Beans & Rice for the Soul

teaching, learning and living around the world

Balancing Ambition and Welfare

Last week I was sick with a cold.  I spent the entire weekend sleeping and drinking juice.  I canceled all socializing, English tutoring, fellowship application writing, Teach for Belgium website translating, social studies lesson planning…

In my hazy, half awake state, I began to fully embrace the realization that I am ambitious.
Sick Day 1: The classic, “I DON’T HAVE TIME TO BE SICK” freak out.
Sick Day 2: The deep breath, “Ah, how refreshing! Even though I’ve been sleeping all day, the world is still spinning and I am still Sara Rich.”

I began to realize that I want everything that I do to be purposeful and efficient. I want everything I work on and the WAY that I work on it- to be at least 10 times better than it already is- and liiike… NOW! This feeling never goes away for me, and I’ve recently begun to realize that it applies to all things big and small.

The other night Anga and I parked in our normal underground garage.  There is a button on our key that opens the garage door to enter/exit.  After we parked, when we got about half way to the door, I said, “You should click the button now.”
“Why?” he asked, smiling.
“So we don’t have to WASTE THIRTY seconds just STANDING there next to the door WAITING for it to go up!!”
Anga laughed pretty hard.  “Who cares about 30 seconds?! That’s an exaggeration anyway! It’s really more like 5 seconds!”
I joined in laughing at myself because it had honestly never occurred to me that perhaps those 5 seconds don’t really matter…

At work, I’ve taken on the role of curriculum coordinator.  I’ve worked really hard with my principal to design a process, a way of working on curriculum that will be productive and meaningful for teachers.   My expectations for what we plan and do are SO HIGH, that I am often disappointed that the results are not more efficient. More magnificent.  He often reminds me, “It was never going to be…”  It was never going to be a quick conversation. It was never going to be an easy answer.  It was never going to be as thrilling as a surprise party…

Anyhow, mixed in with this big realization that I am ambitious, has been a big realization that I also need to be mindful of my own welfare.  I had grand plans to do a fellowship next year in addition to working… application due at the end of October.  By Wednesday of this week I had a small melt down, also in our parking garage, because I was so disappointed to finally realize that I just… didn’t have time to do a great application, organize references, etc.  Anga, ever so calmly said, “It’s okay Sara.  If you don’t even have time to do the application, you definitely wouldn’t have had time to actually do the fellowship.”

And that was like a breath of fresh air.
Spreading myself too thin is just not my style.
Keep it simple, stupid.

Needless to say, I’m having a great weekend.  Went for a run, got a surprise for my niece and nephew, skyped with my mom over coffee, and now I’m going to paint my nails and watch Kirikou for the second time this week.

Lastly, I don’t plan on being less ambitious. Ha!
But I do plan on re-focusing my ambition, so it stays in balance with maintaining my welfare.
So I can have more nights like this:

dinner for two


2 comments on “Balancing Ambition and Welfare

  1. Lonnie Rich (dad)
    October 19, 2013

    Purposeless chilling can be pretty hot.

  2. Colleen
    October 20, 2013

    Hi, Sara! I really loved this post. I feel the exact same way– and, even worse, sometimes I struggle to meet my goals because I’ve set too many. I love the concept of focusing ambition in favor of your own welfare. For me, that means that saying no to another activity isn’t a bad thing– it just means saying yes to something else.

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This entry was posted on October 19, 2013 by in inspiration, life.
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