Slice of Life Tuesday: Rejecting the Rat Race

Somewhere after midnight Saturday but before the sun popped up with its bright hello on Sunday morning, we put down our bags and laid down our heads and uttered silent thank you's to our beds for still being here to greet us.

It's good to be home.

But home comes with many invitations, and I find myself hypersensitive to the pull of the never-slowing hamster wheel of activity our society has created.

There are birthdays to plan and school supplies to buy and lessons to prepare. Dogs need walking and clothes need washing and I need exercising! Children want dinner. Bills must be paid. And did I mention lessons must be written?

I tend to throw myself in every direction at once, like one of those crazy amusement park octopus rides with arms flying everywhere, spinning wildly out of control.

As long as I keep everything neatly packaged and spinning perfectly, as long as everyone is having fun -- well, there's no harm in that, right?

Perhaps. At least, that's what I used to believe.

But a new thought has been tapping my shoulder and begging to be noticed. A quieter, less juggle-minded, calmer thought.

What if, instead of attending to every invitation, every idea, every request -- what if -- I carefully choose how I spend my time? What if instead of spinning and whirling and juggling, I simply relax and let life flow. I can choose how I spend my time and define my own priorities instead of allowing them to be defined for me.

This year I will regard the many invitations to join the rat race very carefully. This year I refuse to let another person or idea dictate what is important for me and my family. This year, when stress levels rise and anxiety begins to creep inside my classroom, my home, or my mind, I am prepared to sweep them away with these words:

  1. First, do no harm. (Positive thoughts about myself and others)
  2. Breathe and be in this moment only.
  3. Do something kind every day, for myself and others.
More on these three concepts later. For now, it's time to cuddle up with a good book. The dishes can wait.


  1. Thanks for the reminder to take time for the teacher as we start to go back. As I read this, I had a great thought - for me, at least, slicing on Tuesdays and taking time to read and comment on other slices is a wonderful way to recharge myself.

  2. Your post made me think of the book So Few of Me by Peter Reynolds. His final thoughts are "What if I did less - but did my BEST?" A good philosophy to keep in our minds.

  3. I hope you can follow your advice. We worked at this in our family after going every which way and realizing we were not even seeing each other. My husband and I quit committees, the kids could only choose one activity per season, and we started saying no to some social events. I look back and am very grateful we figured it out and had so many wonderful meals around the dining room table...together.

  4. More is not better. Quality over quantity. Relax, tomorrow will come anyway. Have a wonderful year!

  5. I think you showed us well the life you want to change, from that octopus to 'perhaps' a nice quiet ferris wheel? It's such a thoughtful piece, and best wishes to you in your quest. My children are grown, I'm only working part-time, but still my life is so busy. You've given me some things to ponder.

  6. Your reflection makes me think of my priorities. I like your list of 3 important concepts. Mine is including slicing and commenting. It revives me. :)Mary Helen

  7. Good luck with managing the rat race. My mom laughs at me every year when I say that I'll juggle life better...with less stress. I still haven't figured it out...maybe this will be the year.

  8. @teacherdance I actually saw a ferris wheel in my mind when I was writing this! Great minds think alike. ;)

    Thanks guys, for all the kind comments. I think we all tend to end up in the same boat -- wanting to simplify but struggling against ourselves and the world when we try to make those changes!