Saturday, September 12, 2009

What I Learned on my Summer Vacation, pt. 1

Monday school starts.

It already started for C; he's part of the local public school system, and he started the day after Labor Day. In fact, he's in the middle of his first bout of Junior homework as I write this - a large chunk of math, historical analysis, English essay, science reading and project, studying for his first Spanish test of the year.

My first day papers are all printed out and ready to go. My copies of Beowulf and Romeo and Juliet and Bill Bryson's Shakespeare: The World as Stage are stacked in my wheeled crate. The lunch box has been cleaned and aired. Tomorrow I go to pick out folders and a new water bottle (mine started inexplicably leaking which is not good when you're carrying student essays in the same crate with said water bottle).

The fact that school was about to start hit me hard about two weeks ago. It didn't hit me hard because I didn't want to go back to teaching - I love teaching and I'm always excited, rather than distressed.

What hit me hard was how much time I was spending on the job. How many hours I was putting in each week making sure I had the right number of food posts, what I would write about, how to fit in interviews and photo sessions with businesses, making sure I read the other food articles on the site. Making sure I commented. Making sure I commented here, and there, and that I read many, many other food blogs every. single. day.

I always wanted to be a food writer. Much of my freelance work has been in the education field or special projects for the University or the U. of M. Hospital, and I've always wanted to write about food instead.

But here's what I learned on my summer vacation: I really don't.

I really don't want to be a food writer.

But don't get me wrong: I love writing about food.

So, now it's time to go, "Huh? But I thought she just said..."

Yeah, I did. But what I really mean is that I don't *just* want to be a food writer. I want to keep being a teacher. I need and want to be the best mom and daughter (and wife, although hopefully D is less in need of caretaking than C and my mom) I can be, and take the proper time for those whom I love and who need my care. I want time to volunteer for the causes I believe in. And oh, yeah, I want my word count to go up on my WIP.

I don't want to keep posting my food posts on Facebook or tweeting my own posts.

I'm happy to post yours - I love connecting friends to the writing of other friends, but tooting my own horn? Not so much.

It's just not in my comfort zone.

So, Friday, I tendered my e-mail of resignation. I can still post there; I'll just go to being one of the unpaid bloggers. Now, before you get all in my face about writing for no pay, I'll cover that in another post soon.

But for now, here's what I plan to do:

Talk about the need for healthcare reform.

Write about more than food businesses for Local Love Fridays.

Write about ovarian cancer awareness and other upcoming events.

Write about sustainability issues.

Oh... and lest I get too serious, post some funny videos and keep posting recipes.

I'm baaaaaaccccckkkkkkk.

And there's nowhere you need to leave comments other than right here. On a2eatwrite.

It's good to be home.


anno said...

Sounds like a wise decision: maybe you could count this as your first post in the series you want to write about sustainability issues. Looking forward to reading you in all your expressive glory! It's always wonderful, wherever you are.

muzzyblue said...

First of all: Bill Bryson has a book out that I didn't know about?!?! I love his work, and now that I know he has a Shakespeare out, that title is going on the top of my Christmas Wish List!

Secondly: what a thoughtful and provocative post--you sound sooo on top of your priorities, and I envy that. Would that I had your clarity!!

Thirdly, thanks for the comment on my blog--it's always encouraging to know that someone besides the crickets are out there!

thailandchani said...

Definitely want to hear from you on all those topics.. and more! I love the food posts but also like hearing from you on other topics.


Dru said...

Sometimes the best decision is to leave. Welcome back and I look forward to reading your topic of interest.

Sustainability is a big topic and this I know because the last couple of surveys that I've worked on was on that topic.

Brian Miller said...

welcome back. knowing ourselves is important..and it sounds like you learned a little about yourself over the summer. good job following the desires of your heart. look forward to many great posts ahead.

Becca said...

A well rounded life is just as important as a well-balanced diet. Sounds like you're on track to have some of each :)

Luisa Perkins said...

