To relieve stress press the “F” button

Classmates Josie, Susan, Michele, Helen and Jill at Susan's bbq

It’s been a fast three weeks of study here at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. I’m among about 14 educators from across Canada who have gathered here to take a foundation course that begins our Masters of Adult Education.

Tomorrow we wrap up and go our separate ways.

I’ll leave Antigonish having seen little of the town and the surrounding countryside. The demands of the formal introduction to this program have kept us cloistered in our cell-like rooms most days reading online adult education articles or clustered in the campus libraries reading textbooks. When we aren’t reading, we are bashing out the reading lists, and learning plans, and other documents that will serve as our guides as we move into two to four years of independent, self-directed study toward our research project.

It’s been a time of personal and emotional growth for most of us as the course revolves around the art of self-reflection in learning. Such inward examination is physically and mentally exhausting (while exhilarating). Nonetheless, I have tried to find some time to do activities outside of studying besides exercise. I’ve hit the gym three mornings a week and have managed to get out for a few bicycle rides alone and with one of the locals. I also made it to a beach one afternoon.

Hangin' out at Susan's place. Watch out for the killer dog (centre)

Most nights, I stay up late reading. And sometimes I stay up so late that I struggle to stay conscious in class the next day—despite remarkably stimulating lessons. Some nights I haven’t worked. Instead, I have enjoyed a beer while watching a movie alone on my laptop computer in my small room.

Until Monday night, I thought I had struck a good balance. Classmate Susan invited everyone in our group, including our three professors, to a barbecue at the cottage her family rented on a bluff outside town. Most of us attended and it was a gorgeous night with a rare clear sky.

We chatted warmly on a big deck overlooking a long sandy beach far below, watching Susan’s son fly a big colourful kite while her husband cooked delicious burgers on a smoking grill. Then we sat and stood around a fire as the sun went down.

Chillin' at the bbq are (left to right) Susan's daughter, husband, Shane, and Trevor with Thomas and Dr. Roy in the background with Dr. Coady and Gordon

It was a fun night and I realized I should have taken a little more time while here to have fun and to socialize. However, what has passed has passed, and I have no regrets. But there is a lesson to be learned here.

As I struggle to balance my teaching job, my business, new fatherhood, and constant study over the next few years, I’ll be wise to remember that it’s healthy to inject the “F” word (fun) into our busy lives every once in a while.

And you’d be wise to remember it, too.

About teachingteacher

Business communications instructor, journalist, corporate communications writer and media trainer ... and Masters Candidate M.Ad.Ed.
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