Sunday, November 14, 2021

Leaning In vs. Leaning Back

Hello, Invisible Audience,


On Tuesday last week, I sent a text to a friend that said, “My Wednesday morning class is canceled! Happy Dance!” to which he replied, “Congratulations.”


It stopped me for a moment, because I hadn’t really realized that a canceled class was worth congratulations until I got it. He’s also a teacher, and never cancels his classes. Perhaps it was the realization in that moment that the class was canceled because I wanted it canceled that got to me. 


I own my own business. In theory, that means I control the schedule. At the same time, I can’t very well cancel classes very often unless I offer refunds to the parents for those missed days. Or I can do what I did this session for the first time ever: I scheduled the sessions to be nine classes long, but asked parents to set aside the week after the scheduled last class for a makeup day, if needed. I did this for several reasons. COVID-19 was the main one. Also, coordinating subs and sub lessons was extra energy I don’t have this time around. And third, just in case I had reached my max point or got myself sick and needed the time off myself.


But that wasn’t why I canceled my Wednesday class. I did it when I found out that four of the five students wouldn’t be there, and let’s be honest: having one kid show up for a group class is FAR more exhausting than any other number, because then I’m the only person they can interact with.


My week suddenly felt a lot easier after I canceled that class. Thursday I didn’t have an afternoon class because it was Veteran’s Day, but I’d scheduled a dental cleaning. And right before I went to that appointment, I drove out of town and up a narrow valley to look at a piece of property for sale.


The next morning, I woke up with a realization: I do not need to lean any further in right now. I do not need to spend valuable brain power thinking about how I could possibly make owning a piece of property work, especially because real estate prices have sky rocketed in my area and all I could afford is raw land that I’d have to start from scratch with. This would be on top of handling treatments and potential side effects from my recent Lyme disease diagnosis, in addition to several other related health issues. This would be in addition to running what already feels like a tough teaching schedule. In addition to caring for and spending time with two 3-month-old kittens. In addition to planning an immersion class in Mexico for 20 people. 


I wrote a magazine article a couple years ago and the photographer who showed up to take pictures of the recipe I was making had lean in tattooed on the inside of his wrist. My first thought was cool. My second was be careful what you ask for. Because I know from personal experience that some of us (me) lean in even when the plate is full; even when the more reasonable thing to do would be to lean back into the chair you’ve pulled up to the table and relax into what you’ve already had to eat.

I take on too much, Invisible Audience. For most of my life, the only thing that has stopped me is my body’s spectacular ability to grab me by the scruff of the neck and shake me. It will take illness to get me to slow down. There’s a part of me that finds it really hard not to lean in, and I’m beginning to think that part of me is not a part that I should allow to operate unsupervised. Or, more specifically, without awareness. 


The thing is, I have this really amazing home I really like. My neighbors/landlords are lovely people. They also handle the snow removal and yard upkeep, and their driveway is flat, so even on heavy snow days I can usually still make it out the driveway even if they haven’t plowed yet. The rent is affordable. They’ve watched my cats for me. And living here doesn’t require me to negotiate digging a well or getting electricity put in or living in a motorhome while I get a house built, which is basically the only way I could afford to own land in this part of the world unless something significant happens to the housing market. So my need to seek more and different and better has no grounding in reality. Instead, it is grounded in several things I’ve swallowed and leaned into too often: that any sense of equilibrium means something is wrong. That having enough isn’t good enough. That leaning in is the only way to lean.


Until now.


Love and learning to lean back kisses,



Thanks for reading, Invisible Audience member. Interested in reading more and supporting me in the process? Check out my profile on Patreon. Pledge as little as $1.50 a month to get access to more of my ponderings and become one of my Semi-Invisible Patrons.