What I learned on your summer vacation is that hates me. But that's okay.

I think you did the right thing, as difficult as it may have been. And selfishly? I'm so glad you're baaaaaack!

Keri Mikulski said...

Wow.. What a wonderfully honest post.. The balance is always tough. Hugs.

Keri Mikulski said...

Wow.. What a wonderfully honest post.. The balance is always tough. Hugs.

Teresa Cordero Cordell said...

Kudos to you my friend. You must always follow you heart. I enjoy reading your posts, so whether you write about food or whatever you are embracing at the time, I will continue to return and read your words.

mae said...

That sounds like a very wise decision. Doing something that used to be fun is really a symptom of old age (at any age).

Shan said...

Glad to have you back! I can imagine it was a tough decision to make. Looking forward to reading your thoughts on all of that.

Korie said...

Good to see you! And yeah, for as much as I love you recipes, I missed hearing about other things. But I can also understand how filling a quotq might make it harder to write outside of what you have to write about.

Cynthia said...

It sure seemed like the gig required quite a bit of time and effort. It will feel great to just write what and when you want!

Jen said...

Anno - Sustainability issues - hee, hee, hee - you're right though. As usual. ;-)

Jane - yup, I hadn't known about this, either and I'm both a Will and Bill nut! Thanks for the support, and I greatly enjoy reading your blog!

Chani - thanks so much. I was really missing being able to focus on other substantive issues.

Dru - that's fascinating - I'd love to hear more about that!

Brian - thanks. ;-)

Becca - I hope so.

Luisa - you're so funny! It hates you and many others. Sigh. They're still trying to work that particular kink out. And I'm glad to be back, too.

Keri - thanks so much! I hope to get more focused on my writing roots now.

Teresa - thanks for the warm and kind words!

Mae - funny... and true!

Shan - thanks so much!

Lilac - it really was, and it became increasingly clear I had to make a change.

Mom - it did. I'll still write for them, but on my own schedule.

painted maypole said...

welcome back. it's good to figure out what you really want, isn't it.

i have that bill bryson book. :)

Jen said...

PM - It is a good feeling. Sometimes it's something that's hard to arrive at. And I'm not surprised you have that book. ;-) I needed to find a readable book on the history of the time. I've used Papp's Shakespeare Alive, but my students haven't loved it. 1599 is way too dense for them, so Bryson it is!

Virtualsprite said...

Welcome back! I learned the same lesson the hard way, too, a few years ago. There's nothing wrong for writing for free if you enjoy doing it.

Jen said...

Virtual - the writing for free in that context part I struggle with. I do see it as a great opportunity to be able to get info out about issues, etc., that I think are important. Sustainability and food security and support for Michigan products are all important to me, so I see this as a grand opportunity for that. I'm actually going to be writing a post soon about "free" writing.

Sophia said...

I understand your decision, Jen. I'm glad you figured it out earlier what makes you truly happy. I'll be excited to keep reading on, I'm just relieved you're not giving up blogging all the way! Whew!

Goofball said...

well I am very happy for you that you tried to do the writing gig on! I thought your articles were interesting and inspiring.

And it learned you to figure out what is important for you and what you really want to be doing and what your priorities time-wise should be.

I must say that I am not unhappy to be able to read about more than just food on your blog and not having to comment here and there (as I really did want to commit myself to commenting there too! to let you know you were doing a great job).
Yet I can imagine resigning gives you double feelings, no? Glad you followed your heart though. And we'll be here eager to read your thoughtfull posts and eager to here what you think about ours!

Marianne Arkins said...

I can completely understand! And I'm glad we'll hear more about YOU and the things that matter to you... not that I don't love food (oh, how I love food), but I missed you.

My DD has been asking about Shakespear lately -- any thoughts on teaching a ten y.o. about Mr. Will? I <3 him (having been in drama since I was born, lol, I've been in several of his plays), though I'm certainly no scholar. Still, I'd like to strike while the iron is hot.

