Monday, March 26

It's all in the balance...

Hey, all! I'm Bev Katz Rosenbaum, author of I Was a Teenage Popsicle (out now!) and Beyond Cool (coming this August--woohoo!), chiming in on the whole apres school thing--this week's theme at the Teen Fiction Cafe.

I was a pretty busy kid after school, being a pretty serious dancer as well as a drama geek. Plus, I did my share of part-time and summer work. During the school year, I was a part-time typist (yup, this was before computers!) for a company that specialized in film and stage scripts. (I'm totally sure this job sparked my interest in the writing/editing field, though I'll admit I almost quit when I had to transcribe several episodes of The Twenty Minute Workout. Can you say boring? Or guilt-inducing?). During the summer, I was a theatre director at an overnight camp. (Loved the power. Gave all the kids I liked the good roles. The mean kids were trees.)

There's been all this stuff in the media lately about how high schoolers are burning out with all their extra-curricular activities and part-time jobs. I've seen it happen, and I'm here to say if you're finding it hard coping with a surplus of activities, lighten up that load! It's sooo not worth the toll it could take on your health/sanity, and your relationships with friends and family members. I was fine in high school, but in my second year of university, when I was juggling a full course load with two part-time jobs and three dance classes a week, I did have a breakdown of sorts. A nice long rest--from everything--helped. When I felt better, I cut the part-time work down considerably, and made myself be content with only one dance class per week.

These days, high schoolers in my neck of the woods have to complete forty hours of community volunteer work in order to graduate. This is on top of the extra-curriculars and the paying work! It can all be done, and indeed, should be done--all these things give you such a great sense of satisfaction, and can help you decide on a future path--but again, take it easy. Don't do too much, especially if you're having trouble handling it all. Pace yourself.

A word about the volunteer stuff. One summer when I wasn't working as a theatre dictator, I volunteered on the heart ward at a children's hospital. Such a gratifying experience. I didn't do any volunteer work again until I got married, and at that point, my husband and I started doing a weekly sing-song at another local hospital. We stopped when we had our kids, and I only recently returned to volunteer work, at a home for the aged. I spent my first afternoon there this past weekend. I had it in my head that this was going to be a 'chore'--albeit a satisfying one--but the joke was on me. I spent the most delightful afternoon accompanying one of the residents to a concert that was taking place on the main floor. The singer was great--she even did some stuff from Wicked, my new obsession--and the woman I sat with regaled me with hysterically funny stories about her childhood and the home.

As a bonus, the afternoon got me thinking about a possible new book idea...

Feel free to comment about balance, volunteer work, or anything else I've written about (though you may already have talked about your part-time jobs and extra-curricular activities in response to the other great posts on this week's theme!).

Love ya,



Kelly Parra said...

It is all in the balance, Bev! I tried to take on only what I can manage, and do homework before work. Since working was only for my own spending money, I didn't take on too many hours because I wanted to hang with my friends too! :)

Sara Hantz said...

What you say is so true, Bev. It's so important to get the balance right. And so easy to suddenly find yourself out of balance.

I've overdone it in the past, and have now learnt to recognise the warning signs.

bevrosenbaum said...

And of course, balance is something we have to constantly deal with in our adult life, too, as we juggle work and family and community obligations. So the earlier we learn to listen to our bodies and minds, and practice time management skills, the better!

Wendy Toliver said...

Hi Bev,

Great points!

I had to learn to say no very recently, and it was really hard. I ended up resigning from some of my volunteer organizations, volleyball, etc. so I could spend more time writing, volunteering at my kids' schools, and basically getting a couple of good hours of sleep every now and then. :)

And what's tricky is, your priorities shift. So I find myself analyzing what's important to me, what's important to my future, and using that as my guide.

Great post, Bev!

stephhale said...

Great post, Bev! I love that you gave your favs the good roles! I had a part-time job in high school that pretty much ended up being full-time and I missed a lot of school activities and just blew the $. I really wish I had slowed down a bit, but hindsight and all that.
I did a bit of volunteering the other day with The Cinderella Project. It's a charity that gives donated prom dresses to girls who need them. It was fun seeing the girls come in to find that we had some BEAUTIFUL dresses and they could leave with them for FREEEEE! It was so fun, I hope to do it every year!

Alex Richards said...

First of all I SO love the cover art for your book. It's such eye candy, I'm definitely buying it.
In response to the topic: true dat! It is so easy to overextend yourself and do too much, thinking that you "have to" in order to get into a good college/good career etc. Personally, I get panicky when I have too much free time on my hands, but that's not the case now (planning my wedding is eating my time).
But I appreciate what you're saying and I'm so happy for this post. Sometimes you just need someone to tell you, "It's OKAY to slow down."
Ahhhh... breathe.

bevrosenbaum said...

Steph--that sounds like sooo much fun! Will have to see if there's anything like that in Toronto!

Alex--right on. Even my agent has been telling me to slow down, to not try and pump proposals out so quickly. (Some people can do that without the quality of the writing suffering, but not me.) So I've been taking ages with my latest proposal, trying not to think about when my next book after Beyond Cool (sequel to Popsicle) is going to be scheduled :) Thanks so much for the nice words about the Popsicle cover!

Lisa Asanuma said...

I totally agree with what you've said, Bev, especially about the volunteer work. I don't get to it as much as I'd like to, but when I do, it seems like serving other people kind of forces some of the hecticity out of my life a little bit, which is such a nice personal bonus to helping out others!

And I'll agree about the cover to Popsicle... that and the title have me dying to read the book!

bevrosenbaum said...

Yeah, Lisa, it's strangely calming.

Thanks so muchly for the nice words about Popsicle!

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