Busy is NOT the Boss of Me Anymore!

So…the title says it all, really.  I thought I could try to be Superwoman, but apparently that is not in my DNA.  I have found my kryptonite.  It’s name is university.

I have withdrawn from my #tiegrad studies.

There…I wrote it down in bold letters.  That makes it official, right?

I feel like a truck has hit me.  I am physically and emotionally broken.  I had wanted to better myself.  I had wanted to get my Masters degree.  I had wanted to do it all while not giving up anything of my real life.

Well, reality is very different. 

I gave up a lot. 

My family gave up a lot.

I gave up sleep.  My brain was racing around in too many different directions because of all the new things I was trying to learn and stuff in there.

I hope now that I will be able to sleep.

I gave up my health.  There was no time for exercise.  I’m now being treated for tennis elbow and ironically I have never played tennis.  The injury comes from too much time on the computer.  BTW…after this post I will be taking a blogging hiatus.  I will come back to it eventually, but I need to rest my arms and typing with only my left hand is really tricky.

Some day the pain will go away, won’t it?

I gave up time with my friends.  I miss my friends dearly, but if I were to do my best at studying, time for fun had to be limited. 

I hope they will forgive me.

I gave up time with my family.  This one hurts the most.  I asked my family to support me and they did in the most loving and selfless ways.  I am so sorry that my ambition took me away from them.

I hope they will forgive me.

I hope I can forgive myself.

My wise friend, Carolyn Durley, wrote a post on her blog not too long ago titled “Is busy the boss of you?” and if you haven’t read it yet, please do.  This post HAUNTED me.  Busy is exactly what was the problem in my life. To quote Carolyn:

Not only is busy a bully but he is a liar too. Some of his lies you may have heard include:

1. Busy is how to make a difference in the world

2. Busy will pay you back one day.

3. Busy excuses you from being present.

4. Busy has a higher purpose.

5. Busy has your best interests at heart.

6. Busy is a sign of toughness.

7. Busy wants to help you be “successful.”

8. Busy is the same as quality work.

9. Busy offers fulfillment.

10. Busy is for important people.

There is far more to my story.  I have had a new split grade to teach (stress), chronic back problems that were aggravated by being a student (stress), THREE different principals this year (stress) and so many other things that I just pushed aside as part of attaining my goal.

There is never one thing that brings someone to a monumental decision.

I had many people give me well-meaning advice.  “Just push through, you can DO IT!” “I did my Masters, SO CAN YOU!” “It’s short-term pain for long-term GAIN!” Of course I would have loved to stick with it, but you know what?  The only person’s advice I should listen to is my own.  My brain, heart and body were telling me that this was the wrong decision.  I spent five weeks in the fall being more sick than I have ever been before…but I was enjoying my class , so I ignored the signs of burn out. Now my arm hurts so much I can’t even pick up my coffee cup without wincing in pain.

My body is telling me I need a break.

My heart knows it is the right decision.

So, there you have it.  Some may call me a failure.  Some may call me a quitter.  I have called myself those things so many times over the course of my internal struggle to make this decision.  But you know what?  I am not a failure and I am not a quitter.  I have become self-aware enough to know that I can’t do it all, and I can’t expect the people around me to pay for my ambitions and wants. I know that I am a good person, wife, mother, daughter, sister, niece, friend and teacher…WITHOUT the extra letters behind my name.

I will continue to learn.  That does not have to be done in a university.  My twitter PLN helps me learn every day and for that I thank them deeply.

I am not wealthier in the financial sense (the extra degree would have bumped my pay significantly) but I am RICH in so many other ways that the money doesn’t matter.

I have a wonderful, amazing, loving husband.

I have two incredible, awesome, brilliant sons.

I have incredibly supportive and loving parents, siblings and extended family members.

I have the best and most understanding friends (both real and in the virtual world) that anyone could ask for.

I teach at a fantastic school with great colleagues, kids and their families.

You see, money can’t buy what I have. 


#tiegrad…I am so sorry I couldn’t make it work.  You are an amazing group of people and I am honoured to have been traveling this journey with you.  I wish you nothing but the best and can’t wait to celebrate with you when you finish your degrees!

Valerie…thank you for encouraging me, believing in me and teaching me.  I will be forever grateful for the faith that you have in me. I will continue to learn from you, even though it is not in a formal university program.

37 thoughts on “Busy is NOT the Boss of Me Anymore!

  1. Michelle – I applaud you! Good for you! I truly believe that life is short – and you need to enjoy every (well, maybe not EVERY, moment). It’s important to be happy and to eliminate as mush stress from your life as you can.

    You rock!
    Sharon 🙂

    • Thank you so much, Sharon! Making a decision like this really shouldn’t be that hard. I suppose I made it harder on myself for not wanting to be seen as lazy? There is a lot to be said for being content. I am content. 🙂


  2. Thinking about you. Lots. I completely relate, even down to the tennis elbow. Who knew it was a common affliction from masters work:)
    What I love about the #tiegrad cohort is that I think the feeling of connectedness will continue no matter what direction people go, and I also feel honoured to have learned with such high calibre educators this year.
    Sending a hug. Or three. Even if it was the right choice, it no doubt wasn’t an easy one for you.

