September 8, 2021

Consolidating Spoons

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I quit! I did not say it like that.  But the meaning was there.  For five years I have served on the school board of a local charter school.  Last evening, I resigned effective July 1, 2019.  I believe in the mission of the school; it is a place where kids in public schools find a safe environment to pursue their high school diploma.   Oftentimes these students have been bullied, they do not fit in, or they have disciplinary issues that cannot be solved by a local middle or high school.  In short, we take the kids who do not fit in, and we help them obtain a Middle School education or High School diploma.  In the past, I have served as Board President, Vice President, and Secretary.  I am incredibly proud of the contribution I have been able to make there. I hope the remainder of the Board is as well.

Pick one activity

Including this Board right now I have three time consuming monthly meetings. The school Board requires about 2-4 hours per month, the Arthritis Foundation Patient Engagement Committee requires one telephone hour per month, and the FDA Patient Engagement Committee also requires 1-2 telephone hours per month.  While that seems like a small commitment, I also must add several hours of reading to be an effective participant of each of these bodies.   The combination of the three simply needs more spoons than I can afford.  So, I needed to resign from one of these positions.  I chose the school board because during the five years I have served, the organization has grown much stronger and is in a wonderful place both financially and regarding personnel to be able to explore its services and sustain its growth for years to come.  I am proud of that, and it helps me feel good about my service.

The factors – I didn’t have enough spoons.

I knew I had to give up at least one of these obligations because of Rheumatoid Arthritis and Ankylosing Spondylitis.  The fact is that no matter how hard I try I cannot do it all.  I am 61 years old and as we all know three autoimmune diseases is a lot.  Two of these diseases are rearing their ugly head recently.  In February I will have foot surgery to correct damage done by Charcot Foot12 (an outgrowth of diabetes and to some degree RA3), my back hurts nearly 24 x 7 and while RA seems stable the question is how long will that last?

In short, my spoons for external volunteer efforts are used up, and I need some back (some back – get it).  Resigning from the school board gets me a few of those spoons back, and those spoons will be applied to staying healthy and spending time with Sheryl.

I need to keep spoons in reserve.

Perhaps I needed to get stretched too thin in order to be able to realize how important it is to keep some spoons in reserve?  I can honestly say that before I had to retire, I would have kept going no matter what.  I am deeply passionate about alternative education opportunities for kids.  As a former school administrator, I know we lose too many kids because traditional high schools, as good as they are in our area, just cannot be everything to everyone.  I was nearly one of those kids, and while I made it through, a place like this Charter School might have helped me.

As people with RA, we must prioritize and carefully select where we place our efforts.  This was a difficult choice for me to make.  That limit turned out to be sacrificing my involvement with this Board.  As I resigned (effective July 1), I told the board members that I hope I had served well enough that someday (when I get a few of my spoons back), perhaps they will invite me to join once again.

Never burn a bridge, after all, I needed to serve on this board when I started five years ago because I needed to find meaning for my life. I imagine that need may reappear.  If it does, I hope I can serve once again.  I can see what has been accomplished over this last five years and I am excited about the next five years for the organization. I will be thrilled to watch it grow into a powerhouse school for kids who do not always fit into a regular school environment.

My question is what are you passionate about that has caused you to volunteer to serve an organization and how did the experience shape you?  Let me know.