Monday Musings: Know When to Take a Break

Shawnta S. Barnes at the Teacher Self Care Conference at John B. Murphy School in Chicago, IL on Saturday, October 28, 2018

I took a hiatus from my Monday Musings as well as some other areas of my life during the last two weeks.  My school was on fall break for two weeks and today is the first day back.

My sons attend a different school district in Indy than where I work, so this year was the first year our fall breaks did not overlap.  Since they began school, they have had one week and I have had two weeks.  Their fall break was always the first week of my two-week fall break.  I sent them to art camp at Newfields during their break since my school was still in session.

On my gardening website, I addressed the death of my uncle.  He died a few days after his 89th birthday.  During my fall break, we were supposed to hang out together.  Instead, my fall break began with his funeral.  Some years ago, a family member joked, “Shawnta is the person you sit by during a funeral; she always holds it together.”  That sums up how I am seen by nearly everyone.  I’m the person that always has it together; I’m the strong one.

My uncle lived ten minutes away from me and he was one of the people I vented to about my life.  I’m normally the person other people confide in or the person people feel safe talking to about their life.  There were some situations I wanted to vent about with him and I didn’t get that opportunity.  That made me incredibly sad.  I don’t trust a lot of people mostly because I have been burned too many times.

I spent the first week of my break being a hermit at home.  I only left my house to buy groceries during the day, to take care of dry cleaning, and to pick up my sons from school.  I needed to process his death and process the situations I wanted to talk to him about during my break.

I often talk about my battle with infertility.  Even though it was one of the most difficult parts of my life, the counseling sessions were beneficial because I learned how to take care of me.  Now, I try to give back to others.  This weekend I was in Chicago and was a presenter at the Teacher Self Care Conference.  I was candid and spoke about the struggles I had while teaching and how I learned to take care of myself.  (If you missed this conference, the next one is in San Antonio, TX on Saturday, January 26, 2019.)

I’m not ready to go back to work today because there was so much I wanted to get done like getting rid of these too little clothes my seven-year-old twin boys don’t want to admit are too small.  I know it was better for me to cancel appointments and take care of me.  We only get this one life.  Don’t run yourself into the ground trying to please other people or by trying to be the strong one that everyone else needs.  No one can be helped if you fall apart.  What is more helpful to the people who lean on you is to see how you take care of yourself.  By modeling this, you are providing another avenue they can use to take care of themselves.




  1. I’m sorry about your uncle.

    I listened to the podcast you did with Amanda Watson tonight and now skimming your blog. This comment really is in response to your article on accepting friends on social media. Your viewpoint is refreshing and tear jerking. I deal with the opposite viewpoint and I’ve been losing myself. Even after teaching for 12 years. Thank you for sharing your voice. It means a lot.

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