    • Brooke, it’s people like you in the #tiegrad cohort that made it so hard to walk away. You are all wonderful! You push my thinking and it is exciting to learn with you.

      I hope you get treatment for your tennis elbow. The burning is nearly driving me crazy! Oh wait…too late for that. 😉

      Big hugs for you whenever you need them!


  3. Michelle,

    I wholeheartedly feel your pain, sorrow, and stress (but, thankfully, not your tennis elbow–I hope it heals quickly). Your thoughts are completely in sync with mine, but my process is a little slower. I am fearful of blinking and altogether missing my two youngest boys’ high school years–showing up at their graduations and thinking, “How did we get here?” The fall and winter have worn away a physical gully between my family and me, as I have decreased attendance at events and occasions. Like your family, mine are beyond supportive and encouraging, but nothing can get time lost back.

    I applaud you for putting family first. I applaud you for listening to your best guide and teacher–yourself. I applaud you for thinking about today, when it’s so easy to focus on the future.

    My thought is, I can always do this later; it doesn’t have to be right NOW. My process is slow. I’m not quite to that decision-making intersection, but I can see it, just ahead. Way to get busy out of your life.

    Busy needs to find somewhere else to play and get out of my backyard as well.

    Hugs and empathy,

    • Tanya, when I read your comment, it brings fresh tears to my eyes. I know exactly how you feel. Only you will know what is right for you and your family. I hope that Busy leaves you alone. I wish that I had a magic formula to make it all work. I don’t.

      If you ever want to chat, you can email me or find me on twitter. Tech can help us stick together.

      Hugs and empathy right back atcha!

  4. Looks like you have *absolutely* made the right decision Michelle, although I recognize it was not an Easy one. Always listen to your inner voice… And you’ll do right. Your family, friends, students, colleagues and especially you will be happy with a courageous decision, methinks.

    • Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment on my blog, Dave! I have had nothing but an outpouring of very humbling, encouraging support. I am a very lucky lady to have such a cheering section. After my report cards are written I will be able to take a step back and start breathing again without feeling like I have more reading and more assignments waiting to be done.

      And now that I have some extra time, I need to plan a trip to Maui… 😉

  5. Well it has been fun and it was great hanging out with you for these past few months. I appreciate the time you spent chatting with me about our assignments and the like.

    What this all illustrates to me is that front line experience trumps book lernin every time. What you know and are capable of in a classroom of 20 six year olds, is beyond anything university class can teach you and just because someone takes the time and spends the $$$$ does not make them a master of anything.

    By the way… I am still waiting. 😉

    • Keith, it was a blast to learn with you. You are the real deal, my friend! Take care and don’t forget that I am only a tweet away. Just because I am not in tiegrad anymore does not mean the people in the cohort mean any less to me.

      Keep me posted! 😉

  6. I have followed your blog and will miss it but I always say “life is a journey, not a destination” and you need to enjoy that journey. You only get to do it once! Good for you to follow your heart.
    Take time to relax, enjoy your family and what life has to bring you!
    Sarah Betts

    • Thank you so much for reading and commenting, Sarah! I hope my hiatus is not a long one…just long enough so that it doesn’t hurt to type. The doctor is saying six-eight weeks of rest should do it.

      Who knows, maybe I can even get one of my kids to type as I dictate? They could use that on their resumes, right?


  7. Michelle.
    Can’t keep all the balls in the air at the same time?
    Plus run a household?
    And raise responsible adults?
    Plus be a hot wife?
    And be a fabulous teacher?
    And obtain your Masters?
    What’s the matter? I’ll tell you… It’s simply not possible. It’s challenging to do one of these thing well. We pick and choose. Let things slide. Our priorities shift constantly to the loudest thing in front of us at the moment. STOP. I want off!
    I want to just sit and be still and quiet. Bravo for making the choice. Move forward. You might be the person who obtains her Masters at 90 years old or not. It’s all ok. Really.

    • Thank you, Dania. I know that it is not possible, but I tried to trick myself into believing that it was.

      Right now what I want to be doing most is sitting on the beach in Maui listening to the sound of the waves. I just have to wait until August to do that. So in the meantime I will find peace right here at home.


  8. Michelle!!!
    Losing you from our program, which is beginning to feel like a family, will be a major loss. I completely understand being pulled in so many directions, and family always needs to come first.
    My garage will always be open to you for our first glass of wine to celebrate all of our successes in life!!!
    We’ll miss you Michelle!
    – Tracey

  9. I know that withdrawing from grad studies does not mean that you are withdrawing from learning. You have shown that you have the courage to do what’s right for you and your family at this time, not giving in to the “shoulds” of our busy worshipping culture. Hope you can soon lift your coffee cup with ease.

