The “P” Word

Hi.  My name is Tammy.  I used to be workaholic.

I’m not anymore and I suspect that annoys some people.  Since I’m a teacher, I’m often expected to do things that have nothing to do with teaching and a lot to do with bureaucratic reports – lots and lots of paperwork.  Or I’m expected to spend 50-70 hours a week getting everything done even though we are only paid for 35 hours.   Sadly, most of what is expected distracts from effective instruction. We are not provided the time or support we need to do what needs to be done. Spouses of teachers can attest to this.

When I say “no, I can’t do that” or “no, I don’t have time”, I usually get the “P” word thrown at me.


Usually, it’s an attempt to guilt me into being compliant.  I used to hear it from a female colleague who didn’t like how I dressed because my clothes didn’t fit anymore.  (What she really didn’t like was that I lost weight.)  I’ve even had it tossed at me at part-time jobs because my full time career made me unavailable to work more hours.  (“If I were a serious fitness professional…”)

So being a “serious fitness professional” is something that will have to wait until I retire, I guess. I could be a “not-so-serious fitness amateur” in the meantime.

There are other words that are so much more important to me…











What I’m NOT is this…

Back in 2009, the decision to take care of myself was hard to make.  I had a lot of guilt about how it was going inconvenience my husband and impact my teaching.  I knew I would have to quit being the “go to” person at work.  But it turns out that I’m a better wife and teacher because I’m taking care of myself.  Not just better because I’m going to live longer, but really BETTER.  I’m more patient.  I’m more creative.  I’m more effective as an instructor because of those things.  And I won’t let myself become burnt out.  But it did negatively impact my ability to internalize the guilt trip about being “professional”.   I just don’t have time to waste.

Every day for the last year, I’ve parked my car at school next to a memorial for a colleague who was just a few years older than me.  She was a wonderful woman, loved by many in our community, but died too soon.  Stroke.  She spoke with me a couple of times about changing things, but told me she was just too busy.  She put everyone else’s needs ahead of her own health.  She had a huge memorial service in our gym and now has a lovely stone memorial on our football field next to a faculty parking lot.  Every morning when I arrive and every afternoon when I leave, I look at it.  I’m reminded that this job can kill you.  I wonder if the bosses had to park next to that memorial every day, would they internalize what it means?   I wonder if my colleagues who drive past it every day like I do feel the same way I do?


I still need to remind myself that I don’t care about what people think about how I live my life so that I can have more energy to just LIVE it.  I wrote this for anyone who needs to borrow a little perspective and courage.

Can you relate?




Filed under Life, Motivation, My Lifting Log, Teaching

9 responses to “The “P” Word

  1. I hear you on all the teaching stuff for sure. I can relate in terms of the expectations that are put on us. I like to devote my life to living rather than working all the time and that doesn’t sit well with some members of our small, very tight-knit staff. I can do everything with high quality and in good timing but it seems to be the sheer hours staying late after school and extra-curriculars that people are expecting.


    • I used to be one of those teachers that paid attention to how late the others stayed. I used to think it was a measure of “commitment”. I’m also genetically predisposed to playing martyr. I’m not sure I can ever overcome my genetics, but I can try to control it. 😉


  2. i can almost relate. On Mother’s Day, my second oldest daughter, and third daughter, literally screamed at me”MOM! When are you going to take care of yourself!? You need to take care of YOU, too!”- needless to say, i was …shocked, at the sudden blurt. It Did make me realize im really only “fooling” myself, and that THey(my family), know im not doing what i should. The hurt-anger in their exclamation made that abundantly clear.
    Time to stop thinking im doing everyone a favor by neglecting myself. Time to stop the “martyr” complex. Time to put my big girl panties on, and be a good example, and learn how to take care of myself, and do it.
    My husband just read this reply over my shoulder and wholeheartedly seconds it.
    it’s official. being overweight and unhealthy isnt helping my family, or me. they need me healthy.


  3. Thank you! It is so nice to see another fit girl out there who is an educator. I took to heart what you said on another reply at one point – you HAVE to maintain balance because you LOVE your job. I do love teaching, and I do want that balance, and I have been working for it. And if that means something gets left on my desk for a day or two? So be it. I still meet my deadlines, get my work done, but I want to be there for the KIDS, not be there all hours of the afternoon or weekends getting PAPERWORK done. Bleh. You go girl!


    • A day or two? Hahahaha! You’re way ahead of me. But that is useful paperwork, in my mind. The stuff I was thinking about were the countless hours we’ve spent over the last two years that has had absolutely NOTHING to do with increasing effectiveness of instruction or helping kids.


      • That happens too… 🙂 I am a music teacher so I am the go to for several things that I have been more than once encouraged to do despite my valid reasons for declining the projects. It all worked out, but I understand that kind of pressure, and my goal next year is to stand my ground to a reasonable measure.


  4. momboteri

    Well said. Thank you for sharing your story and helping the many/rest of us to remember that there are more important things in life than trying to please everyone (impossible!) and working ourselves to disease or death (mentally, physically, and/or emotionally). This is a good reminder to me, because I subscribe to a number of fitness sites. Many of them (I understand why) promote “do THIS **Today** to be a better fitness professional”. And I throw up my hands and say, “I only have so much to give.” I’d rather give what’s healthy, take care of myself, and, as you so rightly said, “be a better ________ (wife and teacher)” because of it!


  5. Thanks for sucha post, am a teacher, mother and somehow with no paying attention to myself gained 60 pounds, can realize how they came to me..but it was thanks to not paying attention to myself. Thank God I found your blog, definitely need your spirit!-) Have a great day!


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