Saturday, June 6, 2009

Trying something different

My goal has been to pay more attention to this blog, but the last few weeks have been pretty hectic. Examples:
- My dad had surgery for thyroid cancer again. This is the third time, but the first two were years ago and this was quite unexpected. He handled it like a champ, I was a mess (my dad and I are very close). He's not recovering quite as fast as he did before, maybe because of the nature of the surgery and maybe because he's about to turn 60. Who can say?
- I presented at a conference about 2 hours before I had a plane to catch.
- I took a WHOLE DAY off work to go out of town for no reason other than that I wanted to, creating a huge mess of work both before I left and after I got back.
- School ended, yielding a load of annoying tasks both big and small- turning in 4 different iterations of final grades, printing all sorts of reports, packing up my classroom for the summer, etc.
- I started a new (just for summer) job.

It's the last one I want to talk about. It could be argued that someone with rheumatoid arthritis who really needs to take some time to focus on getting healthy and relaxing really shouldn't take a summer job. It could be argued that I don't need the money (I mean, I always need money, but I'm financially stable). It could be argued that I'm introducing stress and responsibility into my life when I really need a break from that.

But I'm doing it anyway, and so far (read: 4 days in) I'm thinking it's a really good call, for the following reasons:
1. The way I got the job. Just about every professional decision I've made since I was 20 years old has happened in a vaguely serendipitous fashion. I tend to fall into really good situations because of someone I met at a brunch or sat next to on a plane, and I just go with it. This is entirely contrary to my personality and therefore is one of my favorite things about myself.
I met my new boss in a crowded building where I was doing an exhibition about insects and spiders, and had both crawling on me. She listened to me for about a minute, then asked if I wanted a job. I gave her my email address and promptly did not hear from her, so I tracked her down and it turned out she'd written it down wrong and was kicking herself. Based (I guess) on my bug exhibit, the fact that I'm a certified teacher, and that I bothered to track her down, she hired me on the spot to coordinate a summer camp for itty bitty kids. This whole sequence of events both delights my sense of serendipity and makes me think that this woman must be a fun person to work for. So I took the job.

2. It's a first step to (figuratively) getting out of the classroom. I've written before that I expect to have to leave classroom teaching someday, maybe due to R.A. and maybe just due to the limit I've placed on myself for taking abuse (not from the kids. LOVE the kids). Outdoor nature education is definitely high on my list of where I might go, and this is a good way to both get my foot in the door and also try it to see if I like it. So far everyone is so nice and so impressed with how much I know about Science that it's hard to see a downside (except the pay, which is cringe-inducing).

3. It's a first step to (literally) getting out of the classroom. I get to be outside all day, and it feels great. OK, it feels sweltering- this is after all central Texas- but it feels good to sweat and be hot and do things other than be in pain in a climate-controlled room. I have an office indoors and my counselors have classrooms indoors, but the kids spend a lot of time outside and I scamper between buildings about 95 times a day. I already have a stunning farmers' tan.

4. It's a good level of activity. Just for kicks, I put on a pedometer yesterday and it turns out that I walked almost 3 miles at work in addition to going up and down the stairs over and over and doing some light lifting and moving and cleaning. I hate working out, so it's nice to be getting some movement and activity in the course of doing other things. I still need to hit the gym sometimes, but this is a good supplement and definitely keeps me from getting that awful stuck feeling I get after I sit for a while.

5. It's freaking fun. Everyone I work with is so nice, kind of nerdy, and very outdoorsy. Add in a bunch of kiddos who want to learn about nature and, well, yeah. Fun is good. Fun is way better than doing what I did last summer, which was basically hanging out around my house trying to think of things to do.

So I'm doing it. And I feel good so far. A little sore, a little achy, but there is some good sore and achy mixed in with the bad, and it feels good to be physically worn out from something other than pain. It feels good to be around people who don't know my limitations- I feel more whole than I have in a long time.

(It occurs to me that I should thank Humira for this post- I'm slowly getting some relief and my ability to do any of this is partly due to that. So thanks, drugs!)


  1. Wow, you are a very strong woman. You go girl, live your life and never give up :)

  2. sounds awesome! Good for you for doing what you want and not letting all the RA 'shoulds' stop you.