  10. I want to congratulate you first on having the courage to write this post. Too often we feel the need to present the ‘perfect’ self, but should perfection be our aim – absolutely not. I had a chance to rewatch Brene Brown’s first Ted talk the other night (I think that is the 8th time!) and then shared her book Daring Greatly with a number of my very close female friends. As females we take on far too much and then blame ourselves for not being successful.
    Your body has been screaming at you for quite some time that you have lost balance. I know this as I too have a body that is in flux and I am trying to discover my own source of imbalance. The body is a powerful indicator of our inner selves; we need to pay more attention to it. I truly believe this to be true.
    Thank you so much for sharing as it will allow others to admit their feelings, frustrations, and unhappiness. Along with Carolyn’s post, which I loved as well, you have opened the door for others to make some very hard but crucial decisions.
    Thank you!

    • Thank you for your thoughtful comments, Anne-Marie! I wrote this post for two reasons: to process the decision I had made and WHY I made it and to let others know that they are not alone in the imbalance and the need to made important decisions for themselves.

      I think there are far more many hurting, imbalanced people in the world that need to see that it is not “just them” and that we need to support each other in these major decisions, whether to continue on, or to step back.

      Best wishes as you find you balance.


  11. Hi Michelle,
    Having never met you face to face, I was surprised at my emotional reaction to your post. I was filled with such sadness and a sense of loss to no longer have your sense of humour, practical opinions and wealth of experience in our cohort, but at the same time could completely relate to your situation and the stress that ‘busy’ creates. I wish you all the best and hope that our paths cross again soon.

    • Alison, I, too, marvel at the connectedness that Valerie was able to foster within our cohort even though we were spread out over hundreds of miles. It is our little “Brady Bunch” family that made this decision so hard for me. I will miss being with you all, but hopefully one day we will get to meet in person.


  12. It is all a bit much, isn’t it. Over time, I have learned what to drop and what to keep. Very little of what I love has been expanded on but I also know I am not even teaching the way the system wants it taught. The mountain of work is overwhelming! The idea of tackling a masters while doing my job and taking care of family is quite daunting. Some folks manage quite well by paying for housekeepers and eating out, having someone else take their kids to all their events, and of course by surviving on just 5 hours of sleep. I bet you even know some folks who take “sick time” in order to complete work. Catch your breath and find time next year for your masters work. I kind of regret allowing myself to do other PD rather than get my masters. The extra cash would have been nice and the more professional status would have felt good as I wrap things up in my career and head into retirement in 2016 or so.

  13. Pingback: Busy is NOT the Boss of Me Anymore! | Kindergar...

  14. Way to go out with a bang and not a whimper. It would have been easy for you to leave it be, rest your ailments and reconnect with family and friends. But what you did was way better. You voiced what so many of us feel every day. You took a stand. You made a choice, and for that (and for choosing a great exit song) I applaud you! Not with the kind of golf clap that fades off after a few seconds, but with the kind of raucous roar that rattles Century Link field during a Seahawks game! I’m sorry to hear that you won’t be slogging away step-by-step alongside us for the next two years…but at the same time, it’s nice to see you have your priorities straight. Much love @MauiMickey…it has been a blast!

    • You know, Jake, it has taken me a month to reply to your comment because every time I read it I would tear up. Thank you for your word picture! I miss all my #tiegrad friends and learning with you weekly, but I am thankful that I decided to step back when I did. I can’t wait to cheer for you all as you work toward your goals.

  15. Michelle,
    The decision you have made reminds me to stay connected and present; there are no excuses when we cannot be present with those we love. With you no longer in the cohort there is a void and space, for me that space is filled with the the joy and knowledge you brought to me and others in our ‘Brady Bunch’ family. I feel blessed that we have connected and I know we will continue to learn together….it will just look a little different. I applaud you for making the right decision for you! You are much missed already!
    Jane Rees

  16. Michelle,
    I have just read your blog post; I’m sorry that it took so long. Your strength, love, and passion shine through. You knew what was the right thing to do for you and you did it. There is so much strength in your actions and so many can learn from the feelings that you share. It was an absolute pleasure getting to know you in the short amount of time that we had and I hope that we will stay in touch.

  17. Your soul-bearing honesty is inspiring! I’ve tried a couple of masters courses but experienced many of the same frustrations you did. I ended up sacrificing too much (health, family, friends, etc.) that the gains just weren’t enough for me. I had my admin encouraging me to pursue it, but I just couldn’t commit to doing it and be effective at all of my roles at the same time. This spring we had a vice-principal position open up at my school and I had so many staff ask if I was applying for it. Their confidence in my abilities was flattering and encouraging but when I told them I couldn’t because I didn’t have my masters, many of them said, “well, you’re working on it, right?” After explaining to them the toll that it takes on me, they understood the reality. I say congrats to you for recognizing what is best for you and those in your life. Don’t ever let anyone call you a quitter because that’s now what you are. I completely agree that you don’t need a university to be a learner…learning happens all around us and our Twitter PLN is such an incredible and dynamic learning platform. Wishing you well in the days, weeks and months ahead as you continue your journey.

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