This is a discussion thread I wanted to start as soon as I knew I was not going to be well enough to attend our first meeting in December.  However, I have waited until reaching this more balanced point, midway through the holiday, more rested and healthy, to begin.  I am very passionate about teaching.  However, I know that my passion, my vitality, the energy I have to give to this important career, suffers when my life is out of balance.  I have more to give to my students when I give first to myself and to my family.  Easy enough to say...

So perhaps in this thread we could discuss issues, ideas, share inspiration but ultimately honour the importance of not just the concept but the actual attainment of balance.  We can keep in mind the question, does the project we are embarking upon help us or hinder us in achieving balance?

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A few of us from the group have decided to make time in our day to get together and practice some mindfulness techniques in an effort to slow down our racing minds.  I know I have so much on that I sometimes find myself focussing on the many things I have to do rather than the people in front of me - including my students at times.  As energizing as this project is, I do find myself very mentally active - OK, I have a hard time shutting off!  Also, when I get tired and overwhelmed, I find negative and critical thoughts creep in an take over.  So, here is a link to a series of quick mindfulness podcasts from the UK Mental Health Association which we are going to try:  

http://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/help-information/podcasts/  

Various people in the group have mentionned gratitude exercises, journalling activities etc. which we are going to discuss and start using at the same time.  We hope to use these for data collection to track: a) changes in our own thought patterns, b) our influence on our students and other staff members who we invite to join us, and c) see what effect doing this as a group has on our staying power.

Congrats on making time for your well being--you are an inspiration to all. As you said, it is easy to get caught up in the hustle, bustle and negativity if we don't have a source to keep us balanced or better yet in harmony with self, others and our world. Here is a TED Talk on the "Contagion of Being" by Derrick Hull that explains how we can change our way of being so we always have a positive influence (especially in the classroom).

http://spiritualitymindbody.com/page/derrick-hull-tedx-on-the-conta...

I think that I have spent my entire life trying to find the balance between work and life, my health and well being. I have always had difficulty saying no.  If someone approached me about an idea, concept etc. that was good for kids I would say yes without thinking about everything I already had on my plate, my current stress level and what would be compromised with adding another responsibility to my workload.  I continued on this path until my health, which I had always taken for granted, required me to pay attention to this aspect of my life, my personality.  

I have passed on many of my responsibilities to others and in the process had to let go of the control of those events, groups etc.  I have made room for my life, for downtime, for rest and reflection.  I have had to learn strategies to avoid the immediate yes.   I now say I will get back to you,  I need to think this over and look at my other obligations.  More than once I have said no in the past year and nothing terrible happened.  I am still a work in progress and I will still have moments that I slip back into my old habits.  

I have always believed that my word was my honour and if I said I would do something that I needed to follow through.  I have kept my honour at the expense of my health.  I still want my word to have honour so it is even more important that I reflect on the impact of this new obligation before I agree.

I have no regrets about my participation in this project.  I do many things for others and this is the place I come to to be re-inspired, to be supported and encouraged to continue to find philosophies, strategies and practices that continue my learning and improve the learning of my students.

Wow! Your words move me. It really helps me to hear the ways others cope with the desire to help others with a finite amount of time and energy. I have just begun this year to say no to some things and, as you say, the world does not stop. I am hoping in reflecting on my balance this year that I can continue to make positive changes in my life. You said about BARN, "this is the place I come to to be re-inspired, to be supported and encouraged to continue to find philosophies, strategies and practices that continue my learning and improve the learning of my students"- YES, YES, YES! Wonderful words to hear.

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