Finding Balance, a long post about me

Almost all of this blog relates to the O’Brien boys and their adventures. Very rarely do I update about myself or Chris. I’m probably past due for an update. Here goes…

IMG_1087For a variety of reasons the 2013-2014 school year was one of my most challenging as a school administrator. I was never so happy to go on vacation with my family just after the school year ended. Our trip to London was one of my favorite family experiences ever. I needed the break, far away from everyday life and time with my three favorite people. Aidan also had a tough school year with several transitions and substitute teachers. Brendan was in his first main stage show at Boston Children’s Theatre, he begged to go to other auditions and was offered a role in a show for the fall. Going into the 2014-2015 school year I had my doubts that I was doing a good job at anything- certainly not my work-life balance. I made the decision not to leave my job after the previous challenging school year because I really liked the people I worked with and didn’t want my experience at such a great place feel like it was unsuccessful because of a difficult few months. But going through the 14-15 school year I found more and more that I felt like I was letting everyone down. To do my job the way I knew it needed to be done successfully (as I defined my personal success) would be to put in more hours than I could. To be the parent I wanted to be, I needed to be more available. And then there were all the other pieces of my life- missing friends, volunteer projects, family time that wasn’t interrupted or that I wasn’t stressed.

IMG_2926On the last day of school in June 2015, after the kids had left but before the staff meetings and end of the year party, I went to lunch with a few work friends. I couldn’t eat. There had been a few things that had not gone as I had planned and I was responsible for coordinating the closing ceremonies. My stomach was in knots. No one was putting the kind of pressure on me that I was putting on myself.  A couple days later we went to Bermuda – our whole party of 19. It was perfect in every way but for the first couple of days – even with no wifi- I couldn’t relax.  I knew then I had to make a change. I quickly worked out the math- with some adjustments to the amount of take out and extras that were really not needed- we could swing a one salary house. In early July, I gave my notice to a very surprised and very supportive boss. I had no plan as of August 1.

IMG_0234The first two weeks I was home the kids had camp. I did nothing at all. I was so burnt out. Then we spent the rest of the summer taking day trips, hanging out and having fun. Before long the school year started.

It was very weird to not go back to school like I had every year for 12 years. For the whole school year and into the summer I had no plans. I did go on interviews- some were great positions but the organization wasn’t a good fit. In other cases the organization was a great fit but not the position. I was convinced I did not want to jump into something just to do something. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be in a school again, a nonprofit or something completely different. It was all very confusing. I spent time reading. Meeting with friends in different fields to get some ideas. And I also spent a lot of time with the kids- Brendan was in three professional shows and Aidan was excelling again at school, piano and jujitsu. I wanted to freeze them in time. I loved being at home.

But I also knew I wanted to do something. I knew I wanted it to be something that I felt used my previous experience but in a new way and with an organization that had a mission I felt strongly in. By the end of the summer a whole bunch of things came together.

img_4872My new role is the coordinator of the Disney Musicals in Schools program for BCT. The program provides training for Boston Public School teachers to establish sustainable music theater programs in schools. It is a part time, flexible position that also gives me the opportunity to use other skills too. I get to be in a variety of Boston Public Schools and work with teachers and theater artists. Most importantly kids will have the opportunity to participate in a theater experience.

I’m also working with 4th Church as the registrar- all those years of creating spreadsheets comes in handy. Aidan is teaching a class too- so I am available to help supervise.

A few other new things- I have been asked to serve on the board of my high school. This includes an areas I really enjoy focusing on- strategic planning, enrollment and advancement- at a place that holds a special place in my heart.

img_4878I also realized that in addition to seeing friends I missed having a creative outlet. So I am back to tap dancing. It all came back the first night. I missed the challenge of learning something new.

I’ve enjoyed catching up with friends, having time to go to the gym, random day-dates with Chris when the kids are at their activities and volunteering for different events when things come up. I even spent a week this past summer doing my old job to cover for a vacation.

I’m happy. My family is happy. And I’m enjoying the shift I’ve made to balance my life.

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