Sunday, September 26, 2010

Lesson of the Week--Knowing my Limits

I do plan on getting back to blogging about my San Francisco vacation. I have more memories and pictures to share about that amazing trip. But it's been a whirlwind since I got back and so I thought it a good idea to write about a lesson I learned this week  basically that sometimes, something's got to give.

There are two things I have learned from SCUBA diving and my first aid training (also related to diving) that I try to carry into every day life:

  • A diver can cancel on a dive for any reason and it's fine.
  • The first rule of rescue is that the rescuer take care of herself.

Both lessons came into play this week.

I came back from vacation to a series of deadlines at the day job, numerous wedding ceremonies to write/update/officiate, a social media course to update and teach again and EMT-B training. Believe it or not, the EMT-B training was to my recreational activity. It's not that I wasn't going to take it seriously--I take it very seriously and I was thrilled for a chance to expand on the skills I have acquired as an Emergency First Responder and EFR Instructor.

But the EMT-B course was also to be something I would do with my husband. We tend to spend all summer running around in opposite directions--he to his SCUBA students and me to my ceremonies. It's good to have some scheduled time where we're both engaged in something that gives us new things to talk about. EMT-B was going to be it for me. (For the Wookie, it's his first step to his goal of becoming a Hyperbaric EMT.)

I'll be the first to admit that I didn't know what the course would entail. I had the schedule. 2 nights a week from 6:45 to 10:00 PM. and some weekend days (either Saturday or Sunday) from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM.  Magically the weekend dates fit into my schedule, as did all but one class and I could make that up by attending a later section. Perfect.

What I didn't anticipate working into my schedule were these.

Each week requires a rather substantial amount of reading  college-level material in densely-packed, size 10 type, along with workbook exercises, and (ideally) online activities and videos to review.  The expectation is 3 hours of work a day. I thought about dropping the course.

The first weekend activity  before the EMT-B course actually begins is review and re-certification in CPR for those who need it. (Which is anyone without a state-recognized professional rating and apparently the state of NJ is currently not recognizing mine.) In any event, re-certification in CPR is always a good idea. And I learned a few new things. But after, the thought of continuing the course, knowing what lay ahead was daunting and my schedule for the September/October was packed. I was inches away from dropping.

Then a woman crashed her car into a parked car on my street. I was out there, in my role of First Responder before police and paramedics arrived. Gloves on, CPR kit ready just in case, keep the patient calm and as still as possible till the ambulance arrives.  I walked back in to my house afterwards thinking  well that must be a sign. I should keep going.

Come the next class, I was right there alongside Wookie.  I really enjoyed class. The lectures were great, instruction in the smaller classes was also fantastic. But my other obligations were competing heavily for my mental (and physical) resources. I spent three days sick and working anyway and was falling farther and farther behind in my homework.

Those two lessons kept coming to mind. This was supposed to be enjoyable. But the frustration over not having time for everything was mounting.

This past Monday, on the way home from class,  I did an assessment of my situation. My schedule for the week looked like this:
  • M-F 40 hour "day job"
  • Monday-EMT
  • Tuesday-Teach a webinar from 8:30PM to 10*
  • Wed-EMT
  • Thursday - Sunday
    • Revise 5 wedding ceremonies (This is my second job.)
    • Write one wedding
    • Perform one wedding
    • Revise class materials for the next Tuesday webinar (84 slide Power Point)
Doable--except that there was no more room for studying—and, if I do this, I want to do it right. Besides, even if I was to get the bookwork done, that left no downtime in my schedule—no time to decompress. (There's another lesson to be learned from diving—one has to take the time to decompress or suffer the consequences.)

So after a lot of soul searching, I made the call. On Tuesday I dropped the course.

Or, maybe I should say I deferred. My intention is to work through the books on my own time and hopefully re-enroll when the course begins again in January. My schedule at that point wont be any lighter   I'll likely be teaching 2 courses through May  on top of the day job and the rest of my usual obligations. But I think I can manage if I have a bigger knowledge base to draw on when I get there.

I have to say, this is a big deal for me. I can't remember the last time I did this pro-actively—with the exception of calling a dive if I didn't feel up to it. I've been known to tough it out and see things through to the end just for the sake of it.

I am sure I could have managed to continueprobably even passed the course (even if just barely). But I would have been burnt out by the end and what would be the point of that?

I think there are some times when it's better to define your own limits and to remember that knowing your limits does not mean you are defined by them.  

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