Marianne Arkins said...

Maybe I should spell his name correctly: Shakespeare -- I shall write it 100 times on the board.

A funny: When I was in high school drama, I was in a play called "Get Bill Shakespeare off the Stage" and we had T-shirts made for the entire cast.

They came back printed:

Get Bill Shakespeer Off the Stage

Kinda makes you wonder who was working at that shop, hummm?

Jen said...

Sophia - this blog was here long before and it will be here for a long time to come, I hope! I actually started blogging in 2003, I think, but under a different blog "Jen's Word Stew" and then switched over here in November 2005. Here to stay! ;-)

Goofball - I can't tell you how much your support meant to me all summer. Also, I think some of the Ann Arborites were interested in your comments and Belgian perspective! I'll be happy to be in full control of writing about a variety of topics, though.

Marianne - I have LOTS of thoughts on that, so I'll e-mail you soon - either today or tomorrow. Also, you're historically accurate in terms of the misspelling, because his name was spelled all sorts of ways (including what they think was his own signature!)

Um... not sure about the folks in that shop, though...

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

Keep on doing what makes you happy, you are only one person with 2 hands and so many hours in the day.

Betsy said...

Hi! Sounds like you made the right decision! Hope that the transition has been a smooth one! Welcome back!

Acedog said...

I like that you are making decisions that sustain yourself and your interests....and it is great to hear of the pleasure you take in teaching!

Jen said...

Val - that's a good point. I love cooking, too, but not always writing about cooking.

Betsy, thanks! I'm still working out the kinks, but it's all good.

Acedog - I really do. My students give me a lot of energy!

Thistlemoon said...

Wow, Jen! Sounds like you made the right choice for yourself. I am happy to hear that you are back to where you need to be, and I am really looking forward to your upcoming posts! I have been thinking a lot too about having a more well-rounded life.

I miss Beowulf and Shakespeare!!!!!

Brittany | the Home Ground said...

Woah. You have a serious amount of comments on this post. I am very excited for you having made this decision. You sounded stressed about it when we met up and it sounded like it was definitely a lot of work. I think you should be free to write about whatever the heck you want to! Can't wait to hear (read) what you have to say on other topics, Jen :)

Fourier Analyst said...

I know just what you mean. My latest mantra is "I will not should on myself today." It really makes a difference when you can get your priorities sorted. Good Luck to you!! And have fun!!

Jen said...

Jenn - you really saw me at the start of all this - it's been an interesting ride. I'd love to hear your thoughts on your own situation and moving towards well-roundedness, too!

Brittany - I wasn't even aware how stressed I was way back then. ;-) It's interesting that you picked up on it. I still see it as a great outlet, but having the pressure OFF is a huge help.

FA - I couldn't agree more! We have to protect ourselves, which is sometimes hard when a bulk of our lives is caregiving for others.

Ivy said...

That was a very wise decision Jen as what you describe sounds too stressful and it sent me to hospital. Now, I am trying to post only once a week and visit blogs for 1 or 2 hours a day the utmost. Blogging should remain our hobby and not a nightmare :) Take care, Ivy.

Jen said...

Thanks, Ivy - I completely agree!

Evelyn said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
April said...

I've missed your political voice so I have to say, I'm selfishly thrilled, as well as happy for you for achieving a little more balance in your life.

Jeanie said...

You, my dear, are a wise woman. I think most of us have done that -- overcommitted to something we thought would rock our boat, and it wasn't that we didn't like it -- it just kept eating our lunch! Your food writing is terrific and you know you can do it here, but it sounds like you've sorted out heart, head, desire and reality with a great outcome.

I'm always looking forward to reading A2. What a treat!

Jen said...

April and Jeanie - thanks so much for the warm words and support. I know I made the right decision, but Jeanie, you're right - it did feel like it would float my boat to have that job. ;-)