think that's a start!

    February 29, 2012 at 8:22 pm
  • I am on spring break right now, and have been running every evening. It has felt freaking revolutionary, as you say. I almost feel happy. I almost think that doing this regularly even if it means slightly less sleep will be worth it once school starts back up.

    Ha. We'll see.

    Thanks for the inspiration.

    March 28, 2012 at 6:01 pm
  • I just finished 9 weeks of Monday night yoga classes. My class was from 5:30 to 7:00. An hour and a half!!!! Heaven I tell ya. My plan is to up this self indulgence to two nights a week. I think my guys (hugsband, 3 year old and 6 year old) enjoy their "guys night" just as much as I enjoy going to my class. Everyone wins! Yay!

    March 28, 2012 at 6:01 pm
  • Finding this blog was part of a homework assignment. Yes, homework at 42! I laughed out loud and kept reading. I love the humor and honesty. I think about my treadmill, talk about working out and even try to eat healthy on most days. But I really miss running four miles a day- but that was before working and going to school. I know that I will be able to do it again, I just hope I am not too old!

    March 28, 2012 at 6:01 pm
  • Congratulations! It is hard to run after a day at work, so you should be very pleased. It's important to try to do one nice thing for yourself every day– today I am essentially wearing my bedroom slippers at work, but they sort of look like shoes! We have a levy up next week, so whatever it takes. And it's better when small children are teenagers. Really!

    March 28, 2012 at 6:01 pm
  • I'm an M.A.T. student greatly, and nervously, looking forward to my student teaching this Fall and, someday hopefully not too far in the future, having my own classroom. I was wondering, if you were starting over, do you think there's anything you could have done to help yourself START OFF more balanced?

    September 6, 2012 at 8:10 pm
  • I really like the idea of a happiness project. I like running. It helps me decompress after teaching. I think when I run. I come up with good ideas. What ever you teach you need something to help you relax and enjoy the day better. It can be running, watching tv, or something else that makes you happy. I enjoy teaching and love my students, but I need to do things that are for me. If I don't, I may lose my mind.

    October 8, 2013 at 3:14 am

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