Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Lighter Side of Things

My first day back at work, after the three-day Labor Day Weekend, a friend of mine (and fellow teacher), Paul, asked me if I had enjoyed the days off. I had to laugh a little and told him I had worked in my classroom one day and took stuff home to work on for the next two days after that. Such is the life of a middle school teacher after the first week of school.

Paul smiled at me and said, "Well, I'm sure you were able to enjoy some reading time, though." I was sad to report that, no, I had not found time for that. Knowing what a read-a-holic I am, Paul couldn't believe it. "Well, that's too bad," he said, sounding as disappointed as I felt. 

While it was a casual conversation between us, the look on Paul's face and the tone in his voice stuck with me. My friends know how much reading means to me and how much I enjoy it. I had promised myself that I would not allow work to take so much from me that I put aside my pleasure reading. I had been reading that weekend, but it was textbooks and school lesson planning stuff. Necessary? Yes. Informative? Most of it. Pleasurable? Not so much. School had only been back in full swing one week, and I was already setting aside one of the things I enjoy the most!

I made a commitment to myself that day. I wouldn't give up my pleasure reading, no matter how busy and overwhelming my job gets. It's taking the time to enjoy my reading that refreshes me and allows me to do my job better. Like my own students, I don't like reading something that doesn't interest me - that's a "have to" kind of thing - but I do it. I can't let those kinds of books run me off - or run out all of my 'free' time - when it comes to reading what I want. 

During the summer, when I'm on break from work, I read to engage my mind. I love to research and energize my brain cells. With school back in session, my brain already gets quite the work-out between studying, lesson planning, attending meetings, grading papers, and going to workshops. What my brain needs during this time of year is something...a little on the lighter side. I need something that gives my working brain a vacation, gives me something to laugh about, sigh about, or smirk at the irony of it all.

I'm currently reading something that just about fits that description. There are days that are just...well,...way too busy, but I am committed to fitting in thirty minutes a day of enjoyable reading - no matter what. I usually take this time first thing in the early morning. I also usually find I go over the thirty minutes. Most of the time, I find myself smiling as I close the book. There was one morning when it actually made me cry, but it was a good cry. I needed it to wash my tired eyes from too many long days at work and too much time spent staring at a computer. 

The moral to this story?

Never get so busy with something that you can't find the time to pleasure read. 

In fact, the more life overwhelms us, the more time we should spend reading. We all need a break now and then. We all need to read something that makes us believe in love at first sight or magic spells or time travel...even if it's just for a little while...even if it's only for thirty minutes a day. We need to remember that the heavier life gets, the more we need to read and lighten it up! 

Happy Reading! :)

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