Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Non-Teaching Days

Today is a non-teaching day. I'm sitting at my favorite Starbucks in my favorite soft, faded Bucknell sweatshirt sipping an iced chai and eating a chocolate croissant. And writing a blog.

On non-teaching days, I'm a walking episode of What Not to Wear. In fact, if I hadn't had to leave the house to drop something off at my daughter's school, I might not even be dressed yet. There's a good chance that you'd find me at home on the living room sofa, clad in pajama bottoms and a sweatshirt, tapping away on my laptop. Instead, I am at Starbucks tapping away on my laptop, having already turned in another blog ahead of schedule.

Non-teaching days are writing days. And laundry days. And planning days -- otherwise known as auxiliary teaching days I don't have to dress for.

I love teaching. So much, in fact, that when I retired from my job as a school counselor, I immediately sought out new instructional opportunities. I help with a writing group at the elementary school where I used to work and teach writing classes for adults through the local school district. I taught older adults through Elizabethtown College's Institute for Learning in Retirement for a year, and I was over the moon when I was hired to be an adjunct at York College.

But my non-teaching days help restore balance. My schedule is more flexible, my deadlines more fluid, my days a bit more relaxed. I get a lot done, but I do it in jeans and a sweatshirt.

My friends think I'm crazy to be "retired" and working at so many things, but I'm early-fifties retired. The plan was never to stop working; it was to see what else I could work at.

While it's true that I've gone a bit overboard -- so much so that I gave up new commitments for Lent -- it's also true that I love nearly everything I'm doing. The things that need to be excised from the schedule quickly make themselves clear, and I can only hope that once I manage to remove them, I have enough self-control not to say yes to them again.

The things that make the cut? Things that excite me and energize me. Activities that create as much energy as they require. Teaching and writing are at the top of that list, which is why entire days revolve around them. When a class or a writing day goes well, I come away from them with more energy than I had going in. And there aren't many things I can say that about.

And so I've come to the point where I need to decide what is worthy of my non-teaching days, because although dress is casual, the way I choose to spend those days is serious. Anything that makes the cut needs to be worthy of the time slot it fills.

Not to mention my favorite jeans and sweatshirt.

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