Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Not the Blog Post You Were Hoping For

For the past 5 years, I have had the great pleasure of teaching for Olds College's Master Spinner Program as well as serving as the Fibre Arts Program Coordinator for Fibre Week. I have learned more in the past 5 years than I ever did as a student in the program, and I have had the great joy of leading literally hundreds of students to their "aha! moments". I have travelled to places I had never considered seeing, and met wonderful people, many of whom I now consider friends.  I have taken great responsibility for the Program and the well-being of its students.  I have been treated as part of the team by the administrators.  I have been blessed.

This has meant that I have kept a demanding teaching schedule, often prepping for the next session as I was travelling from the last class.  I have also worked as a volunteer on the module revisions for the MSP.  And as the volunteer Fibre Arts Coordinator for Fibre Week (a full-time job in and of itself).  I have become embroiled in the day to day operations of the Master Spinner Program and in the minutiae of Fibre Week arrangements.  And I have maintained a schedule of private workshops, as well.  I have been, well, busy.

And while all of this was going on, I had a life going on outside of spinning, too.  I have had loved ones with cancer and others with chronic illness,  I have had serious injury and family crises. I have had plumbing problems and renovation nightmares.  I have had bills and groceries and laundry and car pools.

So, along comes Fibre Week, where I not only taught several workshops, but performed my above-and-beyond duties as Coordinator, emceed the fashion show, subbed for a teacher who needed to run out for a medical appointment, counselled students, problem-solved with the administrative team, started planning for 2013, and generally ran myself ragged.  And I did a poor job of all of these things.  I was running on fumes, faking it all the way.  Everything was harder than it had to be--minor concerns became crises, setbacks became panics, each little discussion became a battle.  All of those little problems that we encounter every day quickly became catastrophes.  There were things that I simply could not cope with.  There was something seriously wrong.

And what was wrong was me.  I may have mentioned that I'm tired.  My perspective was skewed, my organizational skills were warped, and even my usually sharp wit was getting duller and duller.  Then, on top of everything else, I got hit with a stomach bug midweek.  By Friday, I was a zombie--and not the fun, flesh-eating kind.  Just a staring, shuffling, mindless husk.

The long drive home gave me plenty of time to think.  And think I did.  I thought about the dozens of students I had taught over the years.  I thought about the MSP modules and the changes that I have been working on and those that still need to be made.  I though about the planning for 2013.  I thought about my co-workers, my friends, the townhouses, the travel, the weather, the food, the fibre.  And I thought about myself.  For the first time in years, I thought about what I want.  And what I want is a rest.

I thought about taking a week or two and then rolling back into things--I was scheduled to be in Michigan in three weeks--but I've done that before and found myself up to my neck in paperwork and emails and phone calls before I even knew what was happening.  I had to pull the plug.  I have resigned from the Master Spinner instructor roster and I have ended my commitment to the module review for now.  I will be continuing in my role as Fibre Arts Program Coordinator until a replacement is found, but then I will be stepping away from that, too.  I have to cut myself completely off for a while, or I will just start doing all the things again. It is all too easy to get caught up in the needs of the program, of the students, to feel responsible for everything.  I have to step away.

This is a massive change for me, and I am grieving the loss in my life right now. A warm word would go a long way, if you have one to spare for me.  But I will recover, and I will continue to teach.  I will get around to finishing those articles that I haven't had time for and submit them to publications.  I will make things.  And the Master Spinner Program will go on.  I hope that my students will all continue on and become the great spinners I know they can be.  I hope that other instructors will step up and take on some of the duties I have been performing over the past few years.  And I hope that, in time, I will rest and recoup and reclaim my energy and get to a place where I can revisit the Master Spinner Program and they will have me back.

But, for now, I rest.


  1. Even witches have to let go of their spells to the people for whom they've cast them. You have cast marvelous spells over these years and those of us whose lives you've touched in some fiber-y way are so grateful for your teachings and your friendship. Rest, friend. Rest and dream and spin and be free of it all for a while. We'll all be here when you wake up ;).

  2. Oh Michelle, I hear ya. Rest when you are weary is just what the doctor called for. Rest easy... You've done lots. Maybe it's just the turn of someone else to run for Fibre Week instead. You've always done great with the Fashion Show. Think of it as a sebatical. : ) maybe it just your time to be an artist and student again.

  3. Anonymous10:42 AM

    I admire you for this. Sometimes you have to take stock. I will keep you in my thoughts and know that I will learn from you again in some form. I heartily endorse your choice. Spin on Sistah! Cathy Salamon, Level I Tucson class

  4. The first step is to forgive yourself for not being perfect.

    The next step to to pat yourself on the back for realizing that you need some time to recharge.

    You need to take care of yourself and take some time to relax and recharge. You deserve it.

  5. Bravo, Michelle. REST. Beyond that, there will be something even better opening up for you. But yes, as one of your housemates during Fibre Week, I can say that (1) you did a far better job than you think you did and (2) you need a nice long time of doing only what you want to do, as much as possible. Hugs.

  6. Anonymous8:33 AM

    you just take care of yourself and your family - we'll wait with bated breath until you heal up and come back enforce! Big Hugs from Marg in Millet, who is not really anomymous, but it's my only choice in this matter!

  7. Anonymous8:56 PM

    Maybe now you can really take care of that kraken. Hugs to you and yours Vicki in Pasco

  8. Awhile back I found myself with similar feelings of burnout - although I wasn't responsible for nearly as much as you! I quit teaching workshops and went back to my studio to play. I "retired" and never did get my teaching mojo back. I'm a little sad about that (especially when pleaded with by my former students!) but really I don't regret my decision. I know you will find out what works best for you after you've given yourself a break and some distance to get a better perspective. So don't feel guilty, Michelle! You've gotta do what you've gotta do. {{Big hugs!!!}}

  9. Oh Michelle, it is a wise woman who recognizes when it is time to rest! You have done so much and, after your rest, I am sure you will do so much more.

    We should do coffee (or iced coffee) soon and just relax!!

  10. What a brave and admired woman you are, Michelle. Hold on to that. You shared with me and our class last fall, in Sedalia, Mo. that spinning was the only thing thing, even better than yoga that helped you find your balance during another time when your life was out of balance. Maybe it is time for the teacher to become a student again. Spin and find your balance. I am saddened that you will not be able to see how much my spinning has improved since last year when what I was "spinning" couldn't even be called string. Everytime I sat down to spin I smiled inside knowing how impressed you were going to be when I sent you my homework. Now when I sit to spin, I will still smile, think of you and say a little prayer that you are finding your balance again. - Laura Lyon Mackiewicz =)

  11. Sandy Hellebrand12:08 AM

    I refuse to say goodbye, but I will certainly say thank you. Out of the four books I've had marked, I learned the most from your feedback. If not this, something better. All now mysterious shall be bright at last. Many thanks -Sandy

  12. Anonymous1:46 PM

    Hurry slowly, Michelle. We all need to do this now and then. I am doing lots of hurrying, slowly these days and it feels just right!

  13. I'm so thankful for having taken but a single day class with you. You are such a brilliant spinner, with so much insight and information! I'm certain you will be missed! With that said, though, you are one person and you can only do so much. You've been doing a lot! Take care of you, and your family. The program will be around when you come back, I'm certain!

    (and I'll selfishly admit that I hope it's before I'm done the program, so I can spend a whole week learning from you!)