Saturday, March 2, 2024

I Was Feeling Better. Now I'm Not.


Hello Invisible Audience,


The last time I wrote to you, I was feeling better. It felt like this time it was going to last; that things were finally changing for the long term.


For several weeks since then, I have felt awful again. It feels this time like it’s going to last; that things are changing unavoidably for the long term.

Neither, of course, are true. Just today, I woke up, felt ok, then felt not so great, then felt ok again so I tried to go for a walk; then had to turn around six minutes in because I don’t feel so great anymore.


But I have some decisions to make, and it feels like those decisions depend a lot on how I feel.


Like, for instance, if I want to keep teaching kids.


I wrote a letter this morning to the parents of my students. It says that I am going to teach classes through the end of the school year, but I’ve decided not to teach summer camps, despite the fact that I already said I would. As much as I want to wait and see how I feel before canceling them, there are several reasons why it makes more sense to do it now. For one, March is the month when most summer camps open registration. If I’m not offering camps, parents have a better chance of finding other options right now instead of if I wait until, say, May to decide.


But more importantly, it’s because of this question that I don’t have an answer for: am I as tired as I am because I don’t want to teach summer camps?


It seems woo-woo and wishy-washy, I know. But ever since it became clear to me how much of my pain and illness seems to revolve around the state of my nervous system, I’ve paid more attention to how any number of things make me feel.


  • Almost always, writing a blog post to you or my Semi-Invisible Patrons makes me feel better.
  • Very often, teaching a class of kids makes me feel better.
  • Saying no to an invitation that I didn’t want to do in the first place gives me some life back.
  • Having a hard conversation that I was dreading makes me feel less anxious.
  • And many, many times in the past, making a decision not to do something that I thought I wanted to do has filled me with not just relief, but also a renewed vitality.


The thing that makes this decision hard is that, as I said, teaching kids makes me feel better. But that’s mostly teaching kids after school, or once a week, like I do during the school year. That’s different than the burn out I can experience teaching week-long summer camps, even if they are only 3 to 4 hours long.


I keep trying to apply logic to this; to try to convince my body that week-long camps every other week is really not that much. But when I felt worse this morning, I was thinking about doing summer camps; when I felt better, I had just drafted that letter saying I wasn’t doing summer camps.


If you’re a regular reader here, you’ll know that I’ve been questioning since last fall whether continuing my business teaching extra-curricular Spanish classes is sustainable, not just in terms of my energy, but also in terms of the money I bring in. It’s a tough balance: the amount of energy I have to teach does not equate to enough to cover all my bills. But I keep running up against a wall around this: I choose my own schedule now; if I’m having a rough day energy-wise, I can take it easy and just do the essentials. That means teach the classes, but otherwise lay on the couch if necessary. But are those short bursts of the intense energy it takes to facilitate a class of kindergarten to second graders costing me more energy than, say, a desk job, especially a remote one, even if it was more hours?


I love to teach, Invisible Audience. I really do. And I think that’s why this decision has been so hard. I get a lot of joy out working with my students. But is there a better fit out there for me? Something that feels as rewarding, and doesn’t take as much from me energy-wise? Or isn’t as rewarding, but covers the bills better and doesn’t leave me as zapped by the end of the day or the week?


It’s also not as cut and dry as giving up teaching, though, is it? Which is why I want to first try cutting out summer camps. Because it doesn’t have to be a binary decision: I can choose not to teach summer camps, but continue with classes during the school year. I can cut down on how many classes I offer during the school year, and do them in tandem with some as-yet-to-be-determined part-time job.


Or I could get partway through a summer free of summer camps and realize that I’m done teaching and needed the space to let myself realize that was true.  


Love and tired and confused kisses,



P.S. I've had a hard time keeping up with my blog lately, but what writing I have done recently has gone mostly to my patrons on Patreon. You can check out my profile here. Pledge as little as $1.50 a month to get access to more of my ponderings and become one of my Semi-Invisible Patrons. When I can't find time to post both here and on Patreon, I prioritize posts on Patreon instead.